Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
GoLite Peak Backpack Review
Display Avatars Sort By:
Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
GoLite Peak Backpack Review on 01/04/2011 14:20:53 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

GoLite Peak Backpack Review

Brendan Mulholland
(dools009) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
re: golite peak backpack review on 01/05/2011 02:47:29 MST Print View

Will & Janet,

Thanks for a look at the new Peak! I have a Jam2 (2009) that I have lived out of on the road through latin america for the last 2 years - incredibly durable & comfortable.

Could you comment on what changes have caused the huge increase in weight in the Jam/Peak line-up for 2010/11? That Peak weighs more than the 2009 Jam2! I noticed you carry the 2009 Jam2 as well and am wondering if the changes to the 2010/2011 lineup have made the bags carry better or are more cosmetic/materials-based changes.

I love these packs for the super clearance pricepoint and durability but if they keep leapfrogging in weight every new edition even a poor vagabond like me won't be able to justify one.


Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
hip-belt on 01/05/2011 09:16:56 MST Print View

Kudos to Golite for making the hip-belt detachable, and or interchangeable. I'm assuming that one could purchase the belts separate from Golite, should one need a medium size pack, but a large hip-belt. Or do all (3) different sized packs have have the same size hip-belt? Be nice if you could custom order what you'd need. Some online retailers will do this for you, if you ask for it. being one.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
GoLite Peak Backpack Review on 01/05/2011 14:41:16 MST Print View

This photo needs to be re-visited because it is awesome!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Why? on 01/05/2011 20:32:34 MST Print View

Why would anyone purchase a frameless pack with an estimated comfortable carrying capacity of 20#, weighing 1# 10 oz, when they could purchase a framed pack like the ULA Ohm, which carries up to 30# fairly comfortably and weighs 1# 7 oz?

Edited to correct weight to 1# 10 oz for a medium.

Edited by ouzel on 01/05/2011 20:34:45 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: GoLite Peak Backpack Review on 01/05/2011 21:22:23 MST Print View

The Peak is a perfectly usable pack and suited to light/low-volume overnights and day hiking. The ability to compress the size suits day hiking and there are lots of creature comforts like the padded back panel, hip-belt pockets and the ability to remove the hip belt. I think it would make a very good travel pack and would fit in overhead compartments well if not overloaded. I think it would make a good winter day hiking pack, where the extra volume is insulated clothing.

It does fall into a marketing hole and that is probably the real weakness. It's a little large for day hikes, a little small for multi-day and a Jam is just a few ounces more.

There were rumors about a Jam Jr. before it was released and it is probably that, but too close in weight and cost to the Jam. What GoLite should have done was to make an "Ion Sr." with just a bit more capacity, side pockets and low weight. The Ion was 10oz/283g and 1500ci/25L. The old GoLite Dawn was about the same size as the Peak, but it was only a pound. It did not offer much in the way of structure and needed careful packing and a sleeping pad tube to get the most from it. I would build an Ion that is more like 30L, with side pockets and maybe a little bungee cord. That should come in under a pound and fill the gap in the line better than the Peak. I just bought an Osprey Aether 30 that is exactly that, but suffers with extra weight due to fabric choice and back padding.

I do prefer a pack that is wider and less deep, so it hugs in closer to the body and doesn't bounce around. The more tubular shaped packs are more for climbing, where the extra width might hamper arm movement.

GoLite Ion backpackOsprey Aether 30 backpack

Edited by dwambaugh on 01/05/2011 21:24:31 MST.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: GoLite Peak Backpack Review on 01/05/2011 22:30:01 MST Print View

I've been using the Peak since early last spring and it's the pack I use for most of my day hikes. It fits well, is versatile, has pockets where you need them, and has the right amount of volume. I like the shoulder straps much better than my 2009 Jam's.

However, there are some things about it that Will did not mention that I'm curious as to why he didn't see:

The upper side straps are positioned way too high (on my 2010 Pinnacle, too, as compared to my 2009 Jam, which were lower and positioned just right) towards the extension collar. When the pack is packed with a regular load the straps cinch all the way down, with no "purchase" in the sides of the pack. Only when the pack is stuffed all the way to fully filling the extension collar do these straps work.

The extension collar is so short that it acts as the regular top of the pack. You can't roll it down to protect the inside of the pack unless the pack is under-filled. Just 10 centimeters more would have made the collar useful and protected the inside of the pack.

The hipbelt pockets are quite tight for me. They have hardly any volume in comparison to the heftiness and bulk of the hipbelt wings themselves. Seems like most of the wings' fabric is dedicated to creating the "tunnel" that holds them onto the nylon straps that attach to the back of the pack.

There is something about the fabric coating for the 2010 version that feels much less reliable and cheaper than that of the 2009 pack coating. It always feels "wet", though it isn't. The fabric itself seems less substantial. I cannot really say if it is, though.

I like the pack and fits my needs, but these things make it not perfect for me.

Edited by butuki on 01/05/2011 22:31:50 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
go heavy on 01/06/2011 05:17:57 MST Print View

tom ..

same reason why people (including yours truly) buy osprey, marmot, BD and other daypacks that weight as much or more than an ohm or gorilla

you can try them on, they're often on sale, and yuppie marketing

while the peak doesn't look bad as a daypack ... i find it quite strange how BPL is applauding goheavy for increasing the weight of their pack line by the recommended rating ... with all these articles on "everything weights something" and "pitching your tent with the fewest stakes" ... then of course there is mr jordan's classic article on frameless packs ...

maybe BPL is trying to appeal to a more mainstream audience ... who knows? ... but i can definately tell you that i don't need reviews on a goheavy daypack or on the BD almost 4 lb infinity ... i can get those from other places ... what i do need is a review on something that helps me save weight without giving up much functionality

personally id like to see the envelop being pushed a bit more ... and the recommended rating being given for products that push the limits of technology and functionality ... gimme a dayback thats bomber, has the same comfort, and no unneeded features for 500g ... that would get my highly recommended rating ...

IMO companies should be rewarded for making lighter gear with the same functionality ... not for adding features or creating more "normal" stuff

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: go heavy on 01/06/2011 07:01:58 MST Print View

Hear, hear, Eric. Watching and participating in BPL since the beginning I've seen a real wave in terms of what kinds of gear and techniques people are concentrating on. Seven years ago it was all SUL. And the leaders, like Ryan J., GVP, Henry Shires, Alan Dixon, Bill Fornsnell, and lots of others were all gung ho about going as absolutely light as possible. Then something happened. They gradually seemed to lose interest and went on to other things and now rarely appear here anymore. I mean there were daily conversations with these people! Slowly they began to write articles about "sometimes a little extra weight is not so bad". I agree with them, of course. Going too light definitely scrimps on the comforts, but the spirit of the whole BPL site seemed to have deflated somewhat. People who came later just never saw lightweight in its real heyday. The technology is definitely making strides after the fact, but there isn't the raw excitement as there used to be, and hence the gradual increase in reviews of heavier gear. I guess it all comes in waves.

Brendan Kehde
(Caretaker) - F

Locale: Jupiter, Florida
Keep making these reviews on 01/06/2011 09:31:54 MST Print View

I am happy to see backpacking light's review of the new features of these packs. I see experienced reviewers who carefully consider how these packs work. There are many members here who choose to use these packs including myself. Golite packs are certainly part of a 10lb or less base weight, and that is Backpacking light.

While they may not be pushing the limits of weight, they are a pretty highly evolved product which strikes a great balance between many competing factors. Light enough. Strong enough. Simple enough. Featured enough. Well-made enough. Cheap enough. Multi-use enough.

It seems to me that although the name Backpacking light uses the word light it also means enlightened. After all, what do we really do this for? It's not to have gone out with the lightest possible piece of gear. It's to find the right gear to give us our best experience.

Want to see more about the super duper light? See a void opening up where the founding fathers are no longer present or relevant to your viewpoint? Maybe you can be the solution to the problem you see. I look forward to reading and learning from what you can discover.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: not-so-ultralight on 01/06/2011 09:47:09 MST Print View

Could be they are getting older too :) Like many new converts to a belief system, there is a period of passion that mellows with time. So you touch the SUL barrier and then find yourself taking longer trips, or your 3oz wind pants get holes in them from just sitting down, and your gear pokes you in the kidneys through your sweaty frameless SUL pack, etc.

I noted the same trend with the articles on framed packs. There some upper weight limits imposed, but nothing like a 9oz SUL frameless pack. Certainly no 5 pound base weights in mind.

There might be some growing family influences too. Spartan SUL rigs are the bailiwick of young solo hikers. Add old bones on cold ground, unconverted hiking partners and/or kids and things get heavier. That doesn't mean throwing out all the good UL concepts, but your pack weight will increase if your partner won't sleep under a tarp or you take a 5 year old with you.

And I'll bet you run out of things to talk about. Okay, you made your 6oz stuff-sack-with-shoulder-straps pack and slept on a 1/8" pad with a quilt under a Cuben tarp. You find it works for a 6 week Summer window for overnighters, but there is the rest of the year, or you go on a 1000km trek through the Arctic, or haul 20 pounds of photo gear along with your personal kit. Those 5 pound base weights vanish with a couple feet of snow and windchill in the single digits.

Small organizations like BPL suffer from limited staff too. Much of the information of late is from two reviewers: Will Rietveld and Roger Caffin. Not that they haven't done a good job, but that is only two sets of eyes.

Backpacking and hiking covers a huge range of people, countries, climates, and purposes: day hiking, overnights, multi-day, thru-hikes, climbing, long-range expeditions, general travel, and classic trekking. I think a lot of the early stuff concentrated on pushing the limits and thru-hiking, but there are so many more hiking categories to investigate. There are comparatively few reviews given the wide range of uses and the flood of gear, so the focus may appear to be different.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: not-so-ultralight on 01/06/2011 10:36:58 MST Print View

Some great points, Dale. Then again you've been one of the long-term members with whom I started out on all this with. We've seen a lot of gear! And so have Will and Roger! It's actually quite amazing how much staying power they have. There really can't be a lot of exciting new ideas coming out all the time. The Peak is certainly no exception.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
good points on 01/06/2011 11:31:25 MST Print View

good points ...

the problem though Dale, is that for reviews of "normal" gear i can hit up, blogs or even "gasp" mainstream media ...

im looking for "pack less, be more" like it says on the logo ... not that im SUL or even UL most of the time ... but BPL should be like that nagging relative which whispers in yr ear "go lighter, go lighter"

modern materials should allow for some crazy products with minimal loss of comfort or functionality

Edited by bearbreeder on 01/06/2011 11:32:21 MST.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: good points on 01/06/2011 11:47:53 MST Print View

BPL is a great website. They don't need to nag anybody. You can be ultralight with almost any golite backpack.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
member on 01/06/2011 12:10:27 MST Print View

thats why you must be a member of this great site john ;)

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Responses to GoLite Peak Backpack review on 01/06/2011 12:19:17 MST Print View

Hi all, good conversation going regarding the GoLite Peak pack, and pack reviews in general. Here are a few responses:

Brendon: You are very observant, the 2004 Jam we reviewed weighed 21.1 ounces, the 2007 Jam2 weighed 22.1 ounces, and the 2010 Jam jumped to 32 ounces. You asked what accounts for the weight increase. For one thing, the Jam now has hipbelt pockets. GoLite has moved to all recycled fabrics, which weight a bit more. The remainder is probably in the padding.

Michael: You asked if one can purchase a Peak or Jam with a different sized hipbelt, eg a medium pack with a large hipbelt. I checked with GoLite and the answer is no, not right now, but its a good suggestion.

Another reader commented: why purchase a 2 pound frameless backpack when you can get a framed pack for the same (or less) weight? Very true. The ULA Ohm is a good example, and Osprey is coming out with the framed Hornet 46 this spring, which weighs 24 ounces. I am currently working on a frameless/removable frame backpack state of the market report, to be published early this summer, and in that article I will address that issue.

Here's my input to the discussion on BPL's choice to gear to review. Yes, BPL did start out with a focus mostly on UL and SUL. Then we got a lot of feedback from people who want more coverage of lightweight gear, saying the articles on going UL are interesting reading, but its not for them. A large percentage of our readership are folks who want to lighten up, but are less interested in going UL. Currently we try to please everyone by covering a range of gear from UL to LW. For a lightweight backpack, our current weight limit is 4 pounds max, preferably less than 3.5 pounds. For these packs we are looking for a balance of weight, features, comfort, and durability.

Happy New Year! Lets make our new year's resolution this year to do more hiking. Best,

Edited by WilliWabbit on 01/06/2011 12:21:14 MST.

joe newton

Locale: Bergen, Norway
Mixed bag... on 01/06/2011 12:34:14 MST Print View

I bought the Peak at the end of last winter hoping it would be like a smaller version of the Jam or Pinnacle, a pack I love for bulky winter trips. I didn't have a problem with the weight of the Peak (I liked the switch to a recycled fabric and knew that I would be making the pack a bit lighter with the aid of a pair of scissors...) but there are some functional issues that seem to have been overlooked in the review. Miguel pointed a couple of them out in an earlier post above.

I agree that the extension collar is WAY too short. Compared to the extension collar on my Pinnacle the one on the Peak is almost non-existent. You have to pack EXACTLY the right volume of gear for the collar to offer any protection.

The need to fill the pack perfectly also affects the upper side compression strap which renders it practically useless if the pack is under-filled at all. The lower side compression strap is too close to the upper edge of the side pockets too and gets in the way when trying to 'edge' in a water-bottle or kuksa. During my packs 'diet' these lower compression straps were removed, along with the Compaktor thingies, the ice axe loops, bladder sleeve and chest strap.

The adjustable, removable hip belt pockets were a bit of a waste too. The actual pockets are too small and the attachment system is over complicated. I personally don't see the need for a hip belt on such a small volume pack but if Go-Lite are going to offer one then just make it like the good ones on the Jam & Pinnacle and let us cut it off if we want.

While I used the peak for a fantastic two night trip way back in the cool, early spring mountains it had too many flaws for my liking and got relegated to the pack I use everyday to cart my lunch, spare clothes and thermos of coffee on my 40 minute commute to work. It has a great volume for lightweight trips, good weight, great price, availability and the recycled fabric content must be applauded but it wasn't quite right for me.

I wish Go-Lite would have just given us a mini Jam.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: good points on 01/06/2011 13:01:19 MST Print View

Eric chan-ted: "im looking for "pack less, be more" like it says on the logo ... not that im SUL or even UL most of the time ... but BPL should be like that nagging relative which whispers in yr ear "go lighter, go lighter"."

There's plenty of "fringe" SUL stuff to ruminate, and the locals will rip you a new one if you publish a gear list with lead in it. I think it is good to have the wide range of gear to select from. I personally have a very light shelter and a heavier pack, synthetic insulation (read volume and weight), a UL kitchen kit, etc. It is a mix. By using the UL principles I am able to keep it under control and I know very well what my choices are and the awareness that they are *choices*, rather than "correct" or some absolute.

All said, the difference between "comfy" UL and freaky SUL is only about 5 or 6 pounds. That is 10% of what I used to carry. Even the "heavy" stuff reviewed here is half or a third the weight of some of the stuff touted in Backpacker and other mainstream sources.

The market has swung a bit to the light side, so there are more middle-of-the-road options to review. I guess GoLite's trend is another measure of that. There is no doubt in my mind that retail businesses don't want to see the returns on UL gear that people have trashed, so some manufacturer's have moved to slightly heavier but more durable goods in an attempt to stay on the shelves. I can see where mainstream consumers will put up with a something like a Flash 18 at $29, but will return a $200 UL pack that they outright abused. That is where the cottage manufacturer's can excel, as they have no middleman to satisfy and they are delivering directly to the faithful. Don't kid yourself that the REI's and big Dot Com's don't have the data on what got returned, created customer service headaches and lost profit. I see REI only has 10 GoLite items on their web site, really only 5 if you count gender/size overlap. That has to hurt at the factory. At the same time hey have expanded their own UL pack line to 4 models. To compare, there are 73 various Osprey pack products listed, including travel stuff.

I was in the REI gear garage the other night, going through a tub of returned backpacks. You really need to touch and lift some of those leaden rigs to remember where we have gone. I found heavily padded packs with monster suspensions, dripping straps and geegaws that made my "heavy" Osprey Exos seem like fairy dust.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: member on 01/06/2011 13:15:24 MST Print View

: )

Edited by jshann on 01/06/2011 14:21:24 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: member on 01/06/2011 13:59:53 MST Print View

It's always so nice to see threads reduced to such lowest common denominator comments ;) It brings back fond memories of living in a trailer park.