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GoLite Galaxy Backpack REVIEW

Lightweight for the volume, plenty of weight-carrying capacity, and user-friendly features, although the water bottle pockets could be more easily accessible.


by Will Rietveld | 2006-01-10 03:00:00-07

GoLite Galaxy Backpack REVIEW


At 4600 cubic inches, the Galaxy is the largest pack in the GoLite Unlimited Series, which is focused on using advanced materials to provide full suspension weight-carrying capacity with maximum comfort and minimum weight. This lightweight pack is like a Lexus truck - it carries the load with elegance, comfort, and convenience.

What’s Good

  • Great suspension system
  • Comfortably carries heavy loads
  • Full-featured
  • Shower-proof
  • Very durable

What’s Not So Good

  • Hipbelt is a little too stiff
  • Lacks hipbelt pockets
  • Side water bottle pockets do not allow easy access with the pack on



2005 GoLite Galaxy


Internal frame, top loading, drawstring closure, top lid


4600 ci (75 L) size L (3250 ci main compartment + 850 ci pockets + 500 ci extension collar)


3 lb 10.2 oz (1.65 kg) measured weight; manufacturer’s specification 3 lb 11 oz (1.68 kg)


Main body is 9 oz/yd2 Arrowhead Cordura; front pocket, bottom, and sleeping bag compartment are Dimension Polyant X-Pac (a three-layer fabric consisting of a 50d ripstop polyester inner layer, a 1000d polyester mesh middle layer, and a 40d ripstop polyester outer layer with DWR); top lid and extension collar are SilLite HG (40d polyester with silicone outside coating and polyurethane inside coating); stretch panels on top lid are 93% nylon and 7% lycra


Floating top lid with two straps and side release buckles, zippered top pocket, stretch panels on top lid, two internal compartments (lower one is a zippered sleeping bag compartment), four side compression straps and one top compression strap, two mesh water bottle pockets with angled openings, bellowed front pocket with double sliding zipper, outside zippers are water-resistant type, two ice axe loops with Velcro retention loops, two front accessory straps with side release buckles, 3-liter hydration sleeve with two ports, haul loop, load lifters, hipbelt stabilizers, sternum strap

  Volume To Weight Ratio

79 ci/oz size L (based on 4600 ci and a measured weight of 58.2 oz)

  Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity

40 lb (18.1 kg) estimated maximum comfortable load an average person can carry all day in this pack

  Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio

11.0 (based on 40 lb and a measured weight of 3.64 lb)




When I backpack with my wife, we go lightweight and take a few luxuries, and I’m the pack mule. The heavier load requires an internal frame pack. Before I started testing the GoLite Galaxy pack, the Osprey Aether 60 was my favorite pack for that purpose, as well as through-hikes and winter camping. The Galaxy has eclipsed the Aether 60 in my pack arsenal. The Galaxy at 4600 cubic inches and 58.2 ounces is the largest pack in the GoLite Unlimited Series, which is focused on using advanced materials to provide full suspension weight-carrying capacity with maximum comfort and minimum weight. If you are looking for a larger-volume internal frame pack, the Galaxy merits your consideration for its high volume and weight-carrying capacity, good organizational features, and comfort.

The backbone of the Galaxy is its innovative corrugated polystyrene framesheet that extends the full height of the pack (see photo below). It has several imbedded 7075 aluminum rods plus two attached 0.5-inch wide aluminum stays. The framesheet slides into a tight, zippered pocket against the pack’s molded foam backpanel. The tops of the stays line up with the load lifter straps, solidly anchoring the pack’s frame with its suspension.

GoLite Galaxy Backpack REVIEW - 1
The GoLite Galaxy backpack provides plenty of padding and comfort in its shoulder harness, backpanel, and hipbelt (left). Its innovative corrugated polystyrene framesheet (right) has integrated and attached aluminum stays (left one shown out of its sleeve) to provide effective weight transfer to the hips. The framesheet can be molded to the contour of your back (photo shows the framesheet after it was fitted to my back).

The framesheet comes with a generic contour to fit your back. The initial fit felt good, but on my first couple of trips with the Galaxy, I experienced some pain and numbness in my lower back after carrying the pack all day. At home, my wife and I pulled out the framesheet and went to work tailoring it to my back curvature. We found it a little challenging, but doable. With the aluminum stays removed, it was fairly easy to shape the plastic framesheet by bending it on the edge of a counter (warming it with a heat gun helped). Once the framesheet was molded to my back, we bent the stays to match. With the extra curvature, it was a bit hard to get the stays back into their sleeves. When it was all done, we had dialed in a perfect fit, and the Galaxy has been a pleasure to carry since then.

The harness system includes load-lifter straps to pull the top of the pack against your back, contoured shoulder straps, and a sternum strap that is very easy to adjust and connect. Shoulder straps are padded with Brock foam (a non-absorptive polyethylene closed-cell foam). The contact surface is Schoeller Dryskin Extreme stretch-woven fabric for wicking away moisture.

The backpanel is padded with thermo-molded closed-cell foam with ergonomic curvatures to conform to your back. The Galaxy has GoLite’s Ergo-Flex hipbelt, which is claimed to flex and rotate three-dimensionally with hip movements. The hipbelt and lumbar region are well padded with Brock foam surfaced with Schoeller Dryskin fabric for wicking away moisture. I found that the hipbelt supported a fully loaded pack well, but it is a little too stiff to conform to the hips.

To determine the pack’s comfortable load-carrying capacity I assessed the pack’s structural load capacity and suspension comfort (see related article on Quantitative Analysis of Backpack Suspension Performance by Ryan Jordan). I tested the Galaxy with up to 50 pounds and found no pack torso collapse (and only a small amount of hipbelt slippage). Suspension comfort was subjectively determined by carrying the pack all day with a range of loads. From these tests, I determined the Galaxy’s comfortable load carrying capacity (for me) to be 40 pounds. It easily carried my normal lightweight backpacking loads of 24-30 pounds.

The Galaxy is very user-friendly for packing. It has a roomy top compartment with top access and drawcord closure, and a lower sleeping bag compartment with a wrap-around water-resistant zipper (with double sliders). The baffle between the top and bottom compartments has an opening on one side to allow taller items to pass through, so a fishing rod or tent poles can be carried inside the pack. The upper compartment will hold a 9-inch x 10-inch bear canister and a lot more, overflowing into a 10-inch high extension collar.

On the outside there is a 9-inch x 12-inch front pocket with a wrap-around water-resistant zipper (with double sliders). It’s bellowed out about 2 inches, and provides a good amount of convenient storage, but twice as much capacity would be useful. The side mesh pockets are wide enough to carry two, 1-quart water bottles or a 2-liter bladder. A nice arrangement is to carry water in one side pocket and a fuel bottle or other gear in the other. The pockets are angled some, but not enough to easily reach and replace a water bottle. On the bottom front of the pack there are two accessory straps for lashing a tent or other gear to the pack (see photo). The pocket in the top lid is very handy to store rainwear or other frequently used items.

GoLite Galaxy Backpack REVIEW - 2
User-friendly features on the GoLite Galaxy (left) include front and top pockets with water-resistant zippers, and accessory straps near the bottom to attach a tent or other gear. The side mesh pockets (right) are angled to access water bottles with the pack on. I was able to grab a bottle, but just barely. Note the wide hipbelt, shoulder strap attachment, and hipbelt stabilizer.

The Galaxy provides a full set of features for stabilizing the load: four side compression straps, a drawcord closure plus top compression strap, load lifters, and hipbelt stabilizers. With the pack properly adjusted, I find it to be very stable on the trail, staying glued to my body and not shifting when I lean to the side or bend over.

With the Galaxy, GoLite has achieved its goal to utilize advanced materials to provide full suspension weight-carrying capacity with maximum comfort and minimum weight. For a little over 3.5 pounds, you get a lot of volume and weight carrying capacity and most every feature you would want.

What’s Unique

The GoLite Galaxy’s innovative corrugated plastic framesheet with integrated and attached aluminum stays is lightweight and really transfers weight from shoulders to hips for more comfort. The framesheet can be molded to your back for a custom fit.

Recommendations for Improvement

Overall, the Galaxy did not leave me wanting for much. I would like to see the front pocket doubled in size so it will hold more frequently used items. The padding on the hipbelt could be a little softer so it better conforms to the hips. Roomy hipbelt pockets would be a nice addition. Finally, if GoLite really wants to impress, including a padded case on the shoulder harness for a digital camera or MP3 player would be way cool!


"GoLite Galaxy Backpack REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2006-01-10 03:00:00-07.