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GoLite Infinity Backpack REVIEW

The 50 liter GoLite Infinity provides stable load carrying with an innovative internal frame and enough options to sufficiently organize your gear, for less than three pounds.

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by Alan Dixon | 2004-08-24 03:00:00-06

GoLite Infinity Backpack REVIEW

Overview

The Infinity pack is the largest of GoLite's new Unlimited Series of internal frame packs. We found that the Infinity's frame and harness were good enough to comfortably carry at least 40 pounds (18 kg), possibly more. This is remarkable for a sub 2.5 pound (1.1 kg), 3,250 cubic inch (53 L) pack with durable fabric and all the bells and whistles such as the Infinity’s fully padded harness, five pockets, including a top lid with pocket, durable xPac™ fabric in high wear areas, dual tool loops, a hydration sleeve, good load compression, and a narrow climbing friendly profile. The Infinity will do everything from a casual overnight to a multi-day ice climb to a week-long backcountry ski trip.

All the Unlimited Series packs use a new corrugated polystyrene framesheet reinforced with aluminum rods. The light but strong framesheet makes the Unlimited Series packs rigid enough to compete with conventional internal frame packs using twin metal stays, but for a lot less weight. The Infinity has one of the most comfortable harnesses we've used on a pack. Using innovative Brock™ foam, it is well padded and shock absorbent. The Brock™ foam strikes a good balance between cushioning for comfort, and resilience for maintaining the shape of the harness and performance under load.

One of the Infinity's strengths is moisture management. Much of this is due to the use of Brock™ foam which doesn't absorb water and breathes well due to its open pore structure. GoLite uses Schoeller® Dryskin Extreme™ stretch woven fabric on all harness contact areas which further helps to wick away moisture. While the Brock™ foam, Schoeller® Dryskin Extreme™, and Spacer Mesh foam backpanel combination is not a miracle cure for a sweaty back and shoulders, we did not get as sweaty in the Infinity's harness as packs using conventional foams and fabrics. What sweat we did generate dried out a lot faster than on other packs we’ve used.

Specifications

• Backpack Style

Top loading internal frame with top lid pocket closure.

• Fabric Description

Pack body, top lid and pocket: SiLite HG™ silicone impregnated/polyurethane coated 40d 3.0 oz/yd2(102 g/m2) polyester. Pack bottom and rear pockets: xPac™, a 3 layer laminated 50d-1000d-40d tear and abrasion resistant polyester and nylon fabric. Schoeller® Dryskin Extreme™ and other fabrics are also used on the pack

• Sizes (Size L tested)

SizesTorso Length (in)Torso Length (cm)
S16-1841-46
M18-2046-51
L20-2251-56

• Volume (Size L tested)

SizesVolume (ci)Volume (L)
S2,85047
M3,05050
L3,25053

• Weight (Size L tested)

SizesBackpackingLight Measured Weight oz (g)Manufacturer Specification Weight oz (g)
SNot measured37 (1049)
MNot measured39 (1106)
L39.5 (1120)41 (1162)

• Volume to Weight Ratio

82 ci/oz, size L (based on 3250 ci, size L, and Backpacking Light measured weight of 39.5 oz)

• Load Carrying Capacity

40+ lbs (18+ kg) as estimated by Backpacking Light

• Carry Load to Pack Weight Performance Ratio

16 (based on 40 lbs and Backpacking Light measured weight of 39.5 oz)

• MSRP

$199

• Manufacturer's Contact Information

GoLite
(888)-5-GOLITE
http://www.golite.com

Features

Ratings follow subtitles on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, and are relative to other Backpacking Light tested internal frame packs.

framesheet
GoLite’s Infinity Series 6.3 oz (179 g) framesheet: It is corrugated polystyrene, the same material the US Postal service uses on their white letter collection baskets. GoLite reinforces the framesheet with 7075 aluminum rods (seen as lighter areas in the photo) inserted into the sheet’s corrugations.

Frame and Suspension - 5.0

GoLite improves upon the plastic framesheet concept to make their Unlimited Series rigid enough to compete with conventional internal frame packs using twin metal stays. With the Infinity pack, they do this and still bring a 3,250 cubic inch (53 L) fully featured pack with a top lid and durable fabric in at less than 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg). We found the Infinity’s framesheet rigid enough to comfortably support a 40-pound (18 kg) pack load without significant collapse. The key component to GoLite’s framesheet is corrugated polystyrene. This is similar to conventional cardboard used in boxes only made out of plastic. It is the same material the US Postal service uses on their white letter collection baskets. GoLite reinforces the framesheet with 7075 aluminum rods inserted into the sheet’s corrugations. These rods allow you to bend the framesheet to custom fit to your back the same way you would bend an aluminum frame stay in a conventional pack.

The Infinity has one of the most comfortable ultralight harnesses we've used on a pack. The harness' innovative Brock™ foam strikes a good balance between light weight, cushioning for comfort, and resilience for maintaining the shape of the harness under load. The shape and cut of the shoulder straps comfortably fit our upper torsos. The Brock™ foam Schoeller® Dryskin Extreme™ combination is used on the Infinity’s shoulder straps, lumbar pad and hipbelt. The multi-foam-panel design of the hipbelt and large side wings did a better job of contouring around our hips than most single foam panel hipbelts. The articulations between the foam panels helped it flex and conform to our hips. With this design and the slip resistant texture of the hipbelt’s fabric, we had minimal hipbelt slippage with 40-pound (18 kg) pack loads.

harness
The Infinity’s harness: This shows the multi-foam-panel hipbelt design and articulated lumbar pad. Both use breathable Brock™ foam and are lined with Schoeller® Dryskin Extreme™ stretch woven fabric. The black fabric above and on the sides of the lumbar pad as well as the yellow mesh fabric are part of the Spacer Mesh foam back panel which contributes to moisture management.

One of the Infinity's strengths is moisture management. Much of this is due to the use of Brock™ foam, which doesn't absorb water and breathes well due to its open pore structure. GoLite uses Schoeller® Dryskin Extreme™ stretch woven fabric on all harness contact areas which further helps to wick away moisture. The back panel of the pack is covered with porous and breathable Spacer Mesh foam. There is a center channel in the Spacer Mesh foam to create a chimney ventilation effect. While the Brock™ foam, Schoeller® Dryskin Extreme™, and Spacer Mesh foam back panel combination is not a miracle cure for a sweaty back and shoulders, we did not get as sweaty in the Infinity's harness as with packs using conventional foams and fabrics. What sweat we did generate dried out a lot faster.

Other than shoulder strap length, there are no means to adjust the harness to accommodate varying torso lengths. However, the Infinity is offered in three sizes (small, medium, and large) to fit torsos from 16 to 22 inches (41 to 56 cm). Unless you like carrying weight on your shoulders, we recommend going up a size if in doubt.

One gripe we have with the Infinity is that the load lifter straps attach 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) above the top of the framesheet. This 1.5 inch long strip of very flexible SiLite HG™ fabric significantly limits the straps’ load lifting capabilities. Unless the Infinity is packed tightly in the upper portion of the pack, the load lifter straps only pull the top of the pack towards your back. I still found the pack comfortable as I had selected a large pack which was a bit long for my 19.5 inch (50 cm) torso. As such, the shoulder strap attachment points were high enough that I didn’t have much need for load lifting (mimicking an ‘off the shoulder’ strap design similar to McHale packs). Users nearer the pack’s recommended torso size may find load lifting more of a problem.

Usable Features and Ease of Use - 5.0

The Infinity has a wealth of pockets for an ultralight internal frame pack. There are five in all including two mesh water bottle pockets on the sides, two large vertical bellows pockets using xPac™ fabric on the rear of the pack, and a top lid pocket with SiLite HG™ fabric. We found that we could put a 600 milliliter (20 oz) cup and a large fuel bottle in a rear pocket and still have room at the top to store extra clothing. It's been a while since we've seen an internal framed pack in this weight range with a floating top lid pocket.

Features of the Infinity are:

  • 3.0 oz/yd2 (102 g/m2) SilLite HG™ main body
  • X-Pac™ composite three layer fabric reinforcements in key wear areas and rear pockets
  • Floating top lid with zippered security pocket and stretch panel for snug seal (SiLite with HG™ fabric)
  • Extension collar
  • Two large vertical bellows rear pockets using xPac™ fabric
  • Two mesh water bottle pockets on the sides with angled opening for easy access
  • 3-liter hydration sleeve
  • Dual ice axe loops with Velcro® retention straps
  • Three small daisy chains
  • Sternum strap and Haul loop

The Infinity has an internal sleeve on the back panel for a hydration bladder and the requisite hydration ports and tube mounting accoutrements on the shoulder straps. Using a hydration bladder with the Infinity steals internal volume on what is not a huge pack to begin with. Refilling the bladder is a problem as you have to unload and reload most of the main pack bag to put the re-filled bladder back in the pack.

Load Volume Flexibility (Compression) - 4.0

With four side compression straps, the Infinity does a respectable job of compressing loads and adjusting to different volumes. The floating top lid and closure strap adds compression in the vertical direction. We had little difficulty keeping all but very small volume loads under control. For very small loads (not really what the pack was intended for) the lack of bottom compression straps was the limiting factor. Larger loads can be accommodated by putting gear underneath the floating top pocket and by strapping equipment to the mini daisy chains on the back of the pack. On a spring ski trip we attached our foam sleeping pad outside the pack using the daisy chains and stashed our synthetic parka under the floating top pocket.

Field Performance

load lifter
The Infinity’s excellent load control and harness bring loads close to the torso for good balance whether you ski, ice climb, or are just working your way along a difficult cross country route.

Pack Load Carrying - 5.0

GoLite does not list a weight limit for the Infinity. We found the pack very comfortable at up to 30 pounds (14 kg) on a spring ski trip in Yellowstone's high backcountry. The pack did an excellent job controlling loads and keeping us in balance while skiing some treacherous descents. We also made a few shorter outings with 40 pounds (18 kg) in the pack just to test the pack load carrying capacity. We felt the Infinity did a fine job of handling these loads as well. The pack's rigid framesheet and excellent harness are major contributors to this performance. One could probably carry more than 40 pounds in the pack, but the 3,250 cubic inch (53 L) capacity may become the limiting factor. Other than climbing gear or water for a desert crossing we can't think of many instances where you would find room to carry that much weight in a pack this size.

Durability - 4.5

The Infinity is one of the more durable internal frame packs we've tested in the 2.5 pound (1.1 kg) weight range. Much of this durability comes from placing the tough xPack™ fabric in high wear areas, the bottom and back of the pack (via the rear pockets). The 40 denier 3.0 oz/yd2 (102 g/m2) SiLite HG™ fabric used in much of the pack is stronger and more abrasion resistant than the 1.4 to 1.7 oz/yd2 (48 - 58 g/m2) silicone impregnated nylon used in many ultralight packs. Nonetheless, the exposed SiLite HG™ fabric on the top lid, upper sides of the Infinity, and a small area below the rear pockets, while not as prone to contact with sharp objects, is not up to scrapes against rough granite or extended bushwhacking through head high vegetation. We do feel that with reasonable care there is little chance of ripping this fabric. In some encounters with high branches the SiLite HG™ fabric held up well with no nicks or tears - only a few surface blemishes showed where branches had scraped against the fabric. Finally, the solid feel of the Brock™ foam and Schoeller® Dryskin Extreme™ harness components exudes durability and no signs of wear were detected.

Value - 4.0

It is neither the lightest internal frame pack nor the cheapest, but the Infinity is more durable than most similar packs and has about every feature one would want on a pack including a floating top pocket. At $199, and considering its load carrying capacity, durability, and extensive features, the GoLite Infinity is good value. It will do everything from a casual overnight to a serious winter climb or a backcountry ski trip. For the latter two pursuits, it is a very light pack and a great choice. Add some value points if you intend to use the pack for climbing or skiing, or aggressive cross-country travel.

Recommendations for Improvement

ski trip
Getting ready for a descent: The Infinity Pack high in Yellowstone’s backcountry on a five-day spring ski tour. The pack has about 30 pounds (14 kg) of gear in it.

We’d like to see the load lifter straps anchored into the top of the framesheet (this would probably mean extending the framesheet up a few inches). This would improve the straps’ load lifting performance and the shoulder straps’ performance as well. Given the pack’s obvious design for alpine mountaineering and winter backcountry skiing, we would like to see tougher fabric on the top lid pocket - possibly with a crampon pad and/or attachment point for an extra winter sleep pad. We’d also like to see the xPac™ fabric extended up to meet the bottom of the rear pockets to protect a potential abrasion point. A central daisy chain between the rear pockets would help to attach additional gear like a cold weather foam sleeping pad.

Finally, we would rather have seen the hydration pocket located on the outside of the pack, or a pack design that does not include such a specifically designed pocket. Leaving the internal hydration pocket off while retaining the hydration ports would permit the use of an internal hydration bladder without the weight and complexity of the pocket.


Citation

"GoLite Infinity Backpack REVIEW," by Alan Dixon. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/golite_infinity_review.html, 2004-08-24 03:00:00-06.

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