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GoLite Multi-Sport Backpack REVIEW

If you can fit your gear into 30 liters, for 1 pound 5 ounces you get a bomber pack with almost every conceivable feature (except a frame).

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by Alan Dixon | 2006-10-24 03:00:00-06


GoLite Multi-Sport Backpack REVIEW - 1
For 1 pound 5 ounces, you get a bomber pack with almost every conceivable feature (except a frame). The author easily fit all his gear for a three day trip into the GoLite Multi-Sport Pack.

The GoLite Multi-Sport pack is a frameless, panel-loading, small volume pack for ultralight backpacking, fast packing, and adventure racing. Alternatively, it can be used as a large day pack. The Multi-Sport is a larger version of the popular GoLite 24 adventure racing pack. With over fifty percent more volume than the 24, a dedicated ultralight backpacker can get a five-day or longer trip out of this pack. Other backpackers may eek out an overnighter or three day weekend. Part of the fun is challenging yourself to get your gear down to 31 liters (1900 ci)!

What’s Good

  • For 1 pound 5 ounces (size medium) you get a bomber pack with almost every conceivable feature
  • Excellent load control. Good for maintaining balance in difficult terrain and/or climbing. You can even run in the pack
  • Good external storage - lots of pockets, bungees and daisy chains
  • Durable 6.7 oz/yd2 Arrowhead Cordura nylon pack body
  • Hipbelt is comfortable, contours to the waist, distributes load well, and has pockets
  • The air channel backpanel ventilates your back
  • "Cool Factor" of carrying a small pack

What’s Not So Good

  • Limited volume. Only dedicated ultralight backpackers will be able to get more than an overnighter out of the Multi-Sport (but those who can will love the pack)
  • Shoulder strap foam is not firm enough
  • External side pockets and hipbelt pockets are small
  • Pack is not waterproof (nor is it intended to be waterproof)
  • Lack of frame, and shoulder strap design limit load capacity to 20 pounds or less (but most hikers will be challenged to fit more than 15-20 pounds in the pack)





2006 Multi-Sport Pack


Frameless, panel loading


Size Large (tested): 2000 ci (33 L). Size Medium: 1900 ci (31 L)


Size Large (tested): 1 lb 10 oz (0.74 kg) measured weight; manufacturer’s specification 1 lb 6 oz (0.62 kg). Size Medium: 1 lb 5 oz (0.60 kg) manufacturer’s specification.


Arrowhead Cordura double ripstop nylon pack body, 6.7 oz/yd2 (227 g/m2)


  • Panel loading, small volume pack for ultralight backpacking and adventure racing
  • Webbing hipbelt with gusseted mesh pockets
  • Two side mesh pockets
  • Compression straps on each side (which also secure long loads in side pockets)
  • Large rear stretch mesh contoured sleeve/pocket with side stabilizer mesh panel and bungee drawcord with snap
  • Contoured air-channel mesh backpanel
  • Front-loading #5 coil zippered main compartment (not a waterproof zipper)
  • Two internal 3-liter hydration sleeves
  • Front daisy chain
  • Rear bungee system for gear attachment
  • Ice axe loop and haul loop

  Volume To Weight Ratio

76.9 ci/oz size L (based on 2000 ci and a measured weight of 26 oz)

  Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity

20 lb (9.1 kg) estimated comfortable load carrying capacity for an average person carrying the pack all day. The manufacturer’s estimate is 25 lb (11.3 kg)

  Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio

12.3 (based on 20 lb and a measured weight of 1.62 lb)




The advantage of a small pack designed for adventure racing, such as the GoLite Multi-Sport, is its good load control. The pack and its contents are closer to your center of gravity than a large volume “backpacking” pack. As such, the pack moves with you helping your balance in difficult terrain such as off trail scrambling, peak bagging or even running. The narrow profile of the pack and durable fabric are well suited to bushwhacking, canyoneering, or climbing. And there is a definite "Cool Factor" to carrying such a small pack into the backcountry.

At 2000 cubic inches in size large, the Multi-Sport is also a popular pack size for a day hiking. It's about the right size to hold summer gear for two people sharing the pack or winter day hiking gear for one person.

With the hipbelt, shoulder straps and sternum strap properly adjusted I found that I could run in the Multi-Sport Pack without it flopping around. I did just that on a couple of sections of the AT to make up time when I was behind schedule and losing daylight. I had an easy time boulder hopping across streams. A surprise advantage of the pack was its stability while walking long stretches of deep bogs with alternating footing of spongy sphagnum moss, rocks, decaying logs, and the occasional extra deep (and hidden) pocket of water and muck.

The feature set of the Multi-Sport includes a durable Cordura nylon pack body, webbing hipbelt with side pockets, padded shoulder straps, padded and ventilated backpanel, three external pockets, two internal 3-liter hydration sleeves with hydration ports, bungee cord frontpanel, daisy chain, and compression straps.

GoLite Multi-Sport Backpack REVIEW - 3
The GoLite Multi-Sport Pack has excellent external storage. A fuel canister failed the first night and I had to leave the stove attached to the canister; an awkward item to stow. The solution was easy with all the storage options available on the Multi-Sport Pack. In this case the rear bungee was perfect.

The Multi-Sport Pack has a good assortment of external pockets, bungees, and daisy chains. With strategic external storage of gear you may not need to go into the main pack body for most of the day. But some of the pockets are a bit small. The side pockets are too short to adequately stow a 2 liter Platypus bladder (although the side compression straps help). The hipbelt pockets are small - they will fit an energy bar, a snack in a baggie, or Geko size GPS, but they do not comfortably fit an e-Trex size GPS or a compact digital camera.

GoLite Multi-Sport Backpack REVIEW - 2
The contoured air-channel mesh backpanel on the GoLite Multi-Sport. While not perfect, I found that the air channel kept my back less sweaty than most packs I’ve used. The arrow points to the center air channel that is formed by the two raised side panels of foam and mesh.

The suspension of the Multi-Sport is a mixture of mostly good and some just OK design. It has a very good webbing hipbelt. It wraps around the waist, distributes load well and is very comfortable. The overall geometry of the pack body, hipbelt, shoulder straps, and sternum strap did a good job of keeping the pack tight against my torso. As noted earlier I could even run in the pack. The only downside of the suspension is that the shoulder strap foam is not firm enough to distribute load across the full width of the straps. This affects the overall comfortable load carrying capacity of the pack. The shoulder straps worked fine with the 12-15 pound loads I typically carried, although I needed to use the sternum strap to adjust them to a comfortable position. At over 20 pounds the shoulder straps start to dig in and become uncomfortable. So, 20 pounds is probably the comfortable carry limit of the pack unless you have tougher than average shoulders. (This may be a moot point since most backpackers will be challenged get more than 15-20 pounds of gear into the 31 to 33 liter volume of the Multi-Sport Pack.)

The Multi-Sport Pack is not designed to be waterproof. Instead, it is designed to drain water. The main compartment zipper on the top of the pack is not waterproof and has no storm flap. There are large, strategically placed drain holes so that any water that gets in the pack body or pockets will quickly exit. To keep gear dry you’ll need to use a pack cover, a waterproof pack liner and/or waterproof storage sacks. One advantage of the draining design is that the main compartment zipper is easy to use (waterproof zippers are notorious for being sticky and difficult to operate). Another advantage is that you get to decide on the necessity and added weight of waterproofing your pack and its contents. Depending on your philosophy about waterproofing a pack, you’ll either love or hate the Multi-Sport Pack’s design. Personally, I like the design.

What’s Unique

GoLite Multi-Sport Backpack REVIEW - 4

The Multi-sport is a unique blend of very durable pack fabric, excellent load control, good external storage, sized for three to five day off trail trips (assuming an ultralight hiker with a compact load) in a pack that weighs 1 pound 5 ounces in size medium (1 pound 10 ounces in size large). It clearly shows its adventure racing roots, and is one of a few packs that one can run in.

Recommendations for Improvement

The shoulder straps on the GoLite Multi-Sport Pack need stiffer foam. The hipbelt pockets should be large enough to store an e-Trex size GPS and/or a compact digital camera. At least one of the side pockets could be a bit taller to hold a 2 liter Platypus bladder.


"GoLite Multi-Sport Backpack REVIEW," by Alan Dixon. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2006-10-24 03:00:00-06.


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GoLite Multi-Sport Backpack REVIEW
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Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
GoLite Multi-Sport Backpack REVIEW on 10/24/2006 23:20:00 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

GoLite Multi-Sport Backpack REVIEW

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Multisport Pack on 10/26/2006 19:50:41 MDT Print View

I like the multisport, but found its short profile and opportunity to lash stuff to the back causes it to drag your shoulders down when loaded up. It works with a "thin" profile, it doesn't work as well with a "fat" profile.

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: Multisport Pack on 10/27/2006 08:26:56 MDT Print View

I haven't used the Multisport, but based on the pictures here and my experience with the Golite Dawn, it appears that the Multisport is basically a panel-loading Dawn with a better hipbelt. I'm sure there are other distinctions, but Ryans complaints about the profile of the Multisport more or less parallel my thoughts on the Dawn.


Cris Reifsteck
(unsuperguy) - F
Golite Multisport on 10/27/2006 09:14:21 MDT Print View

I've used both the Golite Multisport and the Salomon Raid Revo 30 and found the Salomon to trump the Golite in just about every conceivable way except the Salomon weighs in about 1 oz heavier.