GoLite Peak Backpack Review

The frameless 36 L Peak backpack has been redesigned: we take an in-depth look, with commentary on the revised Jam and Pinnacle packs.

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

While it was hard to find a use for the now discontinued GoLite Ion pack, the new Peak backpack is very likeable and versatile. It serves equally well as a day pack and backpack. Yes, it does weigh more than comparable frameless packs, but it also carries a load more comfortably. We especially like its large zippered fabric front pocket and stretch nylon hipbelt pockets. On balance, it deserves our Recommended rating.

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by Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl |

Introduction

GoLite Peak Backpack Review - 1
Janet carrying the new GoLite Peak Backpack at an alpine lake in the southern Rockies.

GoLite has revised its UltraLite frameless backpack line for spring 2010. The Ion pack was replaced by the new Peak, and the Jam (no longer the Jam 2) and Pinnacle have received a few upgrades.

The Peak pack (which is the focus of this review) was a new model for spring 2010. Its specified 2200 cubic inch (36 L, size Medium) volume is on the small side, even for ultralight backpacking. It has the same volume as the Gossamer Gear Murmur pack (7.9 ounces/224 g), which is considered a super-ultralight backpack for hikers who carry an extremely low base weight and low volume. So, is the Peak a day pack, a capable ultralight backpack, or both?

Specifications

Year/Model 2010 GoLite Peak (www.golite.com/)
Style Frameless backpack with removable foam backpanel and hipbelt, top loading, roll down top with top compression strap
Volume Small 2075 cu in (34 L)
Medium 2200 cu in (36 L)
Large 2319 cu in (38 L)
Weight Sizes Large and Small tested.
Measured weight: 28.1 oz (797 g) size L and 25.9 oz (734 g) size S
Manufacturer specification: 26 oz (737 g) size M
Sizes Available Unisex S, M, L
Torso Fit Range Small fits torsos 15.5 to 17.5 in (39-44 cm)
Medium fits torsos 17.5 to 19.5 in (44-50 cm)
Large fits torsos 19.5 to 21.5 in (50-55 cm)
Fabrics Recycled 210d nylon gridstop + Dyneema; high-void polyester mesh
Features Durable fabrics, removable hipbelt, adjustable sternum strap with whistle buckle, removable backpanel foam padding, 1 large zippered front pocket with storm flap, 2 stretch nylon side pockets, 2 stretch nylon zippered hipbelt pockets with stretch nylon sleeve inside, 4 side compression straps, 2 tool loops, extension collar, drawcord closure and top compression strap, 3-D wicking fabric on inside of shoulder straps and hipbelt and backpanel, stretch nylon hydration sleeve with 2 hose ports, 2 ice axe loops, haul loop, Compaktor system to reduce volume
Volume to Weight Ratio 82.5 cu in/oz (based on 2319 cu in and measured weight of 28.1 oz, size Large)
Maximum Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity 20 lb (9.1 kg) estimated comfortable load for an average person carrying the pack all day
Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio 11.4 (based on 20 lb and a measured weight of 1.76 lb)
MSRP US$125

Description

GoLite Peak Backpack Review - 2
GoLite’s new (spring 2010) UltraLite backpack series consists (left to right) of the Peak (2200 cubic inches/36 L), Jam (3050 cubic inches/50 L), and Pinnacle (4392 cubic inches/72 L). All are frameless backpacks with a stiff foam backpanel.

The Peak backpack is built to last - the body is 210 denier Dyneema Gridstop, and the pockets are durable stretch nylon. It’s also full-featured, with a total of five pockets and numerous other features (see Specifications). It has a removable stiff closed-cell foam backpanel insert (weight is about 1.5 oz/43 g, depending on pack size), and the hipbelt wings are also removable. Removing these items reduces pack weight by about 6.3 ounces (179 g), to about 20 ounces (567 g) for size Medium, but most users would probably not do so because it would eliminate the hipbelt pockets and vertical rigidity.

GoLite Peak Backpack Review - 3
Views of the GoLite Peak: The front view (top left) shows the pack’s distinctive large front pocket and durable Dyneema Gridstop fabric. The backpanel (top right) has a strip of 3-D mesh for ventilation, and is backed by a removable closed-cell foam pad in its own sleeve. Each side (bottom left) has a stretch nylon pocket designed to make water bottles reachable. And the top view (bottom right) shows the pack’s drawcord and rolldown closure with top compression strap.

GoLite Peak Backpack Review - 4
The shoulder straps (left) are 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) wide and faced with 3-D mesh on the inside. The large front pocket (middle) has a regular zipper with two pulls, protected by a storm flap.

The previous Jam 2 and Pinnacle packs had a water-resistant zipper on the front pocket and no storm flap. The curved WR zipper was a bit stiff to operate. The revised packs and new Peak now have a regular zipper with two pulls, plus a storm flap, which operates more smoothly.

GoLite Peak Backpack Review - 5
The Peak’s hipbelt has two good-sized pockets (left). The hipbelt wings are easily removable (right).

GoLite Peak Backpack Review - 6
The zippered stretch nylon hipbelt pockets on the UltraLite packs are very well designed and easily hold a digital camera or an assortment of smaller items. Note that there is an inner stretch pocket inside.

Note that the Peak does not have a torso length adjustment, so it’s important to measure your torso length and choose the correct pack size. The only pack fit adjustment is the shoulder strap length; the pack does not have load lifter straps or hipbelt stabilizer straps.

Performance

GoLite Peak Backpack Review - 7
Fully loaded Jam pack (left) with 27.8 pounds/12.6 kg and Peak pack (right) with 14.6 pounds/6.6 kg on a six-day spring backpacking trip in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

GoLite Peak Backpack Review - 8
GoLite Peak used as a day pack by Janet (left) in a Utah slot canyon, and by Will (right) while backcountry skiing.

We used the Peak pack as both a day pack and backpack during ten months of testing. Janet used it as a backpack the most because size Small fits her well, and it’s sized well for the approximate 15-pound (6.8-kg) load she normally carries. Will used the Peak a lot as a day pack on a variety of trips, but less as a backpack because he usually requires a pack with more volume to carry shared gear. Toward the end of our testing period, Will used the Peak on a couple of solo backpacking trips to evaluate how well the Peak performed with an ultralight low volume gear kit.

We found the Peak to be versatile as both a day pack and as a backpack using ultralight gear. Several readers have inquired about backpacks that are nearly waterproof; the Peak is one we would recommend. Due to its design and materials, the Peak is very water-resistant, making it a good choice for wet conditions. The larger Jam and Pinnacle are a good choice for winter trips, as long as the carry weight is reasonable.

We especially liked the Peak’s hipbelt pockets, which are big enough to hold a digital camera or an assortment of smaller items, as well as the large zippered front pocket that provides convenient access to everything we need on the trail.

For Will, the Peak became an immediate favorite for cool and cold weather day trips. It has plenty of volume to carry the clothing needed to adjust layers throughout the day. It performs especially well for backcountry skiing - clothing, food, and thermos inside, smaller items easily accessible in the large front pocket, and skins in one of the stretch side pockets.

The Peak became a favorite backpack for Janet because it’s available in a size Small which fits her well, and it has the right volume for the amount of gear and weight she carries. As mentioned, the Peak is too small for Will when he carries all the shared gear (shelter, stove, fuel, food), so he opts for the Jam (as shown in the photo below) because it is right-sized and capable of carrying the weight.

GoLite Peak Backpack Review - 9
Updated GoLite Jam pack with 28 pounds (12.7 kg) on a spring backpacking trip in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. I found it remarkable that the Jam, a frameless backpack, can comfortably carry that amount of weight.

GoLite Peak Backpack Review - 10
Equally remarkable, the Pinnacle is a real load hauler. This photo shows the Pinnacle loaded with all of my igloo gear. I’m packing it out at the end of the season.

Finally, to answer the question - is the Peak a capable ultralight backpack? - the answer is a resounding yes! Solo hiking with the Peak loaded with ultralight gear weighing 16 pounds (7.3 kg) - including food, water, and fuel for two days - the Peak easily carried the volume and the weight. I used the size Large Peak, which has a volume of 38 liters, and everything fit into the main pack body plus pockets. It’s about the same size as the old GoLite Breeze. I did not need the extension collar, but hikers carrying a size Small or Medium Peak may need it to hold all their gear.

GoLite Peak Backpack Review - 11
Will’s size Large Peak backpack loaded with 16 pounds (7.3 kg) of ultralight gear plus food, water, and fuel on an overnight backpack. The pack has room to spare; I didn’t even use the extension collar. The Peak has the capacity to carry gear and food for a four-day backpack.

The Peak carries a load remarkably well owing to its padded shoulder harness, hip-hugging hipbelt wings, and its stiff closed-cell foam backpanel insert which gives the pack some vertical rigidity. It transfers weight to the hips well and the backpanel hugs my back. In my opinion, the maximum comfortable carry load for the Peak is 20 pounds, but that figure will depend on how strong your shoulders are.

Our overall impressions of the Peak are as follows:

  • The pack volume is perfect for ultralight backpacking. It has the right amount of room for an ultralight gear kit, plus food, water, and fuel for up to four days.
  • The pack is well designed, made of durable materials, and has loads of features.
  • We love the pack’s large zippered front pocket; it provides convenient access to most items needed on the trail without having to enter the main body of the pack.
  • It’s also a plus that the pack is available in three sizes to make it easier to get a proper fit. The pack does not have any torso adjustment, so choosing the correct pack size is important.
  • The stretch nylon hipbelt pockets are some of the best to be found.
  • The stretch nylon side pockets will stretch out and hold a lot of gear, and they’re very durable. For hikers who carry water bottles, these pockets hold water bottles well, and bottles are reachable with the pack on.
  • The closed-cell foam backpanel insert provides good padding with little added weight, and increases the vertical rigidity of the pack.
  • Using a hydration bladder in the hydration sleeve works well on day trips, but for backpacking it’s hard to refill the bladder without partially unloading the pack.
  • The Peak functions as well as a daypack as it does as a backpack.
  • The hipbelt wings hug the hips well, help to support heavier loads, and are easily removed for light loads (but you lose the hipbelt pockets).
  • The revised Jam is a bigger version of the same pack. The hipbelt wings are more substantial and are not removable.
  • The revised Pinnacle pack is a larger version of the Jam; it has loads of volume and excels for higher volume/moderate weight loads.

Assessment

It’s hard to compare apples to apples when it comes to frameless backpacks because they vary so much in design, materials, and sizing. Although the new GoLite Peak and revised Jam and Pinnacle are a bit on the heavy side for frameless backpacks, they compensate for the extra weight in their durability, fit, comfort, and load-carrying capacity. For example, I found the frameless Jam pack will comfortably carry the same load as the Gossamer Gear Gorilla pack with its lightweight stay. The shoulder harness, fit, padding, and wide hipbelt wings enable the Peak to comfortably carry a little more weight than a similar-sized Spartan pack.

In addition to its comfort and weight carrying capacity, the distinctive attributes we like about the Peak are: its versatility (it can be used as a day pack as well as a backpack), its large front zippered fabric pocket, and its excellent hipbelt pockets. It’s also very water-resistant (except for the side pockets), so it can be carried in snow or rain without getting the contents wet. Overall, the Peak is very likable, and it’s a good value at US$125.

What’s Good

  • Highly versatile - equally usable as a day pack or backpack
  • Three pack sizes to fit most hikers
  • Removable backpanel padding and hipbelt
  • Durable fabrics and mesh
  • Excellent hipbelt pockets
  • Large zippered fabric front pocket for convenient access to items needed on the trail
  • Stretch nylon side pockets are very durable and stretch easily to hold a lot of gear
  • Fits well (if you choose the correct size)
  • Comfortably carries moderate loads

What’s Not So Good

  • Heavier than other packs with the same volume

Recommendations For Improvement

  • None

Citation

"GoLite Peak Backpack Review," by Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/golite_peak_backpack_review.html, 2011-01-04 00:10:00-07.

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GoLite Peak Backpack Review
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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.

Cheers,
Brendan

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. Backcountrygear.com 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 backpacktest.org, 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,
Will

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

joe newton
(holdfast)

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.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Feature creep on 01/06/2011 14:01:24 MST Print View

Dale

My point is that theres no reason why there cant be packs which are durable, fairly comfy an lightweight

i suspect most of the weight gains are from feature that quite a few people dont use .... Just like some ms bloatware

but we live in a marketing driven world where more features sell ...

I suspect that many of these UL packs that are made of dyneema gridstop would last quite a long time with quite a bit of use or even abuse ...

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Feature creep on 01/06/2011 14:09:22 MST Print View

Totally. But, there are committees and profit/loss geeks who spoil our fun :)

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: not-so-ultralight on 01/06/2011 17:18:42 MST Print View

"Could be they are getting older too :)"

+1 Thanks for saving me the trouble, Dale. ;-)

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Great discussion! on 01/06/2011 17:29:30 MST Print View

Eric, Dale, and Miguel,

Very good points made by all of you. I love a discussion that builds on a review to flesh it out. And thanks to Will for his usual fine review that launched this thread. This is one thing about BPL that really gives me a warm and fuzzy.

Like the rest of you, I do miss the input of RJ, AD, et al in those exciting days of yesteryear, but time moves on, and Will and Roger have done a darn good job of filling the gap, IMO.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Re: re: golite peak backpack review on 01/06/2011 20:17:22 MST Print View

Could you comment on what changes have caused the huge increase in weight in the Jam/Peak line-up for 2010/11?

My understanding is that the Jam/Jam 2 was stable at about 21-22oz for a number of years until last year. About 1.5 years ago, GoLite switched back to the Jam name (from Jam 2) and made a number of changes that boosted the weight from ~22oz up to ~26oz. Mostly saliently, they added hipbelt pockets and additional padding/mesh in the back to improve ventilation so it was no longer just 210D Dyneema X against your back. IMO, the hipbelt pockets were a good idea, but the back ventilation wasn't worth the weight because it didn't feel very different.

6 months ago or so, GoLite released the current version of the Jam which again came with a significant weight increase from about 26oz up to a claimed 29oz. This weight increase was due to a bunch of smaller changes including heavier recycled fabrics, slightly larger back pocket and a new hipbelt design.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: golite peak backpack review on 01/08/2011 12:38:30 MST Print View

Personnaly, I think it is too heavy. At 29oz, it is too much.
I look at a Light weight pack at 32 oz and less.
I look at a UL pack at 16oz and less.
I look at a SUL pack at 8oz or less.

Soo, yes, it qualifies as a light weight pack. But, as Will and Janet point out, they are heavy for the volume. Despite the features, I think I will pass on these.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
2010 Jam on 01/11/2011 00:17:36 MST Print View

I'm quite happy with my 2010 Jam and just got back from a trip with it (expect a report soon) and while I can't read the article since my membership expired I feel like I can still add to this discussion a bit. I didn't buy a peak because of the only minor weight difference for a significant reduction in volume and because of poor user reviews here concerning the shoulder straps. Had I been spending over $100 on a pack I would have gone with a MLD Super Burn or even ULA CDT.

I don't think the new Golite packs are bad; just over priced. And I wouldn't have bought mine if it wasn't marked down considerably. I've got a bit more trimming to do to it and but it currently weighs a hair over 27 ounces. As it was it accounted for nearly 2 pounds of my 8 pound base weight but for $85 I can't complain much.

Now some notes about the pack. I found the hip belt pockets to be sized perfectly for stowing a buff and an inhaler in one and aqua mire, carmex, some duct tape, and small vial of sunscreen in the other. I could do with a little less padding on the hip belt but it probably feels good to people in stores....

I was happy with the slightly larger rear pocket as it allowed me to keep my rain gear, map, stakes, gloves, windshirt, camera, etc. easily accessible and easy to find.

Just like on my test hikes with this pack I found the mesh back panel to be underwhelming. It doesn't seem to help at all and I sweat just as much as if I had plain Dyneema against my back.

The foam pad was nice on this trip since I would have had to carry something to go under my legs anyway. But it doesn't really need to have its own sleeve IMO. With the mesh, pad sleeve, and hydration sleeve there are 3 layers of fabric at some points in the back of this pack. It seems like you could just share a sleeve for the bladder and pad if you like to keep a bladder there - I know I don't. Anyway, three layers of fabric seems like a bit of over kill.