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Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW

The Golite Pinnacle is a replacement for the popular Gust pack and is the larger version of the popular Golite Jam2 backpack. It offers many upgrades over the Gust, but how do they affect the pack’s performance?


Overall Rating: Recommended

At less than 1.5 pounds for a 3700 ci pack, the Golite Pinnacle is excellent at hauling high-volume, lightweight loads. It offers a suspension system that can comfortably carry 30 pounds which is plenty for lightweight winter or mountaineering trips. Its feature set includes a hydration sleeve and ports, lightweight but strong Dyneema fabric, and three usable outside pockets - all for a very reasonable $130. However, it’s the Compaktor system that sets the Pinnacle apart from other packs. By securing two lower clips, snapping the side compression straps across the pack body, and tightening the top compression strap, the Pinnacle quickly shrinks from deep winter backpacking to quick day hikes or summit attempts. This eliminates the need for a separate day or hydration pack and makes the Golite Pinnacle among the most adaptable packs we’ve reviewed. The Pinnacle is excellent at its intended purpose and while it's not the ultimate pack for all occasions, is “highly recommended” for lightweight high volume loads.

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by Doug and Amy Johnson |

Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW


The Golite Pinnacle is a replacement for the popular Gust pack and the larger version of the popular Golite Jam2 backpack. It offers many upgrades over the Gust such as side pockets, a sternum strap, a hydration sleeve, side compression straps, and the new Compaktor system.

What’s Good

  • At less than 1 ½ pounds, the Pinnacle is very light for its volume
  • With 3700 ci, it has 1100 ci more than the Jam2 - great volume for bulky lightweight loads
  • Compaktor system makes it possible to shrink the pack substantially for day trips or smaller loads
  • Good weight transfer to the hips
  • Large front pocket with a water resistant zipper, two side pockets
  • Reasonably priced at $130

What’s Not So Good

  • Lack of a frame means that you have to have high volume but lightweight loads
  • The pack bottom is the same fabric as the pack body; while we had no problems, some would like to see a heavier duty fabric in this area
  • Not as simple as the Gust pack it replaces and about 5 ounces heavier



2007 Golite Pinnacle Backpack


Frameless with a foam back panel, top loading


3700 ci (61 L)


1 lb 7.4 oz (662 g) measured weight; manufacturer’s specification (size small - as tested) 1 lb 7 oz (650 g)

   Sizes Available

Womens: S (tested) and M (also available in Mens: M and L)

   Torso Fit Range

Women’s S (tested) fits 15.5 to 17.5 inch torsos, women’s M fits 17.5 to 19.5 inch torsos; Men’s M fits 17.5 to 19.5 inch torsos, men’s L fits 19.5 to 21.5 inch torsos;


210d Dyneema Gridstop polyurethane-coated nylon


Durable fabrics, contoured shoulder straps, large gusseted fabric front pocket with water-resistant zipper, two side stretch nylon/Spandex side pockets, two compression straps on each side that connect to the opposite side, 3-liter interior hydration sleeve, 11-inch extension collar, two bungee tool loops, Compaktor System for volume reduction, two ice axe loops, haul loop, sternum strap

   Volume To Weight Ratio

158 ci/oz (based on 3700 ci and measured weight of 23.4 oz)

   Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity

30 lb estimated comfortable load for an average person carrying the pack all day

   Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio

20.5 (based on 30 lb and a measured weight of 1.46 lb)


$130 US


The Golite Pinnacle replaces the popular Gust pack and is basically a larger version of the GoLite Jam2 Backpack. In fact, it is identical to the Jam2 except for the volume. While the Jam2 has a volume of 2600 ci (women’s) or 3100 ci (men’s), the Pinnacle’s volume is 3700 (women’s) or 4400 ci (men’s)- that’s 1100 ci larger in the women’s version and 1300 ci larger in the men’s.

Golite Women’s Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW - 1
The Pinnacle is large enough for bulky winter loads (or hauling a whole family’s insulation).

While the Pinnacle has substantially more volume than the Jam2, it still offers the same frameless suspension system. While the suspension system does a good job of transferring weight to the hips, I still found the maximum comfortable carrying capacity to be about 30 pounds. This makes the Pinnacle marvelous for hauling large volume loads such as bulky insulation carried in the winter. However, the Pinnacle requires high volume loads that are also lightweight; if you’re looking for a large pack to carry traditional gear or heavy climbing gear, it would be better to look at the framed packs in Golite’s lineup.

We used the Golite for family backpacks when one parent carried our son and high density items in a child carrier while the other carried all of the sleeping insulation and clothing in the Pinnacle. The Pinnacle was also used for winter trips where bulky (but lightweight) insulation filled the large capacity. In these applications where pack weight stayed below 30 pounds, the Pinnacle carried the load very comfortably.

Golite Women’s Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW - 2
The discontinued Golite Gust (left) and the Golite Pinnacle that replaced it (right).

The Pinnacle replaces the popular Golite Gust. Doug has used a Golite Gust for several years for winter backpacking and was able to compare the two packs side by side. While the Gust does a great job of hauling high volume, lightweight loads, it has an overly simple suspension system, minimal external storage and no side pockets, almost no options for compacting the pack, and few additional features. The Pinnacle effectively addresses these concerns in every area.

While the Pinnacle shares the frameless suspension and removable padded foam backpanel with the Gust, it has a hipbelt that is wider, lightly padded (versus no padding on the Gust), and wraps further around the waist. This makes load transfer to the hips much more comfortable and effective. The shoulder straps are narrower, contoured, and backed with mesh for better sweat transfer. Unlike the Gust, a comfortable sternum strap is also included as well as load lifters. Together, this makes the Pinnacle much more comfortable when carrying loads at or above its maximum capacity.

The Pinnacle has an external front pocket that is similar to the Gust. However, it uses a water resistant zipper and is slightly deeper. This makes getting in and out of the pocket snag-free and unlike large mesh pockets, it doesn’t fill with snow when glissading or skiing in powder.

Golite Women’s Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW - 3
Contoured shoulder straps with a sternum strap and loops for hydration tubes (left) are part of the new suspension system. Dual ice axe loops and Compaktor clips (right)

Like the Gust, the Pinnacle has dual ice axe or pole loops. However, the Pinnacle also has a hydration pocket for bladders up to 3L as well as tube ports on either side of the pack and loops on the shoulder straps to keep the tubes out of the way. A key clip is also included inside the pack.

While the Gust had only one compression strap which was largely ineffective in compacting the pack for smaller loads, the Pinnacle’s compression straps and Compaktor system shrink it to daypack size for day hikes and summit bids.

Golite Women’s Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW - 4
Three capacities for the Pinnacle: large (left, filled with extension collar in use), medium (center, with compression straps and no extension collar, and small (right, using Compaktor system and compression straps).

Maximum capacity of the Pinnacle is 3700 ci for the women’s version (tested) or 4400 ci for the men’s version. Both versions are available in two sizes (S and M for the women’s and M and L for the men’s). The torso length is not adjustable but the four pack sizes have a range from 15.5 inches to 21.5 inches, meaning that there is a size for just about any torso length.

The Pinnacle is able to change its capacity extremely well. At full capacity, the extension collar extends and both the top and side compression straps keep the loads in control. When you need a smaller pack, rolling down the extension collar and tightening the side compression straps makes medium sized loads very manageable. This is a huge benefit over the original Gust which became unstable when it wasn’t filled to capacity. However, the Pinnacle (along with the Jam2) takes it even one step further with the Compaktor system.

On those days when you need a daypack size for a day hike or summit bid, the Compaktor system shrinks the capacity to a very small size. Clips on the bottom of the pack near the ice axe loops clip to small loops at the base of the backpanel, shrinking the pack depth from 10 inches to just 2 inches. The side compression straps also snap into the buckles on the opposite side of the pack, cinching the middle of the pack in two places (shown well in the GoLite Jam2 REVIEW). When the system is used, the Pinnacle is comfortable even when carrying just a handful of items. The Compaktor system eliminates the need for a daypack and makes the Pinnacle an extremely versatile pack.

Golite Women’s Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW - 5
When over tightening the top strap, the buckle started to pull from the seam. Despite continuing to reef on the strap, no further damage occurred.

The only durability issue we experienced when testing this pack was a top strap attachment that started to pull from the seam. This occurred when the strap was cinched very hard and probably over tightened.

While not as light as the silicone nylon used in some ultralight packs, the Dyneema Gridstop fabric of the Pinnacle is much more durable. This makes it a good choice for scrambling, mountaineering, and bushwhacking due to its increased durability, tear resistance, and abrasion resistance. While this fabric still needs to be treated with care, it is far more robust than lighter nylon fabrics.

At 1 pound 7.4 ounces, the Golite Pinnacle is very lightweight when considering its capacity, Dyneema fabric, and features. While the Pinnacle gains 5 ounces over the Golite Gust, we feel the benefits far outweigh the moderate increase in weight.

At $130 for either the men’s or women’s versions, the Golite Pinnacle is very fairly priced. It offers a tough exterior fabric, a comfortable suspension system (for loads under 30 pounds), and a highly versatile compression system. This is a highly versatile pack that we expect to use for many seasons.

What’s Unique

When it comes to high volume lightweight loads, the Pinnacle does a marvelous job of handling the task with a weight of less than 1.5 pounds. Further, the Compaktor system makes the Pinnacle able to quickly shrink from deep winter backpacking to a very small daypack. This is an extremely adaptable pack.

Recommendations for Improvement

While the Golite Pinnacle is a pack that we would recommend highly, we would offer the following recommendations for improvement:

1. Reinforce the center strap so it won’t pull at the seam when being over tightened.

2. While we had no issues, a heavier weight fabric on the bottom of the pack would increase the pack’s durability in a spot that is prone to abrasion.


"Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW," by Doug and Amy Johnson. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2008-02-06 01:00:00-07.


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Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW
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Cat Jasins
(CatJasins) - MLife
Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW on 02/05/2008 20:55:14 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW on 02/06/2008 05:30:16 MST Print View

I had the same issue with the top strap pulling out alittle on my Jam2 when I pulled it too much...

Tim Heckel
(ThinAir) - M

Locale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
Ditto on 02/06/2008 08:26:19 MST Print View

Mine too had strap issues appartent after the first use; and I don't believe I "overtightened" it. I took the pack to a local gear repair person and paid around $50 to have straps shortened and reinforced.

Paul W3
(paulwalker3) - F
Great backpack - and how can it be changed for heavier loads? on 02/07/2008 13:04:51 MST Print View

Hi, my question is - would it be possible insert an acceptable working frame? And how would it be done? Or what else can be done to fulfill the following need?

Sometimes - seldomly - I carry up to 18 or even 22 KG ( 40 to 50 lbs).

Actually I have an old well working Deuter - a 4-pounder and I would appreciate to save 2 pounds. The in the article mentioned alternatives don't reduce the weight that much or are too small.

My reason to carry such a load sometimes: once a week about in a longer trip I have to carry much water - 7 to 9 liters plus normal load and food. But this is food for a week and the necessary water for 2 to 3 days in a hot & dry region without reliable sources/ wells/ cisterns. And it's reduced quickly, so I need not to carry that much for long :))

Do you know how to change the pack accordingly or would you recommend an alternative? By the way - the pack must be sufficiently robust for bushwacking, rocky areas and air travelling.

Thanks a lot!

Jeremy Cleaveland
(jeremy11) - F

Locale: Exploring San Juan talus
Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW on 02/07/2008 20:06:02 MST Print View

try the Cilogear 60L or 40B for heavier loads. I have used a Gust for 6 years, and 2 years ago got the 60L version 1 for heavier loads. It is still very similar to the Gust/Jam/Pinnacle series, but can carry bigger loads or be stripped down for lighter loads to almost the weight of the Pinnacle.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Great backpack - and how can it be changed for heavier loads? on 02/08/2008 07:21:55 MST Print View

I agree with Jeremy- the Pinnacle won't work well for loads in the 40-50 pound range. Another pack would be better.

Golite has some framed packs. The Quest has been reviewed here and might be a good choice for you.


Mike Hinsley

Locale: England, UK
Golite Pinnacle - Adding a frame on 02/08/2008 09:59:47 MST Print View

It is possible to add an internal frame - I've done it with a couple of packs - Add a frame Outline

The simple answer is to machine two pole pockets onto the inside seams. Then you can use two light rods (eg carbon) or 6mm/8mm/10mm aluminum tubing.

On the above link it doesn't show reinforcements but they will be required: reinforce the base of the pocket with something like a layer or two of cordura. Reinforce the top of the pocket with a fold-over cordura/velcro closure so that the pole can be sealed into the pocket.

If you use 8mm or 10mm tubing it will need to be pre-bent with approx. 10-15degree bend about 11 inches from down from the shoulder strap - so that it matches the natural curve of the back

For the very best comfort it's worth making hybrid poles with 8" of 8/10mm plastic tubing at the base of the pocket with the rest being aluminum tubing. You'd need to join the aluminum and plastic tubes together using a sleeve and some pins and glue.

Total additional weight of using 8mm Plastic and Aluminum tubing would be about 100g +/- 20g.

I've got to do a proper write-up of this stuff at some point ;-)

Edited by ArchNemesis on 02/08/2008 10:02:24 MST.

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW on 02/08/2008 10:39:09 MST Print View

The review states
"Overall Rating » Recommended"

However in the following text it states
" The Pinnacle is excellent at its intended purpose and while it's not the ultimate pack for all occasions, is “highly recommended” for lightweight high volume loads."

There seems to be an inconsistency here can Doug or Amy explain the difference between these 2 ratings.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Golite Pinnacle - Adding a frame on 02/08/2008 14:56:13 MST Print View


> I've got to do a proper write-up of this stuff at some point ;-)
Contact me please if you do.


carlos fernandez rivas
(pitagorin) - MLife

Locale: Galicia -Spain
use a plastic sheet on 02/08/2008 15:22:12 MST Print View

I modified my old golite jam and my new jam2 adding a "semi-frame made with a light plastic sheet inside the pad pocket, to create a semi rigid frame and transfer the load to my hips, with only 60 grams more i felt that now i carry heavier loads in a more confortable and effective way.

This mod can be done easily in the pinnacle

Anyway 22kg are TOO MUCH for a pack like this

Edited by pitagorin on 02/08/2008 15:25:57 MST.

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW on 02/08/2008 17:01:56 MST Print View

Hi Roger - the Pinnacle is essentially a GoLite Jam2 with more volume. As such, it's great if you have a large-volume, low density load - 30 pounds in 3700 ci - but less so if you have a more typical, low-volume UL load. It's still "recommended" for anyone, but only "highly recommended" for folks with "lightweight high volume loads."

Michael Danielson
(mcd57) - MLife

Locale: Middle TN
Golite Pinnacle Backpack Review on 02/08/2008 20:09:49 MST Print View

Thanks for the article. It help me with my decision on buying this pack.

Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Golite Pinnacle Article on 02/09/2008 09:11:09 MST Print View

I really like the extra volume in the Pinnacle for winter trips. I never compress my sleeping bag in it. I just stuff it to the bottom my trash compactor bag liner.
I essentially bought this pack based on the Jam2 review but this article is a welcome addition. Great job Doug and Amy!

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW on 02/09/2008 09:49:54 MST Print View

Hi Roger,

Just as Ben said, the pack is overall recommended but if you need a pack in this niche- lightweight high volume loads- then it's highly recommended.

As you can see from questions about weight, this is not the ideal pack for all users and many folks need a winter pack that can carry heavier loads. We wanted to show that it's an ideal pack in some situations, but not all.

Thanks for the great feedback everyone- we appreciate it!

Doug (and Amy)

R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW on 02/09/2008 11:00:17 MST Print View

Another "What’s Not So Good"

I found Golite sizes their packs small. A large is more like a size Medium +

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW on 02/09/2008 15:01:03 MST Print View

Interesting, I've not had that experience. I always found the Gust to be large so I sized down to a medium. Maybe things are different with their new packs but this one fit Amy perfectly.

Anyone else had sizing difficulties with Golite?

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
Re: Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW on 02/10/2008 01:56:56 MST Print View

Thanks Ben and Doug that makes sense.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW on 02/10/2008 12:19:48 MST Print View

I also find GoLite packs sized too small for me. My suspicion is that it depends on how you wear the belt. I like to wear a true HIP belt that sits half above and half below my iliac crest. To get a GoLite pack to sit off my shoulders, I have to wear the belt as a WAISTbelt instead, and this is after sizing up one size. I see a lot of folks wearing their belts cinched around their waists. How do you all wear your belts?

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
Re: Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW on 02/10/2008 16:37:54 MST Print View

I love mine and bought it based on the 8 months use I used the Jam 2. I found I was able to support my younger kids food or gear. Also, as an Assistant Scout Master it maid the required medical kit and other bulkier gear fit in with my regular kit without too much trouble. Best of all I can carry all 4 kids day hiking gear and our food. I get a great training hike out of the day.

I haven't had any issues with the straps on either of my Golite packs and have overstuffed them several times.

Great review.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Pack sizing on 02/10/2008 23:05:11 MST Print View

GoLite's pack sizes are based on spinal length, which is roughly but not perfectly correlated to height. Here's the sizing info:

Within each pack size, the pack will fit differently those with different spinal lengths, since the pack size is not adjustable (a feature that would add 1-2 pounds, plus complexity and cost, to its weight). i.e. A Medium Jam2 pack will be longer on a person with a 16" spinal length than someone with a 18" length.

If you have a preference as to where you keep your belt, and if you are on the margins between 2 pack sizes, you might take this into account. For example, I have a 18" spinal length but definitely keep with a Medium because I tend to wear the belt closer to my waist (which I think is common among lightweight backpackers who find that lightweight loads don't sit on the hips as heavy loads do, and in fact they ride up frequently towards the waist). If I wanted the pack more around my hips, I might consider going with a Large.

R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Re: Pack sizing on 02/10/2008 23:40:36 MST Print View

I've found Granite Gear and Gregory packs gave their torso lengths a more generous length (which works well for my 6'4” frame).

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Pinnacle Review on 02/11/2008 19:38:24 MST Print View

For BPL's Wilderness Trekking III Program (a wintry course), we searched high and low for packs that would carry big, light loads. I think at least six of the ten people we had on the Fall 2008 program used Pinnacles.

It's the pack I chose as well.

For its intended purpose, I honestly cannot find a better pack, and I've now had the chance to use it on a number of winter trips.

My favorite feature is a big, wide, thinly padded hip belt that tucks into hip wings that carries the load against your lumbar very well. This feature should be a standard by which other frameless packs are measured.

My gripes with the pack reflect the same as Doug's: a more abrasion-resistant bottom fabric (mine is showing a bit of wear from abrasion); and better sewing quality (I too have reinforced straps on mine with bartacking).

Fix these two things and if I was the author, I'd have given the pack a "Highly Recommended" rating.

Edited by ryan on 02/11/2008 19:38:53 MST.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Golite Pinnacle Backpack REVIEW on 02/18/2008 07:11:10 MST Print View

What is your torso length? Mine is right at 15" and wondered how well this pack would fit even if it is 1/2" too big.

Christopher Chupka

Locale: NTX
Anyone have Golite Email Addy on 03/02/2008 08:35:28 MST Print View

I have tried to contact them via the form on website but I get a code error after I submit the contact form. I thought it was my Firefox but IE does the same thing.

Here is my comment:
"I got a chance to use my Pinnacle carrying my climbing gear on a dayhike/scouting mission of the Narrows Climbing area of th e Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. The fabric held up great to the rock and when cinched down the pack stayed in place for endless hours of boulder hopping, but about halfway thru the day I kept hearing a whistly squeak. I thought it was a bird at first but it kept following me. It was the bottom half of the male buckle on the waistbelt. It would only latch about 2/3 of the way into the female. It held the waistbelt in place under tension, but it appears that it will give way one of these days. Long story short I need a new male end for the waist belt.

I tried this form yesterday and received a code error, I don't know if my form from yesterday went thru or not.


I was carrying a good 35 lbs or so of climbing gear and water. Anyone else had this problem?

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Golite E-mail on 03/02/2008 10:46:24 MST Print View

Katie Singleton
Customer Service Representative
6325 Gunpark Drive
Suite 102
Boulder, CO 80301
direct 303-339-2326
fax 303-546-6557

This one should work - I was just corresponding with them regarding the Utopia 2.

Edited by Steve_Evans on 03/02/2008 10:48:36 MST.

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
'08 to '10 Golite Pinnacle changes; Skurka mods; Best packing for winter on 10/29/2010 17:46:17 MDT Print View

Anyone know how the Pinnacle changed from 2008 to 2010 model, aside from gaining weight? My wife and I are considering it for our winter pack.

Andrew - how did you modify the Pinnacle you took on your Alaska Yukon trip?

And can anyone comment on how to best pack it for winter - what type of pads do you use around the inside of the pack bag for support?

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
'10 changes on 10/29/2010 18:28:35 MDT Print View

Hey EJ, I can comment on a few changes that I recognized.

1) they've changed the hipbelt. It's now sewn in with a wishbone type connection. So imagine each end of the hipbelt being joined at the backpanel at 2 points, with a hole in the middle. It's suppose to wrap around better this way. You can see it clearly in the pack on the right.

2) Sternum strap has changed too. Instead of typical ITW hardwear that slides on a 1 inch piece of webbing, the sternum straps slide on a piping. Not sure why they did this.

3) I think they changed the material on the shoulder straps too. I haven't handled a 10' pack in a while, so i can't recall. It looks different in the pics, and I remember it being different than my 09 jam.

golite changes

Edited by Konrad1013 on 10/29/2010 18:31:01 MDT.