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GoLite Quest Backpack REVIEW

Right on target for the lightweight backpacker: 70-liter, 3-pound internal frame pack with the right load-carrying capacity and feature set.


Overall Rating: Recommended

In the category of mid-size, top-loading, internal frame lightweight backpacks with a floating top pocket, the GoLite Quest pack is one of the lightest, most comfortable, most versatile, and user-friendly packs around. It has about 10 liters more volume than its closest competitors and weighs up to 0.75 pound less. I also like its weight carrying capability, moldable framesheet, and large waterproof front pocket. The Quest is an excellent choice for snow camping because it’s very water-resistant. It’s also a great value at $175.

In comparison, the popular Osprey Aether 60 has 10 liters less volume, weighs 14 ounces more, and costs $24 more. The capable Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian weighs 6.5 ounces more and costs $75 more, and doesn’t have nearly as much outside pocket space. Lighter internal frame backpacks are available from ULA, Gossamer Gear, and Six Moon Designs, but they are not a comparable design and much of their volume is in outside mesh pockets.

The main drawback of the Quest, and why it didn’t receive a higher rating, is its lack of torso length and suspension system adjustment. Backpacks in this category typically have a decent range of torso length and shoulder harness adjustments. The Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian is a standout in terms of torso length, shoulder harness size, shoulder strap placement and width, and hipbelt length. The Osprey Aether 60 has interchangeable hipbelts and shoulder harnesses available in different sizes and genders, and the shoulder harness has a wide range of torso length adjustment. In contrast, getting a proper fit with the Quest is limited to choosing the correct pack size (two available) and adjusting the shoulder strap and load lifter length – which is not a lot of adjustability.

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by Will Rietveld |


GoLite Quest Backpack REVIEW - 1
The Quest is the starship of the GoLite re-designed line of internal frame backpacks. At 4250 cubic inches and 3 pounds 3 ounces, it’s one of the lightest and most capable internal frame backpacks around.

GoLite has redesigned their entire pack line for 2007, replacing 28 previous packs with a new line consisting of 9 packs. The Quest at 4250 cubic inches is a mid-sized pack in their new Venture Series which replaces their Unlimited Series intended for lightweight backpacking and mountaineering. GoLite got it right with their new pack line, and especially with the Quest. It’s right on target for the lightweight backpacker in terms of volume and load-carrying capacity and feature set. At only 3 pounds 3 ounces and a volume to weight ratio of 83.3 cubic inches per ounce, it’s a half pound lighter and more weight efficient than its competitors. It’s also a good value.

What’s Good

  • One of the lightest internal frame backpacks available
  • Lightweight composite framesheet with two aluminum stays can easily be shaped as a unit to fit the contour of your back
  • Frame is easily removed to create a high volume frameless backpack
  • Firm, comfortable shoulder harness and hipbelt
  • Water-resistant zippers and fabrics make the pack nearly waterproof
  • Huge front pocket
  • Total of six outside pockets provide plenty of convenient storage
  • Side compression straps join to opposite side for attaching snowshoes, etc.
  • Compacktor system reduces the volume of the main compartment
  • Men and women specific models, both in two sizes
  • Lightweight durable fabrics
  • An excellent value at $175

What’s Not So Good

  • Torso length is not adjustable (except by lengthening the shoulder straps)
  • Side and top compression straps do not loosen easily



GoLite 2007 Quest


Internal frame, top loading, drawstring closure with top compression strap, floating top pocket


Size medium 4250 ci (70 L)


3 lb 3 oz (1.45 kg) measured weight; manufacturer’s specification 3 lb 2 oz (1.42 kg)

  Sizes Available

M, L in men and women’s specific models


PU-coated nylon Velocity with DWR


Composite framesheet with two attached aluminum stays


Floating top lid, 7-inch extension collar with drawstring closure, four side and one top compression straps, side compression straps connect to opposite side, water-resistant zippers on top and front pockets, two stretch-woven side pockets, two large stretch-woven hipbelt pockets, large fabric front pocket, Compaktor system to reduce pack volume, two ice axe loops, internal 3-liter hydration sleeve with two ports, haul loop, load lifters, sternum strap, two tool attachment loops

  Volume To Weight Ratio

83.3 ci/oz size Regular Torso (based on 4250 ci and a measured weight of 51 oz)

  Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity

40 lb (18.2 kg) estimated comfortable load for an average person carrying the pack all day

  Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio

12.5 (based on 40 lb and a measured weight of 3.2 lb)


$175 US


The new GoLite Quest internal frame backpack will be introduced in early 2007 along with the rest of their new backpack line. The Quest will be of particular interest to lightweight backpackers because (in my opinion) it is dead on in terms of light weight, pack volume, volume adjustment, load-carrying capacity, comfort, and feature set. Another plus is that it is available in men and women’s specific models.

The Quest is a traditional tried and true design - top loading with an extension collar, drawcord closure, top compression strap, and a floating top pocket. The following gallery provides a tour of the pack.

GoLite Quest Backpack REVIEW - 2
Views of the GoLite Quest. The front of the pack (top left) has one huge pocket with a water-resistant zipper. The backpanel and shoulder harness (top right) are contoured spacer mesh. Each side (bottom left) has a nylon/Lycra stretch side pocket plus two compression straps that will connect to the opposite side. The Quest is a top loader (bottom right) with a drawstring closure, top compression strap, and floating top pocket.

Frame and Suspension

The frame in the Quest is a composite framesheet with two attached aluminum stays. The whole assembly is easy to remove from its sleeve, and can easily be bent as a unit to fit the curvature of the user’s back. Removing the framesheet (12.5 ounces) creates a large volume frameless backpack with a comfortable suspension system and weight of only 38.5 ounces, somewhat similar to the old GoLite Trek pack.

Shoulder harness and backpanel padding are a comfortable and supportive spacer mesh. The lumbar area and hipbelt are firm foam faced with stretch-woven fabric.

GoLite Quest Backpack REVIEW - 3
The Quest’s composite framesheet with two attached aluminum stays (left) is easily removed from the pack and shaped as a unit. The shoulder harness and backpanel (right) are a thick, contoured, supportive spacer mesh.

Noticeably absent is any means to adjust the pack torso length. Both the hipbelt and shoulder straps are solidly sewn to the backpanel, so the Quest has no torso length adjustment other than shoulder strap and load lifter strap length. Getting a proper fit amounts to choosing the correct pack size (men’s medium or large, women’s small or medium) and adjusting the shoulder straps and load lifters - which is not a lot of adjustability.

I tested the Quest on six fall and winter backpacking trips with loads of lightweight gear weighing up to 28 pounds, and found it to be one of the most comfortable packs I have carried. I also did some testing with loads of heavy gear and water up to 45 pounds to find its upper limits. It readily transferred all of the weight to my hips when I wanted it to. GoLite claims that the Quest will haul 60 pounds comfortably, which is a lofty claim and I question how a 4350 cubic inch pack can be loaded with that much weight. For most lightweight backpackers, who typically carry loads in the 25 to 35 pound range, and occasionally loads over 40 pounds, the Quest will easily carry the freight. I settled on 40 pounds as the comfortable load carrying capacity of the Quest for an average person carrying the pack all day. A stronger person could carry more, but the pack's volume capacity will probably max out before its weight carrying capacity.


The Quest is feature rich, as shown and described in the following photo gallery.

GoLite Quest Backpack REVIEW - 4
Notable features. The Quest’s front pocket (top left) is huge and has a full width water-resistant zipper with two sliders. The top pocket (top right) fits well and has a welded-on water-resistant zipper. Hipbelt stretch-woven pockets (center left) are the biggest and best I have seen. Inside, there is a 3-liter hydration sleeve (center right) with two hose ports, shown here being used for my inflatable sleeping pad. The new GoLite Compaktor system (bottom left) is a simple loop and hook at the bottom of the pack that works in combination with the pack’s compression system to reduce pack volume by as much as two-thirds. The side compression straps (bottom right) will attach to the opposite side to carry large items on the front of the pack.

In Use

Although it’s a traditional top-loading design with floating top pocket, the Quest stands out because of several attributes and features that I found to be very useful.

  • At 51 ounces it is the lightest pack I know of with this design and capacity
  • It comfortably carries a good-sized load
  • Its huge fabric front pocket is highly water-resistant and keeps gear dry compared to packs with large mesh pockets
  • The top pocket has a good capacity and it’s water-resistant zipper also keeps contents dry
  • The side compression straps release and connect to the opposite side, making it easy to attach larger items to the outside of the pack
  • The hipbelt pockets are the largest I have seen so far

GoLite Quest Backpack REVIEW - 5
The Quest’s water-resistant zippers and fabrics, large capacity front pocket, and wrap-around capability of its side compression straps make it very suitable for winter backpacking and snow camping, and for attaching gear to the outside of the pack..

GoLite Quest Backpack REVIEW - 6
The GoLite Quest on a winter backpacking trip in southern Utah. It’s just the right size for cold weather gear, and will easily shed a rain or snow shower.

What’s Unique

The Quest has most everything right in terms of its size, weight, carrying capacity, comfort, and feature set. There are very few perfect packs around, and this is one of them, provided you get a good fit with the sizes available.

Recommendations for Improvement

I have only one recommendation, but it’s a significant one. While I have an “average” body and was able to obtain a fairly good fit with the Quest, I must point out that the pack has very little torso length and other suspension system adjustments to fit hikers of various shapes and sizes. It would greatly help to incorporate more adjustments in the design of the pack’s suspension system to ensure that most hikers obtain a good fit.


"GoLite Quest Backpack REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2007-01-23 03:00:00-07.


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GoLite Quest Backpack REVIEW
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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
GoLite Quest Backpack REVIEW on 01/23/2007 22:00:22 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

GoLite Quest Backpack REVIEW

Peter Branch
(Lightenup) - F
Sizing on 02/03/2007 12:16:36 MST Print View


Great review, as always. I'm curious about the limited sizing of this bag. Golite's website claims that it fits up to a 21.5 in torso length. Does that seem about right to you? I know I need to try one on, but they obviously aren't in the stores yet. Thanks again for a great review.

john flanagan
(jackfl) - F

Locale: New England
Can you provide your torso length? on 02/03/2007 16:37:32 MST Print View

Hope that's not too personal a question:~) I am curious to see where you fit in the size range that golite provides as a point of reference. Any additional info would also be appreciated... any thoughts / comments on the hip belt sizing? I need to outfit myself and wife with packs that are large enough to carry our gear and the bulk of a 6 year-olds stuff and feel that this could be a great option - but would like to be as fully informed as possible before getting into the routine of ordering / fitting / missing and trying again...


Edited by jackfl on 02/03/2007 16:38:37 MST.

john flanagan
(jackfl) - F

Locale: New England
Re: GoLite Quest Backpack REVIEW on 03/02/2007 08:55:52 MST Print View

I purchased it and returned it before taking the tags off - as the review suggests, fit seems to be a bit of luck of the draw. I sent it back because the hip pads narrow to webbing width directly over my illiac crest and after a short walk around the office with a load of training manuals I felt that they would be uncomfortable with the heavier load that I'll be using this pack with. I'm solidly in go-lites 'medium' catagory and would call the hipbelt "small". The shoulder harness length was also marginal. Too bad, because in all other respects it's wired!

(OBOZ) - F

NICE REVIEW on 02/09/2008 21:47:06 MST Print View

This pack is fantastic. Lots of room and very easy to overload. you definitely don't want to go past the max weight of 35lbs. Plus the hip staps are short, so if you are large waisted be careful.

Edited by OBOZ on 02/09/2008 21:48:18 MST.