GoLite is of course a very well-known brand by now, especially at the lighter end of the market. They started out with a focus on really lightweight gear, but as they grew in size, they expanded their scope towards the mass-market a bit. Fortunately the Quest and Odyssey packs are still very light and close to the leading edge. The Men's Odyssey is easily the largest pack tested in this trial.
There is a cute little gotcha with the GoLite packs. The bottoms of these packs can be cinched down with two small loops which the new owner may not see at first - and they seem to come already done up. So remember to undo these if you want the full volume! (Yes, I missed them at the start.) Or do them up if you want to reduce the volume near the end of a trip and all your food has been eaten. This is especially useful with the Odysseys.
The measured values for weight were very close to the published values, but the measured values for pack volume were consistently down near only 80% of the published values. It may be that they measured the volume of the large back pocket and the lid pocket when the main bag was empty - that would allow a lot more volume, although it would not be realistic in the field.
The fabric used in all these packs was interesting. It has the handle of a knitted fabric, but it is woven. One could perhaps describe it as a sort of 210 denier Oxford. According to GoLite, the fabrics used recycled nylon. Anyhow, there is a very solid coating on the inside surface, and the fabric does seem to slide across sticks and rocks quite well.
The target market for these packs seem to be the middle of the range. The packs are not exactly cheap and not as rugged as some others - although they are not down at the silnylon-strength by any means. I think they could cope with quite a wide range of uses by quite a wide range of walkers. The Odyssey might find a special use in winter travel, when you have to carry a bit more clothing and sleeping gear. It should cope with the extra volume just fine.
GoLite Quest Pack
|Quest (M)||Above average||Tough and light|
|Quest (W)||Above average||Tough and light|
The Quest is one of the lighter GoLite frame packs, and quite close to the leading edge of the cottage industry in terms of volume per weight - but it isn't all that 'light' in absolute terms. However, the extra weight has been put to good use in stronger fabrics and solid back padding, as shown here. The internal frame consists of a thin but very stiff sheet of plastic reinforced by two flat strips of aluminium. The strips come pre-curved, but the curve can easily be modified to suit. What was interesting was that the Men's and Women's models, as delivered, felt very different from each other. The bottom end of the Women's frame (in the lumbar region) was definitely more curved than the Men's. I found the Men's comfortable but the Women's less so; Sue found the reverse (as might be expected). The width of the padding meant that we both got sweaty backs - but the weather was hot at the time.
GoLite Quest (Men's), 1.42 kg (3.12 lb), 57 L (3500 cuin), Medium, Large.
GoLite Quest (Women's), 1.29 kg (2.84 lb), 53 L (3200 cuin), Medium, Large. *Note that a Women's Medium Quest is smaller than the Men's Medium - about that of a Men's Small (which does not exist). In detail, the length of the whole back of the harness is about 540 mm (21.25 in) on the Men's Medium and 500 mm (19.7 in) on the Women's, with the extra length on the Men's being split equally between the height of the hip belt and the rest of the back padding.
When the main bag is full, it tends to bulge into the otherwise large-looking back pocket. I was able to get sitmats and the like in there fairly easily, but nothing particularly lumpy. If the main bag volume is too much, you can cinch the bottom of the bag down: there are those two little straps underneath which seriously restrict the volume of the bottom section. As mentioned above, the claimed volumes for both Quests seemed a bit high compared to many other packs: I had trouble getting all the Test Gear into the main bag on the 62 L Women's model, but that was measured at just 53 L. Exactly why the discrepancy I do not know - unless they measured the volume of the back pocket and the lid pocket with the main bag empty.
The design features a conventional floating lid of adequate size. The back lid straps are anchored half-way down the body, which seems adequate for a range of packings. The lid pocket has the same bulge problem restricting its volume, but it works OK.
The hip belt wings are rather solid things and have pockets, but once the hip belt was curved around my hips there wasn't much room in the pockets. The tips of the shoulder straps on the Men's model were a bit lumpy on me at the start of testing: a small fault. Sue did not notice this problem however, so it may depend on exactly where the tips are on your body. The sternum straps (with that silly whistle) only just reached across me, but they were OK on Sue. The wings of the hip belt are sewn to the main bag, and do not always contact your hips at the corners where they are attached. However, that does not seem to matter.
I know they have separate Men's and Women's models, but apart from the different colour of the trim, the way the aluminium struts are pre-bent, and the obvious different meanings of 'Medium,' I could not see a huge difference between them. I would suggest the prime criterion during selection should be getting the right torso length for you regardless of 'pack gender.'
GoLite Odyssey Pack
|Odyssey (M)||Recommended||For those who need VOLUME|
|Odyssey (W)||Recommended||For those who need VOLUME|
The first thing to note about these packs is that they are big on volume (albeit less than claimed). In fact it was a bit of a gamble that this might be so which allowed us to included them in the survey. Both units tested are 'Medium,' but continuing in the established tradition, the Women's Medium is smaller than the Men's Medium, though they are still fairly large. Fortunately, like the Quest packs, these have those two nifty little cinch straps underneath the main bag for reducing its volume. In the photo to the right of the Men's pack in the field, I have the bottom of the pack in its normal or expanded configuration, but that was at the start of the trip with lots of food. In the photo at the top we were on our way back (food mostly eaten), and I had cinched up the bottom of the pack to reduce its volume and get the weight higher on my back.
GoLite Odyssey (Men's), 1.59 kg (3.51 lb) *, 49 L (3000 cuin), Medium, Large.
GoLite Odyssey (Women's), 1.42 kg (3.13 lb), 64 L (3900 cuin), Medium, Large. *Note that Women's Medium is about the size of a Men's Small (which does not exist). The length of the whole back of the harness is about 540 mm (21.25 in) on the Men's Medium and 500 mm (19.7 in) on the Women's, with the extra length on the Men's harness being split equally between the height of the hip belt and the rest of the back padding. This is the same as for the Quest.
For some of the models in this review Sue and I found we could carry the same pack despite a difference in our respective torso lengths of about 3.5 cm (1.5 in). However, in this case Sue found the Men's medium was just a bit too long for her, but the Women's Medium was fine. Our torso difference matches the difference in torso lengths on these packs.
It would be fair to say that the Odyssey is close to being an enlarged Quest. Sure, the back pocket is different, and the Odyssey has a zip at the bottom, around a significant bulge there to give you access into the bottom of the bag, but otherwise - they are quite similar. This is perfectly reasonable.
I have to say that the zip access into the bottom of the main bag strikes me as pretty useless however. If I pack the main bag from the top first there is no way I can get more than a few handkerchiefs into the bottom afterwards. Yes, if I unzip the bottom of the bag when I set up camp I can get at the stuff at the bottom first - but that's not of great value to me. In bad weather, I leave the stuff I've stored at the bottom of my pack safely down there until I get my pack into the tent.
I am normally in the habit of tying the tent on top of the sealed throat and holding it in place with a strap over the throat. Of course, the lid over the top does help restrain the tent as well. In this case I was not really confident that the single strap provided would be reliable enough, although that may be because the main bag was never really full. In the event I did carry the tent like that, and it stayed in place. The lid helped.
This is a mini-review in the 2010 Lightweight Internal Frame Pack State of the Market Report. The articles in this series are as follows (mini-reviews can be found in Part 2), and a subscription to our site is needed to read them.