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GoLite Team Backpack REVIEW

Lightweight, frameless, water-hauling, 3300 ci backpack with lots of features - too many for non-adventure racers.

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by Marty Coatney | 2006-01-10 03:00:00-07

GoLite Team Backpack REVIEW

Introduction

GoLite markets the Team as an adventure racing pack “designed by and for” world champion adventure racers. In practice, this means lots of pockets for organization and the capacity to carry lots of water.

What's Good

  • Excellent water-carrying capability
  • Comfortable hipbelt, shoulder straps, and backpanel
  • Exceptional load compressibility (six compression straps)
  • Highly water-resistant

What's Not So Good

  • Durability of fabric and seams
  • Usability of neoprene water bottle pockets
  • Adjustability of top lid

Specifications

Year/Model

2005 GoLite Team

Style

Frameless, top loading, top lid

Volume

Size M tested, 3300 ci (54 L), 2900 ci main compartment + 400 ci pockets (47 L + 7 L)

Weight

2 lb 1.5 oz (947 g) measured weight; manufacturer”s specification 2 lb 2 oz (960 g)

Fabrics

Main pack body and hood are SilLite HG (a three-component fabric using a high-tenacity 40d polyester matrix, silicone elastomer-impregnated outer coating, and polyurethane impregnated inner coating); bottom is Arrowhead Cordura ripstop nylon.

Features

Two neoprene hip water bottle pockets, two shoulder strap water bottle holders, internal 2-liter and 3-liter hydration bladder pockets, two mesh side pockets, mesh back pocket, two top lid pockets (one mesh, one SilLite), two gusseted hipbelt pockets (one mesh, one SilLite) one ice axe loop, daisy chain, six compression straps, sternum strap with Team Pouch, haul loop.

Volume to Weight Ratio

98.5 ci/oz (based on 3300 ci and a measured weight of 33.5 oz)

Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity

30 lb (13.61 kg) estimated maximum comfortable load an average person can carry all day in this pack

Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio

14.4 (based on 30 lb and a measured weight of 2.09 lb)

MSRP

$120

Performance

The GoLite Team backpack is designed as an adventure racing backpack. While I am not an adventure racer, I found many of the features of this pack very usable. The aspects of the Team Pack that impressed me were its capability to carry large amounts of water, its water-resistance, and its comfort - even with heavier loads.

The Team pack has a total of six external places to carry water bottles: two neoprene holsters on the hips, two side mesh pockets, and two shoulder strap holders. Only the mesh side pockets are able to carry Platypus-style water bladders. The others are limited to using cycling-type water bottles, which is frustrating. On a recent solo trip in the Oregon Cascades I carried only two small water bottles using the neoprene holsters. The holsters are angled slightly forward for easy access. I had a problem replacing the bottles into the holders - the neoprene is not stiff enough or wide enough at the top to easily put even a small-diameter bottle back into the holster. I didn”t use the water bottle holders on the shoulder straps very much because they felt claustrophobic that close to my face, and interfered with the hydration reservoir tubes.



The GoLite Team pack provides for six water bottles on the outside and 5 liters in two hydration bladders on the inside.

Two large sleeves inside the pack are intended to hold a 3-liter reservoir and a 2-liter reservoir. The hydration tubing routes through two well-marked openings - one above each shoulder strap. The tubes are held in place by elastic bands placed lower on the straps. On warm weather hikes and where water was scarce, these reservoirs were lifesavers. For example, along the PCT on McKenzie Pass where there was no water to be found amongst the lava flows and volcanic soils, I was able to comfortably carry over a gallon of water using both bladders.

The mesh/foam backpanel helped to retain the pack’s shape. When packed tightly, the team pack effectively transferred most of the weight on my hips. The suspension system handled the extra weight comfortably and without problem, even when scrabbling over obstacles or hiking off-trail. The complications I had using the reservoirs were: it was difficult to get the second bladder into its sleeve when the first was full, it was difficult to access the bladders in a pack full of gear, and as the reservoirs emptied I had to remove the pack to re-adjust the compression straps and the remaining load.

During a trip into the Eight Lakes Basin near Oregon”s Three-Fingered Jack, I was caught in an unexpected thunderstorm that dumped large amounts of rain for at least half an hour. Since I didn't have a pack cover, I was expecting to have to deal with wet gear when I got to camp but was pleasantly surprised to find that the only a few drops of water had entered the pack”s main compartment through the hydration tube openings. Everything else was bone dry. I found no leaking seams. The top lid was a different story. The lid”s top mesh pocket offered no protection and, although the second lid pocket is silnylon, the zipper is not water-resistant, and gear stowed there also got wet.

The Team is one of the most comfortable lightweight packs that I have worn. The shoulder straps are lightly padded but wide enough that I experienced no discomfort even with loads close to 30 pounds. At a more typical load of 18 to 20 pounds this pack is heaven. I was able to carry 10 pounds of food, 3 liters of water (in a single bladder), and group gear for two at this weight. For solo hiking the pack”s capacity is enough for at least 5 to 7 days, depending on availability of water. As the amount of food I carried lessened, I easily tightened the compression straps to reduce pack volume and stabilize the load. This allowed the pack to remain comfortable at all volumes and weights that I tested without any detectable sag in the pack body. However, the top lid sagged. At lower volumes the lid flopped behind the pack, especially when the lid pockets were full. I lessened the flop to a certain extent by adjusting straps.

Now for the very few negatives: too many features, limited durability, and limited back ventilation. My usual pack is the GoLite Breeze. I enjoy its simplicity. It took me a little time to figure out all of the bells and whistles of the Team Pack. During a hike through a lot of blown down trees I snagged the side of the pack on a branch. This ripped the grommet out of the silnylon hip pocket and made the neoprene water bottle holder useless on that side. I also discovered that the seams where the compression straps attach to the pack are separating. Finally, GoLite claims that the Team Pack has an “air-channel mesh back.” I found that while this system was comfortable, it didn”t work well unless I loosened the shoulder straps quite a bit to open the gap between the pack and my back.



A snag that occurred while hiking through downed trees rendered both the neoprene water bottle holder and the hip pocket useless. If the pocket were made of the same Cordura nylon as the base of the pack this might not have happened.

The GoLite Team Pack has become my pack of choice for hikes in areas where water is scarce. It”s extremely comfortable, compressible, and rides predictably. I found many of the extra features not worth the added weight, but they might be useful for adventure racers. Remove some of these extras, like the shoulder strap water bottle holders, hipbelt pockets, Team Pouch, etc, and it might replace the Breeze as my first choice for all conditions. (Note: GoLite does offer other adventure racing packs with fewer features.)

What's Unique

GoLite claims that its proprietary SilLite HG fabric is ultra-light, ultra-strong, and waterproof to 100 psi. In my testing I found the fabric to be waterproof, and with prudent use, adequately strong.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Improve the usability of the top lid and its pockets by making them with silnylon fabric and water-resistant zippers
  • Add load-lifter straps for improved adjustment of the suspension system
  • Substitute a different material for the “Air-Channel” mesh backpanel to improve ventilation
  • Strengthen the compression strap attachments

Citation

"GoLite Team Backpack REVIEW," by Marty Coatney. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/golite_team_backpack_review.html, 2006-01-10 03:00:00-07.

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