Rating: 5 / 5
I am always amazed at how few of us outdoor types seem to "get" the simplicity ethic embodied by packs like the GoLite Ion. If you do, however, you'll find the Ion a best-of-breed.
Over the past couple of decades we've seen simple, straightforward packs (the Lowe Klettersack was one good example) evolve into today's monstrosities of many compartments, snaps, buckles, bungies, zips and pads. When the pack itself has already weighted you down 5 pounds or more, something is very, very wrong. Unless you're a Sherpa, you're flattening your arches unncessarily.
The Ion is a great daypack, summit pack, and even a big-enough summer overnight camping pack for ultralight practitioners.
It's also a superb travel pack. For a month in a warm climate it's plenty big enough. And the grease color, at least, is inconspicuous, for those who don't like to cause a scene wherever they go.
Admittedly, even GoLite has, in recent years, mirrored the trend toward added complexity in their packs. So I congratulate them for producing three packs (the "Ultra" series: Pinnacle, Jam2, and Ion) that still adhere to the ultralight ethic popularized by Ray Jardine. If GoLite ever loses their religion fully, we're all in big trouble.
In sum, less is more here -- a lot more. If you really understand what I'm saying, this pack's for you.
Update: Just got a look at the 2009 model. Rather than the waterproof zipper used previously, Golite has added a regular zipper and a storm flap over it. A bit less elegant, perhaps, but the new zipper is a lot easier to pull open or closed. (I had wrestled with that old zipper once or twice.) Most everything else (except some new colors) seems the same as the previous model. It's still the undisputed 25-liter ultralight-but-rugged champ.