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Golite Ion

in Backpacks - Frameless

Average Rating
4.73 / 5 (15 reviews)

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Jonathan Ryan
( Jkrew81 - M )

White Mtns
Golite Ion on 05/07/2007 13:07:06 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

So after a few months of various tests I feel it is now appropriate to give a fair review of the Golite Ion. I absolutely love it. As soon as I received it, it was exactly what I was looking for.

FIT 5/5
First of all the fit is perfect. Most LW daypacks that I have used tend to carry the weight low giving the tendency to bounce when trail running. With the taller profile and narrow bottom the Ion sits snugly at the waist and does not bounce excessively. On my last trip, I ran the remaining 5 miles of my 20 mile day and experienced no shoulder chaffing or tenderness (first for me)

It is rare to find a pack this light (9.5 ounces in Large) that does not make you cringe every time you scrape a rock. So far the Ion has taken numerous falls while cross country and downhill skiing, scraped against cave walls while messing around at Purgatory Chasm and just this weekend was completely submerged (by mistake of course) on my way back from Owls Head. Thankfully for the submersion I was using a S2S pack liner, but I was impressed with how fast the dynemma dried out.

FEATURES (does not apply)
If I was looking for features this pack would not have made my list. That said lightweight durable simplicity is the goal of this pack. I do miss having an easier pocket to reach so I am going to add a Simblissity Slackpack to the front for easy digital camera and food access.

After testing over a variety of conditions and activities I found myself not even realizing I was wearing it. I think one of the greatest qualities a piece of equipment can possess is to go unnoticed while providing valuable function to the user. This pack fits that bill perfectly.

For very little weight penalty a front shoulder harness pocket (Simblissity Slackpack) could be added for easier access to snacks etc. Considering the price of the pack I still do not see the lack of this option as a downfall.

Punched 2 small rivets punched in the fabric to add a small bungee loop (similar to the axe holders on the Jam2) to hold my trekking poles. The weight penalty was so minor my scale did not register it.

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Mike Clelland
( mikeclelland - M )

The Tetons (via Idaho)
golite ION on 05/21/2007 10:36:08 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

GoLite ION backpack:

* very durable, and at 9 oz, very light too.

* small yes, making it suitable for only certain shorter warm weather trips.

* it makes a good "multi-use" pack. If you do NOT want to get a super specialized pack, this is a very nice option because it makes a good "IN-town" (organic) grocery tote. Nice on a bike too.

* water proof (I think). Maybe (someday) I'll seal up the seams with some aqua-seal, but I feel pretty confident that it'll keep my contents dry in every situation except full submersion.

* very affordable! $50 retail.

* I just used it (with a friend) for a two-night fast-packing trip in cool weather in wyoming. Nice, simple - easy to carry. We thrashed thru some messy bushwhacking zones, and we were very worried about out Super-ultralight-specilized pack (not the ION) but we didn't stress about the ION. Plus, it's so streamline that it seems to avoid the snaggy sticks when thrashing thru the pricker bushes.

I cut off the hip belt. The 1 inch webbing was overkill. Maybe I'll add a tiny one on someday, I like a hip-belt for a bear-spray holster. Also, I cut off the sternum-strap and sewed on my own, even smaller.

* It now weighs: 7.9 oz!

* And when I use it in town, I get a lot of compliments - it's cute!

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Jason A. Grafft
( jgrafft )

Inland Empire (of smog)
Great addition to an ultralight arsenal on 06/10/2007 20:12:08 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

A lot of features was not on my list of "things I want from a pack;" I wanted something functional, durable, light and comfortable and the Ion delivered.

The slim/tall profile is nice when hiking off-trail or doing other activities (like shopping) where wider packs may snag. Dyemma is a durable fabric and contributes significantly to my peace of mind on and off the trail. As Jonathan mentioned the "extra" weight (compared to a lighter, less durable fabric) is hardly noticeable and with a few modifications an 8oz pack is easily attainable. With light loads (I have not tested anything over 10lbs) the pack is comfortable and easy to carry for long periods. Packed correctly I hardly noticed it on a six hour trail run or running errands with groceries, a laptop and several books in tow.

Though the Ion is small I did not purchase it for multi-week trips. It easily handles two to three day excursions and trips round town. For 50.00USD I would be hard pressed to find a better value. There is, however, one overarching factor that pushes this pack to greatness: as Mike mentioned, it's cute.

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Andrew :-)
( terra )

Sydney, Australia.
The Ion does a lot with little. on 08/29/2007 19:57:58 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

Having succumbed to that detourgearzone sale I now have an Ion (blue, medium).
I have a Golite Gust and a small Camelbak as my other light packs. Both are great but often I don't need as much pack as the Gust but the Camelbak is just a bit small.

Enter the Ion!
This pack covers a wide useful range.
I can take it on a day hike or a 3 day 3 season walk. It now carries my gear at university or up to the shops etc.

What I like:
*Its tough enough for single-trail and scrub use.
*Has great shoulder straps, very comfy.
*Good shape that conforms to my back and it packs well.
*Real useful volume/size.
*The sternum strap is removeable, without cutting.
*I've already had a pretty girl at uni come up to me and say, "Hey, cute backpack Andrew, when did you get that?" - really, it happened.

What i'd change:
*It would be great if the vertical side seams had 2 tiny loops down each side(@1/3 & 2/3 height) so the user has the option to put a small compression bungy 'criss-cross' across the back of the pack.
This would keep the load snug and allow a rainjacket to be stowed here (thus also expanding the storage space) - if the user wanted to.
*Somehow make the waistbelt removeable without cutting (or adding weight).

These mods would make it a 5/5 - for me.

Tips for use:
Go easy on the top zipper. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but hey, its a small zipper.
Try to pack something soft in the bottom to pad sharp objects from damaging the light fabric.
The internal key loop can be hooked to your water bladder to keep it up. You can also clip a small mesh pouch to it, for storing keys/phone etc, so they're kept on top inside the pack.

I actually give it a 4.5 - it's a great allround lightweight/spartan pack that isn't too fragile.

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Gregory Doggett
( Gregory )

Found my perfect overnite pack. on 09/01/2007 12:31:23 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I just returned from an overnite with my Ion.
This was in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Va. with daytime highs in the upper 70's and the nightime low, which happens about dawn, mid-50's.
My base pack weight was 6 lbs.
This included the following items;
BMW Torsolite
BMW Cocoon UL 60 Quilt in stuffsack
Ursalite Bear bag system w/ O.P.Sak
Smartwool mini-crew sock, extra pair
PossumDown gloves
PossumDown beanie
Patagonia Dragonfly windshirt
BPL S Spinnsack
BMW Side Zip Vapr Bivy w/ zip in mesh window in its stuffsack
SMD Gatewood Cape
6 Easton Alum. Peg stakes in a Tarptent stake pouch
Essentials in an Equinox Lightripper
BushBuddy Ultra Wood Stove
Firelite SUL-1100 pot+lid
Firelite SUL Folding Ti Spoon
Mini Firesteel and TinderQuick
Box of matches in micro ziplock
Golite XS silnylon pouch for cook gear
2.4 liter Platy bottle
1.0 liter Platy bottle
I also used a Gossamer Gear M packliner
to protect my gear from the possibility of leaks from the 1.0 L Platy ( which was carried at the top of the pack,inside the pack but outside of the folded closed packliner ) and a wet Gatewood Cape if rain occured.
All this fit perfectly in the Ion which is a size large and listed as having a 1600 c.i. volume.
There was a small amount of room left and I could have added another dinner, breakfast and 1 days additional walking food for a 3-day trip.
Using a more compressable down quilt and a smaller cook kit ( Firelite SUL-500 and Ti Wingstove )and putting my essentials in a more compact mesh sack would free up additional space.
I used the pack as is without any modification, which weighted 9.8 oz.
One could probably loose the 1" hipbelt and sternum strap and be okay, but I found the hipbelt helped out if I needed to fill up both Plattys ( 3.4 liters ).
If I removed the hipbelt I would probably keep the sternum strap.
Spreading a little extra weight onto the upper chest helps lighten the load on the shoulders and the adjustable sternum strap allows you to vary the position of the shoulder straps should they produce a little soreness from being in one place all day. Golites sternum strap is removable without destroying it so you can experiment. God bless them.
It was nice to use a pack that didn't make me cringe when I had to bushwhack 'round a deadfall.
The woodsy nature of eastern trails and the damage done by hurricanes and this past winters icestorms, as well as trees dieing from pollution and alien insects have made bushwhacking a regular activity here and my spinnaker cloth G6 Whisper is showing the wear and tear.
The only changes I plan for my Ion are to trim off excess webbing, remove the reflective logo patches ( messes up photos ) and install a Simblissity Unslackpack to the hipbelt.
I may install 2 grommets and shock cord lengthwise, a la Jam2, to carry a BPL rod case.
Since my overnite gear load for wooded eastern hiking has deminished over the years its been a challenge to find a pack whose volume wasn't too great, fabric wasn't too flimsy, weight wasn't too much, bells and whistles weren't too numerous or present at all. You don't REALLY need mesh pockets to dry out gear or carry fuel bottles. You don't need to be able to access your water bottle while hiking without removing your pack. I can remove my Ion, unzip the top, remove my 1 liter Platty and be drinking in less than 30 seconds without breaking stride because my pack in so light. Having mesh pockets just means something else to snag when bushwhacking around a large hemlock lying across the trail dead because the guardian of our National Forest thought this magnificent species not worth whatever it took to save it from the wooly algedid.
I think it was Ray Jardine in Beyond Backpacking who said something like
"What a person needs is based almost entirely on what they THINK they need."
The Ion's simplicity of form and function will teach you what you really do need. Which isn't much, really.
In a culture where people buy Hummers to simlpy take the kids to soccer practice or drive 5 miles on pavement to work the Ion is a refreshingly delightful anti-thesis.
I believe it will strike a cord with many people looking to lighten and simplfy their loads and lives.
Its my perfect overnite pack and a solid 5 from where I stand.

As of recent I'm now using a 1 liter Platypus Hoser at the top of the Ion.
I cut the drinking tube shorter since it doesn't have far to travel in this position. I lay the Hoser on its side with the outlet end on one side of the pack and route the drinking tube through the hole provided and over to the shoulder strap on the opposite side of the pack. I bias the Hoser to lay with the outlet end lower so water flows in that direction. If you need more angle to get the last bit of water out you can reach back and tilt the Ion in that direction.

Edited by Gregory on 10/16/2007 07:25:38 MDT.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Patagonia Beanie - Men's priced at: $17.50 - $27.45
Platypus Drinking Tube priced at: $9.75 - $12.95
Platypus Hoser priced at: $22.95
SmartWool Crew - Boy's priced at: $39.50 - $50.00
SmartWool Crew - Kid's priced at: $34.99 - $50.00
SmartWool Beanie - Kid's priced at: $17.49 - $24.95
Craig Shelley
( craig_shelley )

Rocky Mountains
Great pack for some trips on 09/29/2007 13:34:56 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

At this point, I've used the Ion for just two backpacking trips in the southern Utah desert. A friend of mine has also used it for the same two trips. We're both very pleased with the pack. (May 08: I've now used it for more trips.)

I have a G6 Whisper, which is lighter (110grams) than the Ion (273 grams for a large), but the Whisper is just too fragile of a pack. The Ion is well worth the extra ounces.

With increasing frequency, I'm backpacking in the desert of Utah where water is so common that I only need to carry a liter or perhaps 2 liters at most (May 08: I've now carried 3 liters of water with the Ion). These trips often require off trail travel across desert or through canyon bottoms with plenty of brush. For these trips during the shoulder season, the Ion is nothing short of fantastic. It is easy to get the weight of my gear/clothing under 5 lbs (including a PLB or climbing gear). I then carry food for two or three days and two one liter Platypus bags for water, or perhaps gatorade or lemonade in the second Platypus.

With lightweight foods (heavy on nuts), I start out around 11-12 lbs and finish the trip at about half that weight.

I won't be using the Ion a lot of the time, but for some trips, I couldn't ask for a better pack. (May 08: That was last year. I'm now thinking I will use the Ion for most trips.) The biggest problem with the Ion is perhaps I'll get out of shape for the winter months, when I carry twice the weight or more.

May 08: The slim profile of the ion is very nice. Golite, please don't make this pack more complicated, as some reviewers suggest. This pack is inexpensive. It does the job. It is now my favorite pack.

Oct 09: Used it on every backpack this spring-fall. On a four day in the Grand Canyon/Kanab Creek Wilderness it worked great. That is the longest I've gone. On a three day with wetsuit and minimal rappel gear, it was a tight squeeze, but I got it all in. It allowed us to go fast through Death Hollow, 15 miles the first day, even starting in a blizzard, in June of 08. On an overnight in Canyonlands, I managed to carry five liters of water without a problem and then on the way out, carry the pack of a companion that was having a tough trip (my little ion without water went inside his pack). I've also used the Ion as a daypack for canyoneering. I buy them cheap for about $30 on sale and they hold up well. An Ion can carry a 200ft 8mm static rope and my gear for the day just fine. I appreciate this pack more every year.

Edited by craig_shelley on 11/01/2009 17:53:46 MST.

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T. Sedlak
( busotti )
Excellent minimalist pack on 10/12/2007 12:05:09 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

For most folks, this 1500 cubic inch entity will be a daypack. My daypack of choice, too. At 9 oz, I forget I'm wearing it. It is basically a sack with a zipper lid. No pockets, compression straps, etc. It does have a small crude hip belt which is useful keeping it from flailing around in high wind, climbing maneuvers, etc. The opening slit for a hydration hose is nice, too. The fabric (210d nylon with superimposed dyneema grid) is much tougher than the ultralight nylon packs, so you need not be paranoid just putting the pack down on the ground.

Impressively water resistant too.

Those aiming to use this for more then a daypack need to be fairly committed to an ultralight (as opposed to light) ethos. For me I'm carrying a water reservoir/hose, rain shell, fleece, emergency bag, food, sunscreen and maybe some rope.

Edited by busotti on 10/12/2007 12:08:04 MDT.

Dylan Taylor
( nevadas )

California Coast
Excellent Pack for UL Weekends on 11/05/2007 09:05:21 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I just got back from a 35 mile loop around the Crystal Range in Desolation Wilderness, CA. While the temps soared to unusual heights for the season, I thought I could cram in one last outing with this minimalist pack. With temps in the low 70s in the day then down into the 20s at night, I needed a few cold weather items, such as my montbell ul inner down jacket. This pack fit it all.

It is very comfortable to wear. I used a GG torso pad to double as a "frame" inside; this makes the pack very stable. On the ingress/egress to the trail loop, there is a class 2, 2+ scramble over a granite ridge to a hanging valley before getting into Desolation Wilderness. I barely noticed the pack on my back. However, and this is the only downside to the pack, I had to run my poles thru the shoulder straps and be wedged there at my low back. I will probably make a modification like the other writers have noted above to store my poles. The hipbelt, though some may see it as unnecessary, works well to keep the pack stable as well when twisting and turning thru brush and rocks.

Speaking of which, during the scramble, I brushed granite on the bottom of the pack, sides, etc, as well as manzanita and other bracken. No damage. The pack is tough too.

After doing hours of research about a pack of this size, the Ion appears to be the best of the lot. It is tough, light, simple, and ample for a weekend trip even in sub freezing temps. Although I am basing this on reviews and other notes "on paper" I can say with personal knowledge that the Ion is everything I could've asked for in a 40.00 pack (on sale).

If I could make a change in addition to the small loop for poles, it would be a small mesh outer pocket for items that are wet. For me, I had my water filter in my pack inside a ziplock. I prefer to keep that outside the pack so it can dry. The weight penalty wouldnt be much and it would increase the capacity by a hair.

I have used the Go Lite Infinity for the past three or so years and have loved it for winter and long treks. Go Lite gets it right again with the Ion. Right on, guys.

Enjoy the pic, a la Ryan J.:

Entering the Crystal Range, Desolation Wilderness

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Daniel Strange
( strangdj )
Fits the bill on 04/10/2008 09:17:12 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I like the size and simplicity of this pack. Mine weighs 9.8 oz in size large. I just use it as a daypack, as I suspect most would. The other reviewers have pretty much covered it, so I'll just add a few comments.

*The perfect size and shape for a daypack (IMO). The long narrow shape provides a decent capacity but keeps everything from sloshing around without resorting to compression straps.
*Comfortable suspension. I appreciate that the sternum strap is removable and has a bit of stretch built in.
*Hydration compatible
*Very stylish! No extra stuff is dangling, which I appreciate both in the backcountry (nothing to snag) and around town (I hate biking to the grocery store looking like my next stop is Kilimanjaro).
*Cheap and very practical.

*I'm really not sold on the "Dyneema". I suspect it's a gimick. Really, this thing is made from 210 Denier PU coated nylon. Pretty much the same stuff every college kid's JanSport is made from. Maybe the Dyneema grid adds some tear resistance. But for most purposes (water, abrasion resistance) I think it's probably the same.
*The adjustment straps on the shoulder pads are way to long. I can't imagine a person barrel-chested enough to need that much. I cut them down to prevent the danglies. Ditto with the sternum strap and waist belt (although I guess some Americans might need that much waist belt...)

Edited by strangdj on 04/10/2008 09:18:55 MDT.

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Art Sandt
( artsandt )
To simple to be very practical on 04/10/2008 19:39:27 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

This pack has a niche for me. It is the pack I use in the heat of summer when I'm doing an overnighter with minimal food, and hiking lots of miles. Because it's so small, I can pack it with a synthetic 40 degree sleeping bag, using a torso-length inflating pad for structure, put most of my food on bottom, and some on top, throw a Camelbak into the top and I'm ready to go. It's a minimal volume, minimal features, but durable (for a 9 ouncer) backpack. There are comparably size backpacks that are made out of silnylon which are a little lighter, but also more prone to abrasion and it's a rare backpacker who doesn't have to walk through thorny, or otherwise damaging plants which would give a silnylon pack a run for its money.

The problems I had with it were that for one, the top opening is very small. So small, in fact, that in order to grab a snack out of the backpack (if I have my food bag at the bottom), I need to completely dump out everything in the pack. The simple fix is to put most of your food at the bottom and fill up a ziplock with food for the day, which is kept at the top of the pack. What I wish Golite had done was build this pack with at least one outside pocket. They could even save weight by using a lighter fabric for the divider inside of the pocket between the main pack body. Or, they could have skipped the waterproof #5 zipper opening and just used a drawcord with a flap, or a roll-top closure, both of which would have been lighter. Since there is no strapping system on this pack, it's impossible (without modding it yourself) to bring a very bulky closed-cell foam pad on backpacking trips. There's simply nowhere to attach it. Similarly, if you have wet raingear, it's going inside this pack if you don't want to continue wearing it. A few grosgrain loops to run shock cord through here and there would have been a world of help on Golite's part. Either that or a single, simple mesh outside pocket.

Edited by artsandt on 04/10/2008 19:43:59 MDT.

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William Webber
( micwebbpl )
Well Designed & Made on 06/04/2008 12:00:35 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Think: ultralight travel. SE Asia using this as your only carryon. The zipper top is much better for this application that a drawstring top with lid. Plus, it "cleans up well" - looks better - for luggage use than the typical backpack or daypack.

This pack is the answer to the question "do small travel packs need so much padding and so many compartments, zippers and cords." The answer is: no.

Edited by micwebbpl on 06/04/2008 12:01:13 MDT.

David Frossard
( dfrossar )

Edge of the Rockies
Less is more on 06/26/2008 09:53:00 MDT Report Post Print

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.

Edited by dfrossar on 04/17/2009 18:51:32 MDT.

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Jay Wilkerson
( Creachen )

East Bay
Perfect for a day hike or in town pack!! on 01/29/2009 10:12:20 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I had a Golite Dawn for about 4+ years and it finally fell apart on me-so I ordered the new ION pack. I like the price at $50.00 and it seems very durable. The shape is very streamline and I can use it on a day hike or go bicycle riding with it for a good "In Town Pack". I ordered a Large and it came in at 10.4oz at 1,500ci- Not bad at all. The Dyneema seems very tough and I like the simplicity of the pack and its no extras theme. It has a haul loop and interior hook for keys, hip belt and a adjustable sternum strap with a whistle. Simple and easy "High Five"

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Mike M
( mtwarden )

simple, yet effective on 09/18/2010 16:01:13 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

discontinued now, but rumored to make a comeback- we'll see.

great little pack, for a great little price. if you pack light and efficiently (and maybe some slight modding) this makes for a nice 2-3 day pack

it's a no frills pack to be sure, I added side/front lycra pockets to make a little more versatile

I really like the simplicity of this pack and it's small volume insures that I will do my part on packing only what is necessary


John Frederick Anderson
( fredfoto )

Golite Ion- bring it back!! it is fantastic!! on 08/23/2011 15:48:03 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Golite Ion Review

I know you can't buy this any more, but it really deserves a 5 out of 5 as it is easily the best pack I've used for UL adventures, if you can get all your gear in.
It is comfortable without the sternum strap, and I use the hip belt for stability and a bit of weight transfer as the pack weight is only about 6/7 kg fully loaded.
The shoulder straps are perfect, angled at the back to contour to the body and have enough flex and bounce to help with the load. The mesh helps in hot climates and dries quickly.
Highly recommended, I wish Golite would bring it back!!

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