FIELD TEST REPORT: GoLite Trek pack
- GoLiteTrek Pack Field Test Report
Pack Tested: GoLite Trek, Size Large, Color = Sea (Blue/Black)
Tester Name: Will Rietveld
Height: 6' (183 cm)
Weight: 170 (77.3 kg)
Torso Length: 20.5" (52.1 cm)
Home: Durango, Colorado, USA
Backpacking Background: 45 years of hiking and backpacking in the mountains and deserts of southwest Colorado, southeast Utah, and Arizona. Also numerous trips in Wyoming, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and upper Michigan. I have been a lightweight backpacker for many years, and an ultralight backpacker for three years, and have presented three workshops on lightweight backpacking in the local area. I have been retired for 5 years and now hike or backpack 3-5 days a week.
Product: Trek Pack (PA5104), Size L, Color = Sea
Manufacturer: GoLite, PO Box 20190, Boulder, Colorado 80308, USA
Year of Manufacture: 2002
Listed Weight: Catalog 2# 10 oz (1190 g); Tag attached to pack: 2# 3 oz (990 g). Note discrepancy.
Actual Weight: 2# 3 oz (990 g)
Listed Volume: Catalog 4400-5950 cu. in. (73-98 L); Tag attached to pack: 3900-4500 cu. in (63-73 L). Note discrepancy.
Location Where the Test was Conducted: Cedar Mesa area in Southeastern Utah, approx. 30 miles (48.3 km) southwest of Blanding, Utah. I hiked the Fish/Owl Canyon system on one 5-day trip in mid-November, 2002; and the Slickhorn Canyon system on a 6-day trip in early December, 2002.
Description of Location: Cedar Mesa is a "High Desert" environment dominated by pinyon pine and Utah juniper woodlands on the mesa tops and by various shrubs, forbs, and grasses on hillslopes and canyon bottoms. The elevation ranges from 4500-6500 feet (1370-1980 m). The area is generally described as "canyonlands country", characterized by deep, steep-walled canyons containing beautiful rock formations, shear cliffs, slickrock, natural arches, alcoves with indian ruins, and sandy soils. Each major canyon is a "system" with numerous side canyons to explore. The main canyons often have an established (but primitive) trail, and the side canyons are usually trail-less and contain numerous obstacles such as brush, boulder jams, and pouroffs (dry falls). We hiked 12-15 miles (19.3-24.1 km) per day; about half of each trip was on-trail and half was off-trail. Hiking conditions consisted of established hiking trails, weaving through brush, dry stream beds, scrambling through boulder jams, bypassing pouroffs, slickrock, and animal trails.
Weather Conditions: Annual precipitation for the area is about 10 inches (25.4 cm), which is the norm for most of the Southeast Utah high desert at that elevation. We did not have any precipitation on either outing, although it was necessary to carry rain gear just in case. Daytime temperatures were in the 45-55 degree F (7.2-12.8 degrees C) range, and nighttime temperatures were in the 15-25 degree F (-3.9 to -9.4 degrees C) range. Days were very comfortable for hiking, but nights were long and fairly cold.
Backpacking System: Lightweight. My initial total pack weight (including food, water, and fuel) for the 5-day trip in November was 24# (10.9 kg), and 25.5# (11.6 kg) for the 6-day trip in December. My sleeping system was a sleeping bag and bivy sack, plus a tarp should I need it. Backpacking in late fall required taking a heavier sleeping bag and warmer clothes, which account for a significant increase in pack weight and volume compared to summertime backpacking.
Experience With the GoLite Trek Pack
Loading the Pack: I loaded the pack as follows: Main Compartment: Thermarest Ultralite air mattress against my back, sleeping gear and camp food in bottom, cooking gear and warm clothes in middle, trail food and clothes on top; Side Pockets: 1 L water bottle in each; Back Pocket: rain gear, warm gloves and hat; Top Cap: map and all miscellaneous gear. I have used this packing system for years, and found it to work very well with the Trek pack. I had no problems loading the pack, or finding the "right" place for things. The external pockets and top cap made it very easy to organize my gear and conveniently access it. With the pack on, I found that I could reach my water bottles in the side pockets, but I could not replace them without taking the pack off.
Overall Appraisal: GoLite got it right with the Trek pack. It's an excellent pack, and just right for lightweight week-long (or longer) and cold-weather backpacking trips. I have a frequent need for a lightweight, larger-volume pack that will carry 20-30# (9.1-13.6 kg) loads comfortably. Since I converted to ultralight backpacking, I never carry a pack heavier than 25# (11.4 kg), but I often carry a bulkier 20-25# (9.1-11.4 kg) load necessitated by cold weather or an extended trip. I do lots of shorter trips in the summertime, where my GoLite Breeze pack works great for loads up to 15# (6.8 kg), but I have found that the Breeze simply doesn't have the volume and weight carrying capacity needed for cold weather and extended trips. The Trek pack meets that need perfectly. The pack is well designed and constructed, and I have had no problems with it so far, considering that the pack has been scraped through a lot of brush and rocks. Following are some specific comments on different components and aspects of the pack.
Fit, Support, and Weight Transfer: The pack fits me very well and is comfortable to carry all day. A key factor for a frameless pack is that the pack body needs to be fully expanded for it to have structure, so sizing the pack to one's needs is important. When fully expanded with gear, the Trek pack has a distinct shape that is contoured to fit my back. GoLite's description states that the pack "transfers some of the load efficiently from an anatomically contoured back panel to a webbing hip belt". My experience is - it works! I initially wondered if the extra weight of the incorporated foam back pad was justified by better weight-carrying comfort, and found out that it is. The pack has adequate load-adjusting straps to make it fit properly and comfortably. The hip belt is lightly padded, which I found to be adequate. In contrast to frame packs, where a heavy-padded hip belt is necessary because much of the load is transferred to my hips, I found the Trek pack most comfortable when it was adjusted to distribute the weight among my shoulders, chest, and hips. The pack became part of me. Note that this approach works well for me for the 20-25# (9.1-11.4 kg) loads I carry; if I were to carry conventional 40-45# (18.2-20.5 kg) loads, I would want to put the weight on my hips via a well-padded hip belt.
Volume and Weight Carrying Capacity: The extra weight of the Trek pack, weighing 35oz = 990g compared to 15oz = 420 grams for the Breeze pack, does justify the volume and weight carrying comfort this pack provides. The pack volume seems to be sized in proportion to its comfortable weight-carrying capacity. Since a frameless pack pack fits and carries best when the main compartment is fully expanded, its weight should be approximately 75% its comfortable capacity at that point. Then, adding more gear to the outside pockets should reach the pack's stated 30# (13.6 kg) comfortable weight-carrying capacity, and the volume of the pack should be mostly filled. There is sufficient extra capacity in the extension collar for that occasional "monster" load.
Mesh Side Pockets: I love the mesh outside pockets on my Breeze pack, and I am delighted to see them on the Trek. GoLite now uses a heavy-duty mesh for the outside pockets, and it is surprisingly durable. I have one snag in one of the pockets, that's all. So far, I am finding the pack to be durable enough for off-trail use. The side pockets are a bit tight at the bottom when the main compartment is full, so I would recommend that they be bellowed a bit more at the bottom. Two 1 L Nalgene water bottles will fit in one side pocket, albeit tight, but two 1 L soda bottles fit comfortably.
Floating Top Cap: I initially considered removing the top cap to reduce weight, but I have discovered that its large capacity and convenience are well worth the small increase in weight. I did find that fine dust tends to electrostatically attract to the silnylon material, and is not easily brushed off. Also, vegetation rubbing against it tends to leave marks on it that are not easily removed. Consequently, the cap shows the most use, although there is no actual damage to the material. Another point: it would be really, really nice if the top cap were designed so it can be detached and used as a fanny pack for those occasions when you make camp, then go on a short local hike or day hike.
How Well Did the Pack Meet My Expectations?
The expectations I identified in my Initial Report are as follows: (stated as hypotheses)
1) The extra features are worth the extra weight.
2) Its volume will be appropriate for my needs.
3) It will carry 20-30# (9.1-13.6 kg) loads comfortably.
4) Its volume will be proportional to its comfortable weight-carrying capacity when fully loaded.
5) It will be durable enough for bushwhacking (including the mesh side pockets), and will hold up long-term.
I am delighted to say that, so far, the Trek pack meets my expectations in all respects (see previous section for discussion). It packs well, fits well, is just the right size for my needs, carries moderate loads (20-30# = 19.1-13.6 kg) very comfortably, and is sufficiently durable for off-trail use. The pack design works very well for the 20-30# (19.1-13.6 kg) weight range. I will continue to use the pack as much as I can for the next four months and update my impressions in my long-term field test
I appreciate the opportunity to test the GoLite Trek pack, and participate in the Backpack GearTest program.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Here you are Will. Just a few little things. Your report is complete and
thorough. Good work!
GoLite Trek Monitor
> GoLiteTrek Pack Field Test ReportNeed space - "GoLite Trek"
> Manufacturer: GoLite, PO Box 20190, Boulder, Colorado 80308,Manufacturer address unnecessary.
> by pinyon pine and Utah juniper woodlandsCapitalize 'Pinyon'
> grasses on hillslopes and canyon'hill slopes'
> Since a frameless pack pack fits and carriesExtra 'pack'.
> How Well Did the Pack Meet My Expectations?Extra space between 'did' and 'the'.
> participate in the Backpack GearTest program.'BackpackGearTest'
- One other tiny change ....
At 10:28 01/01/2003 -0700, Will & Janet wrote:
>GoLiteTrek Pack Field Test ReportThe conversions here have a typo - should be 9.1-13.6, not 19.1-13.6. That
>I am delighted to say that, so far, the Trek pack meets my expectations in
>all respects (see previous section for discussion). It packs well, fits
>well, is just the right size for my needs, carries moderate loads (20-30#
>= 19.1-13.6 kg) very comfortably, and is sufficiently durable for
>off-trail use. The pack design works very well for the 20-30# (19.1-13.6
>kg) weight range. I will continue to use the pack as much as I can for the
>next four months and update my impressions in my long-term field test
extra "1" slipped in at the start, although the same conversion was correct
earlier in the report.