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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > GoLite Pinnacle Pack > Owner Review by Gail StaisilOwner Review:
September 5, 2008
Name: Gail Staisil
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Torso Length: 19 in (48 cm)
Email: woodswoman2001 AT yahoo DOT com
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
For the last 18 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I normally take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably, but my base weight is under 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages over 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.
The Pinnacle Backpack is one of many packs manufactured by GoLite. It is one of three frameless backpacks in their Ultra Series, the "packs for ultralite purists" according to the manufacturer. The Pinnacle is the largest pack of that series with a capacity of 3700 cu in (61 L) for a Women's size Medium (17.5 in/44.5 cm to 19.5 in/50 cm torso). Some of its features include a zippered large front pocket, two side stretch pockets, two side compression straps and the ComPACKtor System for reducing the volume of the pack.
The GoLite Pinnacle Backpack is my most recent backpack purchase. Although I already own and use several types of backpacks for a variety of trips and conditions, I desired a pack that is lighter than the others for obvious reasons. There are many of those on the market but many of them simply didn't have the attributes that I sought. A decent volume, a comfortable load rating (weight carried) and some back support or padding were features that I wanted. After much searching and talking with another backpacker who already owned a Pinnacle, I decided to buy one and hope for the best.
The pack has already been used for a total of 18 days of backpacking on four different trips totaling 185 mi (298 km). The length of the trips have varied from two to six days each (they included a two-day trip, a four-day trip and two six-day trips). Michigan USA-based trips included those to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Fox River Trail, Grand Island and Isle Royale National Park. Wyoming USA-based trips were to Grand Teton National Park. The Pinnacle Pack is rated to be comfortable up to 40 lb (18 kg). My pack weight has varied from 22.5 lb (10.2 kg) to almost 35 lb (15.9 kg) on my backpacking trips. The weight included carrying 2 qt (1.89 L) of water for hydration.
In addition, I have worn the Pinnacle Pack for a total of 41 mi (66 km) of dayhiking in both Wyoming and Michigan. Weight carried was minimal at approximately 12 lb (5.5 kg) to15 lb (6.8 kg).
I have used the pack in a variety of terrain but most surfaces could be considered rocky at elevations from 600 ft (183 m) to 10,700 ft (3261 m). Many of my travels involved at least 10 mi to15 mi (16 km to 24 km) days with lots of elevation change.
The GoLite Pinnacle Backpack could easily be characterized as being a hoodless and frameless pack with very simple or no-frills features. The exterior of the pack is made out of Dyneema gridstop nylon. This lightweight material is rated to have excellent strength and durability for its weight. Gridstop Spectra is woven into the fabric for tear strength and abrasion control. The fabric has a high degree of water resistance but that can be lessened by its exposure to UV rays over the long haul.
Foam padding is used minimally on the pack. A tapered or shaped piece of 0.375 in (0.95 cm) thick closed cell foam is inserted into a sleeve on the backside of the pack to form a non-adjustable backpanel. The foam can be viewed by opening a Velcro-sealed pocket in that area. A short piece of webbing touting a clip is also located above that area (to secure a key, etc). There is also a hydration sleeve over the inside of the backpanel that can transport a 3 L (101 fl oz) hydration unit. The latter is not included with the pack itself. Drinking tube ports are located on the backside above each shoulder strap. The opening of each tunnel-like port is approximately 2 in (5 cm) in length.
Minimal padding is also used in the wings of the hipbelt. This padding is approximately 0.125 in (0.32 cm) in thickness. The shoulder harness features Brock foam padding (that has both breathable and non-absorbent qualities) and appears to be approx 0.375 in (0.95 cm) thick in diameter. The harness also features an adjustable sternum strap.
Two angled and deep stretch-mesh side pockets are located on either side of the pack. They are perfect for 1 qt (1 L) containers and other items.
My first trip donning the Pinnacle pack was a trek of nearly 60 mi (97 km) over four days. The weather was very foul but my first experience wearing the pack made up for those conditions. I was extremely pleased that the Pinnacle not only carried well but it was easy to unpack items that were needed during the constant rain without getting everything else wet. The large pocket on the exterior was perfect for those necessities.
The first few times I packed the GoLite Pinnacle Backpack, I carefully layered my equipment in the pack much like I do in my other packs. It has plenty of volume (3700 cu in /61 L) so I didn't have to worry about trying to cram each space with an item. However, when I would stop for a rest break, I began to notice that the back of the pack was very indented between large items. It was so much so that it looked really odd. I also had noted that the weight of the pack didn't seem to sit right against my back due to these concave spaces.
The backpack does have a foam pad in its backpanel but it is extremely lightweight and flexible. After re-packing my pack, I began to fully stuff the dead spaces so that the back panel would stay in a much more rigid arrangement. This has worked miracles for me. I might note here that years ago I tried a frameless pack that didn't have any backpanel (necessitating the use of a foam sleeping pad for rigidity inside the pack). I was never comfortable with that arrangement so I am really pleased to have found a compromise with the Pinnacle Pack.
The Pinnacle Pack has a simple drawstring top closure with a cordlock. A simple compression strap with a quick release buckle runs across the top of the pack to secure the contents further. When the pack is not full, I simply draw the cord and then roll the top of the pack down and fasten the strap over it.
Two side straps on each side serve the dual purpose of further compressing the pack and they can also be used to secure an item such as a sleeping pad. The straps feature quick-release buckles.
The bottom of the pack features two loops and clips that further reduce the load volume when they are connected or attached. This is called the ComPACKtor System and is ideal for dayhikes when less volume is needed. I used this feature on all of my dayhikes and loved the way the pack adapted to my needs.
Other features included ice axe loops combined with light weight elastic cordage and clips for security. Although I haven't used the loops to secure an ice axe, I have used the clips and cordage to secure my collapsed hiking poles on my pack during two six-hour ferry rides (pack was in a baggage cart) to Isle Royale National Park. The handle end of each pole was placed in each of the side stretch pockets. The pack also touts a haul loop constructed with sturdy 0.50 in (1.27 cm) webbing that has been doubled over and stitched. This pack is really amazing to have so many features in a lightweight package.
I find the Pinnacle to be an extremely comfortable pack when loaded correctly. My loads have varied up to 35 lb (15.9 kg). I also had to carry a bear canister for my six-day Teton trip. Although I decided to use a Bear Vault for the trip, my Backpackers Cache Canister (keg type) also fit very nicely in the bottom of the pack.
I especially like the large outside back pocket (13 in/33 cm wide by over 16 in/41 cm) in length on the pack. It's large enough to contain my raingear, maps and compass, lunch and snacks for the day, sunscreen, and miscellaneous other items. Because the waterproof zipper is actually placed several inches (9 cm) down from the top seam of the three-dimensional shaped pocket, I find that there's a ton of extra space above the zipper to utilize as well.
If there is any negative about the Pinnacle Pack for me, it lies in the fact that the self-fabric backpanel of the pack feels rather hot against my back. Being a minimalist type of pack, there aren't any breathable or mesh-type features to promote ventilation. I didn't really notice it being an issue on the first few trips as the weather was inclement but the latter trips featured temps well into the mid 80's (29 C). However, this is a minor issue in the realm of things. I have worn the pack in several types of weather including hot sun, relentless rain and strong winds.
According to the manufacturer, the pack is best cared for by using a mild soap and a damp sponge to wipe the outside and inside of the pack. After my last trip the pack was looking rather dirty, so I wiped it down with a damp towel.
Upon inspection, I do have a few abrasions on the surface of the pack. I am fairly certain that they occurred on my last trip during a fall. I totally slipped on scree and rolled off the trail down a short side slope. I came to rest against a tree (I was OK except for a few minor scratches). Anyway, the abrasions on the bottom of the pack are not severe and I doubt that they will influence the durability of the pack in the long haul.
In conclusion, I actually can't stop finding more than enough good things to love about this pack. Its super comfort, support, versatility, volume, and its light weight are some of its best merits. I'm really amazed that a pack with minimal padding can be so comfortable for me at the loads I was carrying over rough terrain for long distances.
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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > GoLite Pinnacle Pack > Owner Review by Gail Staisil
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