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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Cilo Gear 40B WorkSack > Test Report by Jennifer Estrella

CiloGear 40B WorkSack

Test Series by Jennifer Estrella

October 21, 2008

Skip to my Initial Report- June 15, 2008
Skip to my Field Report- September 2, 2008
Skip to my Long Term Report- October 21, 2008

Personal Information

Name:  Jennifer Estrella
Age:  33
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Email address: jennksnowy at yahoo dot com
City, State, and Country: 
Orange County, California, United States

Backpacking Background

After getting into the outdoors scene camping while 4-wheeling and day-hiking, I switched to backpacking in the early 2000's. I have backpacked extensively in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho along with California, Pennsylvania and Nevada. I have slowly been cutting my base weight to be able to go longer in both duration and distance. I have done so mainly by using better gear and dumping heavy luxuries. (I also married a Sherpa to help.) I backpack year round in all weather, and usually take a free standing tent and a gas stove on all my trips. I love trying out new gear.

Initial Report

June 15, 2008

Product Information

Manufacturer: CiloGear
Web Site:
Product: 40B WorkSack
Year Manufactured: 2008
MSRP: $160.00 USD
Color Tested: Red, also available in Black
Size Tested: Small/Medium also available in Medium/Large
Fit Range: Torso measurement from 14 to 17 in (36 to 43 cm)

Weights Listed:
Pack bag: 845 g (29.8 oz)
Lid: 190 g (6.7 oz)
Hip belt: 160 g (5.6 oz)
Bivy pad+framesheet: 400 g (14.1 oz)
8 straps: 140 g (4.9 oz)

Actual Weights:
Pack bag (without all removable straps and buckles): 873 g (30.79 oz)
Lid: 154 g (5.4 oz)
Hip belt: 162 g (5.7 oz)
Bivy pad: 122 g (4.3 oz)
Framesheet and stay: 410 g (14.5 oz)
Lid connector straps (2) and lid front buckles (2): 44 g (1.55 oz)
Sternum strap: 20 g (0.71 oz)
8 straps: 117 g (4.1 oz)
Total weight: 1,902 g (67 oz)

Volume(s) listed: from 20 to 60 L (1,220 to 3,660 cu in)



Front of pack and straps.

Front of the 40B WorkSack and supplied straps.

Product Description

The CiloGear 40B WorkSack is what the manufacturer calls a “Lightweight Alpine Day” pack. It is meant for “Alpine Cragging or serious routes in more civilized areas”. The WorkSack is a top-loading great-sack pack (meaning it has no compartments and is accessed only from the top) with a floating lid.

The WorkSack came to me with nothing in the box but the pack and two postcards. The product information listed above came from CiloGear’s easy to navigate web site. The web site also had a link to the instruction manual. The instruction manual is huge and has instructions for fit and various configuration options.

The pack is constructed of an absolute plethora of materials. The bottom of the main pack is made of Dimension Polyant VX51. This is 500x1000d Cordura laminated in a five-ply sandwich with Dacron X-Pac for rip resistance and structural stability.

The top of the side panels are made of Dyneema 500d ripstop. The bottom of the side panels are made of Dimension Polyant VX51. The Dyneema is the white grid pattern on the black fabric on the sides, lid, crampon pocket, back, and portions of the inside of the pack.

The middle of the center panel is made of Dimension Polyant VX42, and the sides are constructed of Dimension Polyant VX21.

The lid is made from Dimension Polyant VX07, 70d Cordura laminated in a five ply sandwich with Dacron X-Pac on the sides with the Cordura / Dyneema 500d ripstop used for the top. All of the fabrics above are rated 200 psi waterproof.

Back of pack


Side view of the 40B WorkSack showing the huge extension sleeve.

At the top of the pack body is a huge 11 in (28 cm) extension sleeve, made of 30d Cordura SilNylon. A cord runs around the top of the sleeve and through a spring-loaded cord lock, allowing the top to be drawn shut. There is another cord and lock that runs around the extension sleeve in the middle that acts as the main body closure.

On the front of the WorkSack are the following features:

An extra layer of Cordura is sewn in the center of the body. On this reinforced area a grab-hoist loop is sewn at the top. Below the loop is a crampon pocket, which is a rectangular bellows style pocket with no closure.

On each side of the crampon pocket is a short daisy chain with a cord-locked bungee tool keeper attached. Below the daisy chains are the tool loops which, instead of just being made from a sewn on loop like my other packs, are made up of a strap with a quick-disconnect buckle.

There are two reinforced flaps trimmed with highly reflective tape are at the bottom of the pack. The purpose of these flaps is to carry ice tools. Since I will not be carrying ice tools this time of year I may be able to find a different purpose for these flaps.

Inside pocket

Stash pocket

Inside the pack is a white 9 x 6 in (23 x 15 cm) stash pocket that closes with a zipper. This pocket also acts as the cover for the orange framesheet pocket. The top of the framesheet closure is made of 70d Cordura SilNylon and the bottom of the framesheet closure pocket is made of 210d Cordura SilNylon. Inside the framesheet pocket are the three pieces that give the WorkSack its internal support. This framesheet pocket holds a folded blue foam bivy pad that cushions the back and can be used as a sit pad or bivy pad. A black hard plastic panel serves as the framesheet, which has an aluminum stay that runs down the center. The aluminum stay is secured in place by a hook and loop closure. Also inside the pack is a centered strap with a quick disconnect buckle. This strap is intended for load transfer.

Framesheet pocket

Framesheet pocket

The web site gives detailed instructions how to adjust the framesheet and stay to fit properly. I want to have the assistance of a second person to help me fit the WorkSack properly with a good fit.

The shoulder pads are constructed of a very thin, stiff, dual density, closed cell foam covered with nylon. I am actually surprised how thin the straps are, mostly because I am accustomed to packs with thicker shoulder straps. The shoulder straps are a fixed type sewn to the pack body, that can not be moved up or down to accommodate various torso lengths. The shoulder straps have the usual two adjustment straps, top and bottom. The top ones adjust the distance that the pack rides away from my body. The adjustment straps at the lower ends pull the pack down onto my shoulders changing the balance of weight between my hip and shoulders. An adjustable and removable sternum strap spans between the shoulder straps. Between the shoulder pads, at the top, is a red grab-hang loop.

The hip belt is made of a thin, stiff, dual density, closed cell foam foam that is covered with nylon and connects by means of a large quick disconnect buckle. It has straps on the sides to pull the side of the pack tighter into the lower back. The hip belt provides torso adjustment for the pack by sliding up or down and attaching with a hook and loop type fastener at the desired location.

The top lid is very large and is accessed by way of a waterproof zipper that has some of the reflective tape right above it. I should be able to find the zipper fast with a dim head lamp. When the lid is flipped open another map/permit pocket may be found on the bottom.


Lid pocket

The lid is easily removable to lighten the pack weight when it not needed, or it can be moved to the front of the pack (over the crampon pocket) instead of the top. It floats higher on the pack than any top lid I have seen. An extension strap is provided to allow it to perch on the top of the fully extended sleeve.

Instead of normal straps that are sewn on CiloGear uses Sliplocks and Dee-Clips to change the volume and the compression system of the pack. The Dee-Clip is a metal squared off D-Ring. The Sliplock is a plastic slide buckle. The Sliplock is passed through the Dee-Clip at an angle then straightened. This allows the Sliplock to be held in place and will not allow it to slide out of the Dee-Clip. The pack can be compressed to its smallest volume size by attaching all the sewn on Sliplocks to the Dee-Clips opposite them.

By undoing all the straps the pack may be used to its fullest volume size. By using the extra straps provided with the pack it can be adjusted in many ways and volumes. At first I thought that this could easily be done with regular straps at less weight. But as I read about the pack I realized that the extension straps may be used not only for sideways compression but set up in vertical or horizontal V patterns for more control of loads. I see now that the WorkSack is meant to be able to do a lot of jobs and carry various types of gear and loads. I like the possibility that I can easily adjust the pack in the field for comfort and load type by carrying the extra straps with me.

I noticed upon receiving the pack that there is a large amount of unfinished threads on my pack. These unfinished threads have been trimmed. One area on the ice tool pocket has threads hanging out of one side, and missing on the other. I will watch this during the testing.

Pulling Threads

Hanging and missing threads on ice tool pocket.

Initial Impressions

So far I am happy with the looks of the WorkSack. The material appears to be durable and I love the various configuration options for various load types. The pack appears to be complex to initially fit and configure for various load options. I was a little bit overwhelmed when I saw the pack. However, the instruction manual on the website did an excellent job of explaining how to fit the pack and compression/load adjustment options.

I am little surprised at how thin the shoulder straps and the hip belt are. There is just so little padding. This makes me wonder how my shoulders and hips will feel after carrying a load of climbing and backpacking gear.

So now I am off to fit the WorkSack.

Field Report

September 2, 2008


Testing Locations

During the past two months the CiloGear 40B WorkSack was used on three climbing trips and one backpacking trip in the following locations:

Big Cottonwood Canyon Utah: Rock climbing trip that involved 4 mi (6 km) of hiking and scrambling. The starting elevation was approximately 6,200 ft (1,890 m). The temperatures was 82 F (28 C). This was a multi-pitch climb and a few single pitch climbs.

Maple Canyon Utah: This was a rock climbing trip involving 3.5 mi (6 km) of hiking to two climbing areas. The elevation was 6,800 ft (2,073 m) and the temperature was 57 F (14 C) in the a.m. shade and rose to 78 F (26 C).

Malibu Creek State Park, California: This was a sport climbing trip with a high temperature of 77 F (25 C). The elevation was 561 ft (171 m). The distance hiking to the crag was 3 mi (5 km).

Mt. San Jacinto State Park, California: The pack was used on a two night backpacking trip at the Buckthorn Camp. The weather was sunny with a slight breeze and the high temperatures were around 75 F (24 C).

Malibu Creek State Park

Performance in the Field

I have been a recreational rock climber for the past 9 years. I was very excited to see the CiloGear test come up and even more so when I was chosen to test it. Finally a reason to dump my heavy old climbing pack, even though it had served well for many years and many routes. At this point I have mixed feelings about the WorkSack, I believe I am jumping the gun to toss my old climbing pack. My old climbing pack is very comfortable and I am experiencing discomfort when carrying the WorkSack with heavy loads around 30 lb (14 kg).

I was told by the test moderator right after the Initial Review was posted that I had not received the correct straps, and that I could expect to be contacted by the manufacturer to get the right accessories. I never was contacted and preceded with what I had.

My first trip with the WorkSack was a multi-pitch climb and the pack weighed over 30 lb (14 kg). I carried two 60 m (197 ft) ropes, climbing gear rack (quickdraws, cams, nuts, friends, runners, etc.), harness, two pairs of shoes, jacket, helmet, food, water, and miscellaneous supplies for a total of 4 mi (6 km). I climbed with the pack up a multi-pitch route and also rappelled with it. To initially pack for this trip I spent a great deal of time fiddling with the Sliplocks and Dee-Clips making sure I had the pull straps facing the right direction to make quick adjustments as needed. Now I believe I am more proficient with the orientation of the Sliplocks and Dee-Clips. But, it is still taking me longer than usual to configure my load.

Generally I do not mind climbing with a pack on. Yes, there is some lack of freedom of movement but usually I can handle it just fine. With the CiloGear pack I climbed with all my necessities in the pack (configured to the smallest volume) and had my extra rope secured to my harness. It was a pleasure to be able to compress the pack to a smaller volume within a few minutes. I was able to wear my harness while climbing but some of my rear fixed gear loops were covered by the back of the pack. I improvised and used my side gear loops. I found that the shoulder straps were digging into me in the humeral head, clavicular area of my arm and shoulder while I was climbing. I also found that I was more limited in my range of motion climbing with this pack on a multi-pitch. My other climbing pack has a different angle on the shoulder straps and I find it more comfortable for climbing. Even while hiking with the CiloGear pack I experienced some shoulder discomfort and some pressure on my back where the horizontal seam of the lumbar pad presses against my back. I found the shoulder straps to be hard and thin and not conforming to my anatomical shape well. So I thought maybe I just had to break the pack in.

The second trip I only carried one 60 m (197 ft) rope, a small gear rack, a harness, one pair of shoes, helmet, jacket, shirt, food, water bladder, and miscellaneous supplies. The shoulder straps felt a little bit better but they were still digging into my humeral head and putting pressure on my glenohumeral joint. But, the pressure from the pack seam was digging into my back. On this trip I sat for 30 minutes trying different load configurations to help alleviate the pressure from the seam digging into my back. But, my efforts availed no effective result.

On the third climbing trip I carried most of the climbing gear even though my husband offered to carry the rope. We spent a great deal of time the night before coming up with an optimal loading method. So off we went and again I was feeling the pressure from the seam on my back. I asked my husband to feel inside the pack between my back and the WorkSack and he verified there was a seam that was hitting my back. No matter what I did I could not make the pressure from it go away.

I will say that the WorkSack is pretty durable. I have dragged the pack on conglomerate, quartzite, sandstone, and volcanic rock with no damage to the fabric. Except for the loose threads mentioned in my initial report, it has held up quite well. I wish that all my packs were made with the materials CiloGear employs. The haul loop is a handy feature to pick up the pack or hauling it up a face by attaching it to a carabiner after topping out. This pack is very durable and makes a nice small haul bag when it is configured to its fullest volume.

On the backpacking trip I carried a lighter load under 30 lb (14 kg) and the shoulder straps were a little bit more comfortable. But, I need to be able to carry heavy weights semi-comfortably on multi-pitch and multi-day climbing trips. I do not have the Oral Straps for this pack so when I attach or remove my trekking poles on the sides of the pack I have to release the compression straps.

Since I did not have to carry crampons on any of my trips I used the crampon pocket to hold a water bottle. But, I can not easily reach my water there. I need to ask my partner to get it for me or I have to take off the pack. I did store a hydration bladder in the inside framesheet pocket and that worked out OK. But, the routing of the hydration hose was not optimal. I wish there was some sort of side pockets to place a water bottle so that I can reach it. I would also like to see some type of hydration bladder hanger system inside the pack.

The lid is every large. Actually it is the largest lid I have ever used. I wish that is was somehow sectioned off that when it is less than half full the items are not moving around. I alleviated this issue by placing my jacket in the lid with the other items when it is not half full. I like to have a lid on my pack to store my smaller items that I do not want buried inside the main compartment of my pack.

I did notice that the aluminum stay pocket on the framesheet is not centered and I am wondering if that has something to do with the discomfort I am feeling when I carry the WorkSack. I would think that this should be centered to not potentially cause acute back discomfort and anatomical back problems in the future.

While the strap and buckle system seems pretty cool, it seems to take me longer to configure my loads with this pack. I do not know if this is because I am new to this type of load system or because I do not have an effective loading method with this pack yet. Plus I have not carried the same type of load in the pack over two trips.

I like the various compression options using the Sliplocks/Dee-Clips and I like having the option to immediately compress or expand my pack out in the field. I have used the pack with and without the hipbelt and trialed balancing the load weight different ways with various strapping methods. I still have not achieved the optimal way to carry a load in this pack, but I will keep trying.

During the long term reporting phase I will be using the pack on multi-pitch climbing routes and day climbing trips and I will attempt to carry the same loads on each of these trips. If I can just tinker with the pack and configure it to decrease the compression on my shoulders and the lumbar seam from pressing against my back this would be a wonderful pack.

Long Term Report

October 21, 2008


Testing Locations

Since the field report the CiloGear 40B WorkSack was used on two climbing trips in the following locations:

Red Rocks, Nevada: This was a two day climbing outing with approaches to the crag averaging 1.5 - 2 mi (2 - 3 km) with temperatures reaching a high of about 95 F (35 C). The elevation increased from 3,500 ft (1,067 m).

City of Rocks, Idaho: This was a two day climbing trip with the highs around 40 F (4 C). The elevation was around 5,800 ft (1,768 m). The ground had a dusting of snow the first day and the second day the ground was damp and wet in some areas. The approaches was about 3 mi (5 km) in length.


Performance in the Field

Through the long term reporting phase I used the CiloGear 40B WorkSack on two rock climbing trips. I used the pack on one multi-pitch climb and for carrying my gear to and from the craig.

I have not been contacted by the manufacturer regarding the straps I was provided with at the beginning of this test series. The test moderator communicated to me that the manufacturer would be contacting me to provide me with the correct straps. So I continued to test the pack with the straps I initially received.

During the long term reporting phase the WorkSack was placed on wet ground and snow. The material has proven to do a good job at repelling moisture since none of my gear inside the pack became wet. Only the bottom of the pack on the outside felt damp.

On both my climbing trips during the long term reporting phase I generally carried the same volume and weight. The pack weighed 30 lb (14 kg). I carried one 60 m (197 ft) rope, a split climbing gear rack (quickdraws, cams, nuts, friends, runners, etc.), harness, one pair of shoes, jacket, helmet, food, water, and miscellaneous supplies. In City of Rocks I climbed with the pack up a multi-pitch route and also rappelled with the pack on. I did not use a hydration system on either trip and I resorted to carrying a water bottle in the crampon pocket and another one inside the pack.

I found that I am spending less time adjusting the pack and configuring the straps for the pack load. I am better oriented with the Sliplocks and Dee-Clips and have become more knowledgeable about different strap configurations. I like the versatility of this pack, I can easily compress it for small loads while climbing up a face and then expanding the pack after climbing or loading it with gear after topping out on a climb.

I am still feeling discomfort where the horizontal seam of the lumbar pad presses against my back. It is less pronounced when I am wearing a heavier insulated jacket, but when I just wear a shirt I can feel the seam dig into my back. I also noticed that I do get a wet spot on my back when carrying the WorkSack in warm temperatures. There is no mesh on the rear of the pack to assist with ventilation. Also the shoulder straps became damp.

I think I am getting more used to the rigid shoulder straps and they do not seem to bother me nearly as much as the pressure I feel from the lumbar pad seam. They have held their shape and the pack is much more comfortable in the shoulder area when I am wearing an insulated jacket.

The pack has held up well with no breakage of any of the components. Also the material has held up well especially after the pack has been dragged across rock and from general climbing abuse. I really like the materials that the pack is constructed of. There also has not been any snagging of the lid zipper during the past four months of testing the WorkSack.

This would be a great pack if it just fit me better. I am thinking that maybe it would fit me better if there was another model made especially for a female. I am also wondering if the fact that the aluminum stay pocket on the framesheet is not centered has to do with any of the shoulder discomfort I am feeling when I carry the pack. I would like to see an easy way to transport water bottles with this pack because many times while climbing I do not carry a hydration bladder.

Things That Rock:

  • Ease of adjustment
  • Multiple compression options
  • Large lid capacity
  • The pack is lightweight

Things That Are So So:

  • No place to hang a water bladder system
  • No designated place to store a water bottle
  • The shoulder straps dig into my shoulders
  • The seam on the lumbar pad digs into my back


This concludes my reporting on the 40B WorkSack. Thank you CiloGear and for providing me with the opportunity to test the 40B WorkSack.

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