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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > GoLite Odyssey Pack > Test Report by Chuck Carnes

Initial Report: February 13, 2007
Field Report: June 28, 2007
  Long Term Report: August 7, 2007

Name: Chuck Carnes

Age: 37
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft. 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 175 lb (79 kg)
Torso Length: 19.5 in ( cm)

E-mail address: ctcarnes1(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country: Greenville, South Carolina USA

I love the outdoors – I’ve spent time camping in the outdoors since I was born, and have been actively hiking and backpacking since then. I consider myself a lightweight hiker, usually carrying 20 – 30 pounds (11-13 kg) for hikes up to a week in length. I hike at an easy pace, averaging 2 mph (3 kph). I am a one-man tent camper for now. I like to carry a single trekking pole when I hike to help relieve stress to my legs and knees. I like to get out on the trail as often as I can.


Model: Odyssey
Color: Crimson
Max. Volume: 5,800 cu in (95 l)
Compact Volume: 1,700 cu in (28 l)
Size: Large (fits torso length 19.5 in (50 cm) to 21.5 in (55 cm)
Comfortable Load: 50 lbs (23 kg)
Year of manufacture: 2007
Listed Weight:  3 lbs 10 oz (1.6 kg)
Actual Weight:  3 lbs 9 oz. (1.6 kg)
MSRP: $200.00 USD

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION (taken from web site)

Constructed of ultra-durable Velocity fabric, the Odyssey boasts a moldable frame sheet with two adjustable aluminum stays for maximum comfort. The shaped back panel and compression-molded hip belt wings contour to the back and hips to keep you happy no matter what you’re hauling. The adjustable webbing hip belt has two bellowed mesh pockets for easy access to items, the sleeping bag compartment has a removable interior shelf, and two angled side stretch mesh pockets allow for convenient storage. The side compression straps release and join to opposite sides for carrying a snowboard or snowshoes, and the comPACKtor system lets you neatly tuck in extra pack space.

I N I T I A L    R E P O R T
February 13, 2007

The GoLite Odyssey showed up in a very thin box for it to be a pack. The pack was wrapped in clear plastic and was the color and size of my choice.  For a pack this size, the weight is very light but the frame sheet, stays and straps seem to be very sturdy to carry the maximum load listed. For the carrying and support part of the Odyssey, everything appears to be small from what I am used to seeing in a large volume pack with wide web straps and big buckles. The shoulder straps are soft foam padded straps that are narrow but seem to be wide enough not to cut into the shoulders or the chest when loaded. The waist belt is also foam padded and has a web strap and buckle to hold the load to the hips. Everything cinches down nicely to hold the pack to my body. The support system is a sturdy frame sheet with two aluminum stays on either side. The frame sheet fits in a sleeve that is accessible from the inside of the pack at the top of the opening. The aluminum stays are also concealed in this sleeve with the frame sheet and are held in place by their own sleeve and Velcro. The aluminum stays are easily removed to bend and shape to the users comfort.

Side  axe handle cord  Back
The pack portion of the Odyssey is very large in capacity. Coming in at 5,800 cu in (95 liters), it can hold plenty of gear. The coated nylon material is smooth and flexible and seems very durable to abrasions. Starting at the top, the Odyssey has an adjustable, removable lid with a water tight zipper for the top pocket. The lid is not intended to be used as a fanny pack as it does not have any waist straps. The lid easily folds back to reveal the grey extension collar that extends 8 in (20 cm) to give that little bit of extra space for last minute gear. It is held closed by a draw string and a spring loaded barrel clasp. There is also a web strap and buckle that goes over the top to be able to cinch the gear down and keep the extension collar firmly closed.  The front of the pack has a very nice size pocket that is also closed by a water tight zipper. This pocket will extend out about 2.5 in (6 cm) to give plenty of room for that fleece jacket or poncho or any other item that you want to get your hands on quickly. The pouch is somewhat deep and I will note how well this works with organization of small gear items. On the front of the pocket there are two elastic looped cords (see above) that hold the handle of an ice axe and could possibly help hold hiking poles with some creative thinking. These cords have a small nylon tab that makes pulling the cord much easier if the user has gloves on or needs the item very quickly. In between the loops is the GoLite embroidered logo (see below). I was very shocked to see that the jump threads between the letters were still there and have not been cut. My wife embroids and sews a lot and she was also very surprised. This would not hinder the function of the pack but the loose threads could start unraveling and the logo would come off completely.

compactor  Logo 
At the bottom of the Odyssey is the sleeping bag compartment. This too is kept closed by a water tight zipper with very easy to handle zipper pulls (see below). On the outside of the compartment are two web straps with buckles that can hold a sleeping pad, jacket or the like. Located on the bottom seam are two ice axe loops and two very small clasps that marry to two opposing loops on the bottom of the back seam (see above). This appears to be the ComPACKtor system that GoLite mentions in their sizing chart that can reduce the pack volume down to 1,700 cu in (28 l). I am not sure that just connecting these two clips together at the bottom will reduce the volume by that much so there must be something else to the compactor system that I am not seeing but I will investigate on this more.

Zipper Pulls  SB Comp
On the sides of the Odyssey are two stretch material pockets for water bottles or some small pieces of gear. Also on the sides are compression straps to be able to secure all the gear inside the pack and to allow the weight to be distributed more towards the back and to the hips. These straps and buckles are also designed to be able to connect to each other to hold a snowboard or some other piece of gear to the front of the pack. A small feature but well worth mentioning are the two small pouches on the hip belt (see above). These pouches are small enough to stay out of the way of swinging arms but big enough to hold medium sized items that is always needed at the users fingertips. Also a neat feature is the buckle for the sternum strap has a whistle built into it. This will keep me from having to switch my whistle from pack to pack and I know it will always be there.

Inside the Odyssey, about 2/3's of the way down, is a nylon divider that separates the sleeping bag compartment and the main storage compartment. This nylon divider is removable if need be. Also on the inside, near the back of the frame sheet, is a 3L (3 q) hydration sleeve. The sleeve has elastic at the top and right above the opening is a small clip that is attached to a piece of webbing. There are two exit ports for the tubbing and tube guides on the shoulder straps.

So far I am very pleased with the Odyssey and am looking forward to seeing how much gear it will hold and how well I can organize my gear in the pouches. I am anxious to see how well it forms to my back when the pack is fully loaded. I also want to see how well the fabric holds up in the rain and to see what extent I can leave a rain cover off of it.

F I E L D    R E P O R T
June 28, 2007

The GoLite Odyssey is definitely a gear guzzler. My recent trip with my kids to Jones Gap was a test to see how much gear I could stuff into the Odyssey and to test the weight capacity. The temperature during the hike was around 80 F (26 C) and the elevation ranged from 1,400 ft (427 m) to 2,600 ft (792 m) at a distance of 5.3 miles (8.5 km). We did an 'out and back' trip for one night which makes a total of 10.6 miles (17.0 km). It's been a while since I have carried this heavy of a pack for such a long distance. But, the Odyssey really made it easy for me. A quick run-down of my gear list was a two man tent, three sleeping bags, three sleeping pads, food for myself and two kids, my clothes and my kids cloths. Below is a detailed gear list with weights for a breakdown of items for the Odyssey.

Exped Aries Mesh Tent
91.0 oz (2580 g)
Sleeping System
Big Agnes Lost Ranger (Mine)
The North Face Flash (Child 1)
Big Agnes Little Red (Child 2)
Big Agnes Dual Core Pad
(2)Thermarest 3/4 LE
50.0 oz (1417 g)
32.0 oz (907 g)
41.0 oz (1162 g)
35.0 oz (992g)
36.0 oz (1021g) x2 = 72.0 oz. (2041g)
Clothing (packed)
My clothes
Kids clothes
33.0 oz (936 g)
45.0 oz (1276 g)
Cooking Gear
Snow Peak Giga Power Stove
Snow Peak Fuel Canister
1.5 l pot
Pot holders
Snow Peak Titanium Cup
4.0 oz (113 g)
7.0 oz (198 g)
9.5 oz (269 g)
1.3 oz (37 g)
0.5 oz (14 g)
1.0 oz (28 g)
2.4 oz (57 g)
32 oz. Nalgene Water Bottle
Cohiba 128 oz (3.8 l) bladder
PUR Water Filter
4.5 oz (128 g) (empty)
140.9 oz (3994 g) (full)
10.0 oz (283 g)
Small First Aid Kit
Coleman Camp Stool
Emergency Blanket
Hand Saw
50 ft. Nylon Rope
Personal Hygiene
Princeton Tec EOS Headlamp
Extra batteries
1.5 oz (42 g)
19.0 oz (539 g)
1.5 oz (42 g)
2.0 oz (57 g)
6.0 oz (170g)
4.5 oz (128 g)
0.5 oz (14 g)
4.0 oz (113 g)
3.8 oz (108 g)
2.0 oz (57 g)

46.0 oz (1304 g)


Weight of Gear:  670.9 oz (19020 g)
Weight of GoLite Odyssey pack:  57.0 oz (1616 g)
Total packed weight: 727.9 oz (20636 g) or 45.4 lbs (20.5 kg)

As you can see, my total weight was 45.4 lbs (20.5 kg). This was very close to the maximum 50.0 lbs (22.6 kg) weight limit from GoLite. When I finished stuffing all of the gear in the Odyssey and picked it up by the pack handle, I knew this was going to be a test on the comfort of the pack at a heavy weight. My kids took some of their personal stuff in their own packs but I elected to carry most of it to put the Odyssey to the test. For packing purposes, I had to extend the lid on the top and it was not as easy as I thought. It's not a simple slide buckle like what is normally found on straps that hold a lid to the pack. This was a straight 'up and over' buckle that requires the user to loosen the web strap at the buckle and pull the slack that was created to loosen or tighten the lid to the pack. Although this does insure the lid from becoming loose during use but it's a little time consuming and it's a little hard on the finger nails. Everything else packed great and I have no problems with the placement of any other buckles or pockets. As I was packing I did find that the zippers were a little annoying to zip and unzip with them being waterproof, but I did get use to it.

Since my pack was so heavy I didn't worry about the kids going fast because I wasn't going to be speeding up the trail and pass them. So it was okay for them to take their time. The pack was very comfortable as we started out on the trail. I liked the way that the weight felt distributed to my hips and not top heavy. After a couple of miles down the trail, I started to feel the pack bounce just a bit as I was stepping down from rocks or limbs. A simple tightening of the load lifters and that solved the problem. It brought the weight closer to my back and center of gravity and everything felt snug against my back.

I carried a full 128 oz (3.8 l) bladder and would have had a little more room in the pack if I had not carried this but with the higher temps, it was worth it. The bladder was packed in the bladder sleeve just as I took it from the fridge so it was nice and cold. As we hit the trail the bladder actually kept my back somewhat cool and kept my back from sweating too much. All the way to the campsite, the Odyssey did great. I really like the pockets on the waist belt. I was able to keep snacks for myself in them and they were easy to get to without having to reach into the upper lid pocket or carry a separate waist pouch.

As usual for me, packing gear at the campsite is a little tougher than at home. The next day packing to come home, I think my kids slipped in a few things of theirs for me to carry. It felt a little heavier even after the food we ate and the water we used; it was a little harder to pack too but I managed to get everything in it.

On the trail coming home, I definitely felt soreness on my hips from the waist belt carrying most of the load on the previous day. I definitely do not discredit the pack for this. I blame myself for not doing this in a while with this weight of pack. The pack carried the heavy load very nicely and I look forward to my next trip with the Odyssey. Hopefully I will be able to take advantage of the compact version of the Odyssey.

L O N G   T E R M    R E P O R T
August 7, 2007

I have used the GoLite Odyssey on two trips since my Field Report. These were day hikes and I used it as such with the Compactor System. One was to Paris Mountain State Park which was a 3.8 mile (6.1 km) loop at elevations ranging from 1,200 ft (366 m) to 1,500 ft (457 m). The weather was very cloudy and the temperatures stayed at around 80 F (26 C). I did experience a rain shower for about 30 minutes and I did not have a cover for the pack. I had packed the Odyssey with some food and some clothes and still had plenty of room left. The Compactor System basically closes of the bottom 1/3 of the pack and allows the user to still use the front pockets and top loading area. The pack weight ended up being just under 25 lb (11 kg), which truly felt like I did not have anything in the pack. I think because I had most of the gear spread out amongst the two front pockets, the top pocket and the main compartment that the weight was distributed very well. Although I would not necessarily use this pack as a day hike pack, it could be used as such if the user decides to day hike after backpacking to a designated area; this would keep from having to carry a small day pack. All of my gear was very easy to get to when I stopped for breaks. It was easy just to sling it on my back and buckle the waist belt and most of the time I kept the belt very lose.

As I mentioned, I did experience a rain shower during this trip so this gave me a chance to see how well the polyurethane-coated and DWR-treated material held up to the rain. It did a wonderful job keeping the rain from soaking into the material and letting water enter in. The rain beaded up on the fabric and just rolled off. I was very surprised to find the inside of the pack very dry while the outside of the material was damp but not soaked through. This gave me assurance to know that I wouldn't necessarily need a rain cover for the pack unless I just wanted to keep it from getting dirty. Now what would be the fun in that?

The GoLite Odyssey went with me to Old Mkushi Village in Zambia, Africa. On this trip I only used it to carry my gear about .25 mile (.40 km) to the area that we were camping. I did not have to hike an extended length that would give me the opportunity to actually backpack with it. I put all of my gear that I needed for the 4 nights in the Odyssey and it handled it well, as to be expected. I still packed it as if I was carrying it on a multi mile (kilometer) hike just to get the feel of packing it and unpacking it. I still like the many options I have for organizing my gear. It was very helpful and easy to sort out my stuff once I got to the site and started setting up. camp.

In these past four months with using the GoLite Odyssey I have been very pleased with it's performance. It has everything I like in a big pack without the extra weight. I am very happy to be able to pack a few extra fun things that I would normally leave behind because of the extra weight but with the Odyssey, I can pack it and it handles it well. I can't say that it would be comfortable over 50 lb (22 kg) and decidedly so since GoLite did not design it to be. At 45 lb (20 kg) it was comfortable, but I feel like it couldn't handle much more and still be in the comfort zone with the capacity to weight ratio. I will continue to use this pack as my multi night pack and when I need to carry a lot of gear in it.


* Very large capacity
* Lots of nice features
* Very comfortable
* The pockets on the waist belt


* Watertight zippers are a little tough to zip and unzip
* The lid is a little difficult to adjust and remove

This concludes my Long Term Report. Thank you GoLite and for this great opportunity.

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Read more gear reviews by Chuck Carnes

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