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GoLite Women's Quest Pack
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
 
Page Contents:



Initial Report:
GoLite Women's Quest Pack
March 13, 2007

Tester Information

Name:
Gail Staisil
Age: 54
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman2001@yahoo.com

For the last 18 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do 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 below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.


Product Description


Manufacturer
GoLite
Website http://www.golite.com
Phone 888.546.5483
Model Quest (Women's)
Color
Lip with black and tan accents (also available in Lilac)
Volume
4000 cu in (66 L)
Hydration
3 L (100 oz) compatible (not included)
Size Medium (also available in Small)
Comfort Rating for Pack Load
45 lb (20 kg)
Materials
Velocity 100% nylon fabric, ripstop nylon fabric, and water-resistant zippers
Manufacturer  Weight
3 lb (1362 g)
Tested Weight
2.89 lb (1307 g)
Model Year 2007
Country of Manufacturer
Imported
MSRP $175.00 US

 
The GoLite Women's Quest Pack is one of several packs offered in the Venture Series by the manufacturer. All of the packs in that series feature internal frame sheets to accommodate heavier loads comfortably.  Besides the moldable framesheet, the Quest Pack features a shaped back panel and compression-molded hip belt wings, an adjustable hip belt, two bellowed pockets and two angled side pockets, an internal hydration pocket and side compression straps.The pack also has an external zippered pocket, a ComPACKtor System, hydration ports, and a top lid. The Quest Pack has a comfort rating of 45 lb (20 kg). The Quest is available in two sizes to accommodate most women's needs and it's also available in a men's version.


Warranty - Our guarantee is simple: we want you to be happy with your GoLite product. We will replace any gear with a manufacturing defect for the lifetime of the product, free of charge. And if one of our products fails to satisfy you, return it to the store you bought it from, or if you purchased it directly from us contact our Customer Service Department to return it to us for repair, exchange, or refund. Damage due to wear and tear will be repaired at a reasonable charge to the user.

  

Initial Impressions GoLite Women's Quest Pack
 
The GoLite Women's Quest Pack arrived in great condition on March 7 along with the manufacturer's catalog. Several hangtags were attached to the pack that included information on the models and comfort ratings of packs available by GoLite. Basic information written in several languages about the Quest Pack and the Women's Wilderness Institute were included. The Quest Pack that I received is in the color of Lip and the size of Medium as requested. The pack does come in two different sizes (S,M) to fit most women. My torso length is 19 in (48 cm) in length which put me in the size medium range for a 17.5 in (44.5 cm) to 19.5 in (50 cm) long torso. It seems to fit me quite well without adjustments.

The first thing I noticed about the Quest Pack is how flat it appeared without any gear in it. I thought it might be very easy to transport and store. It feels very lightweight compared to a similar volume pack that I have used extensively. Although the shape and overall appearance of the pack is much like it appeared on the website, the color and top lid are a bit different than I expected. This is actually a great thing as I wondered if the color would be too bright. The Lip color is almost like a rusty red rather than a brighter red that was indicated. Being a women's-specific pack it was also available in the color of Lilac, but I prefer more gender neutral colors for my equipment. The top lid is featured on the website as having a tan-colored ripstop top rather than the Velocity fabric in Lip. Again, this is also a positive in my estimation.


The primary material used to fabricate the pack is called Velocity. I was immediately drawn to the feel and appearance of the Velocity fabric as it's very satin-like in appearance and touch. According to the manufacture, the tightly woven Velocity fabric is polyurethane coated and DWR treated for extreme water resistance. Other areas of the pack are fabricated with ripstop nylon, stretch knit and stretch mesh.
ComPACKtor System clips
The Quest pack has a volume of 4000 cu in (65 L) when it is fully expanded. As an alternative, if I want to use it for a dayhike requiring lesser volume for my gear, I could reduce the overall capacity to 1300 cu in (21 L). This is accomplished by connecting the two fixed anchor clips to small corded loops on the bottom edge to make it smaller.The anchor clips are inserted into the bottom seam of the large outside pocket. The loops to which they connect are sewn into the very bottom seam of the pack. This whole set-up is called GoLite's ComPACKtor System.
Zipper pulls
The pack has a top pocket with a water-resistant zipper. The zipper pulls consist of a loop of cord threaded through a dangling T-shaped molded plastic unit. I believe that this will make the zipper pulls easier to handle especially while wearing gloves. Other zippers on the pack also feature the same arrangement.

Underneath the top pocket of the pack, the main body is topped by an extension collar. The collar is a bit more than 7 in (18 cm) in height giving the pack more internal space if needed. The extension collar can be closed with a drawcord and toggle. The contents of the pack can be further
stabilized by securing a narrow webbing strap with a clip across the top of the extension collar.

The outside of the pack features a huge back pocket secured with a water-resistant zipper. The pocket is approx 13 in (33 cm) wide by 19 in (48 cm) long and about 3 in (7.5 cm) thick.
The outside of the pocket haQuest Logo and GoLite's women-specific symbols top anchors for ice axes and the corresponding bottom loops for them are located at the bottom edge of the pocket. The GoLite logo is embroidered on the center top of the pocket and the lower right corner features an embroidered logo "Quest" and the triangular symbol for GoLite's women-specific products. According to GoLite, the symbol represents "the power of every woman to create the life she was meant to live, one that included plenty of fresh air, sunshine, and active recreation in the great outdoors!." They couldn't of said it better as I've spent my whole life happily trying to comply. 

The sides of the pack feature two compression straps on each side to stabilize and reduce the volume of the pack. The neat thing about them is that each strap buckle can be released and stretched across to join with the opposite compression strap. This is GoLite's system that makes carrying a sleeping pad or snowshoes, etc. on the outside of the back of the pack a very realistic endeavor. I'm completely impressed with the set-up as some of my sleeping pads are simply too big to carry inside of a pack. With the straps already in place, I won't have to add any extra cordage to carry them. The bottom of each side also features a large stretch pocket with a small opening on the lower corner of each pocket.
Side of pack with compression straps and stretch pockets
On the flip side of the pack, the cushioned mesh backpanel is evident. It is topped with a hang loop. The shoulder harness is sculpted ergonomically, isPack with backpanel and harness narrow fitting and is nicely padded for comfort. A chest strap can be adjusted up or down on the webbing straps that overlay the harness.

The waist belt is also narrow and isn't removable from the pack. The waistbelt has a zippered mesh pocket on each side of the center buckle. The bellow-shape pockets make a suitable place to stow small items securely. These stretch mesh pockets also have ripstop-nylon top lids.

Inside the pack, there's an access pocket to the framesheet. The framesheet has two adjustable aluminum stays. There's also a small clip that is extended from grosgrain ribbon on the top of the framesheet pocket for securing an item such as a key. Overlying the pocket, there's another sleeve pocket that can be used to store a 3 L (100 oz) hydration bag. There are ports on each side of the framesheet pocket that provide exits for hydration hoses if desired. A hydration unit doesn't come with the pack but the set-up is there if desired. 

Overall, I like the looks and design of this pack. There seems to be a lot of neat features for a lightweight pack that reportedly will comfortably carry 45 lb (20 kg). I have numerous multi-day trips planned for the next four months so the pack will see much exposure to many different weight loads. 

 
 
 Pros
 
  • Earth-friendly color
  • Lightweight
  • ComPACKtor adjustment system
  • Waistbelt bellowed pockets
  • Water resistant fabric and zippers
Cons

  • Stretch side pockets could be "taller" to possibly hold taller bottles more securely 

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Field Report:
GoLite Women's Quest Pack
May 19, 2007

Locations and Conditions

During the field test period, I have worn the GoLite Women's Quest Pack during three multi-day backpacking trips. Total days in the field amounted to fourteen. Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to plains, and swamps. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2000 ft (610 m).

 

Trip # 1:

Location: Pigeon River State Forest, Lower Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Bushwhack
Distance: About 21 mi (34 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days
Pack Load: 34 lb (15.5 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: cloudy, damp with humidity of 70-100 percent
Precipitation: Episodes of rain each day and night - 0.50 in (1.3 cm)
Temperature Range: 28 F (-2 C) to 60 F (16 C)
 

Trip # 2: 

Location: North Country Trail - Lower Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Trail (maintained)
Distance: 36 mi (58 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days
Pack Load: 25.5 lb (11.5 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: Cloudy, Sunny, Low to Mid range humidity
Precipitation: Trace
Temperature Range: 36 F (2 C) to 66 F (19 C)
 

Trip # 3: 

Location: North Country Trail - Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Rugged unmaintained trail section (several hundred blowdowns, washed out bridges), wide river crossings, severe terrain
Distance: 54 mi (87 km)
Length of Trip: 6 days
Pack load: 30 lb (13.6 kg) to 40 lb (18 kg) when hauling extra water for dry bivouac sites
Sky and Air conditions: Mostly cloudy, rain and sun, mid-high humidity
Precipitation: 0.69 in (1.75 cm)
Temperature Range: 34 F (1 C) to 86 F (30 C)
 

Performance in the Field

Packability/Accessibility

I have worn the GoLite Woman's Quest Pack during the field test period on three different backpack trips with total mileage being approximately 111 mi (179 km). The 4000 cu in (66 L) pack has been roomy enough to carry all of the gear needed for these cold weather spring trips. On the first trip I packed a synthetic 20 F (-7 C) sleeping bag, two insulated jackets and full-zip insulated pants for warmth, tarp and bivy plus all the other necessities of an early spring trip. I filled the pack right up to the limit of the extended collar. During the second and third backpacking trips I packed a lesser volume 25 F (-4 C) down sleeping bag, the same two insulated jackets and less bulky thin quilted pants for cold nights.

Mat attached to back of pack
I tried to pack the somewhat bulky P.O.E. Hyper High Mtn Mat to line the inside edges of the pack but there wasn't enough room for all of my other gear too. Because the pack has long side compression straps that release and join to the opposite side, I thought they could be used to attach the mat to the back of the pack.
GoLite advertises the straps as being suitable to attach snowshoes or a snowboard. The mat was simply too big in circumference and the straps wouldn't connect. Although that particular mat couldn't be attached in that manner, it does accommodate my less bulky Z-rest that I use primarily on summer trips. Anyway, I still carried the mat by threading a long piece of cord through the webbing loops on each side of the compression straps. This improvised arrangement allowed me to carry the mat on the pack but gave me less access to the large outside pocket of the back of the pack.

I found the two mesh waistbelt pockets to be quite handy to carry trail time necessities such as bug dope, lip balm, sunscreen, bandanna and more. They are conveniently located to access these items without taking the pack off. However, I am a bit disappointed with the height of the two angled side stretch-mesh pockets as that's where I normally carry my water supply (1 qt (1 L) container in each pocket). The bottles are simply are too tall for the low depth of the pockets and they easily fall out. I had to reinvent my water storage needs by using a one pint (half liter) container in one or both of the pockets and additionally carry a filled 1 qt (1 L) container inside the pack. Instead, the angled pockets were useful for other smaller items including my pack cover, hat and gloves. The pack does have hydration bag storage inside the pack as an alternative but I prefer to use water bottles.

I used the top lid pocket to hold my raingear, and it also was replenished with snacks for each day of my trips. The outside pocket was used to hold items that I didn't need frequently such as my Keen sandals and swim shorts, as both are only used for river crossings. In the summer months, I will be using my Z-rest pad with the compression straps and this will likely make the outside pocket more accessible.
 

 
Comfort and Adjustability:

So far, I haven't had any difficulty adjusting the pack to fit me comfortably. The waist belt is very comfortable and stays securely in place. It is easy to adjust to allow for clothing layer differences during the hike. The shaped back panel fits snugly against my back and seems to be very supportive as I haven't noticed any stress on my back with the different pack load levels. The shoulder harness lies neatly across both shoulders without gaps and only sometimes twists when I put the pack on. This is probably due to its narrow and flexible width, but it is hardly an issue. I haven't yet used the comPACKtor system that allows the possibility of reducing space in the pack. In the field, I have needed all of the internal space for large bulky items as aforementioned. Although the back of my clothing has been wet due to humidity and exertion, the mesh backpanel dries quickly when I take the pack off my body.

 
Durability:
 
So far, the pack has held up well. I initially wondered if the pack's small lightweight clips would hold up to stress but they are all in great condition. The pack has been exposed to a lot of rough vegetation and rock during bushwhacks and the fabric doesn't have any abrasions. It does have several spots on the fabric from dirt, wet clay and vegetation. I tried wiping them off but it only left watermark type stains on both the Velocity fabric and the ripstop-nylon fabric. They aren't that noticeable unless I look at it closely. The pack has been used in light rain and hasn't produced any leakage through the fabric.

Other than adding a few inches to the length of the compression straps and making the side pockets taller in height, the design features of the pack have worked well for me. I look forward to using the pack for additional trips during the long term period.

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 Long Term Report:
GoLite Women's Quest Pack
July 17, 2007

Locations and Conditions

During the long term testing period, I have worn the GoLite Women's Quest Pack during three additional backpacking trips and three dayhikes. Total days in the field amounted to ten during the last two months
. Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities on the southern shoreline of Lake Superior with both rocky and sandy trail. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2000 ft (610 m).

 

Trip # 4:

Location: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Type of Trip: Trail (maintained sandy and rocky trail)
Distance: 17 mi (27 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days
Pack load with consumables: 21 lb (9.5 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: Sunny, cloudy and windy
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range:
39 F (4 C) to 66 F (19 C)


Trip # 5: 

Location: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Type of Trip: Trail (maintained sandy and rocky trail)
Distance: 19 mi (31 km)
Length of Trip: 3 days
Pack load with consumables: 26 lb (18 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: Cloudy, partly sunny, rain
Precipitation: 0.41 in (1 cm) rain
Temperature Range:
62 F (17 C) to 90 F (32 C)


Trip # 6: 

Location: Grand Island
Type of Trip: Trail (maintained sandy trail)
Distance: 9 mi (15 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days
Pack load with consumables: 20 lb (9 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: Light rain, strong winds 30 mph (48 km/h) fog, clouds and sun
Precipitation: 0.24 in (0.6 cm)
Temperature Range:
51 F (11 C) to 63 F (17 C)


Dayhikes  

Location: Mt Marquette, Harlow Lake Trail, Presque Isle Trail
Type of Trip: 3 dayhikes (very rocky trails with numerous outcroppings)
Distances: 5 mi (8 km), 6 mi (9.5 km), 3 mi (5 km)
Pack load with consumables: 10 lb (4.5 kg) to12 lb (5.5 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: Cloudy to Sunny
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range:
50 F (10 C) to 84 F (29 C)


Performance in the Field

Removing the Pack's Top Lid


During the long term testing period, the Quest Women's Pack was worn primarily for three backpacking trips and three dayhikes. Pack weight was much less than in the field test period due to summer loads and shorter trips. Pack weight carried during backpacking trips varied from 20 lb (9 kg) to 26 lb (18 kg) including consumables. The pack was super comfortable and there weren't any issues. I removed the top lid for all of these trips. Before the first trip in this period, I decided to remove the top lid as I didn't need the space for gear and it would lighten the overall weight of the pack by 3.3 oz (94 g). I had difficulty removing the lid as the straps were very hard to get through the buckles. There wouldn't be any danger of them ever loosening on their own as it's definitely a struggle. When I used the pack without the hood, I made certain that the top items in the pack were protected with a waterproof stuff sack as the extension collar doesn't have an inner flap to protect my belongings.


Ideal Usage For Pack

Overall, I have found the Quest Pack to be ideal for medium-length trips
(3 to 4 days) during the cooler months and it could be used for much longer trips during the warmer months. It depends on the season as during warmer weather my sleeping bag and clothing choices are less bulky to carry. I really like this pack as it has filled the gap between the space qualities of a small pack and a large pack. During the entire testing period, I have used it with loads that varied from 20 lb (9 kg) to 40 lb (18 kg) and it's been consistently comfortable. The pack remains easy to pack as the corners of the pack fill in easily with soft gear. The framesheet and aluminum stays have provided excellent support for my back. The backpanel dries fast after I take the pack off during breaks. On a couple of occasions, the panel has been somewhat soaked from rain but seemed to dry in a few hours.


Possible Improvements
Straps at maximum fit
As briefly mentioned in my field report, my only suggestions for improving this pack lie in two areas. I really would like to see an additional 4 in (10 cm) of length added to the ends of all compression straps. It would make it much easier to carry a sleeping pad on the outside of the pack over the back pocket. During the long term period, I have used and carried three different types of pads. The first one was a thick P.O.E. Hyper High Mtn Mat, the second was a three-quarter length Z-rest and the third was a small three-quarter length InsulMat. The first pad had to be tied on with additional cordage, the second pad (that was accordion folded) just fit and the third pad (that was rolled) just fit under the straps. The compression straps were used to their maximum length. The underlying back pocket was only lightly stuffed with gear. Given the current dynamics, if that pocket is fully expanded with gear, any pad is almost impossible to carry using the current length of the straps. Because the back pocket is a super addition to this pack, I would like to use both the pockets and the compression straps to attach a pad. I normally use the pocket to carry my rain jacket and pants, and a bug shirt and there is certainly room for more.

The second area for improvement would be to add a few inches to the height of the outside mesh side pockets. I prefer to use water bottles rather than a hydration system. I don't think I am alone in that preference choice. The current mesh pockets are almost useless for stowing standard 1 quart (1 liter) bottles as they easily fall out of the pocket. I tried using 1 pint (0.5 liter) bottles instead, but found that they still weren't that secure without using a carabiner or looping the handle lid through webbing for security. The latter arrangement found me stowing a 1 quart (1 liter) bottle inside the pack for extra hydration requirements. However, for alternative storage, the existing mesh pockets are fine for soft items such as a pack cover or toiletry bag.


Using the ComPACKtor System

I almost never base camp. That's where using the ComPACKtor System would most likely shine as it would probably be ideal for day trips from camp. It would eliminate the need for bringing an extra day pack. I instead tried using the ComPACKtor system for a couple of local day hikes. It worked well in concept but the size of the pack was still probably overkill for my local treks in the warm weather months with pack loads of 10 lb (4.5 kg) to 12 lb (5.5 kg) including consumables. I normally use a much smaller volume hydration pack for those treks. I can however see a real advantage for hikes in colder weather where I take extra emergency gear in the form of bulky warm insulated clothing for all extremities.


Final Thoughts

Other attributes of the GoLite Quest Pack that I have enjoyed include how easily the pack stores (it flattens out readily with nothing in it), its lightweightness, its earth-friendly color, and its superior comfort with variable pack loads. The hip belt pockets are also definitely a keeper. I have stored sunscreen, lip balm and such in one pocket and the other has held my bug repellent so that I can quickly access it.

In addition, throughout the testing period the GoLite Quest Pack has held up extremely well. The Velocity fabric, the mesh fabric pockets, the zippers, straps and closures have all been durable. The DWR finish on the Velocity fabric and the water-resistant zippers have continued to shed water effectively. After the test period, I will continue to use the Quest Pack for many of my outings as the comfortable lightweight and durable
design attends to most of my needs. This has been the first time that I've ever experienced used a women's-specific pack and it has worked out extremely well for me.

This concludes my test series for the GoLite Women's Quest Pack. Thanks to GoLite and BackpackGearTest for giving me this great opportunity to test the Quest Pack.

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