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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Golite Quest Pack > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

GoLite Quest Pack

Initial Report - March 13, 2007
Field Report - May 29, 2007
Long Term Report - July 24, 2007


Tester Information:
 
Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  49
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  165 lb (77 kg)
Torso Length:  18 in (46 cm)
Waist at top of hipbone:  38 in (97 cm)
Chest (across shoulder blades & under armpits):  40 in (102 cm)

E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking 3 years ago, beginning with day-hiking and single overnights.  Currently I’m mostly a ‘weekend warrior’, but managed a week long section of the Appalachian Trail (AT) last year.  I hike and backpack mainly in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, but will be section hiking more of the AT this year.  I’m usually a hammock sleeper, but am testing a Tarptent. In general my backpacking style is lightweight and minimalist, and I try to cut as much pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety.



Initial Report - March 13, 2007

Front of packProduct Information:

Manufacturer:  GoLite
Manufacturer Website:  http://www.golite.com
Year of manufacture:  2007
Model:  Quest
Size tested:  Medium, fits 17.5-19.5 in (44.5-50 cm) torso
Color tested:   Lip
MSRP:  $175 US
Manufacturer's stated volume:  4000 cu in (65 L)
Manufacturer's stated compacted volume:  1300 cu in (21 L)
Manufacturer's stated comfortable load capacity:  45 lb (20 kg)
Manufacturer's stated weight:  3 lb (1.36 kg) per description, 2 lb 15 oz (1.33 kg) per specification chart
Measured weight:  2 lb 14 oz (1.3 kg)

Construction details:  Velocity fabric (100% Nylon)
                                 Polyurethane coated & DWR treated
                                 Webbing hipbelt with bellowed mesh pockets
                                 Contoured, cushioned hip wings
                                 Internal hydration sleeve & dual hydration ports
                                 Front pocket with watertight zipper
                                 Removable lid with watertight zipper
                                 Side compression straps with quick release buckles
                                 ComPACKtor compression system for carrying smaller volume loads
                                 Angled side mesh pockets with elastic tops
                                 Molded frame sheet with 2 adjustable aluminum stays

Product Description:

The GoLite Quest is a relatively simple top loading pack, featuring a large main compartment with extension collar, a removable and adjustable top lid, a large front pocket, and two side pockets.  The pack is made of a relatively light weight Nylon material and features water-resistant zippers on the top lid and front pocket.  The main pack body is approximately 7 in (18 cm) deep, and 24 in (61 cm) long.  The front pocket measures approximately 2.5 in (6.5 cm) deep and 17 in (43 cm) at the longest point.  The side pockets are a little over 5 in (13 cm) deep at the back where they join the hipbelt, and  angle to a little over 7 in (18 cm) deep at the front, where they join the front pocket.  Both the side pockets and the bellowed hipbelt pockets are made of a slightly stretchy material that GoLite lists as mesh, but which have a very tight weave.  Small ventilation holes are visible in the hipbelt pockets, giving them a 'see-though' appearance, but the side pockets do not have visible ventilation holes and are opaque.

The pack features two compression straps on each side, made of straps of 3/4 in (2 cm) wide grey webbing with quick release buckles.  These straps can be lengthened to about 15 in (38 cm) and fastened together over the front of the pack to hold items such as snowshoes or snowboards.   Two 3/8 in (1 cm) tool (ice axe) loops are located at the bottom of the pack.  Two elastic cords attached near the top of the front pocket provide anchor points for ice axe handles.  I also imagine I can put these to use to attach extra gear, such as a sleeping pad, if necessary, although this will likely require some extra clips, webbing, or cord in order to do so.  At the bottom of the pack, beside the tool loops are two small clips that can be attached to two loops of cord on the bottom back of the pack (forming the ComPACKtor compression system) to decrease the pack volume.  An extension collar a little over 7 in (18 cm) tall can be used to increase carrying capacity, and can be tightened by a drawcord and toggle at the top.  A 1/2 in (1.3 cm) wide strap attached to the back of the pack at the top and fastens over the extension collar to the front, serving as an additional means of compressing a smaller load.  The 'floating' lid attaches to the back of the pack with 3/4 in (2 cm) wide straps with hourglass shaped buckles, and to the front of the pack with 1/2 in (1.3 cm) wide straps with quick release buckles.  The lid can be totally removed (with some difficulty squeezing the doubled, stitched ends through the small buckles).  This does leave the 11.5 in (29 cm) long front straps that attach to the lid dangling, since the longest section is attached to the pack body.  Removing the top lid shaves an additional 3.3 oz (94 g) off the weight of the pack.

Back of PackThe back of the pack is well padded, and has a large weave mesh for most of its length, with a finely woven mesh similar to that of the side pockets on the lower 5 in (13 cm).  The average width of the pack back is about 8.5 in (21.5 cm).  A semi-rigid plastic framesheet with two aluminum stays gives the pack a solid frame.  The framesheet and stays can be removed to save an additional 11.9 oz (337 g).  The aluminum stays can also be removed from the framesheet and the framesheet reinserted in the pack, for weight savings of 4.6 oz (130 g).  Stripped of the framesheet and the top lid, the pack weighs in at 30.8 oz (873 g).

The shoulder straps are lightly padded and measure about 2 in (5 cm) wide at the top and taper gradually down to around 1 in (2.5 cm) at the bottom, where they connect to a 3/4 in (2 cm) wide webbing strap that attaches to the rear section of the hipbelt.  Each shoulder strap consists of the Velocity Nylon in the top section and mesh fabric in the bottom section, and has a grey and yellow GoLite logo label near the top.  Adjustable 'load stabilizer' straps run from the top of the shoulder harness to the top of the pack body.  The hipbelt pockets are ample in size - large enough to hold several snacks, a moderate sized camera, cell phone, or other small items.  All zippers have a cord loop with a plastic end for a zipper pull, with the top pocket having a double zipper pull for easy access.

Additional features include a mesh hydration bladder pocket on the interior back of the main pack body, starting about 8 in (20.5 cm) from the top of the pack and extending all the way to the bottom; a plastic clip attached to a short section of grosgrain ribbon (suitable for securely attaching keys to the interior of the pack and keeping them readily accessible); a 2 in (5 cm) hydration port opening on each side of the pack; a simple webbing 'grab' loop at the center top of the back; and a whistle built into the buckle of the 3/4 in (2 cm) wide webbing sternum strap.  The height of the sternum strap can be adjusted by sliding it up and down on the shoulder strap webbing.

Initial Impressions:

Overall I am very impressed with the GoLite Quest so far.  The pack is mostly consistent with what I expected from the description and photos on the GoLite website, although the 'lip' color is a little darker than it seems on the website, being a little more maroon than true red and the trim being darker tan.  The top of the lid is also the maroon color instead of the cream color pictured on the website.  I find the actual color more appealing to me than it looked on the website.  Construction seems to be of top quality, with even stitching, bound interior seams, and no visible blemishes in the fabric.  I am also impressed with the design of the pack - relatively minimal for weight savings, but with enough features such as the hydration pocket, hydration ports, and hipbelt pockets for convenience.  A nice balance in my opinion.

I loaded the pack with a few items for a quick 'trial run' on an overnight at Girl Scout camp, and was able to fit in the following items:  full size mummy composite sleeping pad, 1/4 in (.6 cm) thick full size foam pad; 0 F (-18 C) down sleeping bag, hammock sleeping system, 'personal' item bag, and a couple of liters of water, and it all fit with a little room to spare.  However, I did not pack extra clothes other than a hat and gloves or food in the pack, so it seems it will be necessary for me to carry at least a sleeping pad on the outside of the pack on colder weather backpacking trips in order to make room for food and clothing.  I look forward to seeing how well this works, and whether the pack has sufficient volume for me to carry everything on the inside for milder weather trips.

I carried the pack only for a short distance to try it out, and so far it seems very comfortable, and seems to transfer weight well to my hips.  Hopefully this will continue to be the case for longer trips - I guess I'll be finding out soon.

Field Report - May 29, 2007

Dayhiking on the AT

Field Use:

In late March I hiked about 10 mi (16 km) of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the Grayson Highlands area of Virginia, where elevations were around 3500 to 5000 ft (1100 to 1500 m).  Temperatures ranged from around 50-70 F (10-20 C), with clear skies and dry weather and the trail was mostly soil with small rocks and roots, although there were some sections that were smoother dirt.  I removed the top lid and the framesheet and used the ComPACKtor compression system to reduce the pack volume.  I carried food for lunch and snacks for myself and my daughter who was hiking with me, a rain jacket, rain skirt, extra midweight wool zip-tee shirt, gloves, and hat for myself, a lined rain jacket and rain pants for my daughter, a bandanna, first aid/survival items, toilet paper & tent stake for trowel use, 2 liters of water, water treatment, map and guidebook, and a few sundry items for a total pack weight of around 13 lb (6 kg). 

I used the hydration sleeve inside the pack for my 2 L Platypus water bladder, the front pocket for the first aid/survival items, water treatment, toilet paper, map and guidebook, and stored the clothing and food inside the main body of the pack.  I attached hand sanitizer, a whistle/compass/thermometer combo, and my bandanna to the compression straps to keep them handy, and fastened a small LED light (Princeton Tec Eclipse) to one of the zipper pulls on the front pocket.  I carried the tent stake in one of the side mesh pockets, secured to a compression strap with a short length of cord and a mini carabineer.  I put a few snacks in one of the mesh hipbelt pockets, and a lip balm and sunglasses in the second.  The pack carried well, but I did notice if I pushed the clothing too far down in the pack it would cause the bottom to extend out and did not feel as balanced as when the load was more evenly dispersed over the length of the pack and the compression system fully in use.  In comparison to my usual smaller day pack, it was a little more difficult to access items inside the body of the pack since they tend to settle to the bottom and I need to reach further down inside the pack to retrieve them than I do with my day pack which zips open.  However, I also felt the hipbelt and the way the pack carried in general made for a more comfortable carry.

Rolltop featureIn April I carried the Quest while hiking about 70 mi (113 km) of the AT in Tennessee and North Carolina.  This included several 'slackpack' hikes (which are basically long dayhikes) while staying in a hostel in Erwin, Tennessee, and on an overnight backpacking trip with a stay at Curley Maple Gap Shelter.  The overnight trip was approximately 9 mi (15 km) and the slackpacks ranged from 11 to 22 mi (18 to 35 km).  Temperatures ranged from an overnight low of about 20 F (-7 C) on the overnight to a high of about 60 F (16 C).  Elevations ranged from 1700 to 5500 ft (500 m to 1700 m), with over 12000 ft (3700 m) of elevation gain, and a similar amount of elevation loss over entire section.  The trail varied, but was mostly rocky soil with tree roots.  Some sections were grassy balds, some had only large bare rocks, and there were a few small stream crossings.  Most of the days were sunny or partially cloudy, but I experienced snow on one 20 mi (32 km) slackpacking day. 
On the slackpacking days, I used the Quest without the top lid each time, and used it without the framesheet most days, leaving the framesheet in one day.  On the slackpacking trips, I carried an insulating layer (either a Primaloft insulated jacket or an extra mid-weight wool zip-tee shirt), food for lunch and snacks, rain jacket and rain skirt, 2.5 liters of water, first aid/survival items, map, toilet paper & stake for trowel, and a few sundry items, for a total weight of around 10 lb (5 kg).  I packed the items similarly to my earlier hike in Virginia.  I found the pack body stayed closer against the center and small of my back when I left the framesheet out, with a slight gap in between the pack and my back when I left the framesheet in, which allowed for a bit more ventilation.  Either way the pack was very comfortable. 

On the backpacking overnight, I left the framesheet in and added the top lid.  I carried a 0 F/-18 C sleeping bag (Sierra Designs Mist) at the bottom of the main pack body, with a sleeping pad (the P.O.E. Hyper High Mtn which is a hybrid pad that is partially closed cell foam and partially self inflating and is pretty bulky) rolled loosely inside the pack and pushed toward the outside edges, with fleece base layer pants, wool zip-tee shirt, Primaloft insulated jacket, extra socks and underwear, a child's down jacket (for my friend's granddaughter who was with us) and a plastic bowl with lid that I use for a camp sink stored inside the center of the sleeping pad in the pack body, and my 2 L water bladder in the water bladder pocket.  I stored my Hennessey Hammock Hyperlite (with stock tarp), first aid/survival kit, and toiletry kit in the front pocket, and food for the overnight (supper, breakfast, lunch, and snacks) inside the top lid.  I did not bring a stove or fuel, as one of my friends carried one for the group.  I carried a .5 L water bladder in one side pocket, and a rolled 1/4 x 25 x 72 in (0.64 x 64 x 183 cm) closed cell foam pad in the other side pocket, fastened under the compression straps.  My tent stakes were also stored in the side pocket with the closed cell foam pad, and as before, a bottle of hand sanitizer and my whistle/compass/thermometer combo attached to the compression straps, the Princeton Tec Eclipse LED light attached to a zipper pull on the front pocket, a few snacks in one hipbelt pocket, and a lip balm in the other.  I tried carrying my camera in the hipbelt pocket for a short time, but found it handier to carry in my pants pocket.  The extension collar was packed to the brim, as was the front pocket, but I could have carried a few more small items in the side pocket holding the .5 L water bladder and one hipbelt pocket.  Since I had room, I did store my collapsed trekking poles in the side pocket on the way to the trailhead.  Total pack weight was about 25 lb (11 kg).

Sleeping pad inside packI also used the GoLite Quest on a short overnight backpacking trip of about 3 mi (5 km) in southern West Virginia in late April, where the overnight low was 35 F (2 C), and the day time high was about 65 F (18 C) with no precipitation, but high humidity.  The trail varied from a wide dirt park road to a single width path that was grassy at times and rocky soil in other areas.  On this trip the body of the pack contained similar items to those on the AT overnight, with the addition of a pair of Croc camp shoes and a small pot and solid fuel tablet stove, but instead of a hammock, I used the Tarptent Double Rainbow, which I stored inside one mesh side pocket with the side compression straps further holding it in place.  I also carried my MSR Groundhog stake/trowel in the pocket with the Double Rainbow, and a .5 L water bladder and a gravity fed filter in the other side pocket.  The front pocket held my rain gear, toiletry items, and first aid/survival items.  Again, on the trip to the trailhead I stowed my trekking poles in the mesh pocket holding the .5 L water bladder, and I had extra room in one hipbelt pocket.  Since this was a trip where I was teaching some beginner backpackers, I also brought along a pump style water filter to show various ways to treat water, but the pack was full and I had to attach it to one of the tool loops on the back.  I also tucked it under one of the straps holding the top lid on the front of the pack to keep it from swinging around loosely.  Food was again stored in the top lid.  Total pack weight was about 28 lb (13 kg)

In early May I used the Quest on a rainy overnight backpacking trip in central West Virginia.  The distance was short, only about 2 mi (3 km), with rain all of the way to camp and during most of the night.  The low temperature was around 40 F (4 C) and the high about 70 F (21 C).  The elevation ranged from 700 to 900 ft (200 to 300 m).  The trail was mainly mud and wet vegetation (grass and weeds).  I packed the Quest nearly identically to the prior trip in late April, with the exception of adding an inexpensive 10 x 10 ft (3 x 3 m) tarp to use for cooking which I stored under the compression straps on the side opposite the Double Rainbow, and leaving out both water filter systems.  Total pack weight again was around 28 lb (13 kg).

Packed up in the Cranberry WildernessIn late May, I used the Quest on a 28 mi (45 km) three day group backpacking trip in the Cranberry Wilderness/Backcountry in southeastern West Virginia.   Temperatures ranged from overnight lows of 50 F (10 C) to highs about 75 F (25 C).  The trail alternated between mud bog and rocky, root filled soil.  Elevations varied from around 2800 to 4200 ft (850 to 1300 m).  Skies were clear to partly cloudy, with only a few scattered rain drops one evening.  Since temperatures were warmer, I packed a quilt with 2 in (5 cm) loft instead of a heavier sleeping bag, and fewer clothes (silk weight base layer pants, spare socks & underwear, a light wool base layer shirt, a mid weight base layer shirt, a light windshirt, rain skirt, a cheap plastic disposable poncho, fleece hat, and polypro gloves).  I used the same sleeping pad as previously and the Double Rainbow Tarptent, but a 'beer can' cookpot system, packing in a similar manner as the last two trips, except I discovered the mesh hipbelt pocket is a great place to store a wet bandanna.  That keeps it accessible if I want to cool my face off on a hot hike, and keeps the wet from transferring to other items (like my pants pocket).  Total pack weight on this trip was around 20 lb (9 kg). 

On this trip I had a good bit of room to spare, not needing to use the extension collar area, and being able to cinch down the top lid tighter.  The first day we backpacked 7 mi (11 km) into a base camp, and did a 12 mi (19 km) dayhike the second, returning to the base camp that night.  The last day was about 9 mi (14 km) on a different trail looping back to the trail head.  To lighten the pack's weight and reduce the volume for the dayhike, I again removed the top lid from the pack.  Read on for more information about removing the top lid in the next section.

Summary of Field Use Findings:

I've found the Quest very comfortable to carry on each trip, no matter the weight or size of the load.  The ComPACKtor compression system is easy to use, simply requiring hooking a couple of cord loops to glove hooks and tightening the compression straps on the side of the pack, and works very well to keep the load balanced closer to my back for better balance control than having items stored loosely in a higher volume pack.  I like the way I can remove the top lid and framesheet for weight savings, cinch the top of the extension collar closed, and roll it down and fasten the top compression strap over it for weather protection.  This has worked very well for dayhiking, and I hope as weather gets warmer and I use a lighter sleeping bag and pad and carry less insulating clothing that I'll be able to use the rolltop feature for weather protection instead of the top lid on backpacking trips too. 

My one real gripe about the pack has been the removal of the top lid.  Due to the way the strap ends are sewn (doubled over) it is nearly impossible to get them through the small buckles to remove the lid.  I've had to spend a lot of time struggling every time I've removed (or attached) the top lid, and finally on my last backpacking trip due to frustration at trying to force the doubled up ends through the buckles I ended up snipping the threads that sewed the ends of the webbing together.  It turns out this was a great solution to removing the top lid - with only the single layer of webbing it slides in and out of the buckle easily, and due to the design of the buckle, the webbing doesn't slip unless I push it through the buckle, so the doubled up portion isn't needed to keep the ends from slipping loose.  The downside of this is that it takes both hands to adjust the top lid straps, since they don't slide easily with a single tug.  This is also the case with the front buckle - it takes two hands to push the webbing through one side and pull it out the other to shorten or lengthen the straps.  The positive side of this is that the straps do stay adjusted to the length I set without slipping around.  One minor problem I ran into on  my last trip was that with smaller volumes I have to be careful not to adjust the top lid down so far over the back portion of the pack that it ends up covering the load lifter straps, making it hard to find and adjust them on the fly.

I find I can bend over and move nimbly with the pack on and don't find it adversely affects my balance.  Although narrow, the shoulder straps are comfortable and haven't made me feel hot or sweaty underneath them so far.  I sometimes use the sternum strap, but often I leave it unfastened finding I prefer the straps at the outside of my shoulder/collar bone area instead of further in.  However, the sternum strap does slide up and down for height adjustment, so it is still comfortable with it fastened and I can move it to suit me as needed. 

The design of the pack has kept the weight of the load centered onto my hips in all the configurations I've tried so far, whether with or without the framesheet.  So far, I believe it is the most comfortable pack I've ever used, although this may also be partially due to a general reduction of overall pack weight that I've accomplished over the last few years.  I am particularly pleased with the hipbelt.  Even though it is relatively lightly padded, it fits my shape well, and the way the load weight is centered over the hips makes the belt extremely comfortable.  The only thing I don't like about the belt is that the webbing is a little short for my girth and doesn't give me a lot of grip room to tighten it up when I've extended it out for pack removal.  The back padding is comfortable without being excessive, so that it allows a little ventilation and doesn't feel overly hot against my back.  It's also light and airy enough that it wicks sweat away and even dries out fairly quickly if it gets soaked in a rainstorm.

Carabineer attached to compression strapHaving been used to a panel loader in my previous pack, it took a little adjustment to become used to a top loading pack again, but I've found it relatively easy to fit everything it, and one thing I appreciate is that even if the load isn't perfectly balanced (as it often isn't due to my storing the Double Rainbow Tarptent in one outside pocket with only smaller items in the other) the pack still carries well and I've never felt lopsided as a result of the way I packed. 

The front pocket is amply sized to hold several items, and I've found it most useful for things I want to keep handy - first aid/survival items, toilet items, and rain gear.  The top lid has been adequate to hold food for a weekend trip, but I almost wish the pack body was a bit taller and a simple roll top closure used instead for simplicity and weight savings.  It almost seems there are too many pockets for my packing style, and I would be happy to store my food inside with my other items. 

I also wish the side pockets were a bit taller, especially at the front.  Due to the way they angle down to such a shallow depth in the front, it is very easy for items to slip out of them.  I've taken to either making sure the items I'm storing there are tall enough that I can cinch the compression straps over them to hold them securely in place (like the Double Rainbow or a thin foam pad), or to attaching a small cord to the item and fastening that to a mini carabineer that I've attached to each side of the compression straps (in the small loop that holds the 'female' side of the quick-release buckle in place).  I've often found my tent stake I use as a trowel dangling loose on the outside of the pocket instead of inside where I put it, and before I started attaching it with a bit of cord my .5 L water bladder slid out of the pocket when I put the pack on the ground a couple of times. 

One oddity that I found in using the pack is that when I attached the LED light to the front pocket zipper pull, I tended to grab it to pull the zipper open, and the pull kept coming loose from the zipper head when I zipped and unzipped the pocket.  I haven't had that problem since I removed the LED light. 

The grab loop is a little small and thin, but it still gives me a decent place to grip the pack and lift it into or out of the back of my vehicle at trail head, or while moving the pack around at home after I've packed it.  It's taken me a while to get used to the hipbelt pockets, never having a pack with them before, but I find I really like them to carry small items I want to access quickly while walking, such as the wet bandanna, lip balm, and snacks.  They're roomy enough to store my camera, but I prefer to have it in my pants pocket where I don't have to worry about zipping and unzipping to get to it, and I don't have to worry about accidentally banging it on a rock when I set my pack down and forget it's in the hipbelt pocket. 

One small wish is that the side compression straps were a little bit longer or that the longer part of the strap was to the front of the pack instead of the back.  I haven't been able to easily store my bulky sleeping pad on the outside of the pack, and for cooler weather use this limits the amount of other gear and food I can carry inside the pack.  If the pack is loaded, there isn't much room at all under the straps if they are fastened across the front of the pack since they have to come around all the way from the back, and they aren't quite long enough to attach the pad to one side either. 

So far, I haven't had need to use the tool loops at the bottom, although I've attached a Photon LED light to one of the upper bungee cord loops and a pair of Croc camp shoes to the other (and fastening my trail shoes there when I was wearing the Crocs for a water crossing). 

The pack is very water resistant.  Even on the backpacking trip in the steady rain, everything inside the pack stayed dry without the use of a rain cover of any sort, which really amazed me since my shoes, socks, and pants legs were soaked and even my shirt got wet inside my rain jacket. 

So far the pack seems to be holding up well.  The fabric doesn't show any signs of abrasion or other deterioration, the stitches are holding well, and all the webbing is secure.  In conclusion, this pack seems to be a good balance of load support, good features, light weight, and comfort, and fits my needs very well for three season weekend trips.  I anticipate it will work well for longer summer trips when I don't carry as much insulation.

Long Term Report - July 24, 2007

Field Use:

On July 3rd to 4th I used the Quest for an overnight base camping trip in southern West Virginia.  Temperatures were in the 60 - 90 F (15-30 C) range, elevation was around 1800 ft (550 m), and the weather was clear and dry.  I was staying in a platform tent with a foam mattress, so packing was a little different for this trip.  I packed a cot sized mattress pad, sheets, a pillow, and a Nunatak Arc Ghost quilt, sleeping clothing and clothing for a rafting trip the next day, as well as water, personal hygiene items, rain gear, and a few sundry items.  Total weight was around 15 lb (7 kg).  I had ample room in the pack, and it was very comfortable to carry the short distance to the camp unit.

In mid-July I used the Quest on a short overnight backpacking trip in western West Virginia.  Temperatures were in the 60 - 80 F (15-25 C) range, hiking distance was only about 3 mi (5 km).  Everything fit inside with lots of room to spare - I used a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core mattress, Nunatak Arc Ghost quilt, the Tarptent Double Rainbow, and even packed a small down pillow, along with a long sleeve wool shirt & base layer pants, a wind shirt & the ULA rain wrap, first aid/emergency and personal items, water, and food for two meals. I did not pack a stove or fuel, eating non-cook food.  Total weight was my personal lowest ever - 12 lb (5.5 kg).  My campsite looked fairly level, but when I retired for the evening I noticed the top of my sleeping pad kept slipping to the left.  I found a multiple use for the pack - I placed it under the top of my sleeping pad, with the bulkier hip belt section on the low side.  This was sufficient to hold the pad in place during the night, and actually made a very comfortable addition to my minimal pillow, elevating my head a little more.  I think I am on to something useful for future trips.

Conclusions:

I'm very pleased with the overall performance of the Go-Lite Quest during the test period.  I was happy with the way it carries all sorts of loads, from winter day hike gear to spring and fall backpacking multi-day trips.  I will likely choose a larger pack for true winter backpacking trips, and may eventually go with an even lighter, more minimalist pack for summer overnights, but I intend to use the Quest for most of my three season backpacking trips as it provides a good balance of an adequate suspension for comfortably carrying loads up to around 30 lb (14 kg) at a reasonably light pack weight, and can be configured to weigh even less (by removing the top lid and framesheet) for shorter, warmer weather trips.

I do see room for improvement in four areas.  First, the strap ends holding the top lid on should not be sewn doubled, as it is nearly impossible to work the straps through the buckles with the doubled ends.  Second, I would like the compression straps a little longer to allow carrying a bulky foam pad for late fall/winter/early spring trips.  Finally, I would like the side pockets to be deeper.  Most things I stored in there (a MSR snow stake I use as a trowel, a water filter, a half liter water bladder) had a tendency to fall out when I took the pack off, so I made sure to have a method of fastening them to the compression straps as well so they wouldn't be overlooked and accidentally left behind.  I often didn't use the top lid.  It would be nice if there were a flap that could be used instead of the top lid to keep rain out of the pack top when the extension collar is full.  If the extension collar isn't full, it isn't a problem, since the top of the pack can be rolled over and a strap fastened across the top to keep it closed.

I really liked the hip belt pockets.  They were handy for storing all sorts of items, but my favorites were a damp bandana to wipe my face when I got too hot, snacks, and lip balm.  They were large enough to store my camera, but I really prefer carrying it in my pants pockets where I can get to it faster and not have to worry about banging it up when I set the pack down for a rest break.  Although I wasn't sure I would like the thin front pocket at first, I ended up finding it very useful for storing a number of items I use often during the day such as maps, water treatment, and toilet items; and for items I might need in a hurry such as rain gear and my first aid/emergency kit.

I also liked the suspension system, and the thin shoulder straps.  The mesh fabric of the back of the pack and on the shoulder straps, combined with the thin shoulder straps, made it seem cooler when I carried it than other packs I have used in the past.  The pack never seemed uncomfortable, even when I didn't carefully balance the weight of the pack on each side.

One thing I would have tested more thoroughly was the water resistance of the pack.  It performed well in the light rain I experienced, but I would like to find out if it would do equally as well in heavier rain or an all day drizzle.

This concludes my Long Term Report.

Thanks to GoLite and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Quest pack.

Read more reviews of GoLite gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Golite Quest Pack > Test Report by Pamela Wyant



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