Innovative CiloGear backpack stands up to Everest, Sierra test

Posted on: June 14, 2006


MSRP: $160-$220

Editor's Note: The CiloGear WorkSacks are innovative. They can compress without straps or zippers for ultimate functionality, however, they do come with straps for added security. They are super light weight. Alpinist Mountain Standards sent panel members Dave Morton to Everest with the 60-liter sack and Kip Garre ski-mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada with the 40 Liter. Here's what they had to say:

CiloGear 60-Liter WorkSack Review by DAVE MORTON From the moment I picked up the CiloGear 60-Liter WorkSack, I was impressed with the weight or lack of it. I was off for another season guiding on Mt. Everest and choosing what to take or leave is a much easier decision since it's anything but "fast and light." So without a prior test run I threw the 3-pound sack into my Black Hole figuring it would at least get one run up to Camp II. In fact, I found it so comfortable that I ended up using the WorkSack for the entire expedition including summiting with it. I'€™m always skeptical of ultra-light guiding or expedition packs. That'€™s an oxymoron if there ever was one. But what I found with the Cilogear pack was that its suspension and frame not only are lightweight but extremely comfortable and effective at carrying loads you would expect to have guiding or on an expedition. The instructions provided for fitting the pack and correctly bending the framesheet, despite being a dauntingly thick packet, were straight forward and easy to follow. Even someone who spends far too many days at altitude each year could easily process the information. I was able to use this pack on multiple days carrying loads between 20 to 60 pounds and found that the heavier loads were handled well by the simple frame and lightweight hip belt and shoulder straps.

However, I discovered quickly that the shape of the pack is odd. The pack tapers towards a very narrow base, which couldn'€™t accommodate my expedition-weight sleeping bag that is arguably much less warm than it should be. The circumference at the top of the sack is quite wide, expanding up to 90 liters. Not having my sleeping bag at the very base of the pack might have distributed the load a bit better, but it sure threw my packing system out of whack. CiloGear has come up with an innovative strap system that incorporates three different types of straps that can be attached or removed at many points on the pack. I found that although they allow a high degree of versatility for compressing different parts of the pack, they seem to be overkill. The advantage is that you could make this your only pack and it would allow use on lighter weight trips despite its normal capacity. I prefer bucking up and shelling out for a smaller pack designed for that purpose. The strap system also is a major drawback when dealing with the lid. I want to have a lid that I can quickly detach and throw into the tent or inside the pack easily. I found myself fumbling around and taking too much time dealing with getting the lid on and off. It'€™s worth the extra bit of weight to have side release buckles on all points of a pack's lid.

CiloGear'€™s 60-liter WorkSack is very impressive in its weight-versus-comfort balance, and with a few tweaks to its shape and strapping system it would be a top choice for an expedition pack.

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CiloGear 40-Liter WorkSack Review by KIP GARRE CiloGear's approach to the backpack works if you are ready to spend some time fiddling with it. With an adjustable back, waist straps, removable top pocket and changeable straps for compression, you set the pack up for your adventures. Setting up the back and waist strap help the pack fit your torso and make for comfortable carrying. The changeable compression straps take a while to dial in, trying to figure out which straps should be used where. After some time you get an idea of what straps work best for certain purposes and changing them around becomes no problem. Once set up, I was able to attach fat skis on the backpack and the it still remained tight. The front pocket can be accessed from either in the pack or from the outside of the pack, which€“ is nice because it allows you to take off the top pocket and still have a place for those items that need easy access.

A smaller inside pocket is great for other items that can't be lost. This size was super versatile; it could be tightened down for a day ski tour and also set it up for an overnight trip. The inside pocket for a water bladder is nice if you use one. Overall the pack works well when set up correctly but does take some time to dial in.

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