The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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CiloGear 60L WorkSack: Simple Success
Posted on: September 27, 2008
Weight: Variable, from over 2 pounds to 4 pounds, 3 ounces
I wear a pack no fewer than 200 days each year. And as time goes on, despite supposed advancements in technology, it has become harder to find packs that are simple, lightweight, and well-made.
I rarely need most of the features that modern pack companies have added in efforts to distinguish their brands from one another. When guiding, my clients routinely show up with mass-produced packs that weigh upwards of 7 pounds, empty, and have complicated suspensions and adjustments that befuddle seasoned guides and generally detract from performance. Recently things became so bad that I resorted to renting packs for work on Denali; I simply could not find any that seemed worth buying.
Six months ago I unpacked a new 60-Liter WorkSack made by CiloGear, and it was love at first sight. I marveled at its simplicity and then loaded it up to find a number of basic-but-brilliant features: a removable frame sheet and bivy pad; lightweight, strong techy materials such as SilNylon; removable compression straps; simple suspension; all the right pockets and no extras; a single interior compartment; a dense foam hip belt: PERFECTION!
And did I mention lightweight? With all of its components—pack body (940g), hip belt (160g), top lid (190g), ten removable compression straps (180g) and framesheet and bivy pad (450 g)—the pack weighs in at about 4 lbs. 3 oz. When stripped of the framesheet and bivy pad, six of the compression straps, and the top lid, as it was on my recent summit of Cho Oyu, the pack weight drops to a trim 2 lbs. 9 oz.
At the heart of the pack's versatility is something that CiloGear calls its patented Dee-Clip System, which includes a series of simple, lightweight buckles that can be placed at any of four side positions when used as compression straps. These are easily removable, and I found that in most cases two to a side took care of compression while still allowing me to attach ski poles, skis and more to the sides. Although it adds weight I found the crampon pouch on the back very useful, and appreciated the security and simplicity of the ice ax attachments.
It takes extra effort to refine something down to simple, and the folks at CiloGear nailed the Work Sack design with only useful features made of the most modern materials. When I found out that this nearly perfect pack was selling for $220 I immediately bought one for my wife, and then another spare, as the price can only go up.
Two things stood out as less than perfect: The zipper on the top pocket seemed almost too lightweight and had to be babied, and the geometry of the shoulder straps occasionally dug into my chest a bit. A recent call to CiloGear confirmed that these things have been corrected in the latest version.
Over the past six months I used the 60L WorkSack for over 100 days and took it to the summits of Denali (2 times), Cho Oyu and Mt. Rainier. I used it while ice guiding, while ski guiding and even on a short backpacking trip. Whether loaded up for a three-week Denali expedition or just simple summit gear, it was equally comfortable.
Rarely have I been so enthusiastic about any outdoor product and I remain amazed that the best pack on the market can be had for a fraction of what other companies charge. CiloGear has revolutionized modern pack design by focusing on what fundamentally matters: comfort, durability, weight and function.
Pros: Simple; lightweight; well-made; comfortable; durable; functional.
Cons: Zipper needed babying; shoulder straps dug into the chest (however, CiloGear claims to have corrected these two issues since).