CiloGear Dyneema(R) 45 Pack: Lighten Your Load

Posted on: March 26, 2008


MSRP: $575

Weight: Customizable—1 pound, 8 ounces for pack with crampon pouch; 3 pounds with framesheet, foam pad, lid, straps and hipbelt.

Winter mountaineering: some people love it. But rarely do I picture the clear summit days with perfect cramponing and one-swing ice. Instead I think of the long and cold nights, my sleeping bag stuffed with everything I don't want to freeze. I consider days at a stretch in the tent, arguing over a magazine before tearing it in half, broken only by endless sessions of postholing. With these grudges in mind, I've been known to obsess over weight (hence the magazine instead of a book). When I received the new CiloGear Dyneema(R) 45 mountaineering pack to test, I knew immediately that it would lighten my load.

CiloGear has a very unique method of pack construction. Using extremely lightweight fabrics—and leaving almost every bell and whistle on the cutting room floor—they are able to achieve a pack of remarkably little weight. Because of the minimal construction, fitting the pack requires some care. It took me several attempts molding the frame sheet before I had a comfortable enough fit to endure a multi-day trip. Nearly every strap on the pack is removable, making the pack easy to customize for each load, and the pack has a seemingly endless number of compression options. People who don't like to fumble with buckles and straps will be a bit overwhelmed by all of the options, but pack geeks like myself will be awed by the versatility. The pack also cinches down very small (very much like the Wild Things Andinista) without using a zipper or Velcro.

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For winter mountaineering in the North Cascades, it's not easy to go super light. The huge winter snowpack and the mild temps cause things to get a bit damp, forcing alpinists to carry some back-up clothing. I found the Cilogear 45 pack just big enough for overnight trips and perfect for day trips out ice climbing in this wet environment. The pack held ice tools well: the picks were protected; the shafts attached securely to the pack; the tools were easily accessible—even with the pack on. There is a crampon pouch on the outside, and with the Dyneema(R) fabric the pack proved remarkably durable even with spikes in this pocket. The pack also contains a removable bivy pad, which wouldn't suffice on its own in winter, but would be great for lightweight summer bivies.

As you might expect with an ultra lightweight pack, comfort with a heavy load is compromised for that lightweight suspension. Once the weight got much over 40 pounds, the comfort started to decrease with every pound. That said, with some careful packing, this pack makes going light much easier. For a summer alpine climbing pack, the Cilo Gear pack will be seen on my back for the bulk of my overnight trips.

Pros: Super lightweight; endless compression options; design fits tools and crampons well; Dyneema(R) fabric is extremely durable considering its light weight.

Cons: Fitting the pack requires care, especially molding the frame sheet.

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