Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Gear Review: Golite Quest Rucksack

Golite Quest rucksack after the equivalent of 4 months' continuous use

I bought this backpacking rucksack in October 2007, having enjoyed the comfort of a Karrimor Jaguar sack for many years.  The Quest, weighing in at 1400gm, provided a 600gm saving over the Jaguar.  That saving comes from the use of lighter, more fragile, materials.  Hence the Quest lasted until May 2011 – three and a half years – whereas the Jaguar shows no signs of wearing out other than a bit of loose stitching on the pockets.

I reported on my purchase of the Quest here.  Here’s what it looked like new:

A new Golite Quest rucksack

It’s still available from Bob and Rose at backpackinglight.co.ukhere, for a very good price.

The rucksack served me well for the equivalent of about four months’ continuous use with full camping gear, ranging from 14 to 20 kilos.  My main gripe, compared with the Jaguar, is that it doesn’t have a separate lower compartment, but I did more or less overcome that problem on this year’s TGO Challenge by packing my tent in the front pocket instead of at the bottom of the rucksack.  The latter system involved packing the tent before everything else – not the best approach when it’s raining.

A problem arose on one trip, whereby (over) tightening of the chest strap left me with a ‘frozen shoulder’ that took 18 months to recover.  I have not used a chest strap since that incident.

Otherwise, once properly adjusted to my back, the rucksack was excellent, until on this year’s TGO Challenge walk across Scotland both sides of the hip belt decided to attempt to part company with the body of the rucksack.

Golite Quest - hip belt wear (1) Golite Quest - hip belt wear (1)

I really do need to be confident of having a secure hip belt in position when backpacking, so this irreparable damage, which I nursed carefully to the end of the Challenge, signaled the death knell of the Quest.

On close inspection, the rest of the sack was looking pretty battered, with several punctures in the thin material, as well as one or two little tears, similar in nature to those you may find in an old pair of overtrousers that have been used for sitting on sharp rocks, or glissading. 

Golite Quest - weak fabric

Whilst the lid pocket maintained its integrity, the fabric below the zip for that pocket completely split away from the zipper.

Golite Quest - worn lid by zipper

Design
The Quest’s large main compartment sits below a removable, floating lid with a large and easily accessible zipped pocket.  Two hip belt pockets take care of small items, plus a large pocket on the front that’s big enough to take a tent. Golite rates this pack at 25 and 72 litres, where the lower volume refers to its compressed size after you’ve pulled tight the quick-release straps, and clipped the slightly fiddly clips on the bottom. (I never found a need to faff with this.)  Other features include a couple of mesh wand pockets, a hydration system pocket and axe/pole attachments. The Quest goes for a minimalist, non-adjustable back system design in either medium or large, so it’s important to buy the right size. It’s made from high-density polyethylene with mouldable aluminium stays and so offers some customisation. The hip belt’s supporting fins might be short on larger waists.

On the hill
At 72 litres the Golite Quest is pretty large, though it doesn’t necessarily feel so, thanks to decent compression straps, and it’s also competitively light.  The simple back system proved comfortable with heavy loads as the aluminium rods transferred the weight efficiently to the well-padded hip belt.  I did appreciate the mesh pockets on the hip belt as they offered space for a wallet and phone. In terms of packing, the large main compartment, the decent lid pocket and the large pocket on the front of the sack offered sufficient options for multi-day trips, subject to my personal gripe about not being able to pack my wet tent at the bottom of the sack without removing everything else. I didn’t really use the upper clipable side compression straps, which, in conjunction with the wand pockets, could be good for tent poles and a sleeping mat for people who (unlike me) don’t like to keep those items inside the sack.  I used these wand pockets more or less exclusively for water bottles.

Here is some more technical stuff, and my conclusions:

Materials:

  • Tier 1 Recycled 210 Denier Nylon Velocity™; Tier 1 Recycled 210 Denier Nylon Double Ripstop; High-Void Polyester Mesh

Sizes: (see here for advice on how to measure your back length)

  • Medium Size; Suit back length 17.5 - 19.5 Inches - Weight 1450g - Maximum Load 20kg - Maximum Volume 72lt - Compact Volume 25lt
  • Large Size; Suit back length 19.5 - 21.5 Inches - Weight 1500g - Maximum Load 20kg - Maximum Volume 76lt - Compact Volume 26lt

Quoted Features (current model):

  • Size-specific anatomically molded hip-belt with quick-access zippered stretch pockets
  • High-void meshes on back panel and shoulder harness move moisture quickly and promote rapid drying
  • S-contoured back panel with HDPE frame sheet and 2 aluminum stays mimic shape of the spine and are customizable for a dialed-in fit
  • Proprietary ComPACKtor™ system converts capacity incredibly efficiently
  • Sculpted lid with body-side zipper access detaches to shed 94 grams
  • Two side stretch pockets hold 1L bottles + trekking poles
  • Side compression straps with quick release buckles convert to front attachment system for sleeping pads, snowboards, snowshoes, etc.
  • Top compression strap and load lifters control and transfer weight effectively
  • Twin ice axe loops and handle straps
  • Internal stretch woven hydration sleeve with righty and lefty hydration tube ports
  • Adjustable sternum strap with whistle

Practical Use:

  • I’ve used this rucksack for backpacking, and it gave excellent service for three years before the hip belt failed
  • For anything less than a full blown backpacking trip with tent and gear, a smaller rucksack would probably suit most people
  • I was disappointed with the rucksack’s poor durability

Price:

  • RRP is currently £140, but discounts of at least 10% should be available

Alternatives:

  • There are numerous alternatives, so much dependent upon personal requirements and preferences that I will leave readers to take their own counsel.  However, I can from personal experience recommend a slightly smaller rucksack, the Lowe Alpine Nanon, available from Webtogs.  I’ve been using this recently and will be reviewing it in the next few days.

Conclusion:

  • The Golite Quest offers large size but low weight; rather clumsy compression to a 25 litre form; good pockets; side compression/attachment straps; hip belt pockets
  • It’s big - possibly bigger than needed for summer backpacking use, so given that modern equipment is becoming lighter and more compact a smaller rucksack may be adequate for most needs
  • There’s a non-adjustable back system, so you need to take care when purchasing to try one on or be sure of its suitability for you
  • For me, the lack of a lower compartment, or means of entry to stash a wet tent at the bottom of my load, was an annoyance that I learnt to live with …but it was still an annoyance
  • This is a good pack for those who want a bit of extra room but don’t want a heavy sack

BUT – this rucksack disappointingly lacked durability, in the strength of the fabric but more importantly in the manufacture of the hip belt, both sides of which started to part company with the body of the rucksack after the equivalent of about four months’ continuous use.

So, it’s out with the old…

10 comments:

Louise said...

Interesting. I have Golite Pinnacle, which I had intended to use on this years Challenge. After the Pre-Challenge Daunder in the Borders with Mike and friends, I decided I wasn't happy with it for this. Partly because it has no compartments and you have to pack it so carefully in a certain order for it to be balanced and comfortable. I use it for day walks now, particularly in winter when I want to carry extra layers, flask etc.
I am also more used to a Karrimor, mine is a Wildcat, David's (which I swapped to at Laggan) a Panther. (Both still look as new) but I'm looking forward to carrying my Osprey Exos next May.

Phreerunner said...

Louise, I think Ian Cotteril uses the Exos for the Challenge and finds it very good. Alan Sloman may also have it amongst his wide range of kit. I'm sure many more use it as well.

Quite a personal thing, your rucksack, but in this posting I wanted to point out the Quest's issue with durability, its weak hip belt attachment, and (in my opinion) its unsuitability for use as a 'day sack'. Having said that, it did serve me well for three years.

Jules said...

It's certainly an interesting debate.

I'm not a tent-carrying backpacker - I use B&B on my LDP outings - but do like to get the right blend of features for my gear. This often comes down to balancing a number of factors, but I do like my kit durable and am happy to carry a few extra grammes for the sake of performance. Some, I know, prefer lower weight and are happy to replace more frequently.

I still contend that MOST gear these days from reputable, mid- to top- end manufacturers is already lightweight (possibly lightweight enough) and that the extra few grammes saved in ultra lightweight gear comes at something of a cost - that cost being either reduced comfort or compromised durability or both.

It's interesting to note, though, that it's only really now that some of the ultra-light gear available is reaching the end of it's life, so durability can be properly assessed. The results will be interesting.

Is this the beginning of the "not-too-lightweight" revolution? ;-)

Andrew W said...

I too have a quest (not the pretty blue one ) and I agree about the durability. I got mine in 2007.
It is in a bit better shape but probably not used ad much.
Always found it very comfortable and heaps if room. Too much really which is why I bought Mr Sloman's old Exos. And now will be using the Talons 44.
Good sack though, but just like you, my old Karrimor with 2 sections and side pockets still has hardly any wear. Shame it weighs in at 7lb empty.

GeoffC said...

I've been using a Quest for years now on joint trips where I carry most of the kit for two of us.
I reported a material failure in my Quest review where a hipbelt strap tore away from the 'wings' at the weak point of the sewing and got a replacement from Golite, but otherwise the performance was excellent while it lasted, a very comfortable carry for the weight and volume.

Interesting comment about packing the tent before everything else:- I pack a standard 2-person Voyager in the pocket (minus poles) AFTER everything else. In fact this was the main attraction of the Quest to me, I could pack everything else into the main compartment in the tent to guarantee staying dry, then depitch the tent and pack in the pocket.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks for these comments.

Jules, I also often use B&Bs but on those trips I wouldn't dream of using the Quest, which I regard as 'lightweight' rather than 'ultra lightweight'.

Andrew, you have a very heavy 'Karrimor' - mine is only about 2 kilos. I'm sure your Talon is much lighter - I just hope it's big enough!

Geoff - your comment illustrates the differing approaches we have to packing a rucksack. I've spent 30 years packing my tent in a compartment at the bottom of my pack, leaving the readily accessible pockets to hold waterproofs, lunches, stove, and my brew kit. The Quest was never satisfactory for me in this respect, although on this year's TGO Challenge I did use your approach and pack the tent in the front pocket. The downside was that all those formerly readily accessible items had to be stashed in the main bag, albeit in a separate bag at the top of the sack.

Alan R said...

And in with the new?

Phreerunner said...

The Lowe Alpine Nanon, Alan, and it does double as a roomy winter day sack; you have my permission to inspect it, on Sunday, over a coffee, at SK 143 569...

Alan R said...

Mmm, I saw your previous post on this but i thought it may be a little too heavy. Yes coffee sounds good.

Phreerunner said...

Alan, the Nanon comes in at about the same weight as the Quest (around 1400gm) but hopefully it will be more 'user friendly' and more durable. It's certainly more versatile. Time will tell. I like it at present. But I liked the Quest despite my minor gripes - it was an excellent and very roomy pack, so for a trip involving carrying more than 3-4 days' food, the Quest would be my choice. Or the Jaguar.