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:
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.
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.
Whilst the lid pocket maintained its integrity, the fabric below the zip for that pocket completely split away from the zipper.
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:
- 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
- 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
- RRP is currently £140, but discounts of at least 10% should be available
- 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.
- 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…