GoLite has re-designed their entire backpack line for 2007. Say bye-bye to the Infinity, Perspective, Speed, Race, Trek, Gust, and their brethren. Also going is GoLite’s SilLite fabric, which did not have enough abrasion resistance.
I would have to say that GoLite’s present pack line is a conglomeration of hits and misses. The Infinity and Jam were hits, but many of the others did not fare as well. GoLite’s goal with their new packs is to make them light AND durable, and to get the details right in terms of features and comfort. I am personally very impressed with the new packs; they incorporate a lot of nice improvements with little or no weight gain – exactly what I would like to see.
The new lineup will consist of nine packs in three groups. The Ultra group (presented here) is their very lightest packs; the Adrenaline group is adventure racing packs, and the Venture group is full-featured internal frame packs. All of their new packs are lighter than most of the competition, and all but one (the Ion) is available in both men’s and women’s specific versions.
The diminutive Ion at 9 ounces and 1,500 cubic inches can be used as a SuperUltraLight backpack. This minimalist pack has a water-resistant top zipper access, spacer mesh shoulder straps, sternum strap, and webbing hipstrap. There are no outside pockets, but it does have a hydration tube opening. MSRP will be $50.
The most significant pack in the Ultra group is the Jam2, which as the name implies is a re-design of the Jam pack. The Jam has shrunk slightly from 3,200 to 3,000 cubic inches (size M) and has lost 2 ounces of weight (now 19 ounces). The shoulder straps are more comfortable spacer mesh and Brock foam, the side pockets are now angled for easier access and made of a stretch mesh, and the frontpanel access zipper is water-resistant. It has a drawcord and top strap closure system. Besides these bigger changes, many details of the Jam2 have been improved. MSRP is $100.
The new Pinnacle pack at 4,000 cubic inches and 23 ounces is simply a larger version of the Jam2. MSRP is $130.
A clever feature of the new Jam2 and Pinnacle packs is their ComPacktor system, which is a simple clip and loop on the bottom of the pack that works with the side compression straps to reduce pack volume as much as two-thirds.
Here is the upshot of the new GoLite Ultra packs, as I see it right now. The Ion is elegant in its simplicity, but lacks functionality compared to lighter SUL packs from Fanatic Fringe, Gossamer Gear, and Mountain Laurel Designs. It’s simple, durable, and probably comfortable, but the total lack of outside pockets really limits it. There’s not even a place to put a water bottle! The Jam2 is the standout. At 3,000 cubic inches, it hits a sweet spot for ultralight backpacking, and lots of improvements make a great pack even better. The Pinnacle is basically a better Gust. The volume and weight are similar to the old Gust, and the details from the Jam give it a nicer feature set.