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Golite Pinnacle Backpack review

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Golite Pinnacle Backpack review

Postby Hetchy » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:03 pm

Loaded for 3 days with 2 liters of water.(Mexican Border to Mt. Laguna section)
I chose the Golite Pinnacle for my thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail this year. My main requirements for a backpack were light weight, durability, and a simple "Bloody great sack" design (Ala. Colin Fletcher!).
The Pinnacle best fit those critieria in my opinion.
The pack weighed 2 lbs 2 oz as delivered. The design is a single large sack with a roll down cord cinch expasion panel for a lid. There is a single large "waterproof" zippered pocket along the back. There are elastic water bottle pockets along the lower sides at the hips. There is also an inner hydration bladder pocket that runs veritcally along the inside back of the pack(never used.. putting the bladder higher in the pack allowed "gravity feed" water.. very useful for keeping clean in the backcountry.(NO JOKE!)). There is no frame, just a single piece of closed cell foam that inhabits it's own pocket built into the back of the pack against the spine of the wearer.
The pack or should I say Packs faired very well overall. My first one lasted 1094 miles and I only had to repair two tears in the fabric connecting the upper shoulder straps to the top of the pack. The tears developed at mile 500. A needle and dental floss repair I made lasted the rest of the way to Echo Lake at mile 1094. Golite replaced the pack under warranty and even sent my new pack General delivery to Echo Lake.
This second pack had hip pockets and I quickly began using them to store my breakfast and lunch goodies so I would not have to stop to eat!
The down side of the hip pockets is that Golite sewed the bottom of the shoulder straps to them instead of the main pack body. the result; after mile 1500(406 pack miles) the fabric around the strap attatchment point began to fray. I performed surgery in the field by opening up the stitching of the hip pocket and found a bunch of extra shoulder strap webbing sewn inside!
I losened the shoulder straps and I was able to sew webbing directly to the main pack. This lasted the rest of the trip to mile 2663. In fact I ain't even gonna return this one cause it works much better sewn this way.
Another thing I learned about wearing a frameless pack for 14 hours a day. To remain comfortable for the long term the pack must be stuffed tight. The load becomes part of the rigidity in lieu of a frame. The pad that comes with the pack eventually developes a crease and the way to bolster it was stuff my sleeping bag and clothes sack in a plastic garbage compactor bag and then wedge the ridgerest sleeping pad between in between the back of the pack. The result is a relatively ridgid but flexible carry. That is until the load gets over 30 lbs. After that it's just plain heavy feeling. The Sierra crossing of with 7 days of food and a bear can put me wayyy over 35 lbs and I definitley noticed it . Though I was able to fit my BV 500 bear canister up top and sideways inside! :eek: The weight caused the pack to fold midway rendering the waist belt useless and transfering the load entirely to the shoulders. It was not a fatal flaw. After a few days and a few pounds of food disappeared the pack became relatively comfortable. In my experience this threshold is about 30 lbs for the Pinnacle.
As for the Dyneema fabric the pack is made from; It wears like iron. The only damage I could do to it was to scrape a barbed wire fence while passing though a cattle(anti-cattle?) gate. Even that experience only left two small holes which I patched with more dental floss.
The water bottle holders on the Pinnacle are excellant. I was able to easily retrieve my thru hikers nalgene(Aqua Fina bottle) and took to carrying my camera and small snacks in there as well. The elastic is just right and holds things very well.
The pack itself remained very dry inside throughout the hailstorms of the Sierra and some Oregon(Crater Lake) and Washington(Glacier Peak Wilderness) rain as well. I always used an "innie" ( plastic garbage bag) to create my sanctum sanctorum for critical gear(sleeping bag,clothes). I also used a Granite Gear packcover from Ashland Oregon north. The packcover would ride down the back of the pack frequently(operator error:sloth and indolence) and cause the pinnacle to get soaked. It never became soaked inside.
The other amazing thing is that the "waterproof" zipper , at least for me, remained waterproof throughout the hike. Maps and book segments stayed dry inside that back pocket even without the packcover.
Overall I think the Golite Pinnacle perfomed excellant. At 150 bucks I got a durable (Not bombproof) pack that I comfortably wore for 140 days up to 13 hours a day.
I must say I will definitely use a frameless pack again. They take a bit getting use to and packing them is critical to comfort.. but they are wicked light and brutal simple.
My next pack ..
I am looking at the Mountain Laurel Designs packs. A fellow thru hiker, "LINT" used one with great success this year. Though his base weight is in the 9 lb range. Choosing a lighter pack means you must choose a lighter everything else in order to use that pack.
I have to say, I was amazed that everyone thought I had such a small pack with folks like Lint and Lucky Larry carrying 8 and 9 lb packs.. and doing it in complete ease. A trick lint used was to carry a tarp for a shelter and use his umbrella to form one end of that shelter under really tough conditions. What does this have to do with the backpack? Well, the lighter tarp he could use and the umbrella as rain gear saved over a pound, the bushbuddy stove meant no fuel weight to carry.. etc. etc. it all adds up to a lighter gear weight overall and combined with the 1 lb Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet pack.. one superlight thru hiker.
If you think 1 lb packs are nutz check out the 5 oz Cuben fiber packs. Frogger and Snorkel both used them with superb effect, just watch out for abrasion.
Anyhow, I did not intend to sell backpacks, just relate what worked for me.
Cheers :D
You can make more money, but you can't make more time.

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Re: Golite Pinnacle Backpack review

Postby freestone » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:59 pm

Thanks for the review and viewpoint about gear for the long haul Hetch. Thirty pounds is too heavy for me, no matter what pack I have on my back!
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Re: Golite Pinnacle Backpack review

Postby hikerduane » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:54 pm

Thanks Hetchy. I was looking at the Pinnacle last Dec., but got a Six Moon Designs, Starlite. Worked good for my seasons trips, AK and a early Oct. trip where I carried a heavy 35+ lbs. I want one of the Z-packs cuben material packs sometime, just to carry and use as a day pack.
Piece of cake.
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Re: Golite Pinnacle Backpack review

Postby frediver » Sat Nov 07, 2009 2:52 am

I like my G-4.
If you put tent poles in the folded sleeping pad/frame it really does make a difference.
I have packed 35lbs in relative comfort that way, one trip over 40lb.
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