User Review: CiloGear 60L Worksack (V2)
Design: Top-loading internal frame
Size: 60L (3600 in^3)
Number of Pockets: Internal bladder pocket
Max. Load Carried: ~65 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'0"
Price Paid: $200 US
This is a phenomenal, well-designed pack that fits beautifully and carries varying loads with ease. A fantastic technical bag with unparalleled versatility (once you spend all of 10-15 minutes learning how to dial the straps). It's lighter (and yet still more comfortable) than any other pack I've used.
I just received the new model of the CiloGear 60L WorkSack. I looked at the old model last spring, but decided to keep my Granite Gear Alpine Vapor (basically a beefier version of GG's popular Vapor Trail with tool loops and crampon straps). I broke down and ordered the 60L WorkSack because I was sick of not-really fitting my winter kit into the GG bag, which was a solid ice/rock crag pack and 3 season backpacking bag. I wanted something that could hold a ton of stuff but also compress for the day, which is just how CiloGear bills their WorkSacks. I'm glad I made the switch (though my non-climbing wife was confused about yet another seemingly-redundant purchase).
This pack is genuinely impressive in an age of impressive-looking gear. I was pleased with it while playing around at home and, after three winter days in the Catskills, can't believe the major manufacturers haven't yet copied the design or bought out CiloGear.
I don't want to repeat what you can read for yourselves at the CiloGear site, but let me give a rundown of what stood out during the first use.
Excellent. I'm still young, but my first pack was an external frame Peak 1, so I know how packs shouldn't feel. The suspension doesn't look big enough for the loads you can carry, but it works. I bent the framesheet and stay as directed, but otherwise nothing else. Best anecdote: at a food stop (after breaking 5 miles of trail through sometimes waist deep snow with 40 pound bags), my buddy asks, "So how's the new pack?" I then realized that I hadn't even noticed/thought of it since putting it on after strapping on the snowshoes. So I said, "It seems to be a magic hole where gravity no longer functions." And that's not hyperbole.
You really can blow this up or shrink it down. On day two, we headed out just for the day, so I threw a bit of gear into the bag, strapped it down, didn't bother to take out the hipbelt, and we spent the day breaking more trail. Again, didn't even notice I was wearing it.
One caveat: you really do need to play around with the bag in order to get the strap system figured out. However, CiloGear has the manual online, in easy to understand language/directions. If you are the type of user who just wants to throw a bunch of stuff in your bag and expend zero thought, you probably shouldn't get this bag. But after about 15 minutes of fiddling with the bag and reading the manual online, I felt set.
There are a bunch of different fabrics used here and they all seem perfectly suited to their respective jobs. I'm pretty sure the base of the pack is some kind of bullet-proof fabric. The crampon pouch/tool holsters both have very beefy (though pliable) fabric. I'm used to seeing Cordura and not-Cordura.
4. Nit Picks:
-The zippers on the lid should come with pulls. Plus, the lid zippers themselves didn't zip smoothly all the time and seem too low-grade for such a tough pack.
-External pockets (for wands, poles, etc) on the sides would be nice. My GG had some stretch pockets--that would be ideal here. But I did read that CiloGear is releasing a Wand Pocket for just this thing, but I think it should come with the pack--it's a pretty standard feature at this point.
-There's no logo on the outside of the pack, but I'd be proud to have one in this age of over-branding. There is a logo on the inside flap for the pad/frame/stay. On the other hand, there is the appeal of the mystery pack.
I'm super satisfied with this pack and think the price ($200) is pretty cheap for what you get. Lots of stuff planned for the year so I'll update this as needed. If you're on the fence and think this bag might be too good to be true, it's not. Get it and you'll be happy, too.
TRIP UPDATE: You really can blow this thing up, carry a ton of stuff, and then strip it down for use after you've made camp. I just returned from 9 days of climbing and hiking in the Cirque of the Towers (in the Southern Wind River Range). This pack performed beautifully on hike in with ~65 lbs. Of course, no one will ever enjoy steep switchbacks and boulder fields with a big pack. However, my partner had a much cushier pack that weighed about twice as much and he was hating his load well before I did. When crossing the boulder fields, I could really snug the pack tight and it moved with me very well, which I think explains why my partner hated his much heavier and cushier pack so early--I noticed his load swinging wildly back and forth as we negotiated the talus/boulders. I never felt like the pack was going to pull me off balance. Once we made camp, we stripped out the hipbelt, framesheet, stay, and backpad and used the rucksack for climbing/scoping routes. Again, the pack performed beautifully--we just threw a bunch of gear in each day and took off. Hailstorms, t-storms, hauling through slots, and all around abuse had a barely noticeable effect on the pack. And on the hike out, sans 9 days of food (but still ~50 lbs), it felt like I wasn't carrying anything at all.
Nitpick: The fabric on the shoulder straps rotated around pulled the straps out of alignment. However, I contacted CiloGear and Graham (the owner) fixed it immediately and directed me to the blog. They've already fixed this issue on all of the packs going out. This is indicative of the excellent, thorough, and timely customer service I've received from CiloGear since purchasing this pack in February.
Where to Buy
The CiloGear 60L Worksack is not available from the stores we monitor.
You may be able to find it new or used at one of these sites:
US | Canada | UK | Aus
Or you may want to check for a dealer list or direct sales on the CiloGear web site.
Retailers: Do you sell this product? List your site here.