Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gear Review: Golite Pinnacle Backpack

A backpack is one of the most important single pieces of gear in any backcountry explorer’s equipment arsenal. The backpack’s fit is crucial for an enjoyable trip into the backcountry. But for bushwhacking adventures the backpack has to be more than just comfortable but must also be tough and durable enough to handle the onslaught of the worst conditions the Adirondacks can dole out. A severe rip in the backcountry could leave one trying to carry all their equipment in their arms, which is no easy feat in the dense Adirondack backcountry.

The extreme conditions encountered while bushwhacking requires a backpack to have the following characteristics:

• Durable
• Comfortable fit
• Light weight
• Adequate access
• Slim

An excellent bushwhacking backpack that meets all of the above criteria is the Golite Pinnacle. Golite has manufactured the Pinnacle backpack since at least 2007. The Pinnacle is the largest of the three backpacks in Golite’s UltraLite line. UltaLite backpacks are known for their combination of durability, minimalism and comfort. The Pinnacle has been recently updated with a larger front pocket and an improved suspension.

The Pinnacle is a spacious backpack with a volume of 4392 cubic inches but compresses down to about 1500 cubic inches via the ComPACKtor™ system. The ComPACKtor™ system uses two fixed compression anchor clips to compress the pack for shorter trips thus increasing the versatility of this exceptional backpack.

The Pinnacle is made from Golite’s Dyneema® Gridstop weave combining 100% nylon yarn with Dyneema® fibers to create a strong yet light pack fabric. Dyneema fabric has a strength-to-weight ratio 15 times greater than higher tensile steel making the Pinnacle highly resistant to tearing.

For those concerned with their environmental footprint will be relieved to know the Pinnacle is manufactured with Tier 1 recycled fabrics. Golite has replaced virgin, petro-chemical based materials with 50% Tier 1 recycled nylon. Golite’s efforts using recycled materials won them the Green Award of the 2010 Backpacker Editors’ Choice Awards.

The Golite Pinnacle has many other wonderful features important to any backcountry adventurer. Some of these features include:

• Double-Wishbone™ hipbelt connection transfers weight to hips.
• Zippered stretch pockets on belt for easy access to small, often-used items.
• Mesh on back panel, hipbelt and shoulder harness keeps you drier by moving moisture away from your body.
• Removable closed cell foam back pad.
• ComPACKtor™ system reduces internal volume eliminating the necessity of carrying another smaller pack for day hikes.
• Two side stretch pockets for convenient access to water bottles.
• Side compression straps with quick-release buckles.
• Two ice axe loops.
• Cinch and roll-up closure system with compression strap.
• Internal hydration sleeve with right and left tube ports.
• Adjustable sternum strap with whistle.
• Large front pocket with watertight zipper to keep your stuff dry.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the Pinnacle is $175. The Pinnacle can be purchased currently online at Second Ascent and Mountain Plus Outdoor Gear for $140 with free shipping.

After some extensive research of the backpacks on the market at the time, I purchased a Pinnacle backpack in 2008. Since then Golite has made some changes to the backpack’s design improving its versatility (e.g. larger front pocket and small pockets on hip belt) and stability but unfortunately increasing its weight by 7 ounces.

I have found the Pinnacle to be an outstanding backpack ideal for bushwhacking with its slim design, lightweight and durability. Although highly durable the Pinnacle is not indestructible. Over the past few years I have found several small holes in the front pocket but other than these the pack remains in terrific shape.

The limited suspension and non-padded hipbelt restricts the maximum comfortable capacity of this pack to 40 lbs according to its manufacturer. The longest trip I have ever used this pack was for an eight-day adventure where my pack weighed around 45 lbs. Although this was over its maximum capacity I found the pack retained its comfortable fit even during fairly rugged bushwhacking.

The size of the back pocket limits the amount of equipment readily available as the Pinnacle has no lid with an additional pocket as do many conventional backpacks. Golite appears to have dealt with this issue in subsequent models by increasing the size of this pocket and adding smaller pockets along the hipbelt.

The Pinnacle has been my exclusive backpack since I purchased it. It has hiked the Northville-Placid trail, the John Muir trail in the Sierra-Nevada’s and on numerous bushwhacking adventures. During all these adventures the Pinnacle has proved to be a versatile and durable backpack.

For anyone looking for a lightweight, durable and comfortable backpack should take a serious look at Golite’s Pinnacle.

Photos: Pinnacle backpack courtesy of Golite.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


Dan Crane

Dan Crane writes regularly about bushwhacking and backcountry camping, including providing insights on equipment and his observations as a veteran backcountry explorer. He has been visiting the Adirondacks since childhood and actively exploring its backcountry for almost two decades. He is also life-long naturalist with a Master of Science in Ecology from SUNY ESF and 10+ seasons working as a field biologist, five inside the Blue Line.

Dan has hiked the Northville-Placid Trail twice and climbed all 46 High Peaks but currently spends his backpacking time exploring the northwestern portion of the Adirondacks. He is also the creator of the blog Bushwhacking Fool where he details his bushwhacking adventures.


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15 Responses

  1. Kevin B. MacKenzie says:
  2. […] retrieving my backpack, I follow the footpath down to some rock debris piles, where rocks poor in useful minerals were […]

  3. […] late morning hour (it is almost 10:30 AM) encourage me to secure my camera and binoculars, pick up my backpack and head down the trail toward Todd Harbor Campground. I pledge to myself not to stop for a lengthy […]

  4. […] finishing my many chores and packing up my backpack, nature calls and I make a run to the toilet. Upon finishing my business, I emerge to find the […]

  5. […] climbing down from the boulder and retrieving my backpack, I start down the short spur trail to the Little Todd campground. The trail crosses rolling terrain […]

  6. […] climbing down from the boulder and retrieving my backpack, I start down the short spur trail to the Little Todd campground. The trail crosses rolling terrain […]

  7. […] the high humidity, leave me drenched in sweat within my rain gear. Stopping along the trail, I shed my backpack, quickly followed by my Venture rain jacket and my Tumalo Pertex rain pants. Unfortunately, I […]

  8. […] I return to my backpack, there is another mischievous red squirrel getting into my garbage bag. Why are they always trying […]

  9. […] on the agenda is finding an attractive campsite so I can put down my backpack, and give my shoulders a well overdue break. A brief look at the campground map indicates shelters […]

  10. […] keep the beer, even though I never opened it. It is going into my backpack to be drunk on a warmer day in the future. Hopefully, there will be one soon, as I do not look […]

  11. […] lunch break. The father and son pass me just a short time after I sit down and start going through my backpack. The father comments about us playing leapfrog along the trail, but I assure him they will get way […]

  12. […] hike today, I take his advice to check out Rainbow Point, at least as far as the log. I discard my backpack just beyond the wave action of Lake Superior, assuming the exposure acts as a natural barrier […]

  13. […] my hair. I love this shampoo bar, it is a solid, and therefore there is no chance of it leaking in my backpack. In fact, I like it so much I use it at home too. When I am ready to rinse off, I undo the knot in […]

  14. […] functioning as a food line anywhere but on Isle Royale) in the paper birches. I dig through my backpack pulling out anything and everything even remotely wet, resulting in piles of equipment scattered […]