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Rucksack - light but supportive?

For the last few years, I have been using a Golite Pinnacle rucksack for the Challenge. I bought it as an alternative to my trusty old Karrimor Jaguar 65-litre pack.

My Challenge pack-weight is usually between 12 and 14kg at various stages on the crossing. Most of the time the Pinnacle is fine but I wish that the back was stiffer so that the weight was transferred to my hips. I find that the back of the rucksack can bulge with two results: the weight is sitting above my hips rather than on them, and last year I ended up with a lump over my spine for a couple of days as the back of the rucksack does not stay flat and straight and must've been rubbing on my back.

So, here's the question - has anyone tried one of the lighter weight rucksacks, like the Golite Pinnacle, but then changed back to something a little heavier with more back support? If so, what did you choose?


Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

Hi Judith

I've gone for an Osprey Talon 44 for the last few years. It has a decent frame sheet and when you cut off the bits & bobs that you don't use it's not that heavy either; My size large comes out at 1100 grams and it carries 12+ kg very comfortably.

There are lighter packs but I find the protection offered by the Osprey back system to be pretty good.

It's made out of tough stuff and there's absolutely no sign of wear anywhere and the straps don't slip.

Good luck with your search - it's the fit and back protection that's most important to me.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

I too have used a Golite rubble sack Judith.
I find it best for grass cuttings, and like Al have a Talon 44.
But for the TGOC I prefer the Exos, which has the extra front zip pouch.
I got mine by buying it off Al when he got the Talon.
3 challenges later it has turned out to be my bargain of the decade so far.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

I used to have a Golite Pinnacle as well, and after a few years of use I had exactly the same problem as you: The foam pad at the back (and therefore the whole rucksack) lost its shape and felt uncomfortable.

A temporary solution was to roll my (un-inflated) Thermarest mat into a large barrel-shape, put it inside the rucksack and pack everything inside this barrel. This worked quite well, until I swapped the Thermarest mat for a NeoAir...

Now I've got an Osprey Exos 46 and I'm really happy with it. I've used it on my first two Challenges and on many shorter trips as well.

The only problem was that it's a unisex model and the fit seems to be more suitable for men. After my first long walk I ended up with bruises on my hips because the aluminium frame was a little bit too narrow. But this was easily sorted: I put the rucksack on the floor and put some pressure on the frame (carefully) to widen it just a centimetre or so.

Now it's so comfy that sometimes I almost forget that I'm carrying a rucksack

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

Thanks for the comments so far. It looks like Osprey is the way to go - although will I really be able to get all my stuff in a 46 litre pack?!

(Actually, I think I probably will as Osprey rucksacks seem to be like the TARDIS!)

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

I tried the 46 but ended up with the 58. I could just squeeze everything into the 46, making use of every pocket and dangle opportunity, but I like everything inside with rummage space, so 58 it is and I love it. I'm never tempted to put something in because I have the space. I have OCD. I have a list and stick to it!
You may well manage the 46.
Green or orange and grey?

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

You've got me thinking now, Louise. I was planning to get the 46 because "smaller is better", but I know what it's like to be using a rucksack that is only just big enough and I think the 58 litre will give a bit more flexibility - either for winter camping when I am carrying more/bigger stuff, or even just for when the sun is shining and I'm carrying my warm & waterproof clothes rather than wearing them.

It looks like Osprey packs have good compression straps so it shouldn't matter too much of there's a bit of spare space inside.

To contradict myself, I borrowed a 50 litre Osprey (Atmos? Aether?) a few years ago for a Cairngorms winter camping trip. I was amazed at how much I could fit in it. So maybe the smaller size will do. I shall have to go and have a look in a shop.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

Hi Judith!
I have a Pinnacle, which I used for that Borders trip, but not on the Challenge. I now use it as a daysac which it does quite nicely for. I have an Osprey Exos which I find light and very comfy. It transfers the weight to my hips beautifully.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite

I simply can't agree with the complaints about Golite sacks. I switched to a Gust back in 2002 and found the thing to be revolutionary. No more 2kg packs and indeed, the most comfortable rucksack which I'd ever used, despite the flimsy looking hipbelt. When the even lighter Jam became available, I switched to that and am still using it. Regrettably, I won't be able to replace it when it collapses as Golite have now seen fit to restore various unnecessary bells and whistles, reversing the previous philosophy of simple and ultra light. Ray Jardine must hate the direction the company have gone.

The secret of comfort lies in the packing. I had the benefit of a lecture by an enthusiast at Braemar Mountain Sports when I first bought the Gust. You need to create a large, soft bubble at the bottom of the sack; the hipbelt pulls this into the lumbar region of your back and it sits very comfortably. If done properly, the flimsiness of the belt doesn't matter as it's not intended to weight bear. I create the bubble by packing my sleeping bag loose (I use a full size dry bag for the entire contents of my sack) plus any spare clothing which I'm carrying.

The back of the sack certainly can collapse on itself but this can be avoided by packing flat items along its length. A mattress will do the job but I too now use a Neo Air. It's a three quarter one though and I carry a cut off piece of closed cell mat for my feet, which serves very nicely for extra reinforcement. Add books, maps and anything else suitable and you'll end up with a fairly rigid structure. Honestly, it works for me and I can't ever see myself returning to a heavier sack.


Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite

A 50 lite Golite Jam weighs in at 850 grams. An Osprey Exos with a decent frame and a good load bearing hipbelt weighs 1050 grams. My Osprey Talon weighs 1100g and I think it carries and packs even better than the Exos, which is why I replaced it and flogged it on.

All that f*rting about trying to load your pack so carefully just to save 200 or 250 grams?

Not worth it in my book.

Lose 200 grams of wobbly belly fat and walk with a pack that will always be comfortable however badly it's all shoved in when you're packing in the rain.

Life's too short to quibble over 200 grams.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite

Lose 200 grams of wobbly belly fat

Oi Sloman! No need to be personal!

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite

Funnily enough, I've taken a similar route as you to arrive at an Osprey. I originally used a Karrimor Wildcat, which I loved, but didn't have a traditional frame and whilst it was fine for short trips, didn't suit me on my first Challenge. I swapped at Newtonmore for David's Karrimor Jaguar which did the trick, but is a man's pack and didn't quite suit my shape. I have undeniable hips...
So that was how I ended up with an Exos. You're right, it does compress well, so any extra space is taken up easily and easy packing and rummaging for the cost of 90g for a 48? Give over.
Try before you buy, each to their own and all that.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite

It's not the weight Louise, it's the volume.
I have not enough willpower not to add STUFF.
The 46 provides me the limitations I need, to overcome my natural
"That might be useful mental instability "

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite

OCD as an advantage, who'd have thought?
Lists. The only way to go

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite

Lose 200 grams of wobbly belly fat

Oi Sloman! No need to be personal!

Ladies don't suffer from wobbly belly fat. That's a man-thing. Ladies have "love handles."

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite


Lose 200 grams of wobbly belly fat and walk with a pack that will always be comfortable however badly it's all shoved in when you're packing in the rain.

i think 200g on your belly is far more comfortable than 200g in your backpack, last TGO i have lost 5kg of fat, but when i added 2-3kg to my backpack in Edzell i found it way uncomfortable....

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite

I easily get everything in the Exos 46.
In my opinion, with the front pouches, it can do far far more than tge Talon 44.
The 58 seems overkill.
But the last decision is always subjective.
The newer Exos is slightly better than the original I think.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - The Decision

After reading loads of reviews, then spending an hour in Go Outdoors loading up an Exos 46 with everything I could possibly need for a backpacking trip, I bought one. (Price matched against Cotswolds sale price).

I've now packed it with my standard Challenge gear and am confident that there's plenty of room and enough lashing points for emergencies.

It fits my back nicely and I like it - which is half of the battle for me with rucksacks. I see so many that just don't feel comfy.

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions - even those I appear to have ignored!

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite

Colin - I'm glad you're getting on well with the GoLite packs. I did have to learn a different packing technique with my Pinnacle. I was already a disciplined packer, but I've learned to spread the load more evenly and to try to build up the rigidity of the backpad.

However, like Alan says, I'm not sure I can really be bothered doing this for just a couple of hundred grammes weight difference between a frameless and framed pack. In the 15-20 (?) years since I bought my Karrimor Jaguar, packs with frames have become a lot lighter so I think I should be able to get something which is supportive and doesn't require ultra-careful packing.

For loads lighter than my full Challenge pack, eg a couple of days of bivvying, the Pinnacle is excellent. It just seems to be that extra 1 or 2kg which cause me a problem.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite

Just to put the cat amongst the pigeons, have you considered the Gossamer Gear Mariposa (new version)? It's the best rucksack I've ever had, including the Exos. Very light and swallows gear. A veritable TARDIS. Superbly comfortable; weighs 756g.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite

Having tried a Gust in the early 2000's i moved on to a ULA P-2 and when that eventually wore out after plenty of use, I replaced it with a ULA Catalyst. Excellent carry, no faffing when packing, loads of room but easy to synch in for smaller loads. Superb side, front and hip pockets (biggest I've seen!). Proper back system, proper straps and now available to buy in the UK (used to have to get them from USA).

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive? - in defence of Golite

Oh dear, I am getting worried. My old Karrimore weighs in at 1.5kg. Will I be able to walk all the way across Scotland carrying something so heavy or will I now have to go out and spend £175 on a new sack? Or should I diet and loose a bit off my Christmas spare tyre? Decisions, decisions!

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?


My Challenge pack-weight is usually between 12 and 14kg at various stages on the crossing. .

I own a few osprey :

stratos 32 ( old model )
atmos 50 (old model )
exos 58 ( new model )

while i prefer the weight being closer to my my back on the exos, and i find the exos being a nice pack around 10kg, the few times i loaded it to about 14-15kg ( with 10-12 days of food ) i found the belt to be inadequate and the straps not really comfortables.

but as usual with packs its a very personal thing.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

Goodness, look what happens when I go out to work for the day (yes, I know that it's Sunday). Al's post seems a long time in the past now but I think that I need to defend myself.

Just a few extra points then:-
1) I'm using the old style Gust and Jam, which haven't suffered from the redesign of the Pinnacle and new Jam. The Gust weighs in at 570g, the Jam at 550g. I think you'd have to agree that that's a significant difference from 1100-1200g.
2) F*rting about, what f*rting about? Prior to owning these sacks, when I had a Jaguar, I had a system for packing the thing. I've never been in the habit of just ramming things in any old how. So all I've had to do is change the system and it quickly became automatic. Slowman, I challenge you to a rucksack packing race and I'd bet that I'd be no slower than you! On the rare occasions when there's been a sense of urgency, I may have been less scrupulous than usual and had to rearrange things later - but the same applied when I carried heavier packs; plus ca change.
3) It royally p*sses me off that Golite have changed their approach and gone down the safe road of additional extras and more "robustness". They were onto something when they adopted the Ray Jardine philosophy and I looked forward to even lighter and comfortable sacks appearing in the future. I'd guess that there will be other (exclusively US) companies which will produce the type of sacks which I want and I'll have to do my research when my pair of Golites eventually disintegrate.
4) I'll concede that these packs aren't built for very heavy loads. At much over 16kg, they do become uncomfortable and the hipbelts fail to work, but do many of us on the Challenge still tote such punishing loads?
5) A personal choice? Yes, of course and many will continue to favour a more rigid structure. Yet these packs work for me and I was keen to redress the bias which appeared to be developing against simple sacks. No doubt the debate will continue!

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

Mr Crawford, Sir (Esteemed Vetter, genuflect, genuflect, I am not worthy etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.)

So it's rucksacks at dawn, eh? I'll have to be careful who I nominate as my second. It can't be Mad'n'Bad Andy as he's never ready at dawn.

Lord Elpus is also a bit on the tardy side of punctuality as well... but his rucksack is always perfectly packed; There's no silly dangly bits hanging all over the shop like on Andy's pack. Very dapper, is Lord Elpus.

I suppose I would have to choose Roger Boston, as he packs the same pack as me. And he has those bionic knees which makes packing in a confined tent so much easier. He just flicks a switch and the powerful hydraulics launch him effortlessly to standing straight and tall while I'm still rolling around onto my belly before slowly getting to my knees and eventually an erect position.

I am sorry that you are royally p*ssed off with Messrs Golite. They should be ashamed of themselves. Going about p*ssing off TGO Vetters really isn't British!

Oh. Hang on.

Looking forward to sharing a few drams at Montrose, Colin. I think the last time we did that was with Waldo in the tin roofed back room at Culra in 1997.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?


Forget the faux grovelling which I'm absorbing with the necessary cartload of salt. I will be more than happy though to accept a large Lagavulin in the Park.

Gracious, that overnight at Culra takes me back - 1997, I think it was, both of us young(ish) and callow at the time. Seems a long time ago now.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

You chaps are really spoiled when it comes to choice of a lightweight pack. If you are a chapess, well - you are not well catered for. Having the correct back length and also women specific shoulder straps are two aspects I've found crucial. The original W Jam was brilliant and available in various back lengths. Unfortunately shorter backs mean fewer litres so I never could quite squash enough in for the challenge though it has done me proud on shorter trips. I now use a Lightwave W Wildtrek which fits well. I would have preferred the lighter Fastpack but the available back lengths are not short enough. Well, that's my two penn'orth anyway.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

Aaaah, the Karrimor Jaguar 65 (or even better the earlier Jaguar E65 if you are old enough to remember it) is/was the pack of choice for the true hill connoisseur. Alas many are sadly over the hill, mine replaced by a Golite Terrano 70 but not a patch on the comfort and functionality of the old Jaguar and already showing signs of wear after only two years. Karrimors "new " Jaguar weighs a ton. My average Challenge pack departure weight =18 kgs.


Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

I still have a Jaguar 65, perhaps the best rucksack I've ever had. It's light enough, packs and carries very well - trouble is, after 20 years, it's now completely worn out.

I'd pay a lot of money for a new one. New stuff just isn't up to the mark.


Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

John J
I still have a Jaguar 65, perhaps the best rucksack I've ever had. It's light enough, packs and carries very well - trouble is, after 20 years, it's now completely worn out.

It goes with your knees though John.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

Aye, they're completely knackered too!


Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

JJ. The old Jaguar 65 often appears on eBay - and they seem to sell quite well. In fact I sold Miss W's last year for £50.

Obviously still a popular choice for the discerning backpacker.

Re: Rucksack - light but supportive?

Judith, I haven't yet read through all the other responses, but I use a Golite Quest which is a fine sac for up to about 14kg, but I insert a stiffened Karrimor backpad which is easily shaped for your own lordosis, or to create an airgap of sorts, depending on your individual needs. Just an idea!