Ever since “ultralight” ethos started to gain favor amongst backpackers and people stared demanding lighter, stronger packs; designers have been struggling to find the optimal balance between minimalism and utility. A pack that’s too stripped down might be light as a feather, but lack durability and certain features that make it easy and convenient to use. On the flipside, a pack with all the requisite bells and whistles might be handy as hell and extremely durable, but also a fair bit heavier than something simpler. The perfect pack would strike a balance between these attributes — an ideal blend of minimalism, ruggedness, and versatility.
Designers have been trying to nail down this Goldilocks backpack design for years, and PDX-based company CiloGear might’ve finally found it. The company’s line of WorkSack packs is widely lauded as the best in the biz, and based on our experience with them, they definitely live up to their reputation.
The packs are prized for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they’ve got a incredibly streamlined profile that’s designed for quick and easy customization. Every strap on the exterior is removable, and extra compartments/pockets/compression straps can be added or removed to suit your needs. Inside, you’ll find a single compartment — no partitions or extra fabric to complicate the pack and make it heavier.
Second, the materials CiloGear uses to make the packs are exceptionally hardy, but also ridiculously lightweight. Each bag has a custom-made five-layer Cordura laminate on the bottom, and 210-denier Cordura side panels, with a ripstop pattern that’s stronger than any other fabric on the market. The WorkSack line makes use of CiloGear’s own specially-engineered woven/non-woven Dyneema fabric that’s waterproof, three times more abrasion resistant than 1000-denier Cordura, and also 80 percent lighter.
CiloGear founder Graham Williams didn’t just stumble upon these pack designs by accident. Before finalizing the design, Willimas (a former investment consultant and avid climber) used a combination of lab testing, statistical analysis, and extensive field testing from some of the world’s top climbers and mountaineers to figure out which pack elements worked and which ones didn’t. The resulting packs are the closest thing we’ve seen to that Goldilocks-perfect pack design manufacturers have been striving to find for decades.
For more information on the coveted bags, head over to CiloGear’s Website where their packs are available from $69 all the way up to $1,500.