Going lighter made sense. Driven by the desire to increase comfort and enjoyment during long days and nights on the hill, I also shed pounds out of medical necessity: it made sense to reduce weight to ease pressure on the base of my spine where I had an op a few years ago.
Fast-forward to today and some kit choices may have been rejected on practical grounds (the Vargo Triad stove being one of them), but some just keep soldiering on… doing what they do rather well.
The Golite Pinnacle is a prime example.
I bought my Pinnacle around four years ago. At the time, it represented quite a leap of faith. I was changing from a 2kg+ Berghaus pack, which represented conventional backpacking wisdom at the time. It had an over-engineered, adjustable back system to control heavy loads, a heavily-padded and shaped hipbelt, removable lid, expanding side pockets, even.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a very well designed pack and was highly recommended by one outdoors magazine at the time.
What didn’t make sense, though, was using such a heavy load lugger after shedding weight elsewhere (tent, sleeping back, sleeping mat, cook system).
The Pinnacle is a different animal altogether. No back system to speak of, just a thin foam sheet, a simple harness and a very flimsy looking waist belt. The minimalism extends to the main pack compartment: no lid, just a simple draw cord and roll top closure, compression straps, two side pockets and a front zipped pocket.
It arrived in the mail and I looked at it for five minutes or so thinking I’d made a big mistake forking out £80 for this sack with shoulder straps.
The Pinnacle has got it where it counts, though. The fabric is Nylon/Dyneema and supremely tough with no real blemishes after four years of fairly hard use. Although not waterproof, it doesn’t tend to take on water like other packs I’ve owned and dries quickly.
The size is (just) big enough for my sizeable frame and the shoulder harness uses a fantastic breathable, stretch mesh padding which hasn’t lost any of its initial resilience.
It all weighs under 800g.
The pack will swallow some 70 litres but is only suitable for loads of up to 14kg or so. I have completely overloaded it, carrying a ridiculous amount of gear plus three fishing rods strapped to the side. I managed about an hour on my back until I’d had enough. Fortunately, I’d reached the loch I was headed for.
Despite this sizable capacity, the Pinnacle is also my day pack, as the capacity can be reduced quite markedly using clips located at the base of the pack (what GoLite call the Compacktor system). The side pockets do sag in this mode, but they are still useable (and accessible when the pack is worn, importantly).
It’s versatile too. Given its lack of metal structure, it doubles as a secondary pillow for those occasions when my back is as stiff as a board and the greater head height affords me that little bit more comfort. I’ve also used it wedged under my sleeping mat when I couldn’t find a decent bivy spot and I was losing the light.
It’s not perfect, though.
The plain fabric back is dreadfully sweaty which sees me carrying it ‘off the back’ for lengthy periods during summer. The minimal waist belt has a tendency to slip when I’m wearing waterproofs and, due to its lack of structure, it has a nasty habit of toppling over or collapsing when I’m packing (a minor point, but you get my drift!).
With regard to filling it, there’s definitely a nack. After a fair bit of experimentation, I can now pack the Pinnacle without it feeling like it’s collapsing on the back. It takes a while, but you eventually find a plan.
Some of these gripes have been addressed in the new version, with the addition of waste belt pockets, which I know I would find useful as I attach a small hip belt pack for valuables. It also features recycled content, which can be no bad thing.
The new Pinnacle may be a bit heavier, but these changes probably make this very good pack just that little bit better.
If I ever wear mine out, I might just buy another.