My Black Diamond pack has been a good friend but years of wear and tear made me move on. After hearing lots of good things about CiloGear, a small backpack manufacturer out of Portland, Oregon, and wanting to find the best pack made I decided to try them out. I ordered the standard fabric (still premium materials with Dyneema Ripstop) 45L WorkSack for $289 as opposed to their W/NWD pack at $400 more and only 0.3 lb. in weight difference. Being a small company with high demand, it took 3 months from the time of order to receive my pack. It’s understandable if some can’t wait that long. Was it worth the wait for me? Yes.
I used this pack doing Forest Inventory & Analysis (FIA) for the US Forest Service in the rugged mountains of Northwestern Wyoming including the Wind River, Absaroka, Teton, Gros Ventre, and Salt River Ranges. FIA requires randomized work site selection so scrambling over peaks and bushwacking for miles was the norm. This work entailed on average 15 miles travel per day rain or shine and many thousands of feet in elevation change. To accommodate scientific tools and gear, pack weights averaged between 30 and 50 lb. depending on the distance and length of each backpacking trip. I also used the pack extensively for backcountry skiing (pictured below), and yurt trips during the winter. It was a pleasure to wear both summer and winter.
At first I imagined limiting the 45L WorkSack to day trips and overnighters but I found it capable of more. The top of the pack expands to carry an impressive 75L worth of gear. If carrying a light load and desiring extra weight savings one can remove the lid, hip belt, most straps, and the internal framesheet resulting in a minimalist pack weighing under 2 lb. Another great feature that distinguishes CiloGear packs is their ability to place straps in many different positions, thus allowing the greatest range of possibilities for strapping external loads of any pack I know. While back-country skiing and mountaineering I could easily carry my skis diagonally or A-frame, ice axe, and still have multiple ways to externally secure other gear if I desired. The comfort level while backpacking under heavy loads wasn’t up to par with a dedicated backpacking pack with burly suspension and thick padding such as my Gregory Baltoro 70, but it wasn’t uncomfortable either. I figure around 45 lb is a comfortable limit for this pack. This is not a pack I would pick to pack out elk quarters.
The Worksack excelled as my every day work pack; but focusing more on its intended design, with ice axe attachment points and a variety of customizable strap positions I found the 45L WorkSack shined as my primary ski mountaineering and climbing pack. In my reviews appearance comes secondary before utility, nonetheless this is a decidedly good looking and more unique pack among the crowds. The pack is right at home during technical use but also looks good for more mundane things like commuting and backpack travel. With good reason, the 45L WorkSack has earned our Editor’s Choice Award for a fantastic all-around mountaineering backpack.
CiloGear packs can be found directly from the manufacturer:
Below is my CiloGear 45L Worksack while ski trekking in Kootenay National Park, Canada and a photo of me while performing FIA surveys in the Wind River Range, WY.