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Cilogear 40L Worksack Editorial Review

Submitted by vegastradguy on 2007-08-26

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.   Votes: 6 | Comments: 4 | Views: 13966

by John Wilder

By vegastradguy

Itís no secret that Cilogear has an excellent reputation on, in fact the owner, Graham is one of our own and spends a good deal of time on the site as both a member and a responsive company owner. So, when Graham approached me at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market this past January with a pack and a request for a review, I happily obliged.

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Cilogear's 40L Worksack
Cilogear's 40L Worksack. Photo: Cilogear.

Graham actually gave me the pack at the show compressed for shipping and no instructions on how to get it uncompressed were forthcoming. I wasnít too worried at first, but as I struggled to unclip the pack, I starting thinking that maybe this pack was smarter than me. A definite problem if I was going to be reviewing it! Soon enough, I managed to undo the clips and uncompress the pack. From there, it was easy enough to stash all of my OR crap- press kits, laptop, down jacket, another jacket, and some other random free stuff into the pack with room to spare. Taking the hint from the initial compression, I reattached a couple of the top clips to compress the bag a bit, then tossed it over my shoulders and headed back to the hotel.

Upon my return to Las Vegas, I immediately dumped the pack out and sat down to check out the features. The pack has some basic ones, and some not so basic ones. First up, the basics. Itís a [strong]huge[/strong], but in a good way. The main compartment is 40-ish liters without the sleeve extended, leaving ample room for a rope, rack, harness, a leader pack, etc, etc. In addition to that, if you extend the sleeve, you pick up another 20L of space, something that came in real handy in June. Also, it has a removeable top lid thatís big enough for all my food, two headlamps, rope tarp, a water bottle or two, and the guidebook. The cramp-on pouch in the front served as a perfect climbing shoe pouch for the duration of the review. The not-so-basic features include about 20 straps that come with the pack, none of which were used in the review despite my efforts to figure out what they were for. I never really needed them, as the pack could pretty much swallow whatever I needed it to. Thereís also the removable frame sheet with emergency bivy pad. Also, most of the packís features are totally removable for those weight crazy folks.

Now, with all those features and all those straps, you know this pack can do more than the basics. You also arenít entirely sure how it does it! Well, have no fear- Graham and company foresaw this, and help is in the form of a very informative website that tells you how to use your new pack. By clicking on these links: link 1 and link 2, you can find out all about the myriad of features that the Cilogear worksacks have. As an added bonus, all of their packs have a very similar setup, so once you have one figured out, youíll be able to optimize any future Cilogear packs you buy.

Now, Iím not a features guy, but at the same time, I like the idea of having options. Thatís what makes the worksack such a great pack- it can be as simple or complicated as you need it to be. It holds a ton, and can compress to a ridiculously small volume despite the huge size. Best of all, its probably the lightest pack I own- lighter than any of my 30ish liter packs for sure- clocking in at around 3lbs, but able to be stripped down to less than 2lbs if you go light and fast with it. My biggest concern, which is true for any pack, is how it carries. The experience speaks for itself. After months of slogging around Red Rock with it- with approaches ranging from an hour to three hours, 4th classing, 6 weeks on the road with it as my only pack, a round trip to and from half dome, and two weeks running around Squamish, my back and hips couldnít be happier- the pack rides like a dream. On the half dome trip, I lugged a full double rack, harness, food for two days, bivy gear, leader pack, headlamps, etc, etc all in the same pack and all of it [strong]inside[/strong] the pack thanks to the awesome expansion sleeve. Granted, the weight sucked and the hike sucked, but despite all that, my shoulders and hips were not sore at the end of the excursion.

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Hiding under the rope is a full double rack, draws, harness, and shoes. All of that and the lid doesnt even need to be on!
J. Wilder
Hiding under the rope is a full double rack, draws, harness, and shoes. All of that and the lid doesnt even need to be on! Photo by: J Wilder.

As to durability, thatís not even a question- the pack is bomber, despite the fact that it doesnít feel like it. After 8 months of use as my primary pack, thereís one scuff mark and a tiny puncture on one of the ice tool holders underneath the cramp-on pouch. Thatís it. The rest of the pack looks like it just came out of production. The best part is that the pack feels light and almost flimsy, but ends up being tough as nails. This makes it nicely stashable into another pack, or easy to hide at the base of a climb, or easy to stuff into a smaller space than you think it will need.

There are a couple of things about the pack that I could stand to see improved. First, the lid. While it shines if the pack is full to the brim, or even a little overflowing, it sort of flops around annoyingly if the pack is just mostly full- say about 30L worth. The only way to get it to cinch tight is to move the clips on the front of the pack down a couple of notches, but then the top is sort of sitting on the back of the pack and not really covering up the top. Not so good if itís raining a bit. Iíd like to see a way to cinch it down in the back as well- granted, there are clips you can do this with, but theyíre off to the side somewhat, so they arenít really conducive for getting the lid just right. This is a small gripe, but probably the only thing I didnít care for on the pack the whole time I was using it. Also, after 8 months with it on and catching on everything under the sun, I think Iím going to get rid of the shock cord on top of the pack- it apparently serves no other purpose but to get caught on manzanita and scrub oak. Again, it may be useful in some instances, but for me, the pack is so big that everything can fit inside, thus negating the need for anything on the outside that can get caught on evil desert plants.

Finally, the pack I reviewed is the í07 model, and starting in late October, the í08 models will be available. Some of the improvements include a stronger fabric for the framesheet pocket and lid, 1.5-2cm longer crampon pockets, grommets for the drawstrings instead of sewn eyelets, and a slightly modified hydration port in the extension. Also, all packs will start shipping with a removable rope catch strap.

Overall, the pack is an excellent one. Itís currently my largest pack, but it has earned its place as my primary one. I own five other packs that fall into the 30-40L category at the moment, and so far, none of them carry as well or hold as much as the Cilogear Worksack.

To go to this item in the Gear Database, click here.

Full Disclosure: The company that manufactured this equipment provided it free of charge to and then provided it as compensation to the reviewer for his or her review.


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4 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

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1 out of 5 stars [strong]nice[/strong] review VTG - how come the waist belt and shoulder straps are never shown?
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because my camera was dying mostly....i had trouble getting the one picture i did post. if you search kimgraves posts, he posted up some excellent reviews with lots of pictures on the Cilogear line....
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For it's maiden voyage I carried my 60L up to Temple Crag to do Sun Ribbon Arete. The pack was loaded for a three day trip (food, bag, clothes, tentrope, gear, etc.) Unfortunately, I did not weigh it, but I would guess 40+ lbs? I stripped it down and compressed it to carry up the route (we carried a bit more than usual due to inclement weather. I got to do the crux in a light rain!). Before the trip I wore it around the neighborhood to break it in. I thought at first that the waist belt seemed a bit thin and had even tried to get an older, wider belt from Graham, but this has proved to be unnecessary. The pack performed flawlessly as is. bc
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I recently purchased the (July 09) Cilogear 40L worksack to use in Austria for cragging and Via Feratta. This pack by far is the best climbing pack....(and more) out there, IMO. It is very well designed, the strap system is easy and allows flexibility on how you carry your load/s. The customer service from Cilogear is the best out there. They care about the quality of the product, design and customer input. Lastly it carries heavy loads without the frame sheet very well. I was surprised how comfortable it was.

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