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Climbing Packs

CiloGear W/NW Dyneema 60 WorkSack

Field Test review of the CiloGear W/NW Dyneema 60 WorkSack "heirloom pack, something you can hand down to your grandkids." Is it really that lightweight and durable?

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The CiloGear W/NW 60L WorkSack weighs just 40 ounces.
The CiloGear W/NW 60L WorkSack weighs just 40 ounces.

CiloGear W/NW Dyneema 60 WorkSack | $775 + Airbeam Frame $60 | ★★★★

When I heard of a pack so tough that the maker called it an “heirloom pack, something you can hand down to your grandkids,” I was intrigued. Then, when I learned that the pack weighed 40 ounces with a lid, hip belt and “frame,” I was hooked and had to take it to the mountains.

The pack is a CiloGear W/NW 60L WorkSack (woven Dyneema outer, non-woven Dyneema inner) and the frame is light as air … well almost. The Airbeam frame sheet is a multi-chambered air mattress that weighs 3.5 ounces.

CiloGear states the woven Dyneema has the best abrasion resistance in the world, at least the world of packs. It is as tough as 11-ounce vinyl at a fraction of the weight. The non-woven Dyneema is 4.5 times harder to tear than 1000 D Cordura at 1/5 the weight. So, the pack is supposed to give maximum strength at minimum weight. I decided not only to use it, but to let some of my friends, notoriously hard on gear, abuse it.

This past summer, fall and winter we took it for 103 days in the mountains, both climbing on Sierra granite, ski mountaineering and ice climbing in the Sierra’s and Rockies, climbing on the sand paper like sandstone near Moab, and bouldering in Joshua Tree. Just for fun we even dragged it up and down the abrasive Joshua Tree monzonite. The pack held up magnificently, not a tear on it in contrast to two other packs we similarly tortured.

The Klymit Air Beam Frame intrigued me. Could something weighing less than four ounces be supportive and hold up to the rigors of alpine life? We did blind tests with the air frame. I let my buddies climb 5.7 sport climbs with a 30-pound load at Big Rock near Riverside, California. Sometimes they climbed with theCilo’s rigid frame and sometimes with the Air Beam frame.

No one noticed any difference in load transfer to the hips, but each climber said that the air frame allowed more freedom of movement. I also loaned the air frame and pack to ski mountaineers (40-pound packs) and they also said that the air frame allowed more twisting and bending, while still giving support.

How durable was the Air Beam? It never punctured after 103 abusive days and nights. Occasionally though it softened slightly. Five or six pumps with the connected hand pump kept it rigid for a few weeks at a time.

Are there drawbacks to the Air Beam Frame? Well, I my opinion, it would make for a dicey bivy pad. Also, for expedition loads where the pack weighs one-third of your body weight (or more), a rigid, heavier frame does offer more support.

The woven/non-woven Dyneema can do for packs what goose down does for sleeping bags. It is lighter, and more durable than the alternatives. It is also more expensive. The air beam frame gives good support and excellent freedom of movement within “reasonable” pack loads. If feather-like weight, heirloom durability and freedom of movement in a pack is paramount to you, this pack and air frame are a combo you won’t want to miss.

—Larry Amkraut

* Pack 24 oz.

* Lid 5 oz.

* Hip Belt 6 oz.

* Air Beam Frame 3.5 oz. (Standard frame/bivy pad 20 oz.).

* Air Beam Frame also fits into the Cilo 75L and 45L packs.