Rodeo Backpack by GoLite

Reviewed by Judy Nugent

The Rodeo snowboard backpack is an excellent choice for snowshoe enthusiasts. New from the GoLite company, this pack lives up to its name. It weighs in at only 1 pound, 10 oz. Naturally I was curious how GoLite got it to be so light. Were they leaving out essential accessories? Were they cutting corners with materials? After nearly 30 hours of testing, the answer is a resounding no. The designers at GoLite have done their homework and have put a new backpack on the market that deserves your attention.

Here is a basic description of the key features. The most easily identified feature, and the first thing you should notice from the picture, is the snowboard sleeve on the back of the pack. On each side are stretch bands connecting the sleeve to the backpack, allowing it to accomodate snowshoes in a variety of sizes. Also, the pack is made of very durable materials that are also ultra light in weight. It comes with a 3 liter insulated hydration sleeve and a detachable, neoprene MP3 holder. The back is made of a contoured air channel mesh which I found more comfortable than some rigid metal support backs on competitor's models. Another key feature is the water tight main compartment. With any winter sport, being waterproof is essential. There is a side tool loop holder and a zipped shovel holder for snow enthusiasts. There are also a few smaller details like drain hole and hip belt pockets.

So as the temperature started to drop in my home town of Chicago, I put this backpack through a few test. The bottom line; I was pleasantly impressed and found it hard to think of features that GoLite missed. First it comes in different, exciting colors. (I chose the color Fire). This isn't the most earth shaking detail, but in a world of red, green, and blue back packs, I like that mine is Fire. Next, the pack is affordable at $110. I thought that with its specialty design and ultra light materials, the price would have been much higher. Next it is durable, water resistant, and has a hydration system. In fact it nailed all of the criteria we set at the magazine. A possible problem is that it may not be available in your local store, but with the advent of the internet, this is no longer the concern it once was. Now you can go to golite.com and order it. Another possible problem is that it doesn't have the rigid metal bar construction to support very heavy loads over a long period of time. That being said you have to figure in the additional weight of these supports. Obviously different packs are designed for different needs. For the general day hiker I think this pack will make their burden lighter, while still meeting all of their needs.

I feel the Rodeo exceeds expectations and is a good choice for snowshoers. It comes in two different lengths to accommodate different body types, and a few different colors. I suggest you investigate this company to see if they have a pack that will suit your needs, and try them on for yourself. You might just be surprised how heavy your old backpack feels once you try a GoLite.

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