The first thing I did when I received my GoLite Rush pack in the mail was to check through the reminder of the box, as one particular component seemed conspicuous by its absence.
Finding nothing I had overlooked, I wrote an e-mail to the GoLite rep with a simple question: Where’s the fluid reservoir?
Her answer was equally simple: there isn’t one. But it’s the longer explanation that tells you what you need to know about the GoLite company in general, and the Rush pack in particular.
GoLite was founded in the late 1990s by a husband and wife who were active mountaineers and backpackers frustrated by the combined weight of all the gear necessary for multi-day expeditions. They now offer a full line of clothing, equipment, and footwear, and remain focused on one primary objective: creating technologically superior products that provide maximal performance for minimal weight. (There’s a fairly detailed company history on the GoLite website, complete with quotes from Thomas Jefferson and Mahatma Ghandi. Clearly, they take this gear stuff pretty seriously.)
The company has expanded its scope to include trail runners, adventure racers, cross-country skiers, cyclists, and all manner of outdoor enthusiasts. One key factor in the success of GoLite products is their versatility: a single pack can be many things to many people. Or better yet, it can be many things to one person. And that gets to the longer answer of why the GoLite Rush doesn’t have its own hydration reservoir.
If you don’t want to deal with hydration reservoirs, the Rush has you covered there as well. On either side of the main storage area are water bottle holders, which is a great option if you want to load the pack with extra cargo in the space that a reservoir would normally fill. Or, if you really want to haul a lot of fluid, you can carry both a reservoir and bottles – which is exactly what I did on an all-day excursion last month.
Remember how I said that 99% of the packs I saw at Yosemite were CamelBaks? Well, I was part of the 1% exception. When my wife and I hiked to Yosemite Point, I filled a 2L CamelBak reservoir with fluid for me, and carried two 24-oz water bottles for her. Sure, I felt a bit like a mule, but this setup was perfect for the conditions: our cargo didn’t consist of much more than a windbreaker and some food, but it was important for both of us to drink a lot of fluids throughout the day.
Even with the pack loaded with fluids, the Rush provides a ton of storage space – in fact, its 900 cubic inch capacity is more than twice as much as any other pack in this review. Cargo can go in the same compartment as the hydration reservoir (separated by a thin border), or in the large center mesh pocket. Bigger pieces of gear can be stuffed in the center pocket and secured with the bungee straps above it; you can keep a whole jacket in this compartment if necessary, without any parts hanging loose from the pack.
The Rush also has angled mesh pockets on either side of the waist strap where I stored a GPS device, batteries, and camera for the hike. The side pockets are very conveniently located for quick, repeated access to your gadgets.
Despite the added weight I was carrying, the Rush proved to be remarkably comfortable during a long day on the trail. The weight of the pack by itself is 1.25 lbs, and GoLite uses a material called “space mesh” on the back panel and shoulder straps to enhance air flow and comfort. Load control straps and a sternum strap on the front of the pack allow you to adjust the weight distribution to your preference.
In addition to hiking in Yosemite, I used this pack for several long trail runs as well, and I was just as impressed by its overall utility and comfort. One small issue I had while running was with the side pockets: while they are perfectly convenient for accessing items like gels or a camera, their placement interfered with my normal running form just a bit. The inside of my elbows frequently brushed against the outside of these pockets, and I found myself slightly adjusting with a wider arm carriage than usual. When the pockets are empty, it’s not an issue – but if the pockets are empty, they’re really not much good to you. This detail might just be due to my particular mechanics - or maybe I still have a few more layers of abdominal tissue than I should.
The only other drawback I can find with this pack is that – strange as it sounds - it might actually provide too much storage space. The Rush is marketed as a “fast and light” racing model, and it’s the smallest pack in GoLite’s product line. However, for ultrarunners who prefer a hydration pack with minimal excess bulk, 900 cubic inches of storage may be unnecessary and/or too bulky. On the other hand, if you’re planning an all-day excursion without refueling, or running an ultra with minimal aid station support, this pack is ideal for carrying fluids along with a lot of extra gear.
Summary bullets …
- Excellent versatility. Use the Rush with a 2-liter fluid reservoir. Or a 3-liter one. Or with water bottles on the sides. Or with all of these. Or with none. Whatever your hydration needs are, this pack can accommodate them.
- Outstanding cargo capacity compared to other packs in this category.
- Given its overall size and cargo capacity, the pack is remarkably light.
- Very comfortable for long-duration activity, even with large cargo loads.
- The pack comes in gender-specific models as well as different sizes to ensure proper fit to various body types.
- Side pockets may interfere slightly with running form.
- Given that you’ll have to buy a hydration reservoir separately, the Rush ends up a bit more expensive than its competitors – but with multiple applications, probably worth it.
The GoLite Rush typically retails for $70 from multiple vendors (if you use Wilderness Running Company, remember coupon code R&R10 for a 10% discount), and Zombie Runner currently has last year's models on sale for $50.
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