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Gonex Updated 35L Review

An untechnical but useful pack that gets the job done.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $37 List | $35.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Plenty of pockets and attachment points, pretty comfortable, included rain cover, inexpensive
Cons:  Back not well-ventilated, not overly durable, smaller capacity than claimed
Manufacturer:   Gonex
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 14, 2019
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 15
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Versatility - 25% 7
  • Weight - 25% 4
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Durability - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The Gonex Updated 35L contains all the features you'd expect from a daypack without the triple-digit price. Its combination of comfort, versatility, and a surprisingly low price make it an easy choice for our Best Buy award. Though it's not the best at any one thing, the Gonex is fairly comfortable, with a padded hip belt and back - and we thought even better when we removed the rigid internal support structure with a heavy metal spine! It has a lot of useful pockets and even an included rain cover. However, it's not made of nearly as durable materials as most of its competitors, and if you're a die-hard hydration pack person, this bag is not set up for that. If you want a versatile bag that's super comfortable and even comes with a hydration bladder, check out our Editor's Choice award winner, the CamelBak Sequoia 22.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Gonex Updated 35L
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $35.99 at Amazon$139.09 at Amazon$129.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$84.64 at Amazon$149.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Plenty of pockets and attachment points, pretty comfortable, included rain cover, inexpensiveComfortable, lots of good features, water reservoir includedComfortable, well-ventilated, adjustable torso length, included rain coverCompact, adjustable, comfortable for a light bag.Large capacity, good back ventilation, adjustable torso, included rain cover
Cons Back not well-ventilated, not overly durable, smaller capacity than claimedOn the heavy side, expensiveHeavy, ill-fitting hipbeltNo rain cover, hip belt pockets are made of mesh.Runs small, heavy, expensive, large for average day hike needs
Bottom Line An untechnical but useful pack that gets the job done.A versatile daypack that can hold a lot of gear.This pack is loaded with features, and if it fits, you'll love it!A light and simple daypack that is perfect for quick jaunts on the trail.The biggest and most comfortable daypack in our test group. Great for heavy loads and big days out.
Rating Categories Gonex Updated 35L CamelBak Sequoia 22 Osprey Sirrus 24 Lowe Alpine Aeon ND20 Gregory Jade 28L
Comfort (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
8
Versatility (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weight (25%)
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
5
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Durability (10%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Specs Gonex Updated 35L CamelBak Sequoia 22 Osprey Sirrus 24 Lowe Alpine Aeon... Gregory Jade 28L
Weight (oz) 41 36 41 29 42
Volume/Capacity (liters) 35 22 24 20 28
Back Construction Padded on sides Ventilated back panel with molded pods Ventilated tensioned mesh Air Contour backing with Flexion harness Crossflow suspension
Hydration None External hydration sleeve and 3L Crux reservoir included Internal hydration sleeve External hydration sleeve Internal hydration sleeve
Hipbelt Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Compartments 2 2 1 1 1
Rain Cover Yes No Yes No Yes
Additional pockets 5 7 5 5 6
Outside Carry Options Side pockets, bungee lashing, trekking pole and ice axe attachments, hip belt pockets Trekking pole and ice axe attachments, side pocket, hip belt pockets (one zip), daisy chain, hydration hose clip Trekking pole attachment, ice axe loop, side strech pockets Trekking pole and ice axe attachements, side pockets, helmet attachment External stretch pocket, trekking pole holders, ice axe attachement, sunglasses loop and bungee, hip belt pockets, hydration hose clip
Whistle Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Key Clip Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Materials Water resistant, tear-resistant nylon and polyester 200D ripstop nylon, 400D plain-weave nylon 210D nylon body, 420D nylon bottom Abrasion-resistant nylon coated with TriSheild 210D nylon body, 420D nylon bottom
Notable Features Internal storage pockets, removable back structure, removable sternum strap Hydration bladder included, multiple pockets in both hip belts, internal storage pockets, exterior pocket felt-lined Ice axe loop, trekking pole attachment, adjustable back Ice axe loops, trekking pole attachment, adjustable back Adjustable torso length, internal pocket, cinch straps, sunglasses quick-stow

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Gonex Updated 35L is made of water resistant, tear resistant nylon and polyester. It comes with a host of pockets and features as well as padding across the board.

Performance Comparison



Exploring the Pacific coastline with our Best Buy award winner  the Gonex 35L.
Exploring the Pacific coastline with our Best Buy award winner, the Gonex 35L.

Comfort


The Gonex has padding in all the places you'd want, including two strips down the back on either side of your spine, thicker padded shoulder straps, and a thinly padded hip belt. The hip belt padding was a bit too thin for a really long day of hiking with a heavy pack. If you like an overly padded hip belt, you might consider the CamelBack Sequoia instead. At first we weren't too sure about the back padding, as it was too rigid in the center and dug into our backs uncomfortably. But that rigid piece - with a metal rod down the middle - is removable from inside the main compartment of the bag, and we much preferred this pack without it.


The hip belt doesn't have a ton of room to fit larger folks, despite this pack being advertised as a "unisex" fit. The sternum strap is also so short as to be almost useless on all but the most narrow wearers. Our 5'4" size 4 tester could just barely stand to use it for long periods of time. If you plan to load your pack down with a lot of heavy gear and go for a long hike, we'd recommend a more supportive bag like the Osprey Sirrus or Gregory Jade. But for shorter jaunts and lighter loads, the Gonex does a decent job.

The sternum strap is a bit short  barely fitting our 5'4" size 4 tester.
The sternum strap is a bit short, barely fitting our 5'4" size 4 tester.

Versatility


The versatility of any pack is fairly tied into what kinds of features it has to offer and how well those translate across activities. The Gonex is rather feature-happy, much like the REI Trail 25. With two large compartments, side water bottle pockets, and outer pocket, two hip belt pockets, a laptop sleeve, and several internal pockets including a key clip, we almost run out of breath to list it all. This number of interior and exterior pockets is unmatched by any other pack we reviewed, though the Sequoia comes close. That being said, the hip belt pockets are too small to fit a smartphone (we tried both the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and the iPhone 8+), which is one of the main things we like to keep there.


One of our favorite features for any pack to come with is a rain cover. The Gonex not only keeps this stowed helpfully in a pocket on the bottom of the pack but also lets it helpfully attach to your bag with a handy strap so you'll never lose it, even if you need to dig under the hood in the rain for a bit. This bag also has double trekking pole and ice axe holders, as well as side straps to cinch down your load and a bungee cord to stash your wet rain jacket after the clouds move on.

Not only does this pack come with a rain cover  it also attaches to the bottom of the pack  so you never lose it or put it on the wrong direction.
Not only does this pack come with a rain cover, it also attaches to the bottom of the pack, so you never lose it or put it on the wrong direction.

Weight


Tipping the scales at 41 ounces, the Gonex is one of the heaviest packs we reviewed. This weight drops significantly with the removal of that rigid back plate with a thick metal rod in it that we disliked, but whether you use that or not is up to you.


Some of this additional weight also comes from the untechnical materials used to manufacture this bag - but then, so does the lower price tag. If you really can't stand the thought of a 2.6 pound pack on your back, you might consider the Osprey Tempest 20, our Top Pick for Around Town, that weighs a pound less.

One of the heaviest packs we reviewed  partly due to lower quality construction materials.
One of the heaviest packs we reviewed, partly due to lower quality construction materials.

Ease of Use


While we enjoy the organizational ease of a pack with so many pockets, we do think the main compartments are a bit tall and long, making it a little too easy to lose items in the bottom. The zippers are also covered by fabric, and catch a little too easily for our liking. We also are surprised by how small this supposed 35 liter bag is - we measured it as being closer to 26-28 liters of actual internal capacity.


The Gonex is also only available in one, unadjustable size that's advertised as "unisex", and so is a bit on the long side. Our 5'4" tester with an 18" torso found it nearly too long, but ultimately usable. If you're much shorter than that, you may want to try something a little shorter instead, like the Lowe Alpine Aeon or Gregory Maya. The Gonex does include load-lifter straps, which are mildly useful if you do stuff this pack completely full.

Our attempt at fitting a Samsung Galaxy S9+ into the hip belt pockets was... unsuccessful.
Our attempt at fitting a Samsung Galaxy S9+ into the hip belt pockets was... unsuccessful.

Durability


Made of water-resistant, tear resistant nylon and polyester, this is one category where we are solidly unimpressed by the Gonex 35L. It does have extra layers and a thin layer of padding on the bottom - a high-traffic area for any pack - but the feel of the material is not particularly comforting. We didn't personally experience any failures of this bag during testing, but by scouring the internet for other users' feedback, we learned that many others had issues with the longevity of the fabric.


However, this lower quality fabric and zippers also helps to keep the price of this pack low, and you can easily purchase 3 or 4 of these bags for the cost of one of most the other bags in this review. If you'd rather just get one durable bag that lasts for years, you might consider the 210D/420D Gregory Jade, Maya, or Osprey Sirrus. Still not enough? The Deuter Futura 22 is made of 600D polyester, the thickest we reviewed.

Ripstop material helps  but the quality of the zippers  seams  and odd internal framing aren't the most impressive among this group of packs.
Ripstop material helps, but the quality of the zippers, seams, and odd internal framing aren't the most impressive among this group of packs.

Best Applications


This is a great bag for the untechnical adventurer or the infrequent expeditioner. With a reasonable level of comfort and usability, this super cheap pack is great for light jaunts or even sending your kid to school in. If you want something that you can really load down for your outings, the Gregory Jade 28 is an excellent and comfortable option. Or if you need your hydration reservoir with you, consider the CamelBak Sequoia.

We used the laptop sleeve to hold our water reservoir  but had to thread the hose out the zipper... once was enough for that method  and we reverted back to side pocket Nalgenes after that.
We used the laptop sleeve to hold our water reservoir, but had to thread the hose out the zipper... once was enough for that method, and we reverted back to side pocket Nalgenes after that.

Value


Though the Gonex doesn't jump out from the crowd in any one category, it brings a lot of pretty decent features and perks to the table for a surprisingly low price. At just $37, it's hard to not try out one of these bags, even if it does only last a single season. If our Best Buy award winner isn't wowing you, the REI Trail 25 showed a bit more durability and still has a lot of cool features for just $80.

Conclusion


This pack is a pretty good bag filled with useful features and helpful organization. If you're looking for something much more technical and durable, we'd recommend the Osprey Sirrus instead. The Gonex is fairly comfortable, has a ton of useful features, and is pretty easy to use for the medium to taller-torsoed women, and with such a low price, it's our Best Buy award winner.

Lightweight adventures close to home are a great use for this pack.
Lightweight adventures close to home are a great use for this pack.

Other Versions and Accessories


Gonex also offers many other sizes of backpacks, as well as an earlier version of the 35L than the one we tested.


Maggie Brandenburg