This new pack – Sierra Designs Gigawatt 60l – is comfortable with heavy loads and the price is low for a pack of this quality. It is heavy though.

This review was first published in the June 2023 issue of The Great Outdoors and has been featured in our guide to the best hiking backpacks.

  • Price: $149.95 | £130 (available from Sierra Designs)
  • Weight: 1830g
  • Capacity: 60 litres

Materials: 300 x 400D polyester ripstop | Closure: zip-round top, side zip | Back: perimeter frame, framesheet, padded panel | Hipbelt: padded, shaped | Pockets: zipped lid with inner compartment, 2 stretch mesh side, stretch mesh front, 2 zipped hipbelt | Features: side compression straps, base straps, ice axe/trekking pole loops, internal hydration sleeve | Sizes: one, adjustable for torso 16-21 inches (40-53cm) | Women’s version: unisex

The Gigawatt only comes in one size but has an adjustable back. The shoulder straps attach to a flat panel that attaches to the padded back panel with Velcro. To adjust the straps the flat panel can be slid up and down – once you’ve separated the Velcro, which takes quite an effort. There are back length markings from 16 inches to 21 inches (it’s a US pack so no metric ones). I set it to 19.5 inches, and it fitted me well and carried fine.

The padding on the shoulder straps is firm and quite hard. On the hipbelt it’s thick and soft. With most of the weight on my hips it feels very comfortable, and handles loads up to 20kg without issue.

The Sierra Designs Gigawatt 60l has a big curved top opening and a long side zip so access to the contents is excellent. The pack bag is wide and deep rather than tall and narrow too. However, the top opening can’t be cinched down if the pack isn’t full. There are two side compression straps and a short strap at the front linking the mesh pocket to the lid, but these don’t stop the lid flopping when the pack isn’t full. Straps across the front of the pack would help with this. I found packing items like sleeping bags and insulated jackets loosely to fill up the space made for a better carry.

The six pockets are roomy, the front one big enough for a wet tent. The side ones easily hold litre water bottles and allow access to them while wearing the pack. The single compression straps on each side don’t make attaching items easy unless the bottom of them fits into the mesh pocket (okay with tent poles but not rolled foam pads). However, there are straps on the base that are fine for foam pads.

There are much lighter packs than the Gigawatt that perform as well or better but they are also much more expensive. For the cost this is an excellent pack.

The Sierra Designs Gigawatt 60l comes recommended by our Gear Editor. To read the other pack reviews in this test head to The Great Outdoors’ best backpacking packs.


Chris Townsend headshot

Tested by Chris Townsend

Chris tested these packs on trips in the Cairngorms with plenty of ascent and rough terrain in snow, rain, high winds and occasional sunshine in the autumn, winter, and early spring. Chris is 5’8 with a long back (49.5cm). All weights were measured on Chris’s digital scales.