Our Favorite Granite Gear Backpacks Reviewed

  • October 7, 2020
  • / By Keith Terrell
Following a Hiking Trail

Be it on the campus, on a trail or for travel, backpacks have become ubiquitous. A well-designed backpack like the ones from Granite Gear ensure that they are easy on the back, roomy with compartments to keep things organized, easily accessible and at the same time compressible when the need is less.

Following a Hiking Trail

Weather proofing and durability add to their value. Right pricing and backing by the experience of the brand make them a great buy. We list below a few of our favorites for their features, convenience and price.

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More Info

Granite Gear Crown 2

Best Outdoor

Crown 2

Granite Gear Virga 2

Best Ultralight

Virga 2

Granite Gear Cross Trek 2

Best Travel

Cross Trek 2

Granite Gear Campus Sawtooth

Best Campus

Campus Sawtooth

Granite Gear Haulsted Wheeled Backpack

Best Wheeled

Haulsted Wheeled Backpack

Granite Gear Crown 2 60, successor to the classic Crown V.C. 60, is an ultralight yet comfortable backpack that you can take with you on trips lasting several days. The Re-Fit hip belt is fully adjustable, fitting any hip size between 26 and 42 inches. It weighs just 2.2 lb because of the use of Granite Green’s Air-Current Mark 2 compression molded PP frame sheet with 35 lb (15 kilos) load rating and a molded foam back panel.

The frame sheet can be removed if you want it to weigh even less. There is a removable zippered lid that allows you to access smaller items quickly. If you need volume and better organization, you can remove the lid by unclipping the back and cinching the straps with the dual compression system for a firm fitting.

It has a non-adjustable torso length and is available in three torso sizes:

  • Short Torso: 15-18 inches, Weight 0.90 kg/2.0 lb
  • Regular Torso: 18-21 inches, Weight 0.96 kg/2.12 lb
  • Long Torso: 21-24 inches, Weight 1.0 kg/2.25 lb

They are available for men and women and in many colors.

Granite Gear Crown 2

Source: granitegear.com

Specifications

  • Inside Dimensions: 23.5" X 16" X 8"
  • Cu In 3660
  • The dual-density shoulder harness includes load-lifter straps and a removable sternum strap.
  • DWR-treated zippers for dual large hip belt pockets
  • Quick access and easy compression enabled by roll-top main compartment opening that has a centered dual strap and a singular buckle
  • Hydration port and internal hydration sleeve
  • Large side stretch woven pockets
  • Stretch mesh front pocket
  • Side and front compression straps
  • 100D High-tenacity nylon with NeverWet liquid repelling treatment
  • 210D High-tenacity ripstop nylon with NeverWet liquid repelling treatment

Benefits

Though a lightweight pack, the Granite Gear Crown 2 60 provides good cushioning that makes it easy to carry, especially with the padded shoulder straps and hip belt. The adjustable Re-Fit hip belt is a real blessing as it makes the backpack flexible allowing people having hip sizes between 26” and 42” to use it without any difficulties.

The use of a plastic frame sheet instead of a metal one and removable components help in making the pack lighter. When the lid is removed, the outer stretch pockets become really roomy.

Pros

  • Ultralight, comfortable and roomy
  • Available for men and women in multiple sizes
  • Re-Fit system that suits people of different sizes
  • Removable features contribute to the lightness
  • Competitively priced

Cons

  • The 100D and 210D nylon fabrics need to be handled with care
  • Sternum straps are a little difficult to use.
  • Though roomy, it becomes clumsy beyond 35 lb.

Our Verdict

Weight matters when you are backpacking, and on multi-day trips, you cannot avoid carrying a few essentials. The backpack needs to be roomy, have good ergonomy, and durable features. But if it is a shorter trip and you don’t need so much of stuff, then there are features you can remove to make it lighter. Granite Gear meets all these criteria and our vote is that you will not regret this purchase.


Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack - 52L

Virga 2 is a great improvement on its predecessor in making it truly ultralight with the addition of redesigned shoulder straps, a roll-top closure, a front mesh pocket, and a padded hip belt. The webbing is just 10 mm, making it weigh just 2 ounces despite the added features. With a capacity of 54 liters, weighing just 1 pound and 3 ounces (19 ounces) does not compromise on the standard amenities that are so essential in overnight packs.

It is frame-less, the shoulder straps free of foam pads but including lifter straps has a fully adjustable hip belt and is available in three torso sizes: 15 to 18 inches, 18 to 21 inches, and 21 to 24 inches.

Granite Gear Virga 2

Source: granitegear.com

Specifications

  • Fixed padded belt
  • Tool loops
  • Hydration ports
  • Internal hydration hanger
  • Large stretch side pockets
  • Stretch mesh front pocket
  • Roll-top closure
  • Extended overflow
  • Padded rolling tray
  • Frame-less suspension
  • High tenacity fabric nylon (100D and 210D)

Benefits

This is a roomy yet ultralight unisex backpack with three external mesh pockets that let you keep things on the exterior of the pack for quick access. Being frame-less, the load lifters keep the load closer to your torso and ease the strain on your shoulder muscles.

The excellent compression system makes sure your load is well scrunched down, especially in case you are carrying heavy though low volume gear. By threading the lower side compression strap under a water bottle in the side pocket, the base also can be compressed.

Pros

  • Ultralight
  • Roomy
  • Easily compressible
  • Adjustable hip belt

Cons

  • Being frame-less, the weight can shift to the shoulders, putting pressure there.
  • Check the torso size as it can be a little short.

Our Verdict

Ultralight minimalist backpackers carrying only about 20 pounds or less of gear and supplies will find the Granite Gear Virga 2 an excellent choice. Though it weighs just 1 pound and 3 ounces (19 ounces), it has a high volume of 54 liters and is feature-rich. A fully functional compression system is worth mentioning and its desirability is further increased by a large extension collar and load lifters. It is also inexpensive, making this a great choice.


Granite Gear Cross Trek 2 36L Backpack

The Cross-Trek 2 Collection is a next-generation, all-terrain travel gear that does not scrimp on essential features, offers comfortable carry options, is quite versatile, and is rugged. Whether you are traveling by air, the train, or out on a trail, you will find this road-ready. The barrier technology makes it 360-degree waterproof and safe to carry anywhere in any weather!

The Repelaweave fabric protects the backpack from the elements. Even the zippers are water repellent. The padded comfort grab handles make lifting easy. It can be attached to the wheeled luggage telescoping handle with Add-A-Bag pass-through on the back. This is available in two colors.

Granite Gear Cross Trek 2

Source: granitegear.com

Specifications

  • Barrier zipper tricot-lined pocket to keep valuables safe
  • Multi-pocket organizer with tricot lining and tablet sleeve
  • Gear-Tec tricot-lined laptop compartment fits 17-inch laptops
  • EVA foam padded shoulder straps
  • Zipper with heavy-duty compression straps
  • Seam stress release
  • Multi-compartment design
  • Sternum strap for stabilizing load
  • Tuck-away hip belt with load-bearing foam padding to carry up to 70% of the load
  • Back panel designed ergonomically with molded foam for lumbar support

Benefits

This hefty pack with several compartments makes it an ideal day pack or well suited even for weekend trips. The side compression straps keep it slim when you need less space, and if you want to carry more, then you can make space for that too.

Along with supportive and comfortable backpack straps it also comes with a side handle, making it double up as a duffel bag. This is especially useful if you are carrying another backpack. A pass-through slot on the back further makes it easy to slide the backpack over the handle of a roller bag. Being water-resistant, it can withstand exposure to the elements. Its ergonomic design is good for the back.

Pros

  • Made of polyester, so light and waterproof
  • Durable water-repellent zippers
  • Good for trails, flights, and trains
  • Padded comfort grab handles

Cons

  • Will not slide under the airplane seat when full

Our Verdict

This waterproof, roomy backpack with good compression serves many purposes. You can take on a day trip, a weekend trip, and while traveling by the plane, train or just going on a trail. It has many compartments to stuff things in, including your 17” laptop.

It is very reasonably priced too and it’s a workhorse that will give you value for money. Its side handle makes it double up as a duffel bag as well, or you can even slide it over the telescopic handle of your wheeled luggage. So go ahead and add it to the cart.


Granite Gear Campus Sawtooth Backpack

The Sawtooth is one of the largest members of Granite Gear’s new line of barrier backpacks made of Repelaweave fabric and a Taurpalite bottom that assure you of weather protection and durability. A tall and slim pack design not only ensures easy and efficient packing but also being able to carry it comfortably closer to your center of gravity.

Available in multiple colors, Granite Gear’s Trail Tested load carrying technology translates to a raised foam back panel that has a comfortable, load-absorbing shoulder harness and hip belt ideal for students who can focus on their studies instead of worrying about their back. You can also organize your stuff better with features such as the Gear-Tec laptop sleeve, multi-pocket organizer, barrier zippered, Tricot-lined stash pocket.

Granite Gear Campus Sawtooth

Source: granitegear.com

Specifications

  • Durable, weather-proof design with Repelaweave fabric and Taurpalite bottom
  • Ergonomically designed with many compartments for organization
  • Store valuables in barrier zipper tricot-lined pocket
  • Shoulder harness that absorbs loads and breathes
  • Sternum strap for stabilizing load
  • Hide-away load-bearing waist belt
  • Ergonomic back panel with raised foam and lumbar support
  • Adjustable compression straps
  • Computer pocket for 17” laptops designed with Gear Tech
  • Dual stretch mesh hydration pockets
  • Multi-pocket organizer

Benefits

This is a roomy backpack ideal for college-goers as it has many compartments that can help you organize your stuff neatly and for quick access. You can even carry your 17” laptop comfortably, but without feeling the strain as this backpack has an ergonomic design.

A raised foam back panel with a comfortable, load-absorbing shoulder harness and hip belt ensure proper distribution of weight. Being tall and slim, the weight is focused on the core.

The backpack is also durable and weather protected by the use of Repelaweave fabric and a Taurpalite bottom. But it’s not just for college students, even professional travelers will find it useful for short trips or as an additional bag during long trips.

Pros

  • Durable and all-weather protection
  • Ergonomic design
  • Multi-compartments including for a laptop
  • Adjustable shoulder straps

Cons

  • Shoulder straps narrow at the top
  • Waist strap aimed at smaller builds

Our Verdict

Being weather protected, the Sawtooth is ideal not just for the campus but even on trails and for travels. It is roomy and has many compartments for organization, especially a laptop. It is long and slim, which makes it easy on the back. Being weather protected and durable. And most importantly, it is priced reasonably, making it an excellent buy. So go ahead and buy it without any second thoughts.


Granite Gear Haulsted Wheeled Backpack

A backpack that doubles up as a stroller is a great convenience. Haulsted is a two-wheeled member of Granite Gear’s Campus Collection and apart from two rugged wheels, has an aircraft-grade aluminum pull handle. Durable and effective, you can pull the bag without having to carry it or, when needed, lug it on the back using the high-density shoulder harness, tucked well behind the padded back panel. With a capacity of 33 liters, Haulsted comes in four colors, with specialized compartments for safe and organized packing. 

From the outermost compartment containing several pockets for smaller things to a padded Gear-Tec laptop sleeve for 15.5” laptops in the main compartment, you can see that it is a well-thought-out design. For keeping electronics safe and dry there is an easily accessible Tricot-lined stash pocket in the front with a water-resistant barrier zipper. The entire pack is water-resistant having been built with materials such as Taurpalite and Repelaweave.

Granite Gear Haulsted Wheeled Backpack

Source: granitegear.com

Specifications

  • Rugged wheels and wheel housing
  • Pull handle made of aircraft aluminum and rubberized grip
  • Weather protection with Repelaweave fabric and Taurpalite bottom
  • Multi-compartment design
  • Ergonomic MaxLoad
  • Store valuables in Tricot-lined pocket with barrier zipper
  • High-density foam shoulder harness
  • Fully-padded back panel
  • Adjustable compression straps
  • Lash straps for easy attachment
  • Gear Tech computer sleeve for 15.5” laptops

Benefits

While on the move, carrying the backpack all the time, however well designed, can be painful. Haulsted’s two-in-one design solves this problem. The two rugged wheels and an aluminum pull handle make it easy to drag where the terrain permits it.

On trails, a shoulder harness tucked in neatly in the back panel can be pulled out and used as a backpack. Improved organization, weather protection, and durability are additional advantages of this model. Haulsted is an example of an optimum balance between weather protection, weight, and durability.

Pros

  • A two-in-one design
  • Weather protection and durability
  • Multi-compartment for organization and safety

Cons

  • No flaws to speak of

Our Verdict

Buy it without any second thoughts. The two-in-one design makes it such a convenient traveling companion. You can drag it or wear it over your shoulders depending on the need of the hour. There is no compromise on space or the quality of the materials used, and all these for a reasonable price. Usable in all weathers and even tough conditions, it is a good buy without a doubt.


The Granite Gear Story

Granite Gear is a popular brand among backpackers. It was started by two backpackers themselves, who found their calling in making the lives of others like themselves easier.

Granite Gear founders Jeff Knight and Dan Cruikshank met in junior high school. But it was in college, when they were roommates, that not only did their friendship deepen but also the seeds for Granite Gear were sown.

Child with Binoculars

Apart from sharing the apartment, a dislike for college, and a liking for Bob Marley, the two also discovered a shared love for the outdoors. During a two-week paddling trip the pair took into Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park, they ended up battling a forest fire. They created a perimeter around the fire to contain it, which was later put out by the firefighters.

But that trip made them realize how out-dated their portage pack was and how they could recreate and re-engineer it to modernize it. Like many other legends, they dropped out of college to begin Granite Gear in 1986, when they were 23 years old and had $50 each. They initially started working on portage canoe packs.

Since the market was restricted to northern Minnesota and parts of Ontario, Canada, the duo decided to look at other products and found the backpacking market also crying for innovation. They decided to enter this segment and make a difference by introducing innovations. In fact, the two believe that unless they have something new to offer, there is no point in replicating what is already available.

Trendsetting Features

In keeping with their belief that they must add value to whatever they do, the duo was on the constant lookout for ways to make a difference to the backpacks. Some of the innovations they introduced include:

  • Ultralight packs using higher-quality nylon without compromising on durability
  • Three-dimensional molded framesheet
  • Compression
  • Dry sack

The Granite Gear products are trail tested in the field by the intended users - the hikers aiming for the triple crown, the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail. The feedback is incorporated into the final product that is released in the market.

While the two are the prime sources of innovations, Granite Gear also has a team of people who supplement their ideas. The founders are open to inputs from the intended users and have developed products that meet their requirements based on inputs given by them on what they think they would need on a difficult hike.

Part of a Larger Organization

In 2013, Granite Gear was acquired by Brzz Gear LLC in Illinois in 2013 but this did not impact the design and manufacturing of the products by the Two Harbors firm. Most of the team and the two founders continued to work as before but the funding provided by the larger firm helped Granite Gear expand its facility.

Trail Food

Products

Granite Gear has a wide range of products, including:

  • Backpacks
  • Storage sacks
  • Lifestyle accessories
  • Dog products
  • Canoe gear

These are available in more than 500 retail locations in 15 countries and online.

Granite Gear exports nearly 35% of its outdoor specialty sales to Japan, China, South Korea, and Taiwan. The company, which has 25 full-time and part-time employees, has started outsourcing production from 1996 to Vietnam and China.

Expanding Reach

Since 2008, Granite Gear has been using its outdoor product manufacturing experience to manufacture military gear as well. Currently, it generates 60% of its revenues from outdoor gear and 40% from military gear.

Granite Gear Popularity

The reason Granite Gear Products are popular is that they incorporate the best features of what a good backpack should have.

  • Wide, padded straps make it comfortable to carry even for long distances.
  • Hip and chest belts for better balance; shift in weight from the sensitive neck and shoulder muscles to the core.
  • Multiple compartments that distribute weight better and provide a space for every type of item you will carry in your backpack - from keys to a laptop to even a tent.
  • It has also introduced one with wheels that makes long-distance travel and carrying a heavy load easier, irrespective of the terrain and distance you have to commute with the backpack.
  • Weather protection using Repelaweave fabric makes it the ideal travel companion even during rains and snow.
  • Durability is assured with the use of Taurpalite bottom.
  • The Granite Gear products are priced reasonably and are value for money. The fact that they last long make it really worth the purchase.
  • The backpacks are available in many colors. Customers can choose one that they love or that is ideal for their purpose.
Jump Shot with Friends

Target Customers

Primarily, these are the backpackers who take off on trails seeking the great outdoors. These could be for a day, a weekend, or even longer. There is also a campus series aimed at the college-goers and designed keeping their use in mind. Travelers will also find this very useful, be it as the only bag or as an add on to a suitcase depending on the duration of the trip.

The Call of the Wild

It is a passion that was responsible for the starting of Granite Gear way back in 1986. With just $50 each in their pockets and a magnificent dream in their hearts, two young college students dropped out of college to establish a company making gears for the outdoors. What they lacked in qualifications, they made up for it in research and development.

Determined not to replicate what was available in the market but to be trendsetters, they have made sure that they introduce something new in every product they launch. It could be in the use of material or the design. A mark of their success is the fact that they have a market reach not just in the town they hail from, the state or even the country, but have markets across the world.

They have shown that being small in size does not matter if your ideas are big and solve a problem for your customers. The Granite Gear team continues to be small but it continues to win customers by keeping its innovations meaningful.