GoLite vs Granite Gear

10:31 p.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
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So I've been doing some research into switching up my backpack to an ultra light model. I've narrowed it down to either the Granite Gear Vapor trail which measures in at approximately 2 lbs 5 ounces and the GoLite Pinnacle pack which I've seen reports for between 1 lbs 8 ounces to 2 lbs 4 ounces. The capacity difference between the Granite Gear and GoLite is a solid 12-14 liters. I'm noticing that the average reports for the GoLite say that it weighs less than the Granite Gear even though it is 72 liters compared to approximately 59 liters. I've also been seeing conflicting reports on the type of frame for either pack. I've seen that the GoLite has a frameless backing as compared to the Granite Gear having an actual internal frame. I've seen so many conflicting reports that I'd like to have some input from people that have actually used either of these packs. If you could tell me your approximate pack weight for either of these packs and what kind of frame they used it would be much appreciated guys. Also if you have any suggestions for lighter weight packs or any input on these packs it would appreciated also.

1:06 p.m. on August 18, 2010 (EDT)
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In my mind, the biggest difference between the Pinnacle and the Vapor Trail is comfort. For me, the Vapor Trail brings the plushy comfort of a heavy internal frame pack to the world of ultralight. That sounds like marketing hype, but in the case of the VT it's true- the hipbelt and shoulder straps foam backpanel all were borrowed from their heavier packs. Instead of giving the VT thin shoulder straps, they cut weight out of the frame and packbag.

I'm probably a bit of an outlier, but the Vapor Trail fits me *way* better than the GoLite Pinnacle. The belt and frame transfers weight to my hips better and the shoulder harness works well for me. The GoLite Pinnacle/Jam/Peak's shoulder straps all angle in when tightened up, making more of the weight carry on the inner edge of the thinner shoulder straps and digging into my shoulders. This is made worse by the fact that the belt doesn't do much weight transfer to my hips.

For frames:

- The Vapor Trail uses a thin HDPE framesheet and a thick high density foam backpanel. Both are part of the pack, and not removable. Shoulder straps are sewn in, torso is not adjustable, but the hip belt can be swapped out for other sizes.
- The Pinnacle uses a thin foam pad for the frame. The packbag itself is cut in a way that the pack has somewhat of an S-curve shape. If you pack the bag carefully, this can be very useful for getting some weight transfer to your hips. Framesheet pad is removable. Shoulder straps and hipbelt are sewn in, torso is not adjustable.

Advantages of the GoLite Pinnacle:

1. 13 L more volume
2. Ventilated mesh backpanel
3. Tougher Dyeema fabric
4. Zippered pouch in the front of the pack

GoLite has a reputation for having pretty accurate claimed weights. The reason you've seen the GoLite Pinnacle's weight as being anywhere between 1 lb 8 oz and 2 lb 4 oz is that they've had a few revisions of the packs in the Jam line and they sell different sizes of the pack. The current version of the GoLite Pinnacle in size Large weighs 2 lb 4 oz; the medium weighs 2 lb 1 oz. The Pinnacle/Jam/Peak packs have been getting heavier over the last few years.

Granite Gear, on the other hand, usually claims one or two oz less than the actual weight as shipped.

I've never owned the GoLite Pinnacle, but I do own and use a GoLite Peak (2010) as my daypack and I've tried the Jam and Pinnacle on 3 mile trial hikes. I have owned a Vapor Trail as well as the Nimbus Meridian. I really like the GoLite Jam and Peak as a daypack.

As it always is with packs, the best thing to do is to try both packs and see which one fits the best. All of the pros and cons put forth by people like myself will amount to nothing if one of them is clearly more comfortable than the other for you. If you don't have any shops locally, you can always order both from REI or Backcountry, try them out around the house or take a walk around the block, and return the one that you didn't like as much.

Good luck picking a pack! :)


1:42 p.m. on August 18, 2010 (EDT)
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One caution I would throw in - both packs are intended for ultralite backpacking. But the volumes (72L and 59L) in both cases leave the door wide open to the temptation to fill them with lots and lots of gear. A lot of progress has been made in making ultralite packs more comfortable and still keeping the weight down. And one thing that helps with the comfort is to use your sleeping pad folded as extra padding/stiffening (fold it to the width of the pack's back and place it against the side of the pack toward your back - I have an Osprey pack intended for guides that actually has a sleeve to put your sleeping pad in as a stiffener, with the secondary function of being readily available as a seat pad when stopping for a lunch break or an emergency function that it can be used as a splint).

Still, there is the temptation to end up with 50 or 60 pounds in what was intended to be an ultralite pack. Been there, done that with one of my GoLite packs.

2:38 p.m. on August 18, 2010 (EDT)
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+1 to everything Bill S said!

The weight of 72 L worth of my gear would make for a very uncomfortable Pinnacle pack.

The main reason I'd personally look at the Pinnacle over the GoLite Jam is if I had a lightweight synthetic sleeping that didn't compress well and/or an extended trip with a lot of low-density dehydrated foods.

12:28 a.m. on August 19, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks so much for all of the information guys. I'm definitely going to stay well within the confines of "ultralight" gear loads. I think that I've decided on the Vapor Trail. I'll let you guys know how it goes. Thanks again for all of the information :)

3:29 p.m. on August 20, 2010 (EDT)
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Better to compare the Vapor Trail to one of GoLite's framed packs for apples-to-apples performance. The Pursuit and Quest, although heavier than the VT, can be stripped of the lid (3.5oz) and the aluminum stays (5oz) to achieve weights comparable to the VT with a then comparable frame and feature set. The fabrics on the GoLite packs (210D vs 70D in main pack bag) are tougher than on the VT and the pocketing far better esp. for 4-season use. And they comfortably carry 40 lbs when full frame is in use. So it depends on what you're doing. I've used the VT and the Pursuit both extensively but prefer the versatility and toughness that the Pursuit offers especially when it comes to non-summer use.

12:28 a.m. on August 21, 2010 (EDT)
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I wouldn't want to carry more than 30lbs in either of those packs for more than a day or two. The Granite Gear is definitely more lux, but the Golite might be more durable on account of the fabric...though the sil-nylon on the GG will be more waterproof. The Golite has the advantage of being "frameless" in that it is perhaps more easily employed as padding under the legs while sleeping.

As far as other packs, a good start: Mountainlaureldesigns.com, Sixmoondesigns.com, Ula-equipment.com, Zpacks.com, Cilogear.com...

8:27 p.m. on August 21, 2010 (EDT)
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The Vapor Trail is almost frameless. It can be folded into two because what constitutes a frame is just a very thin piece of plastic together with an over abundance of foam. If you took the Jam or Pinnacle and put a Z-lite sleeping pad against the back, for example, you would have far more horizontal regidity than that of a Vapor Trail.

In any event, you should be looking at www.ula-equipment.com for made in USA products that take the durability of the Golite packs with dyneema gridstop with a true stiffened frame.

11:33 p.m. on August 21, 2010 (EDT)
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134 forum posts

ULA Circuit. It doesn't take much overweight to make my Pinnacle fold in the middle, and put all the weight on my shoulders. My ULA packs are twice the pack. If I'm not going to have a bunch of water to carry, I do carry a Gossamer Gear Mariposa sometimes. Also made in the USA.

8:42 a.m. on August 22, 2010 (EDT)
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241 forum posts

I use frameless packs (including both the Golite Jam and the ULA) I have jammed 5 days of food into the Jam and it worked well along the AT. I also hiked the JMT using a frameless pack, but at the end (14 days) I often had my hand under the bottom of the pack pushing it up wishing for a frame to lift the weight off my shoulders.
Solution: I switched to the Vapor Trail. I just returned from 11 days in Yosemite using it. Excellent pack. I used the "Expedition" sized canister or Bearikade from Wild Ideas. It fit nicely into the pack and I started with 8 days worth of food. My pad, 3/4 foam, plus a three-fold piece from Gossamer Gear was tied to the outside. I used the Vapor Trail on the advice of another hiker using it on the JMT. I used other models of Granite Gear packs and liked them.

I found the add-on GG pockets for the hip belt useful. In one I kept my camera (Canon Powershot A1100IS) in the other daily quota of four nutrtion bars. NB. The pockets are made for the right and the left specifically.

Here is what it looked like full sitting trailside!


Pad is in the pink sack, note small grey pad under it and held by the webbing. Note Petzel light attached in its case. Yellow Dri Ducks rain Jacket is stuffed in the side pocket. Note add-on pocket (near the ground).

BTW I was hiking up the beautiful Rodgers Canyon Trail. Saw no other hikers all day including alongside Rodgers Lake untill I saw two camping at Smedburg Lake along the PCT. Even then I had to walk 10 minutes from my campsite to talk to them in the evening.

PS I saw a bear in the Canyon right in front of me on the trail! He stopped, looked at me to pose for a picture which I took. Alas, it is all blurry. I guess my hands were shaking. The bear then lumbered away. What a great way to see a bear in Yosemite.

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