Granite Gear Vapor Ki
Price Paid: $110
I thru-hiked the AT (GA->ME) in 2010 with this pack. I couldn't have loved it more.
My base pack weight was between 16-23 lbs with winter versus summer gear. The pack itself takes about 30 hours of use to "form to your body." I'm 5'6", 120#. Once this happens, it fits like a glove because it is one huge compression sack.
Some other users have complained about the lack of use of the side pockets. I used a slightly smaller 30L pack liner which gave some room (1 inch on either side) at the bottom of the pack so that the side pockets could be used more easily. Problem solved.
Addressing the weight on your shoulders and spine is another topic. My torso is 17.5" and I theoretically should have went with the size small. Instead I went with the regular because it allowed me to have more weight ride on my lower back and hips. This was crucial for me because my lumbar discs in my spine bulge and cause pain. I did not experience any pain with this pack.
Cons, sweaty back. You can't get over this one, but I did enjoy the pack lying against my back because when it is cold out it keeps you warmer. Let's face it though you are going to sweat backpacking.
Overall, packing the pack properly for you is essential. Take the time to repack your pack five different ways and feel which one you like best before going out. You probably wont be able to pack this one the same way you pack other internal frames.
Also, this pack is durable. Mine still has plenty of life in it after traveling over 2000+ miles.
Design: top loading internal "frameless" pack
Size: 3200 cu
Number of Pockets: 4 outside, one hydration pocket inside (barely useable)
Max. Load Carried: 20 lbs
Height of Owner: 5 ft 3 in
Price Paid: $160
As an ultra-lightweight backpacker who prefers lumbar packs over traditional backpacks, I searched for a lightweight backpack that is light enough on its own to qualify for my inventory of light-light-light gear, to use on a group trip where they insisted on us using full packs (shudder!).
I used this pack for a three-day, three-night trek on the Loyalsock Trail in World's End State Park, Pennsylvania. First of all, I'm short-waisted and thought I should buy the short torso version of this pack. I was wrong. The regular size might have fit my shoulders better and not been such a drag on my shoulders and spine.
I carried my normal gear of a Hyper-Lite Hennessey Hammock shelter system secured outside of the pack using the compression straps in the rear (1 lb, 8 oz). I used a Therm-a-rest 3/4 length women's version inside the pack for additional support inside and for sitting/resting in camp. Inside that I stuffed my 1 lb sleeping bag and my silk liner and bivy sack (10 oz) to make up my 3-season sleep solution. Under all that was packed my fleece inner clothing, extra shorts, pants, shirt, undies, and socks.
On top of the Therm-a-rest and sleeping gear I packed a 3 lb bag of food and stove (Esbit), two cup titanium pot (6 oz), paper cups, plastic spoon, bear bagging rope and pouch, Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter and extras (11 oz), rain gear (pants and hooded jacket), solar shower, book, medical kit, and a 3 liter hydration bladder in between the outer pack and the back padding because it wouldn't fit inside.
In the outside upper pockets I stuffed gloves, knife, and rope on one side, and snakebite kit, hygiene kit, and folding shovel in the other side. I carried two 32 ounce Nalgene bottles in each outside water pouch, plus map, compass, and snacks in the larger outer pockets. I carried a titanium frying pan in one of the outer pockets, too. I only filled my water containers enough to have 4 lbs of water (1/2 gallon), but I felt pretty overloaded at that point. I'm not used to having so much hanging on my shoulders. My packweight was only 22 lbs including a tummy pack I wear with all the misc stuff I need easily accessible (tissue, vaseline, bug net, bug spray and lotion, quick first aid, meds, snacks, camera, binoculars, etc.).
I did 33 miles on a typical Pennsylvania rocky kick-butt trail and well before the end of the trek I was not happy with the way this 3200 cu pack handled the load. I was hot, my back ached, it was an utter chore to climb with the straps digging in at my neck, shoulders, inner arms, and goodness knows where else. I actually thought it was meant as a torture device. I don't think this pack was ever meant to carry more than 10 lbs of anything. I'm sorry I bought it and I plan to seriously trim some of the extra fluff off of it before I ever try to use it again, or pawn it off on some unsuspecting person who doesn't know anything about packs.
It was hard to pack and unpack, it's like a dark cave in there and you can't see a darned thing. The neck opening is too small to be useful and you have to roll, roll, roll, roll it to close it up. The center of gravity is all wrong, wrong, wrong. It should be at my hips not in the middle of my back. My trek mates and I adjusted and fiddled and adjusted and fiddled until I was ready to dump everything and give up. I will never use this this thing for an overnight trip again, for sure!!!
The next week I went back to my Kelty MG lumbar pack (1000 cu) and carrying 17 lbs felt like I didn't have anything on my back or waist. The only things I didn't carry on that overnight backpack were my titanium frying pan, hydration pack, and the extra pants and shirt. Everything else was exactly the same. I think I could have carried everything the Vapor Ki did in just my Kelty MG without a problem. Maybe you will have a better time with it if you are used to being uncomfortable and miserable with a pack on your back. It is probably less miserable than other packs.
Design: top loading
Number of Pockets: 4
Height of Owner: 5' 4"
Price Paid: $155
I recently took this pack on its first longer hike--approximately 75 miles from Atkins to Damascus, Va., on the Appalachian Trail. Previous backpacks I have used included a Jansport, a Kelty, a Lowe Alpine and, most recently, an Osprey Ariel 75. I am sold on the Osprey for comfort and fit--but was intrigued with the idea of losing several pounds by switching to this lighter pack, weighing in at around 2 lbs empty.
It took some adjusting to get used to--if they made this in a long torso size, as they do the men's, it might have felt more comfortable. I am used to my pack wrapping all the way around my hips and riding a little lower. This pack wrapped around my hips, but a bit higher on my body. Nonetheless, this was just a matter of making appropriate adjustments, both with pack and in my head.
I carried slightly less than 30 lbs with a full pack, the weight obviously diminishing as we ate our way through the trip. My sleeping bag is carried at the very bottom, followed by my hammock, some other light ditties (glasses, hygiene), with my extra clothing items on top of the hammock. Food, was placed on top of the clothing. A rain jacket was held in the lower side pocket, while the other side pocket held my pocket rocket and a small nalgene bottle. Fuel cannister, titanium mug and crocs were all at the top of the pack.
In addition to the side pockets at the bottom of this pack, the Ki has two small additional pockets at the top of the pack. I found these very convenient for maps and my pack cover, as well as keys and my wallet. Finally, a 1.5 liter bladder was placed in the bladder pocket, inside the pack, and my sleep pad (a light reflective pad and with fleece attached for the hammock) was strapped to the outside of pack on its front, vertically.
Initially, I felt some rub on the tops of my hips--this diminished with time and patience. In general, I have to say this pack performed quite excellently. I was pleased with its lighter weight and my own ability to pack only the necessities given the space provided (although the neck of the pack can be filled if you wish to carry more inside the pack), and the fewer numbers of pockets. I do wish the bottom side pockets were not such a tight fit--but they were manageable. The key to my using this pack was organizing it correctly so that the weight was distributed appropriately for my body and so that the pack contents were organized in a fashion that made sense to accessing the things I needed. I experienced no other discomfort or odd pains to speak of and, when I felt any initial discomfort, I discovered that it was merely a matter of making a proper adjustment of the straps. I never dreaded putting it back on when it was time pick up and go.
Overall, and 4+ star pack--thanks Granite Gear!!!
Design: top load
Size: 3600 cu. in.
Number of Pockets: 4
Max. Load Carried: 30
Height of Owner: 5'5 !/2"
Price Paid: $130
For me, this is the perfect women's backpack. At 2#2oz, yet with full suspension, it fits my needs.
I like the 4 exterior pockets, the 2 oz. lid option, and the hydration sleeves and port. At 3,600 cu. in. it can haul everything I need for a long distance trip. The pack easily hauls my 20# needed for a 10 day trek. I have tested the pack with 25# with no problems.
The medium fits my 5'5 1/2" height, 17" back, 115# to a T! It rides like it is an integral part of me. Very comfortable! Plus the shade of purple rocks!
Design: Top loading
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 36+
Height of Owner: 5"6
Price Paid: $169
I hiked 320 miles of the AT thru the PA rocks up to New Jersey before having to go home due to injury. You have to be really good at loading this pack to get the center of gravity situated. You also have to load your water bottles first before packing because the side stretch pockets will not allow you to shove your bottles in if you pack up everything first.
My biggest complaint is that it stuck to my back like Saran wrap and every time I took the pack off, the back of my shirt and the top part of my pants were completely soaked from sweat.
If it is loaded right and you can handle the excess sweat, it is a comfortable pack at 30 pounds or under. When I had to load up on water as I hiked out of Palmerton, and those on the AT know what I mean as there is NO water on the ridge during the summer, it proved harder to manage. My next pack will have multiple mesh pockets to handle access to things I need so that I don't have to completely unroll and unpack to get to an item.
Perhaps this pack is better suited for a weekend as opposed to a long distance hike with a lower pack weight and lower water restrictions.
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