User Review: Granite Gear Vapor Trail
Price Paid: $169 I think
I've had my Vapor Trail for 3-4 years now. I absolutely love it. I have read many posts on various sites about 2 main issues others have. I don't agree totally with the issues others have with the very tall extension sleeve and the tight side pockets.
Concerning the extension sleeve: I can roll mine totally down and out of the way when loading/unloading the pack. When the pack is full, I still have plenty of room to roll the sleeve down and keep water out.
Concerning the tight side pockets: yes, they are tight. I like them that way. I don't try to pull things out or put things in while I am hiking. When the compression strap is snugged tight, it is hard to get things in the pockets. However, I do not find it is necessary to tighten the compression straps down extremely tight.
I looked at the ULA packs and made water bottle holders on the shoulder straps. I also added 2 hip belt pockets. With these additions, I am able to hike hours at a time without having to stop and dig things out of the side pockets.
I do not use the hydration sleeve for a bladder. 1L Platypus bottles go in the side pockets. Instead, I put my sit pad in the sleeve for just a tad bit more support but I don't need that extra support.
The thing I totally love about the Vapor Trail is it's suspension system and "frame". My base weight is between 10 - 12 pounds, depending on the trip. When I pack in fuel and food for a week long trip, I'm still no where near the upper limits of the Vapor Suspension. The well padded hipbelt, shoulder straps, and back pad make me feel I'm wearing a much heavier, sturdier pack. This is the most pleasurable pack I've worn (I've used Osprey, Deuter, Gregory, North Face, Mountainsmith, Jansport). All packs I've worn have great features, but in my opinion when I look at the entire package the Vapor Trail is the perfect sum of all the great features.
My only beef is the weight of the pack is heavier than Granite Gear stated. I've cut the excess straps and webbing off, added 2 hipbelt pockets, and added .5 oz to hold a water bottle on the shoulder straps, and added 1 oz to strap my Gossamer Gear Nightlight pad on the outside when the pack it full.
The extra weight is not much. I'd much rather have a bit heavier pack for the comfort than a skimpy pack with less comfort. After all, doing 20-30 miles a day I want something that is comfortable. When I tone in down to 10-15 miles a day, I want to feel like I'm just out for a stroll.
I've had no issues with the construction of the pack or the materials. I've read posts where people think the fabric is too flimsy. I don't go out of the way to protect my investment, but I am not throwing it or dragging it around either.
If I would change anything about this pack, it would be these things: 1) I'd replace the side compression straps with compression cord, 2) make the side pockets just ever so slightly easier to get into (the compression cord would fix that).
The Vapor Trail has been my friend for a few years and it will be for a few more years to come.