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Granite Gear Crown2 60

rated 4 of 5 stars
photo: Granite Gear Crown2 60 weekend pack (50-69l)

Wanted to point out the differences in the Women's fit versus the regular fit model. I purchased a Massdrop version several years ago, and liked it so much, we got the women's for my wife.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable, when contents are light
  • Adjustable waist
  • Removable brain
  • Removable "stiffener"
  • Excellent size
  • Good compression for smaller loads

Cons

  • Doesn't breathe as well as ventilated packs
  • Sternum strap buckle is terrible!
  • Shared sleeve for bladder and stiffener doesn't work well
  • Minimal pockets and top only opening means a bit more digging for things

In 2018 I hyperextended my knee and injured my back. This prompted me to move to a more ultralight setup. I found a good deal on the Massdrop version of the Crown 2 and decided to try it out. A year later, I bought my wife the Crown 2 Women's fit to replace her 4-lb Gregory Deva.

These packs now have a few thousand of miles on them. We've used them in most climates - in Utah's deserts, Wyoming's mountains, and Washington's rain forests and many points between.

The 60 L size is perfect for our 4-7 day trips. Easily fitting our 3p tent, 2-person sleeping bag, bear vault, and everything needed even in colder climates. If we don't need the 60L, they cinch down well enough that things don't move around too much 

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Wyoming—my pack has a BV500 in it
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Bears Ears

I feel the other reviewers did a good job covering most aspects of the packs. But, information on the Women's Fit is just not out there, even on Granite Gear's site. So I'm putting it here.

The packs differ mainly in the waist and shoulder straps.

The Women's fit shoulder strap is a bit more of a J vs an S of the regular. This makes the pack move off the front and heads toward your side more drastically than the regular version. Below on the left is the regular Massdrop version and on the right is the Women's fit. 

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Regular on the left and Women's fit on right

Taking the pack off and looking at the straps side by side. Again the left is the regular and the right is the Women's fit. 

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Regular on the left, Women's on the right

It really depends on your body if this will fit you better. My wife tried both and found the Women's fit was more comfortable for her body type.

The padding on the waist is also a little different. In the photo below, the Women's fit is on top and the regular below. You can see the more "M" shape of the Women's fit vs the fairly straight cut on the regular. 

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Women's fit on top, regular below

My wife is 5'2" and has the short version. I am 5'9" and have the regular. Both of these are an excellent fit for our torsos. The only complaint is on the women's version, the re-fit will only go down to 26" ish. My wife is about a 25" waist (particularly after a week of freeze-dried food), and so the waist is not a tight as she would like it to be. We have tried sizing it as best we can, but we can't get it much less than the 26" minimum. Her pack is usually right around 20lbs, so having it really tight isn't as necessary, but if you load this up to the 35lb max and have a tiny waist, you may notice.

The brain is removable and can be converted to a fanny pack if the waist strap is removed from the pack. I thought this was a really cool idea and I would use it when day hiking. But the reality is, I don't. Whenever we day hike, I found it easier to just leave the brain and bring the whole pack. The pack is light enough that I just don't really care about the extra weight. And the fanny pack option is too small to fit a bladder, rain jacket, food... So we just don't use the fanny conversion option.

The fabric is holding up quite well. With the exception of the outer stretchy pocket. We both have now developed a few small holes in this area where I have abraded this against rocks, trees and who knows what else. I keep my water filter here and the sort of stiff,pokey edged Sawyer bags may have caused this damage. The side pockets are starting to get a little stretched out, but again nothing serious. The Women's fit green seems to be sun fading a bit more than the Massdrop grey/black. You can see the side pocket on the right below is a little different color now vs the left one. The interior water proofing shows no signs of flaking/delamination, so overall, these are aging quite well. We are also very careful with our gear, so your mileage may vary.

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Packs are 4ish years old now and being our main packs, they have a lot of usage

The Massdrop version has angled side pockets vs the "normal" Crown2. The angled version does seem worse with regard to bottles falling out when bending over. And both are hard to put water bottles back into once removed, so it's a two-person job.

We frequently visit bear country and a BV500 fits upright in both versions without any issues. I have found, it's more comfortable to put something below the BV to raise it a bit, otherwise it sits low and digs into the back a little. The other option is to lash the BV horizontally under the brain. I don't really like this option, but it does work.

The pack has minimal organization: 1 big internal pocket and 1 pocket that holds the stiffener and a bladder. The brain is also 1 pocket, then there are 2 side pockets and a stretchy front.

We're fine with the minimal pockets, but it took us some time to transition from our Gregory packs with their multitude of pockets and both front and top entry points. And I'm not really keen on the shared bladder/stiffener. When the pack is full, it's harder to get the bladder out/in with the stiffener. I'd really like a stiffer bladder that performs both functions. I tried this with a Gregory 3d, but it wasn't quite rigid enough to do both duties.

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6.5" phone in the waist pocket, note back channels for breathability

There are also two decently large pockets on the waist strap. These easily fit our large Samsung phones, a few granola bars and a knife. It's top loading and no other way to get into the pack. So when we pack it up for the day, we try to organize well, keeping food up top, poncho and water filter on the outer stretchy ready to deploy.

We have two gripes with these packs. The first is the terrible buckle on the sternum strap. It takes two hands to get the male ends lined up perfectly into the female end. So it really is a two-handed affair to buckle. Unfortunately, the buckles are proprietary and sewed such that swapping them would be difficult.

Secondly, the packs do not breathe as well as ventilated packs. The mesh and channels (visible in the waist strap pic above) do allow for some air to go between your back and the pack. But it isn't enough. We both found we could sort of "flap" the pack against our back and create a little more breeze to dry our backs off a bit. But it was sub-optimal.

The straps also a quite warm. You can see in the green of the inner shoulder strap is getting a little faded, this is likely from sweat :(. Luckily neither my wife nor I enjoy hiking in 90+ degree heat. If hiking in the heat is your thing, probably look at a ventilated pack instead. In comparison to our Gregory packs (Deva and Stout) the Granite Gears just don't breathe as well. But the Gregorys were 1+ lbs heavier, so there is that!

We have had these packs in several rainstorms. and they have kept water out. But we also use ponchos that cover our packs, so we have never fully tested how water resistant the packs are. They are coated, but seams are not sealed, so don't expect them to be fully water tight. 

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Ponchos protecting us on the Teton Crest trail

 

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Bear spray, water, and a walkie talkie all easily attach to the straps

 Overall, we found the Crown2's are very comfortable as long as you carry a light pack. We usually carry 18-25 lbs of stuff (including water) in our packs and they ride very comfortably. We bought ours for under $100 each (ebay and Massdrop) and think they are a bargain.

But, if you carry >35 lbs, or hike in the heat, you may not enjoy these packs as much as we do.

Background

We have owned numerous packs prior to Granite Gear. Gregrory, Kelty, Dana Designs... But we moved to the Granite Gears for almost all backpacking trips these days.

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $70

A great lightweight backpack suitable for everything from a weekend to a through hike. Very comfortable up to a 40-pound load.

Pros

  • Lightweight but tough
  • Detachable top pocket to save more weight
  • Totally adjustable waist belt
  • Excellent buckles
  • Water repellent treated

I first caught a glimpse of the Granite Gear Crown 2 60 liter backpack at the Winter Outdoor Retailer show this past January while rushing from one meeting to another. I rounded a corner and instantly fell in love. After my meeting, I stopped in at the Granite Gear booth and one of their smiling salespeople took me through the specifications and new ideas that make up this lightweight backpack. 


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The first item that got my attention was the pack weight, under 2.5 lbs with the 2.8 oz detachable zippered lid. For ultra-light backpackers, the molded polypropylene frame sheet with weight saving die cut holes can be removed to get the pack weight down to 1.7 lbs. Having worked my way down from a 5 1/2 lb North Face pack to a 3lb 8oz REI Flash 60 I was in heaven. The use of the lightweight frame sheet, 3/8 straps, and buckles, plus less padding and a thinner waist belt all contribute to the lighter weight.

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The combination of the frame sheet and a molded foam back panel with mesh ventilation channels provides plenty of rigidity up to Granite Gear's claim of 35lb loads. Nicely padded shoulder straps, of course, are adjustable and feature load leveler straps. 


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Granite Gear's RE-FIT fully adjustable waist belt is genius. By overlapping Velcro type fabrics the belt can fit a range of 28-40 inch waists. It is held in place by another piece of hooked material.
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The pack fabric is 110D High-tenacity nylon with NeverWet liquid repelling treatment over the body with 210D for the bottom and other areas that need a bit more strength. The 60-liter central area of the pack features a dry bag type roll top with buckles and an adjustable compression strap. This allows you to increase or decrease the load carrying capacity.

The main body of the pack also has two compressions straps per side to keep the loads from shifting. A large mesh pocket in the rear is supplemented by two good sized mesh side pockets, the mesh is extremely elastic and you can really jam a lot into each space. The hip belt carries a zippered pocket on each side.

A handy hook is provided for hanging a hydration system and the pack has double water hose ports so you can have your hydration hose on either side.


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So enough with the specs, how did I like the Granite Gear Crown2 60? I love it. I was lucky enough to get a test sample as soon as they were available in late March. By May I had the pack on the trail for a couple of overnight trips with my wife and some of her beginning backpacker students. With my standard equipment my base weight was under 20lbs and with my mandatory REI Flexlite chair, I was still under 22lbs without food, which my wife carries. At that weight the Crown2 is a dream, the waist belt fits me perfectly, it's thinner than others I have used.

Since I don't have much meat on my hips or butt I wear my waist belt very tight, having the thinner belt is much more comfortable. The dual adjustments to tighten the belt allows me to easily keep the buckle centered, again for more comfort. 


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After four more trips of up to a couple of days each, I had my packing down, sleeping bag, tent, ground cloth, sleeping pad, and clothes went into the main compartment. Cooking and eating items went into the rear mesh compartment. In the photo, you can see my Jetboil, Steripen, extra fuel, insulated cup and a bag with bowls, spoons, small multi tool, measuring cup and soap, scrubber and towel.

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The side mesh pockets hold my chair on one side and a rain jacket, pack cover and sunscreen on the other. The top lid holds wallet, cell phone, first aid/hygiene kit, and a ditty bag with a small headlamp, head net and some extra shock cord used as a clothes line.

In this photo from a later trip, you can see another way of pack addition all items such as the Tyvek ground cloth, a small sit pad, a Nalgene bottle, and a Platypus filter bottle.
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All of these trips were a prelude to our Tahoe to Yosemite through hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in late August. Originally planned for mid summer, we smartly rescheduled due to the massive winter we had in all parts of the Sierra but especially in the northern section where we had 200% of normal snow fall. 152 miles over 16 days meant both my wife and I would need to carry a bear canister for our food.

Having just completed her new book "The Hungry Spork: A Long Distance Hiker's Guide to Meal Planning" my wife, award winning author Inga Aksamit had made us enough calorie dense and protein packed food for the whole trip broken into two parts. We would be carrying 27 pounds of food to get us to our resupply in 9 days and then would load up again. On top of that, it all needed to be carried in a Yosemite National Park legal bear proof canister.To carry this much food I packed 17 lbs into a Bearikade Expedition for myself and 10 pounds into a Bearikade Scout for my wife. 

Here you can see the size of the canister, 9" round and 14.5 inches tall, it's massive. 
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In this pictures, you can see the canister loaded into the Crown 2 backpack. Under the canister is my sleeping bag placed horizontally with the canister semi centered next to my hydration bladder. My sleeping pad went on one side and my clothes bag on the other, this kept everything from moving around. My puff jacket went on top of the canister. After rolling down the top I placed a pair of Oofos camp and water crossing shoes on top and then used the vertical compression strap to keep everything secure. The rest of the pack was packed like always and I added the two empty Nalgene bottles used for camp water.


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Once packed and including a liter of water my pack weight was 39 lbs, above what Granite Gear recommends. Once I had it on my back and adjusted to my 5'9" 165-pound frame it felt good even in its so called over loaded state. The pack rode really well and was well centered. I adjusted my pack with almost no load on my shoulders and all the weight on my hips. Moving down the trail everything felt real solid, no swaying or shifting. 

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The RE-FIT adjustable hip belt would play a valuable part in our successful hike. Twice during the hike, I had to readjust the maximum waist belt length due to losing weight around my waist. Having started with the belt set for a 30-inch waist I eventually went down even lower than the 28-inch mark. This allowed me to keep the waist belt tight enough to both carry the weight and remain comfortable.

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I have about 30 days of use on the Crown 2 pack now, and after the 16-day trip, a quick scrub made it look like new. The fabric looks perfect, even on the bottom where it came into contact repeatedly with the tough abrasive granite of the Sierra. The fabric did a good job on the trail of shedding rain, although I used a pack cover since I like to wrap my pack in it at night.

I would have to say I love this pack more now than when I first saw it at the show. The Crown 2 was so popular in the spring that it sold out and only became available again in August. At a cost of $199.95 for a 2.5 lb 60-liter backpack, you can't go wrong. 

Thanks to Granite Gear for providing a sample for my testing and review.

Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (I kept the product after testing.)

Disclosure: The author of this review received a sample of the product from the brand or its representative in exchange for a review.

After comparing all the features important to me, I decided to go with the Granite Gear Crown2 60. Even though it doesn’t have sleeping pad straps (REALLY???). I added those to the pack myself via some ultralight Sea to Summit straps. The reservoir sleeve is more a peace of mind thing than an actual necessity, so I don’t mind that this pack lacks one.

It’s a bit larger than I prefer, but I’d rather have extra room than run out of space. There are so many great features with this pack, and it fits me well. I look forward to many good years and adventures with this pack!

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Large hip belt pockets
  • Roll top closure

Cons

  • No sleeping pad straps
  • Only one big front mesh pocket
  • No outer zipper on brain

I actually love this pack so much I wrote a very detailed article about it on my outdoor blog, Firestarter's Guide!

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $199.95

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Specs

Men's
short regular long
Price Current Retail: $119.99
Historic Range: $74.92-$199.95
Pack, Belt, Frame 2.1 lb 2.2 lb 2.3
Lid 0.16 lb 0.16 lb 0.16 lb
Total 2.26 lb 2.36 lb 2.46 lb
Women's
short regular
Price Historic Range: $99.93-$199.95
Reviewers Paid: $70.00-$199.95
Pack, Belt, Frame 2.1 lb 2.2 lb
Lid 0.16 lb 0.16 lb
Total 2.26 lb 2.36 lb
Product Details from Granite Gear »

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