Reviews

2

I liked the adjustability of the torso and hip belt…

Rating: rated 3.5 of 5 stars
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (Received a sample of this product from the brand for purposes of this review)

Summary

I liked the adjustability of the torso and hip belt and the way the frame curves out from the lumbar area to provide ventilation.

Pros

  • Lots of ventilation
  • Adjustable torso length
  • Adjustable hip belt

Cons

  • Difficult to fit a bear canister
  • Hydration bladder sleeve is short

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I’ve been looking for a new pack since my old one is starting to show signs of wear and tear. I had to opportunity to test the Granite Gear Lutsen 55, a new offering from Granite Gear. I was looking for a pack that weighed less than 3 lbs and this one was just over the mark at 3.1 lbs.

There were a few features that I really liked. One thing I liked is the way the back panel is molded to allow pockets of air to circulate. Another is the innovated Re-Fit system that allows both the torso and hip belt to be adjusted.

I did need to adjust the torso length and was stumped at first as to how to get the back panel separated to extend the torso. I watched the video on the Granite Gear website to figure it out. It’s actually quite simple but the hook-and-loop closure is very strong so I had to really jam my hand between the layers to get them to separate.

After that it was easy to use the graduated markings to change the length. The Re-Fit system for the hip belt goes from 28” to 40” while the torso expands from 14” to 18”.


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I took the pack on an overnight trip in Sonoma County and found that it carried my usual load of about 25 pounds with no problem. I found that the padding on the shoulder straps and belt was very thick and comfortable, though these and other features contribute to the weight, I’m sure.

I liked having two pockets on the lid as I was able to keep things organized and not have everything fall out when I was trying to get a snack. The stretchy side pockets were easy to get my water bottle in and out of. The pockets on the hip belt were actually useful, being large enough to accommodate my cell phone.


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I had a couple of issues when loading the pack. I was concerned that my hard-sided Garcia food canister wouldn’t fit due to the curved design of the pack’s back frame. The canister slid easily in the horizontal position down to the bottom of the pack but was a bit difficult to extract, especially with other objects in other pockets of the pack.

Some people like to carry their food canister up high, which would be easily accommodated in the Lutsen, but I like to carry the heavy can near the small of my back. It worked, but just barely. The capacity of the pack is fine and there was plenty of room for my other gear and it’s just because of the awkward shape of the inflexible can that was an issue. I actually had more space than I needed since it’s 5 liters larger than my previous pack.


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The other issue was fairly minor, but a surprising oversight. The hydration bladder sleeve was too short to fit my 3-Liter bladder when full. I usually don’t fill it completely unless I’m worried about water but I would like to have a larger sleeve. With my usual 1.5 to 2 liter water supply it fit adequately. The other issue was that the sleeve was sewn in across the top, rather than having a hook or loop, which prevented me from shoving the bladder to one side when fitting my bear canister in.

The pack is well constructed and has some flexible features that allow for customization of fit, which I appreciated. My food canister didn’t fit all that well for the way I like to position it so I’ll keep looking for the ideal pack. If I backpacked in areas that didn’t require a bear canister it would be a good choice. 

Disclosure: I received a sample of this product for purposes of this review, but the opinions expressed are my own.

G00SE

Thanks for the review, Inga. You mentioned your looking for a replacement on your old pack. After the overnighter do you plan to continue with this one for a while, or are you looking elsewhere?


2 years ago
Inga Aksamit MEDIA

After this trip I lent the pack to a friend and she loved it so I'm letting her use it. It's a big improvement over her old external frame pack! I teach backpacking courses so I also let a student use it on a trip I was leading. She also liked it a lot and was considering buying one. I like to have extra gear around so my students don't have to rent. I'm still testing packs, looking for that elusive perfect pack for my long distance hikes.


2 years ago
G00SE

Check out my Vargo TiArc review. I still love that pack.


2 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for the pictures and additional info, Inga.


2 years ago
Charles Brodeur II

So Inga, how about those shoulder and load lifter straps that wrap around the back. Did that feel comfortable? Every one of GG's packs are designed with the same flaw, that is their packs are so short vertically that the load lifter straps end up at a negative angle defeating the purpose and causing more tension on the shoulder straps causing numbness and pain. If you think any GG pack is comfortable enough to give it even one star, then IMO you know as little as the GG pack designers. For long distance/extended you'll need 60-70 liter pack. Start with the tallest models, as they'll be the thinnest and narrowest; meaning simply that the load will be closer to your frame. Secondly, you'll then experience what the load lifters are really designed to do at an optimum angle of 45 degrees (30-60 still acceptable for function) instead of the negative angle of them found on all GG packs. Then you can find the one that fits you best. Forget about the weight of the pack empty. A well designed, functional and durable pack is not ultralight. UL packs are a passing fad. Load up and the few pounds you'll have over a UL won't be noticeable, in fact I'll wager to say that with the heavier pack you may very well find it feels lighter, more controllable, and less work for longer walkabouts.


10 days ago
Inga Aksamit MEDIA

Hi Charles, thanks for your comments. I believe that there are many different individual factors that play into comfort. Bodies come in so many different shapes and sizes that affect individual preferences. It sounds like Granite Gear packs don't work for you but they work for a lot of other people. I have moved on to testing different packs but gave the Lutsen to a good friend who does short hikes with me every year. She loves it. My husband has used the Granite Gear Crown 2 for the last several years, including some long hikes (last year was 150 miles on the PCT) and he finds it to be the most comfortable pack he has owned.
I disagree that a 60-70 liter pack is needed for long distance hiking, though you may prefer that size. I hiked the JMT with a 49-liter pack and I don't consider myself UL, though I'm solidly in the "light" range. I now have a Z-packs and Gossamer Gear Mariposa. I prefer the Mariposa for the comfort and while it is a 60 L pack, I have never used the approximately 5-L in the long collar. Same with my 57-L Arc Zip--the collar stays rolled up unless I need extra bulky items for snow comping or more than 6-7 days of food. I may use a bit of that space if I'm carrying 10 days of food. I don't think I've ever seen a PCT thru-hiker with a 60-70 lb pack. They may start out with one but by the time they hit my area of the Sierra (about 200 miles from the 1/2 way point), they are all sporting the tiniest packs, maybe 40-50 L.


8 days ago
Inga Aksamit MEDIA

I also disagree that a tall, thin profile is the best for all though I think it probably works well for many men. Women have wider hips and a lower center of gravity. When I have a tall, thin pack on, I feel like a turtle that is going to tip over backwards on its shell. I much prefer a pack that is a little wider and I find that it's most comfortable if I carry my heaviest items lower than most experts would suggest (which I assume is geared more toward men).


8 days ago

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