The Vapor Trail has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best weekend packs for 2021.
Historic Range: $59.93-$169.95
Reviewers Paid: $75.00-$170.00
UPDATE: Just a note to mention that as of 4/8/16 this is still my favorite pack and I stand by my review below.
I purchased the Vapor Trail for its 2lb-3oz weight without giving up a frame. The pack holds 55-65 liters and 35 lbs with its internal frame. It has no sub-compartments, no lid, and instead you roll up the top and strap it down. It still looks good.
Over the last seven years, I have used it on dozens of backpack trips and it still looks like new.
The pack is no-frills with plenty of adjusting straps and two water-bottle holders. It is ultra light, strong and easy to adjust. I purchased the medium size with a larger hip belt for my frame and it works very nicely carrying up to about 35 lbs.
My first trip with it was a 3-day, 27-mile trek in Shawnee National Forest. Trail-ready weight was 31 pounds. During the entire trip the suspension really held up well and for the most part, I felt like the pack was gently hugging my torso. Since then, I have gotten my pack weight down to 25 lbs and with this pack it rides like a dream.
Design: top-loading internal
Size: 3600 cu in.
Number of Pockets: two
Max. Load Carried: 31 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'11"
Price Paid: $170
The VT is a very, very good pack. The pros and cons are well documented, and mostly accurate. This review will focus on just one factor: function.
The word to remember is simplicity. If you're looking for simplicity, the VT brings it.
If you're not looking for simplicity, maybe you should. Your wilderness experience will not be short-changed if you leave the percolator, handsaw, griddle, 20x20 tarp, tent peg mallet, hatchet, pasta strainer, and camp stool behind. (These are all things I have schlepped across trail and water.) Rather, I found my ultralight, minimalist experience the more rewarding for its simplicity.
What remains to be decided is what you can and can't go without. With a little planning, you can go without much more than you think, and you won't even notice.
Furthermore, I never realized how much TIME I wasted dinking around with zippers, buttons, snaps, and straps. Remove these trappings, and you actually start to focus on the world and people around you rather than the high-tech gizmo on your back.
For a little organizational upgrading—and just a LITTLE—I used Outdoor Research brand sil-nylon stuff sacks inside the pack. At a thrift store I found a nylon camera case with a belt loop, and strapped it to the VT belt for holding my camera, a granola bar, and compass.
Simplicity. I'm very happy with my GGVT.
Design: Top-loading internal
Size: 3600 c.i.
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 27 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'0"
Price Paid: $160
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.
Price Paid: $169 I think
It is definitely the lightest backpack for comfort and load riding ability for the weight I have tried. It has served me well on many trips in Wind Rivers and the Wyoming Range.
Only knock is it needs pockets that don't have a little hole and more separation for your load, but it is a great backpack! It is not big enough for a winter pack, but a weeklong, ultra light hiker will make do easy.
Design: Top loadin internal backpack
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 30 pounds
Height of Owner: 6' 5"
Price Paid: $100
I replaced an old 6 lbs beast of a pack with this when I got it on clearance at Trail Days during my thru-hike of the AT in 2007. That and replacing my huge '90s sleeping bag with a Lafuma Extreme 600 brought my base weight down like 8 lbs and made a world of difference.
I rode a 2 liter Platypus water bladder in the right pocket and all the things I needed accessible like my trail guide, headlamp, snacks, etc in the left pocket to balance it out. Used a Sea to Summit dry sack for a food/bear bag. Any "plastic grocery bag system" for things I took out during the course of the day. When needing more cold weather gear I was able to hook an external stuff sack to the back securely.
People may complain that you have to get items like your sleeping bag and pad from the bottom, but generally you only do that at night, and if you are leaving ANYTHING in there at the end of the day (i.e. something you don't use every day), then why are you carrying that item? And the hip belt has a lot more padding than some packs this size, which is a real plus.
Only issue I had was a little tearing below where the shoulder straps attach, probably from getting up at that 30 lbs limit.
Overall worked out as a great pack. Highly recommended.
Design: short frame
Size: 3200 cu
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 30Lbs
Height of Owner: 5f 7in
Price Paid: $75
Believe the hype...this is an awesome lightweight backpack. If you want a pack loaded with compartments and durable enough to launch off the crag, this is not it. But, if you want something durable enough to hold up to a typical backcountry through-hike and light enough to let you enjoy it, this is the pack.
I was able get my base pack weight (before food and water) down to 13 lbs and this pack feels soooo light and comfortable when loaded up for a weekend trip. The backpanel has great padding and the hipbelt is the most comfortable I've ever used. I'm 6'3" and the long version of this pack adjusts to me perfectly with adjustment room to spare.
I do have just a couple of complaints. The water bottle compartments on the outside are a pain with the compression straps running on the outside of them. The "sleeve" at the top is ridiculously long and just creates an additional hassle when trying to get something out of this toploader.
Lastly, the pack is so roomy that it often tempts me to overload it. But, in the end, I can't see myself ever buying a different backcountry pack.
Design: Lightweight Top-loader
Max. Load Carried: < 25 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'3"
Price Paid: 1$30
Excellent comfort, good gear capacity while very lightweight. I love the way it rides on the trail.
The second time I used it, the back of my pack got several very small rips when catching on overhanging branches on the Grand Gulch Trail in southern Utah, so I was a little disappointed in its durability.
Max. Load Carried: 30
Height of Owner: 6'2"
Price Paid: $160
Best all-around backpack.
- Top loaders are a bit of a hassle, but easy to adapt to
Took mine on over 2,000 miles of trail (AT and John Muir). Never had any issues, no noticeable wear or tear besides a little waist belt slippage.
My base was around 9 lbs (Hennesy Hammock!) so I could carry plenty of food and water and not overload it. There were times when I had at least 30 lbs food and water and it still performed well.
Needed a replacement pack after losing it and ended up buying another (used) one on eBay. Not as light as some of the ultralight packs out there, but I bet they're not near as comfortable and durable as this one.
Source: bought it new
Go out of your way to get one. Great pack, and sorry to see it discontinued because newer GG packs are going in wrong direction.
- Great fit
- Needs a couple more loops
- Side pockets are useless
- Bladder space wasted
By far the best multi-night pack I have ever owned, and I have had several over many years.
The pack is lightweight and rugged, the straps are perfect for the size of the pack and if fitted right it's a joy to wear.
I found the roll up next to be a bit on the long side, and the main beef I had was the lack of a place to buckle my sleeping pad on the top or bottom. I used the back web to store my tent vertically. The bladder space I don't utilize. I also use a butt pack on the belt in front for need it now gear (map, camera, snack).
Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $75
What a great pack. As an experienced hiker moving to an ultralight mindset this pack has worked out wonderfully. It is tough, comfortable, and versatile.
Price Paid: $159
Got mine from a "clearance sale", I think t'was the older version since it wasn't hydration compatible.
-Super lightweight. It was the lightest amongst the pack I've known.
-When I initially got mine main compartment had some sticky thing and flaking. I guess the waterproofing is wearing out.
-You have to bring all your stuff out just to get your sleeping bag underneath.
-I can't tell whether there were poor in material used or the stitching when I tried to tighten the side strap it seems that there are signs that it might snap off from the main body.
Number of Pockets: 2 side pockets + main compartment
Max. Load Carried: 20++ lbs.
Height of Owner: 5'4"
This pack feels great due to the light weight and the super hipbelt. I have loaded it with mountain insulation and water for the desert; it has not let me down. Access-wise I am satisfied with the hidden pocket behind the frame that fits my shell.
Size: 3600 cu in advertised
Number of Pockets: 2 side plus 1 hidden
Max. Load Carried: 25 lbs.
Height of Owner: 6 ft
Price Paid: $160
Granite Gear has done a great job on this pack! It is very comfortable and can carry a large load. I have never loaded mine to more than 20 pounds but from the design it seems it may be able to carry a max load of 30 pounds. The quality is second to none though for some reason manufacturers always put extra straps, buckles, tags, and too long of straps all over them. I went through the Vapor and cut off 4 oz. of material, now she weighs in at a mere 1 Lbs. 12 oz. The expansion tube is a bit to long as it should be about 5 inches instead of 16 inches, this would probably save another 2 oz.
This pack is very light and fast which has done me very well. It has more than enough room for most with a small bag and can fit enough good food for six days. The back support is light but adds good support and still can be bent and twisted. The Vapor is a great, comfortable, 3600 ci's of room pack, and weighs in at 2 pounds.
Number of Pockets: 2 + map pocket on inside
Max. Load Carried: 20 Lbs.
Height of Owner: 6'
Price Paid: $145
Very compact, but the problem is, if you want to, say, get your sleeping bag out, you have to tear apart your whole pack to get to it.
Design: internal frame top loading
Number of Pockets: 2+main pokects
Max. Load Carried: 24 lbs
Height of Owner: 5' 3/4"