The Granite Gear Crown was one of the most popular ultralight backpacks for years and years, setting a high bar for what to expect in terms of carrying comfort, durability and weight. Earlier this year Granite Gear released their long awaited update - the Crown2. It improved on nearly every aspect of the original, while maintaining the same price point and level of durability. It has been sold out at REI and many stores due to the incredibly high demand.
What made this pack so special?
1) Carrying Comfort. The Crown2 has an innovative frame that has thick cushioning, air slots for aiding air flow to the back, and a removable frame sheet. The real key here is the new, fully adjustable waist belt. Transferring the weight of the pack to your hips is crucial to all-day comfort, and this belt is that vital link. All waist belts can be tightened, but the shape doesn't change. This waist belt can actually be adjusted to your waist size, and then tightened in front as usual. This ensures everyone gets a dialed in fit. It also guarantees a good fit for life, because you may gain or lose weight (like on a thru-hike), or you may share this pack with a friend.
2) Rich Feature Set. The pack has everything you'd want in a conventional backpack: hipbelt pockets, water bottle pockets, large front stuff-it pocket, straps to lash on gear like trekking poles or an ice ax. Most importantly, Granite Gear ended the debate about which is better - roll-top or floating lid - because you get both here. Having the lid allows you an extra level of organization and convenience. For the lightest pack, remove the lid for a streamlined roll-top.
3) Lightweight Durability. This is not a pack you have to baby. It could last you thousands of miles of hiking. While there are a few people here who actually might do that, for most of us that durability translates to a pack that will last you years and years, possibly decades. It's not just the fabric that is durable, but the whole package - the seams, the trim, the buckles -everything is matched to last a long time. But here's the thing: this pack is still really light. Light enough for a discerning UL hiker, yet still with all the features desired by a traditional backpacker.
So, what have we changed and why did we change it?
1) Lumbar Day Pack. We rearranged the straps on the lid and pack, so that now the lid and hipbelt can make a day pack. For testing, I loaded this up with 8 Lara bars in each pocket, while the lid held 2 liters of water, a jacket, first aid kit, and a few other small things. It was very comfortable with no noticeable bounce or rubbing. My back was not covered by a typical day pack, getting all hot and sweaty. This is perfect for doing a day hike from base camp or carrying your camera gear to get that shot of the sunset.
2) Lid Organization. The debate about a lid versus roll top often comes down to better organization versus simpler, lighter pack. So if we do have a lid, we might as well make is as useful as possible. We added two stretch mesh pockets to the bottom of it, perfect for holding your InReach, notebook, or first aid kit. There is still plenty of space on top of the pockets for a puffy jacket or sandwich or whatever else you need handy. This works in tandem with change #1, as now you have better organization in your lumbar day pack too.
3) Water Bottle Access. Staying hydrated on the trail is obviously important, and we wanted to offer all the options for carrying water. While there is still the hook, port and zippered compartment for a hydration reservoir/bladder, we have added stretch cords to the front shoulder straps so you can hook in a plastic bottle on each side. (Gatorade and VitaminWater bottles work really well). We also angled the water bottle pockets for easier access while wearing the pack (picture below). Note that this may mean that biggest bottles (>32oz) may not be as secure, but this is easily remedied with the side straps.
4) Color. Yes, it's grey (or flint, to be more accurate) but we thought that we subtle black trim would look really smooth and clean, like the granite of the Sierras where I hike.
5) Weight. Our goal was to add functionality without adding noticeable weight. Overall, the weight of the Crown X60 is actually less than the 2017 Crown2 due to improvements in the waist belt that also reduced the weight. But our other changes didn't affect the base weight of the pack. The shoulder strap water bottle cords are removable. The lid gained a bit of weight, but is also removable, and the minor weight increase are well worth the additional organizational convenience.
Why did we choose Granite Gear for our first backpack collaboration?
It's simple, really - Granite Gear is a pack company. They only make packs, and they make a lot of them. They are the experts. They make packs for the military that must be able to silently carry 100 lbs and agile enough for military maneuvers. Their portage packs are like required gear for any canoe trip to the Boundary Waters. They make school packs, travel gear, and dry bags. But it all seems to culminate in the best camping backpacks around. Not the flashiest, nor always the lightest or fanciest, but the most dependably good. We want you to feel comfortable knowing what you're getting is built to last. It's make with pride, with you in mind, for the long haul.
If you could only own one backpack, this should be it. I don't say that lightly. I think this pack offers a superb, adjustable fit; a rich-feature set, and light weight. It's light enough for most ultralighter, with a little extra volume and features for the more traditional backpackers.
I'm thrilled to offer this backpack to our community. I have read your posts and polls, have emailed with many of you personally, and am deeply indebted to you all for making this possible.
Most of all, I'd like to thank Granite Gear, who have been an ideal partner. We've worked together over numerous emails, phone calls, video chats and meetings at Outdoor Retailer. They have been nothing but gracious, professional and straightforward. Oh, and they got that Minnesota nice thing going for them too!
PS. We are starting off by only offering the Regular torso, though we may be able to add an option for the Long torso if we have enough demand.