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Review: Granite Gear Crown2 38L Backpack

A super versatile lightweight backpacking pack!

By: Chris Engelsman + Save to a List

Are you looking for a new, lightweight backpack for your adventures? If so, check out the Granite Gear Crown2 backpack. The Crown2 is based on their 60L pack but slimmed down for shorter trips and minimalists who carry the bare essentials. I've used the Granite Gear Crown2 38L backpack on outings to Fire Lake and Fish Lake this past summer and also as a ski touring pack during the winter. 

I love the smaller 38 liter version. I have the original Granite Gear Crown 60L, but that's too big for quick trips and places I don't need a bear canister. At 38L, I can easily fit my tent, sleeping bag, pad, clothes, water filtration, and food for a couple of days in the backcountry. 

The hip belt on the Crown2 is adjustable so if you lose/gain weight, or loan the pack to a friend it will work for a wide range of people (waist sizes from 26 to 42). Also on the hip belt are easily accessible side pockets. I've used other packs with zippered pockets on the hip belt that are hard to open/close, but that's not the case with Granite Gear's Fit Form hip belt. The hip belt pockets are where I store my camera and snacks so that I have quick access while on the trail. 

For the Crown2, Granite Gear added a 'brain' - a removable top lid to the pack. I love this added feature to store items that I may want quick access to like my toiletries or a map. Granite Gear did an excellent job on the fit and function of the top lid. Unlike other backpacks with top lids, this one sits perfectly and doesn't look like an afterthought. Plus, if you are counting grams or don't need the top lid, you can easily remove it!

To provide a smooth, supportive ride, Granite Gear created the Vapor Current Mark 2 frame which supports up to 35 lbs. My pack rarely gets over 25 pounds unless I'm going on a week-long trip with a bear canister. So, the Vapor Current Mark 2 frame is more than supportive. Combine that with their dual-density foam shoulder straps, and you have a very comfortable pack. The molded back panel of the Crown2 helps keep you less sweaty, but often, I'll loosen up my shoulder straps and let the weight of the pack ride on my hips. Loosening the shoulder straps allows more airflow across my back and more breathability. 

The front has a large stretch mesh pocket and two webbing straps that can be synched down. I'll typically put my rain jacket or rain fly in the front pocket to dry out while hiking. 

The side pockets are large and stretchy, perfect for water bottles and other necessities. It's also nice that the Granite Gear Crown2 has side compression straps can be placed inside the side mesh pockets. That way, you can easily synch down the contents in the main compartment, but the pockets are still easily accessible. 

The roll-top main compartment is large and roomy for all of your gear that you don't need access to all the time. Granite Gear created a smart dual strap with single buckle closure that evenly secures and distributes the load. 

What I like about the Granite Gear Crown2 38L is its versatility. Don't need the top lip, remove it. Carrying less weight and don't need a hip belt, remove it. Or, you can remove the frame sheet, top lid, and hip belt for a quick strike mission to a peak from basecamp!

At 2.26 lbs, the Crown2 38L is my go-to pack for short weekends in the backcountry. Check it out for yourself; I think you'll be impressed. 

Check the latest prices and deals at REI, or other fine retail outlets.

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