Home / Gear Reviews / Backpack Reviews / Granite Gear Crown 2 – 60L Backpack Review

Granite Gear Crown 2 – 60L Backpack Review

manufactured by :
Philip Werner
Version:
1
Price:
199.95

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On January 30, 2017
Last modified:March 13, 2017

Summary:

The Granite Gear Crown 2 - 60L multi-day backpack is almost perfect, especially if you want a lightweight backpack close to 2 pounds in weight, that can scale up and compress down for loads in the 40-60 Liter range. Featuring an adjustable hip belt, sewn-on hip belt pockets, and an optional top lid, I'm convinced that this is the best backpack the Granite Gear's ever made, a worthy successor to V.C. Crown 60, the bestselling backpack model that proceeded it. Granite Gear even got the color of this backpack right, a muted olive and black, a testament that they've been listening to their customers and incorporating their needs back into their products. Highly recommended.

Granite Gear Crown 2 60L Backpack on the New Hampshire Appalachian Trail
Granite Gear Crown 2 – 60L Backpack on the New Hampshire Appalachian Trail (shown with optional top lid)

The Granite Gear Crown 2 Backpack is a roll-top, multi-day backpack with an optional top lid pocket. An upgrade to the first generation V.C. Crown 60 backpack (See Best Ultralight Backpacks), this new model includes large zippered hip belt pockets, an optional top lid, and adjustable-length hip belt. These are all improvements on the previous V.C. Crown 60 and make the Crown 2 nearly perfect for overnight and multi-day backpacking in a wide range of locales and conditions.

  • Weight: 2 pounds 5 ounces /1150 g – pack, framesheet, and hip belt; 2.6 ounces / 74 g – optional top lid, 6.4 ounces /182 g – removable plastic frame sheet
  • Type: Multi-day roll-top, with optional top lid pocket
  • Volume: 60 Liters plus large extension collar
  • Torso sizes: 15″-18″ short; 18″-21″ regular ; 21″-24″ long
  • Hip belt sizing: 28″-40″, adjustable
  • Fit: Unisex and Women’s specific shoulder pads/hip-belt
  • Max comfortable load: 30-35 pounds

Here’s a closer look at this excellent lightweight backpack.

Internal Storage and Organization

The Granite Gear Crown 2 has a large internal compartment with three external stretch pockets. The two side water bottle pockets are long enough to store tall water bottles or for carrying long thin objects like tent poles. The rear stretch mesh pocket is long enough to swallow a rolled up tent and ideal for drying wet gear or stuffing jackets so you do’t have to stop and open up your backpack every time you take off or put on a layer. If you’ve ever had a backpack with a rear pocket like this, it’s hard to use a pack that doesn’t have one.

Granite Gear Crown 2 Backpack - Long Stretch Mesh Back Pocket is perfect for storing a tent or wet items
Long Stretch Mesh Back Pocket is perfect for storing a tent or wet items (shown without optional top lid pocket.)

The Crown 2 also has large sewn-on hip belt pockets, a huge improvement over previous generations of Granite Gear packs which required the purchase of clunky add-on pockets. Both pockets have hard-face fabric fronts and are large enough to store a chunky camera or your smartphone, plus an external battery. While not waterproof or condensation-proof, these pockets are also great for storing a map and compass, a small GPS unit, Aquamira bottles, and bug dope.

Granite Gear Crown 2 Backpack -Large sewn on hip belt pockets.
Large sewn-on hip belt pockets.

The hip belt pockets are attached at the front of the adjustable hip belt (more below), so they are perfectly positioned, not too far back so you have to reach behind yourself to open them up – a common defect on other packs with ill-fitting hip belts.

The side water bottle pockets are nice and deep so long water bottles won’t fall out, and cook pots or wet water filters can be held securely without fear of loss. Water bottles are reachable when the pack is worn, although it can be difficult to put them back in if the pack is packed very full and the mesh is pulled tight. Otherwise, insertion is fine. The water bottle compression straps can be run through the pocket and behind your bottles or over the pockets, so that your compression requirements don’t interfere with side water bottle use.

Granite Gear Crown 2 Backpack - Deep Side Water Bottle Pockets
Deep side water bottle pockets can accommodate long bottles or provide secure gear storage.

While the Crown 2 is a roll-top backpack, it comes with an optional top lid, that has a top zippered pocket. The straps connecting the top pocket to the pack are also long enough that the optional top lid can be used as a floating lid, to hold gear (sandwiched) on the top of the main pack-bag, when you have to go really heavy.

The Crown 2 has an internal hydration pocket if you use a hydration reservoir and hose drinking system, with a centrally located hydration port behind the neck.

Crown 2 roll top closure system without the optional top lid pocket.
Crown 2 roll top closure system without the optional top lid pocket.

External Attachment and Compression System

The Crown 2, like many Granite Gear backpacks, is festooned with an assortment of compression straps and attachment points. This can be a little annoying if you want a minimalist streamlined backpack, but they make the Crown 2 an excellent technical backpack capable of hauling unwieldy technical gear, like a bear canister, snowshoes, trail maintenance tools, or climbing gear. I like having them since I mix my backpacking trips with other activities, but it depends what you need.

Granite Gear Crown 2 - ETwo tiers of wrap around compression give you lots of gear attachment options
Two tiers of wrap-around compression give you lots of gear attachment options.

Being a roll-top, the Crown 2 features top-down compression, which is very useful for keeping gear under control and reducing volume when it’s not needed. Two tiers of wrap-around compression straps on the sides and over the back mesh pocket also provide a multitude of attachment points.

The Garcia bear canister fits perfectly under the optional top lid so you don't have to give up internal volume to carry your food in bear country.
The Garcia bear canister fits perfectly under the optional top lid so you don’t have to give up internal volume to carry your food in bear country.

The pack also have a beefy top strap (actually two, which act as a single strap), that are great for securing items, including a bear canister when used with the optional top lid. A Garcia bear canister, shown here, fits perfectly under the top lid pocket, an excellent solution for the vexing problem of how you carry these hard sided containers without giving up internal pack volume.

Granite Gear Crown 2 Backpack -Daisy chains on the shoulder straps let you add accessory pockets for cameras, a smartphone, or a GPS.
Daisy chains on the shoulder straps let you add accessory pockets for cameras, a smartphone, or a GPS.

Not to be outdone, the shoulder straps have daisy chains, so essential for adding extra camera or GPS pockets to the front of your pack so they’re in easy reach. I can’t live without these.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The Crown 2 has a two-component frame. There’s a pliable plastic framesheet (optionally removable) and a ventilated foam panel that give the pack stiffness and help transfer load to your hips. While an even stiffer and heavier frame would increase the pack’s weight carrying capacity, it can carry 30-35 pounds, as is. Backpackers are carrying lighter loads these days, after-all.

While the torso length of the pack is fixed, three sizes are available, a short 15″-18″, a regular 18″=21″ size and a long 21″-24″ size, which can accommodate tall backpackers.

The Granite Gear Crown 2 backpack has an adjustable length hip belt that can be easily resized so you get a perfect fit.
The Granite Gear Crown 2 backpack has an adjustable length hip belt that can be easily resized so you get a perfect fit.

The Crown 2 has an adjustable size hip belt (sized 28″-40″). Using the REFIT system, the hip belt has a right half and a left half that connect with velcro and which you stick together at the length you need. The hip-belt then slides behind the pack’s lumbar pad (which is comfortable on this pack) and locks into place with Velcro. There’s no slippage or buckling of the hip belt that I could detect, even with loads that exceed my recommended limit of 30-35 pounds.

Having a well-fitting hip belt, one where the wings cover the front of your hip bones is essential for comfort and good load transfer. Hopefully more backpack manufacturers will follow Granite Gear’s lead and make packs with adjustable hip belts. It’d be a huge step forward for backpacking consumers.

Granite Gear Crown 2 Backpack The foam backpanel molds to your back while providing good ventilation.
The foam back panel molds to your back while providing good ventilation.

Recommendation

The Granite Gear Crown 2 – 60L multi-day backpack is almost perfect, especially if you want a lightweight backpack close to 2 pounds in weight, that can scale up and compress down for loads in the 45-60 Liter range. Featuring an adjustable hip belt, sewn-on hip belt pockets, and an optional top lid, I’m convinced that this is the best backpack the Granite Gear’s ever made, a worthy successor to V.C. Crown 60, the bestselling backpack model that preceded it. Granite Gear even got the color of this backpack right, a muted olive and black, a testament that they’ve been listening to their customers and incorporating their needs back into their products. Highly recommended!

The Crown 2 is currently available from REI. All models and sizes will be generally available at the end of February.

Disclosure: Granite Gear provided the author with a sample backpack for this review. 

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66 comments

  1. Philip thanks for the review I love my crown 60 but ever since you saw this at show I’ve been waiting for you to test it and see what your opinion is, it seems they added to this pack what it’s been missing for me. Keep up the great work, I look forward to reading your site everyday.

    • This is a really sweet pack. I just love that hip belt since it solves one of the most vexing issues I encounter when reviewing packs. And being able to securely carry a bear canister like that is priceless. Enjoy.

  2. First, let me say how much I appreciate the thorough reviews you give gear, including this pack and the Gossamer Gear Mariposa. You seem to really like both, but which would you choose if you could only have one? I’m interested in a lighter weight pack that will manage 30 pounds for 3-7 day section hikes on the AT. Thanks!

    • It’s a toss up. While I used a Mariposa as my main pack for something like 7 years, I’d probably go with the Crown because I like to be able to carry two reachable water bottles on opposite sides of my pack, something that’s not possible on the Mariposa. The adjustable hip belt on the Crown 2 is also super nice and fits me perfectly no matter how many different layers I wear underneath. I also like a softer feeling frame behind me. The Mariposa’s new frame is a bit too hard for me and doesn’t mold to my back like previous years models. That’s my very subjective assessment. Try both if in doubt. The return policies allow for that.

  3. The top lid sized to fit a bear canister is a great move. While to two packs I mainly use do fit the canister internally, it is a really tight squeeze making it difficult to get in/out. I know bear canisters are not popular with most backpackers, but when you have to have one, carrying it on top would be nice. Maybe some of the other cottage vendors could look at offering this as a optional piece to their packs. Thanks for the review.

  4. Philip thanks for this I have been waiting for a more seasoned backpacker to give a good review of this pack. I have almost pulled the trigger on a crown 60 several times, but was waiting to hear a good review of this one first. I have an older SMD Fusion that I am looking to upgrade, and the sheer number of good options out there makes it a hard choice. I have a 10-12lb. baseweight depending on the season/conditions, and it looks like the Crown 2 will handle that + food and water with little to no problems. This pack seems to have a good balance of weight vs. carry capacity.

    I really like the removable top lid option for when a canister is needed, which often can impact your pack choice when looking at the lighter weight packs out there. I like a bit of color choice too. Lots of folks will eschew a hip belt, but I think having a pocket there is pretty darn handy, and the comfort of the hip belt is a hard thing to get right.

    Thanks for the thorough review, really enjoy your site, and appreciate all that you do.

    • Brian, everyone’s needs, and desires are different. I own a Crown mk1 and a Fusion mk1 65ltr. I prefer my Crown. I would say that the Fusions hip belt is superior(again I am comparing first gen packs, not the new Crown mk2). For me the usability of the compression straps, side pockets, main shovit pocket, and comfort of Crown 1 trumps the Fusion. I have no need to replace my Crown, but if I stumbled on $200 Id prob buy a Crown mk2.

      Philip,
      Should a satisfied user of the mk1 Crown consider moving to a mk2 Crown?

      • Really depends what you want to do with your disposable income, I guess. It’s a better pack certainly.

      • Ben,

        Absolutely. I do agree that a pack is a significantly personal choice. The Fusion (I have the 2014 50L model) was a great pack to get started backpacking with, I am just looking for an upgrade in the comfort area. I don’t want the extra weight of something like the super comfy Atmos, and I am not ready (yet) for something frameless, except maybe when I am dirtbagging it solo, where I can get by with an 8-9lb. baseweight. So I want something sort of in between. I’m lucky enough that cost isn’t too much of a barrier (except for some Hilleberg tents :), and the original Crown has a lot of fans.

        I’d also consider picking up a clearance current generation Crown, though I would rather have the nicer pockets, so thanks for answering that question, Philip. Ben beat me to it :)

  5. Is the framesheet stiffer that in the original crown pack? The old framesheet was very floppy and could not stand on its own weight and thus would bough in the middle if the pack was not fairly well packed. Have they fixed this in the new crown?

  6. Looks like a pretty ideal pack. Affordable, well-designed, feature-rich, quite light. But I totally disagree about the colors – it looks super ‘survivalist’ to me now. Oh well, nothing’s perfect!

    Also, thanks for addressing it’s bear-canister-readiness! I know it’s not usually a concern where you hike (me too — I live in New York), but the reason I’m looking at a pack this big is for a Sierra trip later this year.

  7. Thanks for this and other great reviews.
    How would you compare and contrast Crown 2 to the ULA Circuit? And which would you say has better back comfort and ventilation?

    • Very similar packs in certain respects.
      My Circuit review: http://sectionhiker.com/ula-circuit-backpack-review/
      The Circuit is 68 liters, so larger volume in the pack. The compression is better on the Crown 2, but the Circuit has hard-sided pockets that make it more durable off-trail. I think the back comfort on the Crown 2 is better – the Circuit back bows in when stuffed. Ventilation is a toss up. I like the Crown 2 hip belt better than the Circuit, but that’s just my personal preference. That optional top pocket on the Crown 2 is also nice in certain circumstances. Really depends what your preferences are.

  8. oh wow, belt pockets! that’s what was really missing from this pack! wonder if they can be retrofit to my VC 60? thanks for the review!

  9. Philip,
    Do know if the air suspension from the mk1 crown will fit in the mk2 Crown? Thanks for posting this excellent review:)

      • Philip, Thanks for feedback! (regarding both questions). Yeah its a bit wasteful to replace a perfectly good pack with a new pack. I asked cuz a friend has been interested in a Crown and has limited funds. He could buy mine(CHEAP!). Thanks again:)

    • I contacted Granite Gear as I had the same question. They said that it will fit, but do not use Airframe and framesheet together. Apparently some people used both together with the Crown 1.

  10. My Crown VC 60 is my go-to pack. I love it. I didn’t think they could improve upon it but they did! It is hard to justify getting the Crown 2 with my original Crown still going strong, though. If it ever kicks the dust, I know what I’ll be getting instead. Good review!

  11. Hi Philip,
    I’m very interested in getting one especially after your review, which I trust a lot. Is this bag not havong an adjustable torso a problem? I will order this from 6000 miles away so I don’t have a chance to try. I have a 19.5 inch torso so regular should be fine. How do you adjust in that given regular size? By using the shoulder strap adjustment?
    Thank you,
    Ender

  12. So next big walk what pack would you take? Nice review by the way and top pack.

    • Next big hike is a solo Cape Wrath Trail in Scotland in 2018. Wife has given me the ok. This Crown 2 is a leading contender as is the Hyperlite Mountain Gear SW 3400. Still depends on what gear I take. Thinking maybe a lightweight double wall tent this time. Long way off though. Some new backpack manufacturers cropping up.

  13. HOW TO STIFFEN THE FRAME SHEET..

    2 summers ago I drilled a bunch of holes in the frame sheet of my GG Nimbus Meridian (2007). I though I had ruined it. So, I tried wrapping my new swiss cheese frame sheet in 2 layers of packing tape. It worked perfectly without adding much weight.

    I’ll be doing the same to this frame sheet when I buy this pack. It would be nice if GG offered a beefed up frame sheet though.

    • You wanted a stiffer frame sheet, and then drilled holes in it? Seems like cognitive dissonance.

      If you really wanted a stiffer frame sheet, either your old framesheet nimbus framesheet, or even this one can be stiffened with a couple thin strips of fiberglass and 2 part plastic-specific methacrylate glue followying the y-shaped yolk contours. But they’re designed for flexibility for lightweight loads because the intended user is likely carrying 35 pounds max–if they’re carrying more they should switch to a stiffer pack. Alternately put in the Klymit airframe.

      • I drilled the holes in it to lighten it, and consequently it became a little floppy, so I put the pack tape on it to fix my mistake. The pack tape barely adds any weight and works really well. Plus it is removable.

  14. Thanks for the review. Any idea if Granite Gear is planning on updating their Blaze A.C. 60 soon? I kind of need the additional weight capacity of the Blaze since I often volunteer for trial work and equipment adds a lot more weight.

  15. It looks like the side mesh pockets are a little longer, is that correct?
    Ignoring the top lid, how have they change the top closure system?

  16. I have the Blaze, and my one real wish is that the mesh shovel pocket were bigger. It seems like that is true for this pack – it appears wider, if not deeper. Does that seem like a correct assessment? Thanks for the excellent review – it was your site that made me look at the Blaze in the first place and it’s been by far my favorite pack.

  17. Looking forward to when this is in stock at my local REI. From the photos, I don’t think I’d be able to reach water bottles in the side pockets. But nothing beats getting your hands on a pack to check out things like that.

  18. Philip – do you think that belt is usable on the older crown? Does it have the same height and strap placements?

  19. Does or will this pack come in a women’s size?

  20. Hi Philip– thanks for your review! I have a question regarding fit– my torso is 18″, so I could either go short or regular. Would you recommend sizing up or down? It’s an online only purchase from REI as of now so there’s no way to try it on in person. Thank you in advance :)

    • Hi Mariel – I actually have the same question! I’m waiting for my 20% off REI coupon and dividends next month to grab mine.

      • I am an 18.5″ and found the regular size to be perfect. It’s hard to say what you’ll experience though with an 18″. Torso length matters less than hip belt fit though. I’d suggest you order both sizes and send the on that doesn’t fit back. My guess is that REI will let you transfer the coupon to the one you keep.

      • Hi Logan! Wishing you lots of happy adventures when you get your new pack!

  21. Philip, thanks for the excellent review. My sister got the Blaze on your suggestion and hasn’t regretted it once. I was looking at this one and noticed that REI seems to only stock the women’s model. Am I missing something here or where can I find the unisex model?

  22. From what I gathered after talking with a rep from REI, GG requires vendors to take down their listings if the pack is on backorder. I suspect the initial run was a pretty limited number and it just sold out so both REI and GG took down their listings.

    The REI rep also told me that they expect the pack to be back up and available for purchase in mid-March.

  23. The Crown 2 is back in stock at REI.

  24. Philip, what are your thoughts about removing the plastic framesheet and replacing it with Gossamer Gear’s nightlight sleeping pad or thinlight foam pad? Would either even fit? Would the Crown 2 still be able to support the same weight (30-35)? Or leave the framesheet to get the same load and add the pad to get the extra insulation?

    No more questions, just a really big thanks and wow – great way to share with others!

  25. Thanks for the write up Philip.

    Question, how stiff is the foam on the back? It looks somewhat similar in stiffness to the Lutsen, which I found a little uncomfortable – especially the lumbar section. Also, would the back panel mesh be a problem with pine needles and forest debris?

    Thanks,

    • The lumber pad is “normal” on the Crown 2 and quite comfortable in comparison.
      The mesh on the back panel is fine enough that it doesn’t collect forest debris, say like on ULA’s packs.

  26. Philip, it seems that the hydration sleeve is actually the same sleeve as the sleeve for the framesheet. So, both the frame and the hydration reservoir go in the sleeve together? Does that mean the port for the hose goes from that internal sleeve that holds the frame sheet or from the large, interior compartment? Also, it seems that there is a hydration reservoir hanger, but i’m not sure if that’s in the large, interior compartment or the internal sleeve that holds the framesheet (and reservoir). Can you help me figure this out? Where the hydration reservoir might go is a little unclear to me.

    Thanks for the review and any help you have regarding the hydration reservoir placement.

    Paul

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