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Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Backpack Review

Internal Frame Backack:
Philip Werner, SectionHiker.com
Version:
1
Price:
199.95

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On February 13, 2016
Last modified:October 22, 2016

Summary:

Granite Gear's Crown V.C. 60 Backpack is a great choice for anyone considering a long distance thru-hike or recreational backpacking. The combination of light weight, great functionality, and durability make this pack an affordable option for hikers that want an ultralight style backpack with the durability and guarantee provided by Granite Gear.

Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Backpack
Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Backpack

The Granite Gear Crown VC is a bomber pack that combines the durability and quality that Granite Gear packs are known for with many of the features and functions that characterize lightweight and ultralight backpacks. It been a big hit long distance hikers and recreational backpackers.

Storage Capacity

With 60 liters (3,660 cubic inches) of internal storage, the Crown VC can carry a lot of gear and food. A top loader, the Crown has a cavernous main pocket with a roll top closure and an internal hang loop for securing a hydration reservoir. It also has two tightly woven mesh pockets on the sides of the pack for storing water bottles and a large mesh front pocket for storing additional gear that you want at hand so you don’t have top open up the main compartment during the day.

Large Main Compartment and Mesh Pockets
Large Main Compartment and Mesh Pockets

While minimalist in it’s simplicity, I like this kind of storage system because it means I can keep my most vulnerable clothing and gear inside my pack on rainy days and not risk getting it wet. This kind of storage system also helps minimize the weight of the pack while maximizing usable space, since it’s easier to pack a large compartment than many smaller pockets.

If you need functional pockets, there are daisy chains on the hip belt and plastic loops on the shoulder straps to attach and hang gear or accessories from. In addition, there are two mesh pockets on the shoulder straps that can securely store a GPS, Ipod or a candy bar.

Compression System

One of the most impressive and functional features of the Crown VC is its “360 degree” compression system. While compression is useful for bring the weight of a back closer to your core muscles so it takes less effort to carry, it also provides an important way for you to attach gear to the outside of a backpack for expanded storage or quick access.

Top and Front Compression
Top and Front Compression

In addition, to two tiers of Linloc compression straps on the side of the pack, the Crown provides two sets of Linelocs over the front pocket (shown above) which can be used to attach a rolled up sleeping pad, a tent, or tent poles. In addition, there two compression straps that run over the top of the main compartment and provide additional carrying capacity for long items or stripped clothing layers.

Roll Top Compression System
Roll Top Compression System

The Crown also has an interesting roll top closure system that provides additional compression and is cleverly set up to pull the load in the main compartment closer to your back. In the photo above, the ends of the roll top snap into connectors anchored on the back frame of the pack. If you have a lot of stuff in the main compartment, the orientation of the roll top clips effectively pulls the load down, and closer to your back and core muscles, making it easier to carry. This set up also saves a little more pack weight by using the same cloth attachment as the top lineloc compression strap. You’d be amazed, these little design tweaks can really cut down on pack weight or improve the way a pack carries with heavier loads.

Backpack Suspension

The Crown VC 60 suspension system uses combines an external back pad with air channels for ventilation (hence the AC in the product name) with an optional plastic frame sheet which can be removed to cut the packs weight when carrying a lighter weight load. With the framesheet, a regular sized torso length with a medium sized hip belt weighs 2 pounds 3 ounces. Without the framesheet, the same pack weighs an incredible one pound 13 ounces. Wow!

Optional Framesheet
Optional Framesheet

With the framesheet, the Crown VC is rated for a maximum load of 35 pounds and in testing, the pack remains reasonable comfortable at this weight. Without the framesheet, the comfort level and effectiveness of load-to-hip transfer drops noticeably at 25 pounds.

In addition, the Crown VC has load lifters and an adjustable stern strap. The shoulder straps are anatomically pre-curved for comfort and the hip belt and shoulder straps are lightly padded, corresponding with the maximum recommended load weight.

The Crown VC is available in fixed torso length (because adjustable torso systems add considerable weight) with four different replaceable hip belts sizes. Hallelujah! I say, because it drives me crazy when backpack manufacturers assume that short people always have small wait/hips. Granite Gear is one of the few mainstream manufacturers that provide different sized hip belts with their packs and you should support them because of it.

Overall Recommendation

I’m really impressed with the design and weight of the Crown VC 60 and think it’s a great choice for anyone considering a long distance thru-hike or recreational backpacking. Functionally, there’s not much difference between this backpack and some of the higher volume backpacks you’d buy from an ultralight cottage gear manufacturer.  I consider that pretty revolutionary and expect other backpack manufacturers to follow Granite Gear’s lead in providing highly durable but lightweight backpacks for the mainstream recreation market.

It’s also probably worth noting here that this pack received an enormous amount of design input and testing from a well-known, ultralight long distance backpacker named Justin “Trauma” Lichter, who is sponsored by Granite Gear. Justin completed a one year 10,000 mile triple crown hike (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail) in 2006 and continues to hike around the world.

Likes

  • External mesh pockets let you stow food and gear for easy access
  • Ample side compression lets you attach more gear to the outside and top of the pack
  • Swappable hip belt lets you get the right size regardless or torso length
  • Ripstop and Cordura fabric provides excellent balance between durability and weight

Dislikes

  • None, honestly. I even like the colors.

Features and Specifications

  • Mfg weight: 2 pounds 2 ounces/.96 kg
  • 3660 cubic inches capacity / 60 liters
  • Lineloc compression system with 2 tiers of straps on the sides and front of the pack
  • Dual top compression straps on the top of the main compartment
  • Roll top closure on main compartment
  • Large extension collar for additional storage
  • Internal hydration reservoir hang loop center hydration port
  • Heavy duty front and side mesh pockets
  • Swappable hip belt lengths
  • Hip stabilizer and load lifter straps
  • Anatomically curve shoulder straps with mesh pockets
  • Adjustable sternum strap
  • Internal HDPE framesheet and grooved foam pad to enhanced ventilation (Air Current)
  • Dual ice axe loops
  • Optional top pocket (sold separately)
  • Fabrics: 100 denier ripstop nylon and 210 Cordura
  • A women’s model is also available with hip belts sculpted to fit the angle of women’s hips

Disclosure: Granite Gear loaned SectionHiker.com a Crown VC 60 backpack for this review.

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76 comments

  1. I’m not sure I’d agree that this is the successor to the Vapor Trail – someone else said it: the Vapor Trail had a stiffer, more padded back panel. I haven’t seen one in person, but the description and photos of the Blaze indicate that the Blaze, not the Crown, is the next-generation Vapor Trail.

    The Crown is more of a Virga 2 Plus, in my mind: better hipbelt, some suspension (though the framesheet is pretty flimsy.) The extra 5 pound rated capacity and extra 5 liters of space is just enough that I can extend a summer weekend load (15 pounds, including food and fuel) to a weeklong, cool weather load (say, a week on Isle Royale.)

    Speaking of the framesheet, someone mentioned the AirBeam inflatable suspension. I got one of those (“Oooohhh…shiny”), and it works as advertised: stiffer, more comfortable. However, it has a really hokey valve (the first one I had pulled apart; Granite Gear promptly replaced it – great customer service), and it can only be inflated with a separate (easily misplaced) bulb pump. That makes it inconvenient, going on hard, to fine-tune the pressure or replace lost air on the trail. Also, you have to fold the valve over to make it fit the pocket (a bush-league design mistake, since there’s a port in the middle of the pad pocket where a center-located valve could stick out, which would also simplify adding air.) So I did some thinking…

    Let’s see, this is an inflatable pad (GG says it can be used as a pad extender. Meh – no r-value to speak of, and really thin so it doesn’t match up to most pads like a NeoAir.) Hey, a NeoAir! I folded mine (deflated) to approximately the same size and shape as the Airbeam, shoved it into the pad pocket, loaded in the rest of my gear, and inflated the NeoAir (4 or 5 breaths.) It worked just as well as the official Airbeam – and is right in keeping with the ultralight principle of multiple-use gear.

    For heavier loads, I’d simply add back the original framesheet (or, even better, a chair kit which has stays and weighs the same as the framesheet – and I even end up with a comfortable chair in camp.)

    I’ve posted elsewhere that I really like the Virga (and I do), but I like my Crown equally well, and the better hipbelt (with its stabilizer tabs) might be enough of an improvement that I’ll gravitate toward it as my go-to pack.

    • Glenn, just curious, which NeoAIr and which chair kit do you use? I’m thinking of getting a Crown and the idea of having multiple-use gear to save weight and space really appeals to me. Thanks!

  2. Phil,

    I was reading this review and I noticed that you have no dislikes. It is really that good?!? … I was wondering if this is the pack for me? I’m looking for a pack for a trip in Sierras – Mt Whitney, for a 3-4 nights that will accommodate a bear canister. Is this pack bear canister compatible? If you think this is not the pack for me can you recommend other manufactures? Thank you!

  3. Thanks for the review – I bought the bag and have been impressed with it. I do have a dislike though – the mesh side pockets are almost useless if there isn’t much in the bag, as they rely on compression to stop whatever is in them from falling out.

    It’s not a bag I’d use for non-trekking trips either, as it’d be easy for pick-pockets to grab something out of the mesh pockets, so I’m still looking for another backpack. Something like this, with 3 decently-sized zippable outer pockets, and maybe a split in the main compartment, would be ideal.

  4. Philip, how would you rate the Crown VC 60 vs the newer Lutsen series? In the past I’ve always liked the fit and finish of GG packs. I’ve grown tired of trying and returning cottage packs (HMG, Zpacks, Katabatic) as comfort trumps the few ozs saved.

    • The Crown is more comfortable but has a lighter weight frame and can’t carry as much weight. If you want a crown, I’d wait until Feb 2017 when the crown 2 comes out. It’s a bit nicer, with a better frame, adjustable hip belt, optional top lid. On the other hand, I imagine the Crown 1 will be on sale.

  5. Any recommendations about the max load? I see that the Blaze AC 60 has a max load recommendation of 35 pounds. I’m looking for a pack to take on a winter multi-day hike, and this is my top contender for the volume-weight sweet spot.

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