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Granite Gear Lutsen 55L Backpack Review

manufactured by :
Philip Werner
Version:
1
Price:
219.00

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On September 21, 2015
Last modified:November 1, 2016

Summary:

Granite Gear has a new backpack out called the Lutsen, which is available in a 35L, 45L, and 55L size. The packs feature a new adjustable hip belt, hip belt pockets, and an adjustable frame, so you can dial in a custom fit that matches your hip size and torso length exactly, the two most important variables in getting yourself a well fitting and comfortable backpack.

The Granite Gear Lutsen 55L Backpack
The Granite Gear Lutsen 55L Backpack

Granite Gear has a new multi-day backpack called the Lutsen 55L. The pack features a new adjustable hip belt, hip belt pockets, and an adjustable frame, so you can dial in a custom fit that matches your hip size and torso length exactly, the two most important variables in getting yourself a well-fitting and comfortable backpack.

While backpacks with adjustable torso lengths have been around for a long time, adjustable hip belts are a rarity, making these new Lutsen backpacks all the more valuable. Most backpack manufacturers sew fixed length hip belts on the packs they manufacture or force you to buy replacement belts if you need one that is shorter or longer than the one that comes with the pack.

The Granite Gear Lutsen 55L backpack features the adjustable length Refit hipbelt system.
The Granite Gear Lutsen 55L backpack features the adjustable length Re-Fit hip belt system.

The new Re-Fit hip belt system that Granite Gear includes with the Lutsen series packs has the ability to end the frustration of “hip belt roulette” and will be a real boon to backpack buyers when these new packs become available in February 2016.

But since backpacks are more than just the sum of their parts, let’s take a deeper look at the Granite Gear Lutsen 55 and what makes it tick. It’s a serious multi-day backpack than can be configured and used a number of different ways, from weekend trips to long distance thru-hiking.

The Lutsen 60 is an alpine-stype backpack with a separate top floating lid pocket. However, the lid can be completely removed since the amin compartment closes with a roll top closure.
The Granite Gear Lutsen 55L backpack is an alpine-style pack with a separate top floating lid pocket. However, the lid can be completely removed since the main compartment closes with a roll top closure.

Internal Storage and Organization

The Granite Gear Lutsen 55L is an alpine style backpack with a top floating lid than can be used to sandwich gear between the lid and the top of the main compartment. The top lid is optional, however, and can be completely removed since the main compartment closes with a roll top closure, like many of Granite Gear’s existing packs.

The top lid has two exterior pockets, a large one on top and a smaller rear one, which is perfectly sized for carrying a GPS and compass. However, like a lot of top lid pockets, it has a tendency to flop backpack when the main pack compartment isn’t full or the top lid is packed with heavy electronics.

I prefer carrying the Lutsen 55L without the top lid pocket in warm weather and secure the top of the roll top with a webbing strap.
I prefer carrying the Lutsen 55L without the top lid pocket in warm weather and secure the top of the roll top with a webbing strap.

In testing the Lutsen 55L, I found that I prefer carrying it without the top lid in three season weather, even though the extra storage is convenient. Using the top lid is more important for winter weather, when you want fast access to extra hats and gloves, or need to carry rope or other technical gear under the floating lid. When the top lid is not in use, you can use the orphaned webbing straps as horizontal compression. I illustrate this in a later section of this review.

Being a roll top, most of the Lutsen’s storage is in the pack’s large main compartment. There’s an elasticized hydration pocket in the front of that compartment if you use a hydration reservoir and a center port behind the neck for routing a hose.

The rear mesh pocket of the Lutsen 55 is much wider than on Granite Gear's other overnight backpacks.
The rear mesh pocket of the Lutsen 55 is much wider than on Granite Gear’s other overnight backpacks.

The Lutsen 55L has three exterior pockets, like most other Granite Gear packs, along the sides of the pack for water bottles, and a rear mesh pocket for storing wet or frequently accessed items. The side pockets are made with a stretchy soft shell material and have side hole cutout so you can run compression strap webbing through the pocket or over it,  a signature Granite Gear backpack feature found on most of their other backpacks. While I can usually pull a one-liter soda bottle out of the side pockets on the Lutsen 55L, I can almost never get it back into the pocket while wearing the backpack. YMMV.

The rear mesh pocket on the Lutsen 55L is noticeably wider than on other Granite Gear backpacks and a real improvement, making it easier to store a cook pot, jacket, or tent body on the back of the pack.

The Lutsen 55L has two hip belt pockets, one solid and one mesh. Both have zippers.
The Lutsen 55L has two hip belt pockets, one solid and one mesh. Both have zippers.

The Lutsen 55L also has two built-in hip belt pockets, another huge improvement over their other packs where you has to buy accessory pockets and attach them to the hip belt yourself. One the pockets is solid with a waterproof zipper and the other has a mesh face and a zipper. I use them for storing bug dope and my Aqua Mira, so they’re always handy.

The Lutsen 55 has a thick foam pad that covers the adjustable frame system and provides some extra ventilation to keep your shirt dry.
The Lutsen 55 has a thick foam pad that covers the adjustable frame system and provides some extra ventilation to keep your shirt dry.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The Lutsen 55L has a new adjustable frame and hip belt which make it possible for you to customize the measurements of the pack to fit your exact body dimensions. If there’s ever a downside to having an adjustable torso length and hip belt system on a backpack, it’s that it usually adds some weight to the backpack, but backpack fit always trumps backpack weight in my experience if you plan to do a hike with any kind of magnitude, unless of course, you can find a fixed length backpack and a fixed length hip belt that fit your body measurements exactly.

The length of the torso can be adjusted by raising or lowering the shoulder straps and then locking them in place using the velcro behind the back pad.
The length of the torso can be adjusted by raising or lowering the shoulder straps and then locking them in place using the velcro behind the back pad.

Torso Length Adjustment

You adjust the torso length of the Lutsen 55L by raising or lowering the shoulder pads using a conventional velcro-based adjustment system. Pull the shoulder pads away from the velcro and raise or lower the pad so they match your torso length, which is marked on the fabric backer. Make sure to align the mid-line vertically, so that both shoulder pads remain level, unless you’re a hunchback and need one higher than the other.

Once adjusted, slide the hip belt behind the lumbar pad and make sure it's centered.
Once adjusted, slide the hip belt behind the lumbar pad and make sure it’s centered.

Hip Belt Adjustment

The Re-Fit hip belts is adjusted similarly, by matching your hip diameter to the markings on the hip belt. If you don’t know what your hip size is, try measuring the circumference of your body sightly below your belly button. You’re going to want to cover the tops of your hip bones with the hip belt, with some of the fabric running a bit above them.

To adjust the hip belt, pull the entire thing out of the pack – it slides right out. Separate the two sides by pulling apart the velcro that holds them together. Reattach the velcro to fit your hip belt size as marked on the hip belt.  When you’ve finished adjusting it, slide it back in under the lumber pad, and make sure it’s centered. It’s a very simple system, but the hip belt is very secure once adjusted, and very comfortable. Surprisingly so. This is one of the best fitting backpacking hip belts I’ve ever tried.

Plastic Frame Sheet

The Lutsen 55L has a plastic frame sheet (see shoulder pad photo above) that attaches the shoulder pads and hip belt to the pack bag. The bottom runs all the way down into the lumbar pad area to provide weight to hip load transfer. The frame is not a solid sheet. It’s more like a balloon frame with hollow center and it’s sewn in, hence not-removable.

The back of the Lutsen 55L is heavily padded with a ventilated foam sheet to help keep your torso cool.
The back of the Lutsen 55L is heavily padded with a ventilated foam sheet to help keep your torso cool.

Ventilation

The front of frame sheet is covered with a thick piece of foam with air channels to provide ventilation. It didn’t stop me from sweating in the summer heat, but YMMV. I think it pulls the pack a bit backwards away from your back, particularly when the top lid pockets are overloaded, which is one of the reason why I prefer using the Lutsen 55L without the top lid pockets. I’ve also found the lumbar padding to be uncomfortably hard over the length of a day, again compared with the other Granite Gear packs that I’ve used previously.

The Lutsen 55 has two tiers of compression straps on the sides and back of the pack.
The Lutsen 55 has two tiers of compression straps on the sides and back of the pack.

External Attachment Points and Compression System

The external attachment and compression system on the Lutsen 55L backpack is excellent. It has two tiers of compression straps on the sides of the pack, as well as two straps across the rear mesh pocket, which can also be used to secure snowshoes to the back of the pack if you hike in winter conditions. Top compression is provided by the roll top closure on the main pack back as well as a rope webbing strap that loops over the roll top buckles.

If you’d like, you can use the top pocket like a floating lid and pile gear on top of the main pack bag, keeping it in place when you tighten down the top lid pocket.The top lid also has four gear loops sewn around the corners, if you want lash additional gear or supplies to the top of it.

If you remove the top lid, you can convert the pair of orphaned webbing straps into a third tier of side compression.
If you remove the top lid, you can convert the pair of orphaned webbing straps into a third tier of side compression straps as shown above.

If you decide that you don’t want to use the top lid pocket, you can convert the two rear straps and four plastic buckles that normally hold the top lid into a third tier of side compression straps, as shown above. This helps keep the orphaned straps out-of-the-way as well.

Finally, the Lutsen 55L comes with a pair of ice axe loops and shaft keepers attached to the back of the pack, which can also be used to secure trekking poles.

Wilderness Backpacking with the Granite Gear Lutsen 55L Backpack
Wilderness Backpacking with the Granite Gear Lutsen 55L Backpack

Recommendation

Granite Gear’s Lutsen 55L multi-day backpack has an adjustable frame and hip belt that you can dial in to fit your exact body measurements. While adjustable torso length packs have been around for years, having an adjustable hip belt is a real innovation, especially one as comfortable, supportive, and fully featured as the Re-Fit belt, which includes high-capacity, sewn-on hip belt pockets, a Granite Gear first. If you’ve had problems finding a multi-day backpack that fits your hips. I recommend you try the Lutsen 55.

If there’s a downside to adjustability, it’s that it adds some weight to the Lutsen 55L which comes in at 3 pounds 2 ounces in a men’s large (there are multiple torso length ranges available). A good fit always trumps gear weight when it comes to backpacks, so I wouldn’t let that factor too much in whether you try a Lutsen 55L or not. It is a fully featured, durable backpack that can be configured for many different kinds of backpacking trips, from wilderness backpacking to long distance thru-hiking.

Likes

  • Built-in hip belt pockets
  • Adjustable hip belt is marked in inches corresponding to US pants waist sizes and very easy to fit
  • Easy to adjust torso length  that does not require special tools or elbow grease
  • Wide rear mesh pocket is easy to get gear in and out of

Dislikes

  • Lumbar pad on the Lutsen 55 frame is uncomfortably hard
  • Large air gap in frame padding shifts pack’s center of gravity backwards
  • Pack is cluttered with external webbing straps
  • Difficult to keep top pocket over load when pack is less than full

Disclosure: Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) received a sample Granite Gear Lutsen 55 backpack for this review. 

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21 comments

  1. Wish you had included details of the adjustable hip belt. Is the adjustment a hook and loop (Velcro) section or something else?

    • Sorry, thought I did. It’s velcro.

      I added a longer description:

      To adjust the hip belt, pull the entire thing out of the pack – it slides right out. Separate the two sides by pulling apart the velcro that holds them together. Reattach the velcro to fit your hip belt size as marked on the hip belt. When you’ve finished adjusting it, slide it back in under the lumber pad, and make sure it’s centered. It’s a very simple system, but the hip belt is very secure once adjusted, and very comfortable. Surprisingly so. This is one of the best fitting backpacking hip belts I’ve ever tried.

  2. Thanks for the review, I have a granite gear crown 60 and love it.

  3. Functionally, this seems similar to the Blaze 60, and weighs marginally more. Other than the perhaps-more-appropriate size for ultralight loads, is there any particular reason to prefer it over the Blaze 60 if you don’t need the extra hipbelt adjustability to get a good fit?

    • Or, for that matter, for ultralight loads, to prefer it over the much lighter Crown 60?

    • Good question – I love the Blaze, but the Lutsen is a better pack for the following reasons:

      -Easier to adjust torso length
      -Continuous vs discrete size adjustment, in other words you can fit 1/4″ torso increments if you want, not just the fixed 1/2″ increments on the blaze
      -Wider back mesh pocket – makes the pack way more usable than the narrow mesh pocket on past Granite Gear packs
      -Webbing compression straps instead of cord and line locs (more durable)
      -Hip belt pockets (huge) – none on the Blaze.
      -Top lid is included, also its a floating lid
      -trekking pole holders
      -side water bottles are taller and made with more durable fabric than blaze’s pockets
      -much better colors

  4. The Crown has a very soft back panel and isn’t really made for loads over 30 pounds. You can go very heavy with the Lutsen – I’d say 45 pounds max for the 55L pack. The frame, padding, and velcro give it a lot of stiffness for heavier loads.

    You might also find this post useful. I’ll update it when the Lutsen becomes available at retain in Feb/March 2016, It compares all of Granite Gears backpacks, since I’ve used and reviewed all of them previously.

    http://sectionhiker.com/which-granite-gear-backpack-is-right-for-you-2/

    • I carried some 42 pounds in my Crown VC 60 in the Wind River range for 8 days last summer. It performed just fine (although getting 8 days of food inside was a challenge). , I usually carry about 33 pounds for a 5 day trip, and it still feels great.

      I wish the Crown had that wide back pocket and taller bottle pockets (sometimes my tall bottles fall out). What I would really like is a bottle pocket like the Gregory’s, that you can actually use while walking.

      And I dislike the line locs because they’re harder for my fingers to grasp, so straps would be my preference.

      I do have to cinch the hip belt almost completely, however. Fortunately, it works for me and my 33 inch waist.

      But the Crown is a full pound lighter than the Lutsen, and its minor faults are not worth adding a pound to fix.

  5. Is the main compartment Waterproof or come with a built in Rain Cover?

  6. What sort of weght are we lookig at, with and without the top pocket ?

  7. Lid = 2.9oz. Pack without lid = 2lb 15.2oz. I only know this by accident! :)

  8. Does it have panel access to the main compartment? I am assuming that all Lutsens have the same design, I am looking at the 35L one for a camera daypack, to be combined with a padded insert.

  9. Wow Phillip, you were fast with this review of this recently released pack. I just “discovered” your website two weeks ago and it has been enormously interesting and informative to read. You certainly deserve all the blog awards you have received.

    One question regarding the Lutsen pack. Is the relatively hard plastic impinging on the lumber region a game changer?. I’m very interested in this pack because of the suspension system. I’m 65 with some back issues. And even though I don’t plan on carrying more than 30 lbs I thought the Lutsen’s suspension system and belt would fit and feel great on my back and provide more support than the lighter packs I am also considering such as the Gossamer Gear, ULA and Z Pack products.

    Thanks for your great site, Incidentally I just ordered a pair of pacer poles due to your recommendation. And poles were the one piece of equipment I didn’t think needed replacing.

    • They sent me the pack well advance of its commercial availability. My advice would be to try the packs and decide. It’s impossible for me to predict which pack will work best for you. They all have return policies. Use them.

  10. You raised some good points. I’d love to see how the Lutsen proves itself in the long run.

    Nonetheless, I am concerned with the overall stability of the Lutsen since you can adjust the suspension system and the hip belt individually. By introducing the two re-fit systems Granite Gear are extending their groups of buyers. But drawing from my experiences, fixed systems for torso and belt can give you better core stability.

    However, is the hip belt connected to the frame like in the new Gossamer Gear Gurilla from 2016? Is there any difference in the material comparing the Lutsen and the Blaze?

    Thx for sharing!

    • If you want a “stable” backpack, stop screwing around and buy one with a hip belt that’s sewn on. I like the form-hugging hyperlite mountain gear packs myself. I am testing the new 2016 Mariposa frame now, but it’s an old design – nothing new I’m afraid. REI tried it a few years ago and quickly discarded it.

  11. Hi Philip,

    Thanks for a really helpful review. My old Gregory Z55 has finally expired and this is one on my list of possible replacements.

    TGO Challenge again at any time? :-)

    • I’d hold off on this one. That lumbar pad is real hard. The new crown 2 will be out in Feb. I have one and it’s quite nice, also has an adjustable hip belt. Not headed back to the TGO anytime soon. Next time I do come over, I’d like to hike the Cape Wrath Trail.

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