Granite Gear Blaze 60 Backpack Review
The Granite Gear Blaze 60 is a multi-day backpack with an adjustable length torso and hip belt, so you can get a personalized fit. Weighing 3 lbs, the Blaze 60 is optimized for hauling heavy and bulky gear, including the ability to carry a bear canister on top of the pack so it doesn’t consume valuable internal storage. It has a new polycarbonite frame sheet that’s rated for a maximum load of 50 pounds, top and front panel access, and an optional top lid pocket.
I’ve been using the Blaze 60 since last July and it is a true four-season pack that can be used year-round. I’m still in awe at how well the Blaze handles heavy loads and how easy it is to strap all kinds of gear to the outside of the pack. If you need to carry lots of technical gear, water, or food for family overnights or expedition-style trips, but want to swap out a 4 to 6 pound monster backpack for something lighter, you’ll be impressed with the Granite Gear Blaze 60.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: 3 lbs; (optional top lid weighs 2.8 oz)
- Gender: Men’s; a Women’s Blaze 60 is also available
- Frame: Internal
- Access: Top, Front
- Adjustable Length Torso: Yes
- Adjustable Length Hip belt: Yes
- Pockets: 3 plus main compartment, 2 additional hip belt pockets
- Bear canister compatible: Yes
- Max recommended load: 50 lbs.
- Main body: 100d Robic high-tenacity nylon with DWR
- Reinforcements: 210d Robic UHMWPE triple ripstop nylon
- Polycarbonate framesheet
- Torso size ranges:
- Women’s short: 15-18″
- Women’s regular: 18-21″
- Men’s short: 15-18″
- Men’s regular: 18-21″
- Men’s long: 21-24″
Backpack Storage and Organization
The Blaze 60 is organized like a typical Granite Gear backpack with a large main compartment, side water bottle pockets, and a long stretch front pocket. The main compartment can be accessed from the top through a drawstring closure or from the front through a full-length zipper. The Blaze comes with a floating top lid, which is optional, but handy for carrying gloves, navigation equipment, or travel documents. There are also two large, zippered hip belt pockets.
The top lid has one big zippered top pocket. It’s a floating lid, so it can be raised up and down to accommodate tall loads or used to hold bulky gear on top of the main compartment, like rope coils, a tent body, a bear canister, or a foam sleeping pad. It’s connected to the pack by four removable webbing straps, so you can minimize strap clutter if you remove the lid.
The top lid is optional. The pack’s main compartment was a long extension collar which closes with a drawstring. Two long webbing straps, one front-to-back and one side-to-side, pull fabric panels over the extension collar and prevent rain from entering the main compartment. These webbing straps are cut long to secure a bear canister on top of the pack.
The Blaze 60 also has two large side water-bottle pockets that can easily hold two 1L Nalgene bottles. They’re both reachable while wearing the pack so you can pull the bottles out and put them back in. There’s a cord lock to tension the top of the pockets and keep tall skinny bottles or other items from popping out. The pockets are hard sided for durability and the bottom compression strap can run over or through them.
A front stretch pocket extends the length of the pack and is ideal for stashing tent poles, rain gear, and layers. It’s made with a durable softshell fabric that won’t snag on passing vegetation but won’t dry gear as quickly as a more open mesh pocket. The stretch pocket has a full-length zipper along the right-hand side so you can access gear inside the pack without having to go through the top. This is really handy if you are carrying a bear canister on top, which would be a pain to remove. On the flip side, a zipper like this is hard to use if you’re in the habit of lining your pack with a white trash compactor bag in wet climates.
The Blaze also has two large, zippered hip belt pockets that will fit large smartphones, gloves, snacks, etc. They’re hard-faced for improved water-resistance and durability off-trail.
The Blaze is optimized for carrying full-size bear canisters, so I thought I’d show you the main variations. The examples below use a full-size Garcia Bear Canister (12 x 8.8″), the kind required in portions of New York’s Adirondack Park. It has very similar dimensions to a Bearvault BV500 (12.7 x 8.7″).
Inside the extension collar
You can fit a bear canister in the pack’s extension collar on top of your other gear. The width of the extension collar is wider than the canister is long. Once inside, tighten the drawstring, wrap the front-to-back and side to side straps over bear canister, cover it with the top lid and you’re good to go. The top lid covers all four sides of the canister and prevents it from shifting as you walk.
Without the top lid
If you don’t want to use the top lid, you can still secure the bear canister to the pack without it. Close the extension collar drawstring and place the bear canister on top of it. Wrap the long webbing straps over the canister and pull them tight. They’ll do a pretty good job of keeping the canister lashed down, although you may experience some movement if you have to scramble.
Those webbing straps are attached to the pack with fabric panels, which can be used to strap objects like a bear canister to the top of the main compartment.
If needed, you can reinforce the two webbing straps by crisscrossing the pack’s top compression straps over the bear canister. Connect the top compression straps to the straps that secure the lid above the shoulder straps. The four straps together provide a much more secure anchor.
When carrying a canister, you’ll want to avoid making the top of the pack too heavy by keeping heavier items lower down in your pack to compensate for the canister weight. The variation you choose will depend on the size and weight of the canister contents and the weather. For example, you probably don’t want to put a wet or dusty canister inside your pack, lest it compromise your other gear.
Backpack Compression and External Attachment System
One of the hallmarks of a Granite Gear backpack is its compression and gear attachment system, which makes it easy to carry large or awkwardly shaped gear on the outside of the pack. It is amazing how much gear you can hang off most Granite Gear packs and the Blaze 60 is no exception.
The Blaze 60 has three tiers of compression straps on both sides of the pack. These can be used to reduce pack volume when you are carrying smaller or lighter loads. All three of the side webbing straps open and close with side release buckles, which you squeeze together to open. This also makes them easier to use in winter, while wearing gloves.
There are three additional straps situated over the front stretch pocket, which are ideal for strapping bulky items like snowshoes or a foam sleeping pad to the pack, without compromising access to the side bottle pockets. The straps are just long enough to secure a foam accordion pad (Therm-a-Rest Zlite or a NEMO Switchback) to the backpack, although it’d be easier if the webbing were a few inches longer.
The Blaze also has two ice ax loops at the base of the back. These can also be used to carry trekking poles, but shaft holders are not included, so you’ll need to secure them with the pack’s compression straps.
In addition, there are gear loops distributed around the pack that you can attach cord or carabiners to create your own attachment systems. There are 4 on the top lid which are good for attaching a solar panel or securing a climbing helmet, as well as others anchoring the compression strap buckles.
Backpack Frame and Suspension
Granite Gear developed a new lightweight polycarbonate framesheet for the Blaze 60, giving it a max recommended load of 50 pounds. The new framesheet is really stiff along its vertical axis, because it’s tightly sewn into a narrow fabric cavity behind the shoulder straps. It has some torsional flex on the diagonal to match your body movements, but it’s not going to collapse under a heavy load the way a lightweight framesheet can.
But the max load you can carry with the Blaze 60 will still depend on the way the pack fits you. Lucky for you, the Blaze 60 has an adjustable length torso and an adjustable length hip belt, so you can dial in a near custom fit.
The Blaze 60’s shoulder straps are anchored in slots in the framesheet, marked 18″, 19″, 20″, etc., corresponding to your torso length. They’re easy to unclip and move from one setting to another. REI has a good video on measuring your torso length if you’ve never done it before or don’t know your torso length. It’s important to measure it, because the pack won’t rest on your hips properly if the torso length is too short, and you’ll end up carrying the weight on your shoulders, which aren’t as strong as your big leg muscles.
The back of the Blaze 60 is covered with mesh-covered foam that has had air channels cut into it. These vent into the shallow cavity that holds the framesheet, but provides minimal ventilation benefit. The important thing is that the foam is soft and comfortable, particularly over the lumbar area. There’s a slight lumbar bulge on the back of the pack to help prevent the hip belt from slipping down your backside. I’m very sensitive to pressure in that spot, but it’s not something to worry about on the Blaze.
The Blaze hip belt length is also adjustable. Remove it from behind the lumbar pad by pulling it out. It’s held in place with velcro, so you may need to release it by sliding your hand in between the lumbar pad and the belt. Adjust the belt to match your waist size, measured at the around the top of your hip bones, called the iliac crest. You want the front of the hip belt padding to just cover the front of your hip bones, as explained in How Should a Backpack Hip Belt Fit.
The Blaze’s shoulder straps and hip belt are anatomically correct for men and women, depending on which pack you purchase. For women, this means that the shoulder straps have an S-shape to wrap around your breasts, something that men with muscular or well-developed chests may also find more comfortable. The women’s hip belt is flared up at the ends to fit around a curvier female figure and provide better load-to-hip transfer.
The shoulder pads and hip belt are well-padded with foam and covered with a non-slip softshell fabric that feels good against the skin. The foam provides an excellent hip and shoulder wrap, that won’t buckle under very heavy loads. The shoulder pads also have daisy chains sewn to them, so you can easily hang accessory pockets from them. This is a must-have, providing easy access to satellite trackers and messengers, GPS units, a camera, a map case, or water bottle holders.
|Make / Model||Weight||Adj. Torso||Adj. Hip Belt||Price|
|Granite Gear Blaze 60||3 lbs||Y||Y||$270|
|Osprey Atmos 65||4 lbs 9 oz||Y||Y||$270|
|Gregory Baltoro 65||4 bs 13.4 oz||-||-||$300|
|Osprey Aether AG 60||5 lbs 3.2 oz||Y||-||$290|
|Deuter Aircontact Lite 50+10||3 lbs 14 oz||Y||-||$200|
|Gregory Paragon 58||3 lbs 8 oz||Y||Y||$230|
|Gregory Zulu 65||3 lbs 11 oz||Y||-||$230|
|Deuter Futura 50+10||4 lbs 9 oz||Y||-||$230|
The Granite Gear Blaze 60 is a multi-day, expedition-capable backpack capable of carrying lots of gear and heavy loads. It replaces the Blaze A.C. 60 in Granite Gear’s backpack product line, with an improved framesheet, an adjustable-length hip belt, hip belt pockets, more durable fabric, a top lid, and better bear canister carrying capabilities. Weighing 48 oz (3 lbs), the new Blaze 60 is probably too heavy for most hardcore ultralight backpackers to ever consider using. But if you have to carry a lot of heavy gear, supplies, or a bear canister, I’d definitely recommend giving the Blaze 60 a try.
For example, I’ve carried up to 50 pounds of gear, food, fuel and water with the Blaze 60 and the pack’s new framesheet has handled it like a champ, with no hip belt slippage, torso collapse, or shoulder strap pressure. The Blaze doesn’t make the weight any lighter, but the framesheet helps you maintain an upright and energy-efficient posture, so it’s less of a struggle to carry the weight. That will reduce your fatigue, making it easier to hike, so you can enjoy your surroundings. I think you’ll be impressed with the new Granite Gear Blaze 60 Backpack. Highly recommended.
Disclosure: The author received a backpack for this review.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the affiliate links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and some sellers may contribute a small portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.
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