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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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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