Granite Gear Crown 2 – 60L Backpack Review

Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack Review

Granite Gear Crown2 60 Backpack



The Granite Gear Crown2 60 is a lightweight multi-day roll top backpack with an optional top lid. An adjustable-sized hip belt provides a custom fit. Unisex and Women's-specific models are available.

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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 (Narrow Smartwater bottles work best with this pack). 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.

Comparable Backpacks

Make / ModelPriceWeight (oz)Type
Gossamer Gear Silverback 55$32543.4Roll top, Top lid
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60$27030.5Speed flap
Granite Gear Crown 2 - 60L$20036.7Roll top, Top lid
Granite Gear Blaze 60$27048Roll top, Top lid
Hyperlite Mountain Gear SW 3400$34532.11Roll top
Osprey Exos 58$22043Top lid, speed flap
Gregory Optic 58$21043.35Top lid, speed flap
Zpacks Arc Blast 55$32521Roll top
Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus 57$21518Roll top
Mountainsmith Scream 55$16045Roll top
Seek Outside Gila 3500 (57L)$33947Roll top, side zipper
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor$20041.2Top lid
Elemental Horizons Kalais$27037Roll top


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!

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

Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.

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  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.

      • I appreciate the feedback. I’ll check them both out. Thanks!

      • It’s a struggle to access water bottles from the side pockets and (for me) nearly impossible to replace them while wearing the pack. Going solo I have to use a bladder. With company I leave the bladder home and ask someone for a hand. Otherwise… it’s a great pack!

      • This is fixed in the new 2019 version of the Crown 2 60L. I hope someone didn’t just sell you this pack and claim that it’s the latest version.

  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.

      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:
      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.

      • I’m trying to decide between the Crown 2 and the ULA Circuit. I’m a 5’8 145 lb. woman. I’ve read both of your reviews, and your womens UL backpack reviews. Which do you reccommend?

      • I would buy both and return the one you like less.
        It’s hard to know which to recommend, because I don’t know where you plan on going with them, what you plan on carrying, and what your previous experience is.
        They’re both excellent packs. It’s really going to boil down to sizing and your personal preferences about the features.

  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,

  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.


    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!

      • Hi! I just noticed Moosejaw is having a 30% back in Moosebucks until late January!

  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!

    • You can make anything fit with a pair of scissors. But I really wouldn’t bother. Want more insulation? Just carry more foam. Doesn’t have to be on the inside of the pack.

  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?


    • 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.


  27. Going on a R2R Grand Canyon hike first week of June 25 miles in 3 days ,purchased this pack for my gear. Can anyone tell me what kind of camel back hydration system you use with the pack?? Thank you for your help

    • Hydration bladders are generally pretty interchangeable. Most packs just have a sleeve where you can put the bladder and a hole for the hose to come out, and all hydration systems are roughly similar: a bladder and a hose. I don’t like Camelbak’s products, and I like the MSR Dromedary (for durability) and Platypus ones best, but neither is as good as just carrying a couple of water bottles so you can see how much water you have on you. The Playtpus bottles are a favorite (the one liter ones and the 2 liter platybottles if you have to carry a lot of water).

      • A few years ago, I was with a friend on an extended Grand Canyon day hike. We both had hydration bladders in our packs. At one point, we shed our packs for a 2-1/2 mile round trip to see a small waterfall and then put our packs back on for the rest of the journey to the top (we had about 1500′ of climb left). Not a half mile later, we both sucked our water bladders dry. Had we known how low they were, we’d have taken them with us to the waterfall and replenished there.

        Climbing up in the sun without a shred of shade, I was amazed at how fast the lack of water affected me and I could feel my strength fading fast. My friend (10 years younger–lives in Flagstaff, runs half marathons and does R2Rs as day hikes), grabbed my pack and shot up the trail to the top to get some more water and came back down to meet me. I had progressed about a mile in the meantime but would never have made the top without that water he brought.

        That experience, coupled with some leaking ones in the winter, took me away from bladders to water bottles so I could always know what I have and keep my gear dry.

        The day following the dehydration incident, my friend and I hiked to the bottom of the canyon, camped, and climbed back up the next day. I cameled up every chance I got and made sure I had plenty of water.

        Hopefully, soon we’ll be able to backpack the Deer Creek/Tapeats Creek trail on the North Rim. He says that’s his favorite Grand Canyon hike. On that hike, it’s best to also cache some water on the way down for use on the return trip. My heart goes out to the Merrell family, who currently have some missing loved ones in that section of the canyon.

  28. Hey, great review.

    How is this compared to the ULA Circuit?


    • The most significant difference is the hip belt. I prefer the one on the crown because you can adjust the length, but it’s a matter of personal preference. There’s also the optional top lid which is handy.

      • Thanks.

        Does one seem to be built better? I bought the Crown 2 but I’m not sure if I want to switch it out for the ULA Circuit. The crown 2 is very comfy but I’m just worried about the quality compared to the Circuit.


      • They’re both fine packs. I wouldn’t worry about it.

  29. Hi,

    How would you compare the Crown 2 to the Exped Lightning? Reading your reviews it seems the Exped can carry significantly more weight. The pictures also make it look like the Lightning has more internal capacity despite identical 60 liter ratings. Could just be how it is packed.

    Bottom line, I am considering a light framed pack for when my frameless aren’t quite up to the weight and I don’t want the heft of my 90s bomber packs. From your reviews it seems like the Crown is way more convenient as far as features for life on the trail. The Lightning seems like it might be better for technical 4 season outings (if assumptions about weight and volume capacity are correct). Any thoughts appreciate. Thanks!

  30. You pretty much nailed the difference.

  31. Hi, I am 44, 6ft 2″, 78kg, live in Queensland Australia and haven’t done much multi day hiking for 20 yrs. Currently upgrading most of my gear and getting some for the wife and kids (8,10&12) as well. Having most difficulty choosing my pack. Want lightweight for 3 day hikes with mates and decent volume/weight capacity to help kids on longer family trips (will walk overland track, hinchinbrook island and a few other 3 day trips within next 12mths). I think I can make 60l work, but haven’t got full gear list sorted yet, to know for sure. Considering the crown2, Mariposa and Ula circuit/catalyst. Any comments / recommendations welcome. Buying online from overseas complicates things. Rely heavily on online reviews such as this. Crown 2 currently advertised for 150USD seems v good. Are advertised volumes for these 4 packs comparable and which would provide greater flexibility for my varied application ? Cheers andrew

    • I’d get your gear list sorted out more before spending any money. It’s clear you don’t have any idea what your volume or weight needs are. Buying a pack first is a good way to pour money down the drain. No criticism. Just an observation.

  32. Thanks so much for a great review. I have a question about the removeable lid. I purchased the Crown2 from REI and the lid clips seemed wrong to me. When the lid is removed it has 3 female clips and 1 male clip.

    If it had two males and two females I would be able to clip it around the removed waist belt and have a small lid pack. Can you share the male/female distribution on you lid? I fell like mine is a mistake.

    • My lid has 4 female clips on it. Make sure you’re connecting the two on the mesh pocket side of the pack to the webbing straps that are girth hitched to the plastic loops on the solid side strips that run vertically along the sides of the mesh pocket.

  33. I am looking for a pack for my wife.
    Would this work for a women?
    What is the difference between woman and mens pack?
    Is it the front clip height?

  34. Thanks for this review.

    I already own the mk1 and was looking to get a lid for it, this pack with the lid is actually less in weight than the mk1 with the lid that you need to buy separately. I instantly started to consider purchasing it despite not having much disposable cash :D. This review convinced me it was worth it and have now purchased the mk2. I loved the mk1 more than any other pack I’ve owned but I did have a few minor issues and it seems everyone has been addressed. The lid and belt pockets will add a LOT more organization and a bit more volume. The back panel seems a fair bit more rigid, like one comment already the mk1 did feel a bit floppy at times. I also prefer the new colors and how the side pockets are not so near the bottom of the pack. One other thing I noticed was the center top adjustable strap now runs over the top of the large bag pocket (which seems even larger than before) which is a better for securing items. Also the adjustable waist belt is ideal.

    Like I said they have basically addressed all my small niggles about the mk1 so thank you again for the review and thank you Granite Gear for obviously listening to your customers.

  35. Hi, can you tell me if a Bearikade Expedition or Weekender bear can will fit vertically inside the Crown 2, say with a sleeping bag or quilt underneath at the bottom of the pack, and clothes and other items packed around the bear can? Many thanks

  36. ty for your great reviews…i was ready to buy a crown 2 and went by rei to test drive it. they didnt have any in stock but had a vc crown that was i threw 25 pounds in it and it was miserable on my shoulders…i am used to a atmos 65 and am trying to lose pack weight…the shoulder staraps seemed very thin and just dug into my shoulders…i was totally bummed…the exos 58 felt much better…am i missing something? now i am scared to order it online thiking the vc crown has similar shoulder straps…thanx for help

    • Hard to say. Packs fit like suits. They don’t fit the same on all people.

    • I thought I would like the Crown 2 as well, ordered from REI to test, but on two test hikes with the pack fully loaded, I had the same experience…shoulder straps very uncomfortable and couldn’t get load lifters to stay tight. I ended up with the Gregory Maven 55 (women’s, men’s is Paragon, see Philip’s review) and absolutely love it. Have been backpacking all summer/fall with it, it’s a good compromise between lightweight and comfort. As Philip said, packs are like suits, you have to try them to find the right fit. Gregory has always been my perfect fit…they are coming out with an even lighter pack in the spring, anxious to try it!

  37. I liked a lot about it but I simply could not reach the water bottle pockets as much as I tried. I’m not even sure I could ‘learn’ a – tricky – way to do it as I have in the past with other packs that have presented me with this problem.

    It’s a shame as it’s not always so easy to get the majority of packs Philip reviews here in UK but I sent it back because of my inability to reach the side pockets. Also, I wasn’t too confident the mesh would last long and, as alluded to earlier, even if you’ve no problem reaching the pockets, it can be hard to put things back in if the main pack is on the fuller side.

  38. Hi Phillip

    many thanks for your great gear review. I am planning on doing the PCT next year and are looking for the perfect Backpack for the hike. As I am from Switzerland, it is a bit hard to figure out which might be the best fit for me, as I can’t try them on before. I am now thinking of the ULA catalyst, ULA circuit or the Granite Gear Crown2 (women). For me it is important that the backpack has a good frame system which allows to transfer the weight to your hips (not that your shoulder are stressed too much) and that the hip belt as well as the shoulder straps are well foamed. I have red an other article where they guy informed that the crown2 does not transfer weight as well to the hips as the ULA does and that the ula backpacks offer more frame as the crown2 is basically frameless… However, he would finally still prefer the crown2. What would you suggest. ULA or Crown2? I just don’t know what to do!

    • The Catalyst is too high volume. You can’t go wrong with the crown 2 or the ULA circuit. For the PCT, I’d probably go wth the Circuit, just because it’s so popular on that trail.

  39. Hi! Thanks for the rockin” review. I have a few questions for you.
    Do you find that you have good ventilation along your backside as it meets the frame, or is that an area where it could be improved upon?

    I am a short gal at 5’1″ and I am hoping that the short will fit my frame…have you any reason to believe it wouldn’t? I suppose I need to measure my torso. Also, have you ever heard of anyone complain about the back of their head constantly hitting/rubbing up against the top of the pack? I have an issue with this…

    Oftentimes, I realize that the smaller/shorter packs tend to have less carrying capacity. For instance, the Osprey Ariel 65L in an extra small actually only carries 59L. Do you know if the short size of the Crown2 60 carries less?

    Thanks in advance!

    • -anything can be “improved” on. Depends on where you hike, when, temp, etc.
      -measure your torso. No no complaints
      -all small size packs have less capacity. this is usually listed in the pack specs.
      Good luck.

    • I have the Granite Gear Crown2 60 liter, size small, and am 5’3″, and about 110#. I measure a 17-17.5 inch torso. My understanding is that the small and medium are the same size bag….just different torso and hip sizes. I used the pack on most of the John Muir Trail, over 200 miles, and it was okay….. My head never hit the back, and I know how frustrating that can be as I have had other packs where I could never look up, and ended up with a sore neck from always walking with a ‘goose neck’. The brain is removable which could solve some of that problem for you….I personally like the brain for things I want to have at ready access.
      I was fully self supporting, no shared gear other than fuel, and was carrying between 25-35 pounds, depending upon water and food resupplies. It isn’t very comfortable at 35+ pounds, but at least my hip bones never were bruised!! Weight transfer to hips for me was okay, but my shoulders were often fatigued (possibly from max weight limits). FWIW, a BV500 bear canister (required on JMT) fits vertically no problem. Horizontally can be done, but it is such a tight squeeze, it felt like it would stress the fabric too much.

  40. How much can the volume practically be reduced using the compression system? This pack is a bit big for my solo trips but when I take my son out I end up carrying his sleeping bag and food so the extra weight and volume carrying capacity would be nice. I have been using the old rei flash 45. Its the right size for my solo setup which rarely gets over 25 lbs but when I carry stuff for my kids I end up strapping stuff to the outside and getting up around 30lbs. That bag sucks at 30lbs and leaves me bruised at that weight. Should I consider the 38 instead?

  41. I’ve been using this pack, largely based on this review, as my only pack for 2018. It is amazing at how well it functions for a wide variety of uses. I’ve used it extensively as a pack for long day hikes, 2-hour skis where I wanted to mostly load it down with a bunch of coats for my party and maybe a stove, days on the stream climbing around with my Tenkara rod, and overnights. It has plenty of room for very functional overnight trips. I am a relatively big guy and this is my first foray into a more UL pack.

    Fit is excellent. The hip belt is so adjustable and comfortable. I prefer to have the backboard in for any kind of load because it seems to help keep weight of my shoulders. But I love being able to pull it out for a light load. The pack collapses down so well.

    I use a Camelbak hydration 100, hung on the hook. Works great and I like not having to mess with a pocket. Not necessary. All of the storiage pockets are so roomy that I have reduced the number of ditty bags I use. If I pack the top pocket right, I can just pull it off and take it to the tent with me, or wherever I need my necessities.

    The straps are all ideally versatile for me. I put a Granite Gear phone pocket on the shoulder strap for my phone and Garmin SE+.

    I have the pack in the grey and blue from REI online. They did not have them in the stores when I bought mine in early 2018. I was concerned the regular torso length might be a little short for me at 6’3″ but it was perfect. (Most of my height is in my long trail legs though!)

    Thanks for turning me on to this pack, Philip. I’m going to have miles of fun this year!

  42. I’m considering the Crown2 and the Flex capacitor for long distance trekking. I like their adaptability with volume, especially re winter hiking when carrying bulkier items. I pack lightly, but prefer what seems like more rugged build over other packs – excellent though they may be. Would you share comments about them that might help with a decision?

    Many thanks for all your terrific research and commentary.

  43. Massdrop has the a version of this pack the x60 crown for $119. I just received mine this week.

    • Can you tell us what you find is the difference of the “standard” version of the Crown2 vs the Massdrop version that you bought? Thanks.

      • I think the side water bottle pockets are easier to use because the top is a diagonal on the Massdrop model. That change has been propagated already to next year’s crown 2 from Granite Gear though.

  44. I know there area ton of comments here asking you to compare this to the ULA Circuit. I’m comparing the two, and I was surprised by just how flexible/floppy the Crown2 framesheet was when I finally got my hands on one. The Circuit seems stiffer with its aluminum stay. Does the Crown2 stiffen up when loaded? The recommended weights seem to be the same, and I like the hipbelt and price of the Crown2 quite a bit more. Is carrying ability in the 30 lb range similar?

    I admire your patience with so many questions and your willingness to provide answers!

    • Nope. It’s just a softer frame. I prefer the crown 2 over the circuit these days because my load is pretty light. In fact I prefer the crown 2 38L over the 60L, but mainly because I don’t all that space. I think the Crown 2 hip belt rocks. If you’re willing to wait until febraury, the new Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 will have a much stiffer back panel than the Circuit’s stays.

  45. Hi Philip, I am planning on getting my first lightweight pack (coming from aether 70). I have great light tent and sleeping bag (wm ultralite) and so on. I am trying to decide between this and the HMG Southwest. What scenarios would you suggest either pack to be optimal at?

    • If need need an adjustable waist belt to get a good fit, get the Crown 2.
      If your tent has poles, you’ll like the crown 2 better.
      If you plan to travel off trail in vegetation ripping terrain, get the HMG SW.
      If you plan to carry 30+ loads often, get the HMG SW.
      If you need a dry back, neither pack will be optimum, but the HMG will be worse.
      If you like a top lid or the option of removing it, get the crown.
      If you need load lifters, get the crown.
      I’d ask yourself those questions to start. The HMG is for rougher terrain, the crown for less rough.

  46. I completed a 2018 AT thru hike with my Crown 2. It’s a great pack. I loved its lightweight and rugged construction. I would say that if I went much over 30 pounds on the pack it was much less comfortable. Halfway or so into my hike I noticed a hole in the fabric near the bottom shoulder straps. I presumed I inadvertently speared it with a stick or something equivalent. I was afraid it might tear further and the straps would pull out – a big problem on a thru hike. So… at 4.55 (5 minutes to closing on a Friday night), I got a cell signal and called Granite Gear. They asked me to send them some pics which I did. The women then asked where I would be in 5 days and sent me a brand new pack to that location. No proof of purchase, no fuss, just total support for a thru hiker in need. I used the same shipping box and sent them back my used Crown 2 and I was on my way. The rest of the hike I ran into zero problems. I would say that the side mesh pockets are rather fragile and I didn’t use them for a lot of gear – generally just my tent poles and some soft clothes – no water bottles. I carried water bottles on my shoulder straps. I’m hoping to use my Crown 2 on a PCT thru hike in 2019 or 2020. Great pack!

    • Great story. I just packed up an early access version of their new blaze A.C. 60 (out next Feb) for a 2 day backpacking trip starting tomorrow morning. It’s another great pack and improves on many of the features on the Crown 2. Beefier frame, better side pockets, tougher fabric, etc.

  47. Hi Philip,

    Love your site and have been a reader for awhile. Always trust your judgment and have been very satisfied with your recommendations I have followed.

    I’m looking for a new pack and I’m between the Gregory Optic 58 and the Crown2.

    I’m concerned the Optic 58 will be too large if I’m carrying lighter loads under 50L. I like the idea that the Crown2 can scale between 45-60L pretty well. Do you have any thoughts about the weight/space range on the Optic vs. the Crown? Obviously they both work well for 60L, but what about smaller loads? I go between hiking on my own with about 40-45L to hiking with my wife and dog which requires more space and weight. I’d like something that has a good range and isn’t awkward at lower volumes.

    Secondly, do you think there is a significant winner in the comfort and weight department? Seems like you liked both of them pretty well and they’re both lightweight…wasn’t sure if there was a big enough difference to warrant consideration.

    Thanks so much for all your insight! Always very helpful and love what you do!

    • For reference, with my wife, my load would be in the 30-35 lb. range. Seems like the upper limit of the Crown2. I was concerned at that weight if the shoulder straps wouldn’t be comfortable.

      Doesn’t look like my local REIs carry them in stock too so hard to try on :-/

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      • The crown compresses very well when the extra volume is not needed.
        I like the way it fits better than the optic because it has an adjustable length hip belt. I also like the optional top lid, but mainly I prefer using the roll top over the Optic and its speed lid. Both are very nice packs. But at 35 lbs you’re probably pushing the limits of both packs. More so the Crown 2, though which has a weaker frame.

        If you don’t mind a somewhat heavier pack, I’d recommend trying the Granite Gear Blaze 60, which can carry 50 pounds. Awesome pack, but it weighs 3 lbs.

      • Thanks Philip, great information.

        I’m really trying to cut down the weight of my pack (as well as upgrading some other items to shave weight) so I’m hopeful that over time I’ll be getting this down even lower. Given that, I’m trying to use something sub-3 lbs.

        Sounds like the Optic is the more comfortable option for higher weights. Does it have the ability to scale anywhere near what the Crown2 does? Would it be awkward with say 45L?

        I will be getting the large size and it’s listed as 61L. Do you happen to know what the volume of the main pack without the optional lid is? I couldn’t find a breakdown anywhere.

        Regardless, thanks for your help. I’m pretty confident that either of these two should work well for me given your review. Both seem like great packs so I’m probably nit-picking.

        Again, love the site and really appreciate honest reviews I can trust. Looking to get to the White Mountains sometime this year and will absolutely be consulting this site and guides often.

      • Just pack your sleeping bag or quilt loose and it will take up the extra volume.

  48. John Oppenhuizen

    Thoughts on this as an overnight pack, I am contemplating between this and the Talon 44

  49. Does the fact that the framesheet is plastic mean that the load lifter straps really don’t do much? i.e. is the pack rigid enough to make the load lifters useful?

    • What matters more is the position of the load lifters relative to the frame/framesheet rather than what it’s made of. The load lifters on this pack at attached to the pack bag at the top of the framesheet and work marvelously well. They would be useless is the were attached higher up on the extension collar. The stiffness of the frame is important to prevent torso collapse, which is a shortening of the frame length when a pack is heavily loaded. It buckles into a C-shape.

  50. Can you comment on how waterproof this and other packs are? Is the Crown good with a compactor bag liner? Or do I need a pack cover so it doesn’t get saturated. I know the Cuban fiber ones are the most waterproof but they are expensive.

    • A compactor bag works fine. The fabric will get soaked through eventually, but it doesn’t absorb that much water (that really old history when people made packs out of canvas and pack cloth). Most people line their Dyneema packs with compactor bags (I do) and use waterproof stuff sacks anyway, so you really should ask if Dyneema is really worth it. The parts of a pack that DO absorb water are the hip belt and shoulder pads, and Dyneema packs fail in that exact way too. I happen to carry both a robic pack and a Dyneema pack interchangeably and rain doesn’t bother me at all, regardless of which pack I use. Pack covers are worthless because they don’t keep the shoulder pads or hip belt dry.

      • Thanks. Your reviews are a big help. The pack is in the mail! Im doing the CT and MA sections of the AT in June. Ill let you know how it performs.

  51. I ordered the Crown 2 38, its on the way. BUT, I am impressed already.

    I own a business and I will say the Granite Gear customer service is great. 2 email exchanges and an instantaneous answer during business hours and the very first thing in the morning when I tried after hours. Also the answers where correct and germane to the question, something we should be able to take for granted… but we all know isn’t always true with many company’s c.s.. Most times (sadly) I find myself with more info. on a product than the manufacturers rep. through users on the internet. :( Not the case here.

    One of the best responses to date from any company I remember. If the product is as good as their communications, I made the right choice.

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