The 2019 Granite Gear Crown2 60 Backpack (which is colored black with red highlights) is available in both the men’s and women’s sizes, with gender-specific shoulder straps and hip belts. Weighing 39.7 oz fully configured, it can be modified in several ways, bringing its weight down to 30.4 oz, depending on your needs. This 2019 model is an updated version of the 2017 olive/black men’s and grey/blue women’s Crown2 60 models. The major difference between them is the design of the side water bottle pockets, which are significantly different and much improved.
Just to complicate matters, the 2019 Crown2 60 is one of three different models of the same backpack available today including the 2017 granite Gear Crown 2 and the MassDrop x Granite Gear X60 backpack. If you’re trying to understand the differences between them or which one you should buy, I’d suggest you read this deep dive carefully and refer to my reviews of those other backpacks if necessary.
Specs at a Glance
- Year: 2019
- Volume: 60L
- Total Weight: 39.7 oz actual, tested.
- Total Weight Minus Top Lid: 36.7 oz
- Component weights:
- Top lid w/straps (optional): 3.o oz
- Hip belt: 6.4 oz
- Framesheet: 6.3 oz
- Type: Internal Frame, Rolls Top
- Hip Belt: Adjustable Length
- Top Lid Pocket: Optional, Floating
- Pockets: 7, including main
- Color: Black/Red
- Gender: Men’s and Women’s-Fit models available
- Women’s Short: Torso 15-18″ | Hip belt 24-40″ | Weight: 2.1 pounds
- Women’s Regular: Torso 18-21″ | | Hip belt 24-40″ |Weight 2.2 pounds
- Men’s Short: Torso 15-18″ | Hip belt 26-42″ | Weight: 2.1 pounds
- Men’s Regular: Torso 18-21″ | Hip belt 26-42″ | Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Men’s Long Torso 21-24″ | Hip belt 26-42″ | Weight: 2.3 pounds
- Fabrics: 100d Robic Nylon, 210d Ripstop Robic Nylon
- Maximum Recommended Load: 30-35 lbs
Backpack Storage and Organization
The 2019 Granite Gear Crown2 60 is a roll-top backpack with an optional top lid pocket, giving you the best of both worlds in terms of backpack configuration. The pack is configured in the ultralight-style, with two side pockets and a long front stretch mesh pocket. There are also two well-sized pockets on the hip belt that are large enough to store a smartphone, a camera, gloves, hats, snacks, and other smaller items that you use frequently.
The pack’s main compartment is basically a big empty space, with no other means of access except through the top. There’s no hydration pocket inside, although there is a plastic hook that you can use to hang a reservoir and a hydration port between the shoulder pads. While it’s not really intended as a pocket, there is a zippered sleeve that you can open to pull out the polyethylene frame if you want to save 6.3 ounces of weight. It’s a narrow pocket but can probably fit a map or tortillas in there as well.
The 2019 Crown2 is black, which makes it very difficult to see anything inside the pack bag. I line my packs with white trash compactor bags which does help make the contents more visible and to keep the contents dry since I don’t use a pack cover. You might also consider doing the same because it makes it easier to find things inside.
Floating Top Lid pocket
The Crown2 60’s top lid is floating, so it can be raised up and down depending on how full you pack the main compartment. It can also be used to hold gear against the top of the main compartment, including a full-sized bear canister, which fits perfectly under the lid.
The top lid has one large zippered pocket, which can be used to store maps, snacks, hats, and gloves. If you don’t need the top lid or prefer not to use it, you can remove it completely, including the straps that secure it to the pack so they don’t flop around. I usually configure the Crown2 as a roll top, except in winter or for travel, when the extra storage is helpful.
Side Water Bottle Pocket Upgrade
The Crown2 60 has two side pockets, which can be used to store water bottles and all manner of stuff.
The side water bottle pockets on the 2019 Crown2 60 are made with solid Robic nylon for improved durability over stretch fabric use on the 2017 and x60 models. There’s also an elastic cord running along the top of the pocket, with a cord lock at the end nearest your hands, so you can tension it on the go. The elastic cord works wonderfully at preventing tall bottles from falling out of the side pockets, especially when you put the pack down and it topples over. The elastic cord does not prevent you from reaching back to pull a bottle out or replace it while you’re wearing the pack.
The side pockets have cutouts so you can run the bottom compression strap on the outside of the pocket, as shown above, or on the inside. This is important if you want to compress the pack contents and use the side water bottle pockets at the same time. There’s also a small cutout in the bottom corner of the each pocket for drainage.
The side pockets on the 2019 Crown2 are a complete redesign of those on the 2017 and X60 versions of the pack. Both earlier versions used a stretch fabric for the side pockets. The problem with the stretch side pockets on the 2017 model is that they are too tightly tensioned, making it hard to put a water bottle back in the pocket if you’re wearing the pack. MassDrop introduced a larger slant to the side pocket in the X60, which made it easier to replace a bottle, but they didn’t do anything to release the tension of the stretch fabric. This increased the likelihood that bottles would pop out of the pockets, since their top edge had been lowered. It doesn’t matter if you carry one or two bottles; they still fall out. While you can prevent this by securing the bottles with a pack’s lower compression strap, that will prevent you from pulling them out or replacing them while wearing the pack, which defeats the purpose of the pocket modification in the first place.
I like the solid side pocket fabric on the 2019 better than the stretch fabric used in the 2017 model or X60 better because it’s much more durable when bashing through vegetation off-trail. It’s also better for carrying traction aids with sharp points, like microspikes or crampons. Having the elastic strap also alleviates concerns that the these items might fall out of the pockets, which would be disastrous if trail conditions necessitate their use.
Front Mesh Pocket
Most Granite Gear multi-day backpacks have a long mesh front pocket, that’s somewhat taller than the pockets you find on other backpacks. While it looks narrow, you can fit a lot of stuff into it. The exterior mesh is also very tough with fine holes so it won’t snag on vegetation and get ripped up. I mainly use mine for carrying my tent stakes, snacks, hats, layers, extra water storage, and filtration gear and other items that I plan to use during the day so I don’t have to stop and unpack my pack to get them. The pocket can also be used to segregate damp items from the dry or “drier” contents of your pack.
Hip Belt Pockets
The hip belt pockets on the Crown2 60 are quite large and very useful. I use mine to store my Aquamira drops, snacks, hats, gloves, rain mitts, and compass. They can also easily fit a Steripen, Smartphone, or point and shoot camera. The pockets are hard faced for durability and improved water resistance.
Backpack Frame and Suspension
The Crown2 60 is a fixed length pack available in multiple sizes, with an adjustable-length hip belt that can be easily resized by the user. The shoulder pads and hip belt are gender-specific, with S-shaped shoulder pads for women and a hip belt that is specially molded to fit the curvy female form.
The frame has two parts: a foam back panel and a flexible polyethylene framesheet, which can be removed. The foam back panel is grooved to facilitate ventilation, but nowhere near as effective as a suspended mesh frame. This means that the pack sits very close to your back, which makes it easier to carry and control, than a pack a deep frame cavity. The max recommended load of the pack is 30-35 lbs, but will drop to about 20-25 lbs if you remove the framesheet. The foam back panel is not removable.
The hip belt is adjustable using Granite Gear’s ReFIT system. To adjust its length, you pull it out of the base of the backpack and set the length to match your waist size using a rip and stick system. After that, it’s easy to slide it back in place. Many backpackers have a hard time finding a well-fitting hip belt, so having an adjustable one is a huge benefit. It’s such a simple thing, I don’t know why all manufacturers don’t use this system.
The hip belt closes with a central buckle. It uses a pull forward closure system for mechanical leverage. The inside of the hip belt and shoulders are covered with soft foam which provides good comfort and molds easily to your features.
The only thing that is problematic with the Crown2 suspension is the sternum strap, which has a clip on the left shoulder that can be frustrating to close. It’s easily replaceable though, so you can change it if it bothers you.
External Attachment System and Compression System
Granite Gear packs excel in their ability to carry awkwardly shaped or large pieces of gear. The Crown2 60 has two tiers of compression straps on the side and front of the pack that can be used for this purpose. There’s a top Y strap the runs over the roll top that can also be used to secure gear to the top of the pack, even when the top lid is not used. The shoulder straps have vertical daisy chains that you can attach accessory pockets to, while dual ice axe loops can be used to carry ice tools or trekking poles. The only thing missing are shaft holders, although you can easily secure long items with the side compression straps.
It’s very straight forward to carry snowshoes, or a sleeping pad, or a tent on the outside of the Crown2 60 to maximize your internal storage space. There are also lots of anchor points around the pack where you can rig up your own “straps” with some cord and a few cord locks.
Those same straps can be used to compress your load, especially as you “eat through it” and need less volume at the end of a multi-day trip. In addition to the side and front compression straps, the roll top also provides valuable top down compression that you just don’t get with a more conventional alpine style pack with a drawstring closure and top lid.
Comparable 50-60L Lightweight Backpacks
|Make / Model||Price||Weight (oz)||Type|
|Gossamer Gear Silverback 55||$325||43.4||Roll top, Top lid|
|Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60||$270||30.5||Speed flap|
|2017 Granite Gear Crown 2 - 60L||$200||36.7||Roll top, Top lid|
|MassDrop x60 (Crown2)||$120||40.2||Roll top, Top lid|
|Granite Gear Blaze 60||$270||48||Roll top, Top lid|
|Hyperlite Mountain Gear SW 3400||$345||32.11||Roll top|
|Osprey Exos 58||$220||43||Top lid, speed flap|
|Gregory Optic 58||$210||43.35||Top lid, speed flap|
|Zpacks Arc Blast 55||$325||21||Roll top|
|Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus 57||$215||18||Roll top|
|Mountainsmith Scream 55||$160||45||Roll top|
|Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor||$200||41.2||Top lid|
The 2019 Granite Gear Crown2 60 is a great pack that can be used and configured in many ways. Don’t let that intimidate you though, because you can use it right out of the box without doing anything special to set it up. But its adaptability and modularity is impressive. For instance, you can remove the top lid or the frame to reduce the pack’s weight, you can adjust the length of the hip belt for different users or to accommodate weight loss over the course of a thru-hike. You can crank down the compression straps to shrink the volume of the Crown2 for weekend trips or day hiking, or load it up with the kitchen sink. It’s really the Swiss Army Knife of backpacks, without being a bloated monstrosity full of useless features.
Of the three Granite Gear Crown 2 versions available today, I think the 2019 Crown2 is the best and that the new side pocket design is a real win. The other models are perfectly good packs that were best of breed when they came out, but if you use water bottles, the 2019 Crown 2 is the one you want.
If you find the differences between the 2017, MassDrop x60, and 2019 models of the Crown2 60 hard to follow, you’re probably not alone. I’m all for innovation, but wonder if gear manufacturers could go back to staging their product releases sequentially instead of trying to sell three different variants of the same product at the same time. I hope I’ve helped clarify the differences between these packs, so you can make the right choice for your needs.
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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