Home / Gear Reviews / Backpack Reviews / Granite Gear Crown2 60 Backpack Review – 2019 Model

Granite Gear Crown2 60 Backpack Review – 2019 Model

Granite Gear Crown2 60 Backpack Review

Granite Gear Crown2 60 Backpack (2019)

Comfort
Weight
Suspension
Features
Adjustability
Sizing
Durability

Updated and Improved in 2019

The updated Crown2 60 is ultralight-style modular backpack that can be stripped down to save weight (40 oz down to 23 oz) A unique adjustable hip belt makes it easy to get a custom fit, while external attachment points give you the option to carry lots of awkwardly sized gear.

Shop Now

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

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.

Main Compartment

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.

The top lid can be used to secure a full sized bear canister to the top of the main compartment.
The top lid can be used to secure a full-sized bear canister to the top of the main compartment.

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 have been completely redesigned on the 2019 model
The side water bottle pockets have been completely redesigned on the 2019 model

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 2017 Crown2 had a slight slant in the pocket which was increased in the MassDrop X60 model
The 2017 Crown2 had a slight slant in the pocket which was increased in the MassDrop X60 model. While that made it easier to replace a bottle, they tend to pop out of the X60 pockets more because there’s less fabric to hold them in place.

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.

The new side pockets are also good for carry spike objects like crampons or microspikes.
The new side pockets are also good for carry spiked objects like crampons or microspikes.

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.

The front mesh pocket is good for storing frequently accessed items.
The front mesh pocket is good for storing frequently accessed items.

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.

The hip belt pockets are large and easy to access.
The hip belt pockets are large and easy to access.

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 women's hip belt is flared upward.
The women’s hip belt is flared upward.

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 Crown2 60 has a slight lumbar pad at the base of the frame to help prevent hip belt slippage..
The Crown2 60 has a slight lumbar pad at the base of the frame to help prevent hip belt slippage. It’s barely noticeable, but very effective.

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 is easy to resize.
The hip belt is easy to resize.

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.

The Sternum Strap Clip can be challenging to close.
The sternum strap clip can be challenging to close, but is easy to replace.

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.

Its easy to carry snowshoes or a sleeping pad.
It’s easy to carry snowshoes or a sleeping pad using the pack’s 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.

Another way to carry the items.
Another way to carry the same items.

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 / ModelPriceWeight (oz)Type
Gossamer Gear Silverback 55$32543.4Roll top, Top lid
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60$27030.5Speed flap
2017 Granite Gear Crown 2 - 60L$20036.7Roll top, Top lid
MassDrop x60 (Crown2)$12040.2Roll 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
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor$20041.2Top lid

Recommendation

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.

Most Popular Searches

  • backpack
  • backpack review
  • granite gear crown 2 60 2019 model

29 comments

  1. Can you pull and replace the water bottles without taking the pack off? I have no idea why pack makers have made this into a relevant question.

    • Yes. You’d be amazed at how many backpacks there are where you can’t do this. Many pack makers assume the use of a hydration reservoir, because so many people actually use them instead of bottles.

  2. I have the older Crown 2 and solved the water access problem with the Mystery Ranch water bottle holder attached to my hip belt.
    Philip thanks for the review looks like a fantastic pack.

    • You could get bottles in and out of the 2017 version but it really helped if they were thin smart water bottles and the pack wasn’t packed full at the bottom. It was pretty much impossible with a wider diameter bottle.

  3. With my back issues, it’s nearly impossible for me to reach around to remove and replace a water bottle in a side pocket no matter how the pocket is configured. Therefore, I use side pockets for storing stove, toilet kit, trash bag, etc. I hang a couple water bottles onto my shoulder straps for hydration. The hanging bottles work for me and don’t flop around enough to be bothersome.

    I have the Massdrop version of this pack and used it for a section hike on the AT last fall. I couldn’t access water bottles any easier from the angled pockets. Since I wasn’t using the pockets for their intended purpose, I had issues with the storage space on the angled pockets and making sure things didn’t fall out.

    Considering how I use side pockets, the design of the pockets on this model is quite intriguing to me. My wife may need to lock up my credit cards for a while!

  4. I carry a water bladder and 1 bottle normally because I don’t really like trying to pull and replace a water bottle out of the side pocket regardless of pocket design. I prefer drinking from the bottle when I’m on a break and have the pack off. If I had the choice I’d like the tall pockets, but with the X60 I will have tent poles or my umbrella towards the front so they can be secured with the upper compression strap, and the water bottle on the back side of the pocket. I have found that instead of a water bottle I can slide bear spray or a mini-tripod in the pocket without taking the pack off, for those interested in its limited utility.

  5. I’ve pretty much settled on this updated Crown2 being my next pack. I used to use internal water bladders, but I want to switch away from that to water bottles. Hopefully I can reach and replace the water bottles in the side pockets on this backpack. I’ve been looking at the Platypus Soft Bottles. Do you think those would work with this pack’s side pockets? Or are something like Smartwater bottles better?

    Thanks for all the great gear reviews and recommendations. Cheers!

    • I have found the eliptical shape of the Platypus soft bottle works better than other water bottles for a stretch side pocket. Put the bottle upside down in the side pocket, if the bottom of the pack is filled out, e.g. I put my tent with poles vertically in the middle of the main pack next to my back and compress my sleeping bag around the tent at the bottom of the pack filling out the area.

  6. Great review Philip!

    I just scored a like new Crown 2 60 2017 model for CDN $135 (US$100) and can’t wait to try it out. I use a water bottle but I think I am going to go to a hydration sleeve because of the problems in retrieving the bottle from the side pockets.

  7. Phil,
    Gotta ask, in your estimation, is this pack’s load limit accurate. I’m still looking for a lightweight pack that can carry 35lbs. well in a pinch. Pack weight is always higher for me after a resupply.
    Any thoughts?

  8. Hi Philip and all,

    Anyone with issues with the Crown shoulder straps? Ordered this pack and tried it on at home. I could feel the shoulder straps pretty quickly with 25 lbs. and after about 20 mins walking around, my shoulders are still feeling it.

    Seems like more than normal, but wanted others thoughts. I read reviews online and some people love them and others said they were a bit too narrow. Never had problems before with shoulder straps so wondering if this pack just isn’t for me?

    Thanks for the thoughts!

    • I also feel like it could be size. Although my size 20” matches what GG lists for Regular, the load lifters are below the crest of my shoulders. Could this be the issue and I need a longer frame that sits above the crest of my shoulders? The load lifters need to be almost completely cinched to get the 45 degree angle you look for.

      Anyway, thanks for any advice.

    • How’s the hip belt fit you? On your iliac crest bones?

      • Hip belt feels great. Dead center on my iliac crest. Even when purposefully trying to carry the weights on my hips by walking very upright, I can feel it in the shoulders.

        I am having a hard time getting the shoulder straps to fit snugly around my shoulder without really wrenching them and the load lifters down. If I keep them looser, there’s a gap between my back and the shoulder strap.

      • I know Wanda likes extra padding on her Granite Gear Straps, although she also has the women’s pack which has different straps from yours. She has an article coming on on it in about a week or two about it. Granite Gear uses the same shoulder straps on all of their men’s models. It sounds like the pack more or less fits your torso length. I think the regular fits torsos 18-21″. Maybe it just doesn’t work for you. It happens. I carry considerably more than the max load when I load this pack up with extra water and 10 pounds of traction aids and don’t feel any shoulder pain.

  9. Thanks Philip. I’m going to remeasure at home to make sure I got the right sized pack (was measured in store and maybe it was inaccurate) and pack it again carefully to make sure all of the weight is centered along my back. Admittedly for the try on, I just threw stuff in to get it to be heavy enough to test.

    Also plan on taking it to REI to see if they can offer any advice. After reading further, I feel like I may have got a frame that is too short, but again, I’m squarely in the middle of GG’s measurements based on what I was measured at and GG’s sizing.

    It really feels like a lot more pressure/pull down on the shoulders than it should. Hip belt felt great and love all the features of the pack. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit though. Glad I can return for another option.

    Thanks for all your great reviews and tips. I always feel much better knowing gear got your stamp of approval before purchase.

    Keep it up!

    • Did they measure your torso with a tape measure? I’m also surprised that they have the 2019 model in stock, because REI isn’t selling the 2019 model online yet. If yours isn’t black, it isn’t the 2019 model.

      • Measured it with what I believe is an Osprey system. It’s a hard plastic waist belt that you center on your hips and then presses against your back to get the measurement. This was a few months ago. Measured at 20″ at that time, but I want to remeasure at home to double check.

        For reference, should the flexible tape measure be contoured to your back or should it go straight from your C7 to iliac? Hard to get good information on this detail online…saw conflicting info on different sites.

        I did get the 2019 version online from REI. Had to have it shipped as it’s not available in store. Also looks like they only carry (or only have available) Regular and Long. No Short.

        https://www.rei.com/product/112645/granite-gear-crown2-60-pack-highland-peatblack-mens

      • If it’s the one shown by that hyperlink, it isn’t the 2019 version. Look at the pockets. That’s the 2017 model.

        Measure it straight, not the contour of your back. You’re measuring the height. Really use a tape measure. God only knows how Osprey does it.

  10. Right. The hyperlink and name of the product itself is odd, but you can select the “color” which actually lets you get the 2019 version. It has the nylon, not mesh pockets with the draw cord and it’s all black with red accents. They call the color black/red rock. Honestly, if I hadn’t have read your review, I would not have realized it was a newer model as everywhere online sells them as the same product name, just different colors.

    Anyway, I’ll remeasure and see what I come up with.

    Thanks again for the help.

  11. Picked up the 2017 model last year before my section hike on the AT. Love it. Got it adjusted for my frame, fit and comfort are fantastic, carried 30 pounds at start of the hike with water. The only issue I struggled with was getting the water bottles out. Thought it was just my lack of flexibility. Looks like they improved upon that design. Thanks for the review.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *