The Granite Gear Crown3 60L is an affordable ultralight backpack with a modular design that can be easily configured for ultralight backpacking, thru-hikes, and winter hiking. The things that set this roll-top backpack apart from other ultralight-style packs, besides its very reasonable price, are its three-sided compression and gear attachment system and an optional top lid pocket which can be added when you need to carry a bear canister or need more external storage for smaller items. The most significant upgrades in this latest version, are the availability of an optional add-on frame-stay that increases the pack’s upper load limit and the ability to use the top lid as a fanny pack or front chest pocket, saving the cost of having to buy these separately.
Specs at a Glance
- Gender: men’s (unisex) and women’s models available
- Volume: 60L
- Weight, Size Regular Unisex:
- Pack without framesheet, top lid, or optional stay: 32.6 oz / 924 g (actual)
- Framesheet: 6.5 oz / 186 g
- Top lid: 2.88 oz / 81.6 g
- Optional stay: 2.65 oz / 75 g
- Pockets: 3 closed, 3 open
- Load lifters: Yes
- Frame: Internal (plastic frame sheet and optional frame stay)
- Adjustable Hip Belt Length: Yes
- Max recommended load: 25 lbs without framesheet, 35 lbs with framesheet, 43 lbs with framesheet and aluminum stay
- Hydration compatible: Yes
- Material: 100d and 210d Robic Nylon
- Torso lengths: Unisex – 15″-24″; Women’s 15″-21″
- Hip belt lengths: Unisex – 26″- 42″;Women’s 24″-40″
Backpack Storage and Organization
The Granite Gear Crown3 60 is a roll-top ultralight-style backpack with an optional top lid pocket. The inside of the main compartment is a big open cylinder for you to organize and fill up. When packing, I like to stack all my stuff sacks up against the frame sheet and then stuff loose items behind them to maximize my space utilization and fill up the interior space. I also line the pack with a waterproof pack liner for moisture protection.
When computing pack volume, Granite Gear does not include open pockets or the extension collar (the extra volume above the top of the frame), so you’ll find that you can carry much more gear, food, and fuel than backpacks from smaller manufacturers that don’t adhere to this industry standard.
Notably absent is a hydration pocket in the interior, which many lightweight pack manufacturers have started to drop from multi-day backpacks since people prefer to keep their water on the outside. But there is still a hook to hang a reservoir inside and a central port to run a hose that opens between the shoulder straps.
The Crown3 has two side water bottle pockets made with solid fabric that have an elastic cord running through the top which you can tighten to prevent items from falling out. There’s also a compression strap than can be run over the pocket or through it, the latter so you can compress the main compartment while still using the side pocket. The pockets are large enough to hold two x 32 oz Nalgenes or 2 SmartWater bottles, whatever your preference. I can reach back to pull out a bottle or replace it without taking off the pack.
The front mesh pocket is extra tall and made with a durable mesh. It’s rather tight when the pack is full, so it’s best for storing a wet water filter, loose clothing layers, or smaller knick-knacks like a tent stake bag or trowel. I can barely fit my 1 liter cook pot into it, which is often wet inside, when the main body of the pack is full.
The top lid is floating, so it can be raised to fit over the extension collar when the pack is overloaded or when you want to carry a bear canister over the main compartment. The lid is connected to the back with four webbing straps, which are all removable if you remove the top lid, so you don’t have extra straps cluttering up the pack. That’s nice – just make sure you don’t misplace them.
Bear Canister Compatibility
The main compartment is large enough to fit a BV500 bear canister both vertically and horizontally, although I wouldn’t recommend trying to pack it horizontally because it is very very difficult to get out. The same is also true of the Garcia bear canister.
You can also carry a bear canister on top of the roll-top. The pack comes with a long webbing strap that runs over the roll top to provide top compression and is long enough to fit over and around a large bear canister. That may be enough to hold the canister on top, but it can still slip out sideways if you have to make some dynamic moves when scrambling. I like to augment the strap with the floating top lid to hold the canister in place. The lid is wide enough that the ends fit over a BV500, preventing it from sliding out sideways.
Backpack Frame and Suspension
The Crown3 has a plastic framesheet that is tightly packed into the zippered pocket behind the shoulder straps in the main compartment. You can remove it to save weight, but it will reduce the comfortable weight carrying capacity of the pack from 35 pounds to 25 pounds, so I just leave it in all the time.
New for the Crown3 is an optional frame stay ($12.95) weighing 2.65 oz / 75 g, that can be slotted into the plastic framesheet that adds an additional 8 pounds to the pack’s max recommended load rating, bringing it up to 43 lbs. The stay is only compatible with the Crown3 60 frame sheet. The stay is sized based on the torso length of your backpack, so make sure you buy the right size. It’s very useful when I need to do extended water carries with 5-6L of water for dry camping or when I need to carry snowshoes and extra winter traction gear.
The Crown3 does not have an adjustable torso length but the men’s (unisex) and women’s models are available in a wide range of sizes.
- Unisex: Short Torso = 15-18″; Regular Torso = 18-21″; Long Torso = 21-24″
- Women’s: Short Torso = 15-18″; Regular Torso = 18-21″
The Crown3 does however have an adjustable length hip belt, so you can dial in a perfect custom fit and still be able to reach the hip belt pockets. To adjust the hip belt length, you pull the hip belt out of the pack and fold the two halves together at the indicated measurement, which is closed with velcro. Getting a good hip belt fit, where the belt rides on your hip bones, is really hard for people and very difficult without an adjustable length hip belt like this. The hip belt is available in a Unisex and Women’s model: the latter has a more conical shape to fit female hips.
The shoulder straps on the Crown3 have daisy chains sewn to the outside which makes it very easy to attach accessory pockets, clip-on gear like a Garmin inReach, or a water bottle sleeve to them. They also serve as anchor points for the two sternum straps that come with the Crown3 and are meant to emulate vest-style packs. I removed the second sternum strap and only use one. And finally, the Crown 3 comes with two pairs of elastic cords/w cordlocks that can be used to suspend small bottles of water from the pack straps. I like side water bottle pockets better so I’ve also removed these from the pack.
Compression and External Attachment System
One of the things that makes Granite Gear Packs unique is their three-sided compression and attachment system, making it very easy to strap or attach bulky gear to the outside of the backpack, including snowshoes, foam pads, and other winter traction aids. If you want a backpack that you can use all year round and for multiple sports, the Granite Gear Crown3 60L has no equal. The same was true of the Crown2 60 and the Crown2 38, as well.
For example, the front and both sides of the pack have two tiers of compression straps which make it easy to strap snowshoes to the outside of the pack. I use this every winter, which lasts for close to 6 months in New Hampshire. The compression straps, which are made with actual webbing, and not string, close with buckles which are far easier to use for attaching bulky gear to the side of a pack and won’t freeze up in winter.
Fanny Pack Configuration
There are also some valuable cost-saving features on the Crown3 that you have to pay extra for when purchasing other backpacks. In addition to its two large hip belt pockets, you can combine the top lid with the hip belt to make a very nice fanny pack, and one that has the added benefit of hip belt pockets.
You just have to pull out the hip belt, unclip the top lid, and secure the top lid buckles around the hip belt. I didn’t mention it above, but the top lid pocket has internal dividers in the Crown3, making it easier to keep things separate when stored inside. That really helps when the top lid is used as a fanny pack pocket. And having large hip belt pockets on a fanny pack is just priceless. Pick pockets are crying.
Chest Pocket Configuration
You can also redeploy the top lid as a chest pocket by attaching its front webbing straps to the gear loop alongside each shoulder strap. I was a little skeptical when I first saw this, but it turns out to be quite useful and easy to disengage or re-engage when you want to take off or put the pack back on.
I use a front pocket all winter (an old Mystery Range Wet Rib – no longer made) and I like this one which is bigger and better. It’s very convenient for carrying maps and navigational aid, gloves, hats, and food. You can also spend big bucks on pockets like this, but having one included with the Crown3 is another big value add.
Backpacking gear has gotten really expensive, arguably too expensive, but the Granite Gear Crown3 60 is very competitively priced for an ultralight backpack ($220), especially when you factor in the added storage (hip belt pockets, fanny pack, and chest pocket) that other manufacturers charge an arm and a leg for. If you’re looking for a lightweight backpack that can be used year-round and easily customized for a wide range of trips, the Crown3 is really hard to beat.
Chief differences between the Crown2 and Crown3
- Optional Frame Stay
- Fanny pack configuration
- Chest pocket configuration
- Long top webbing strap
Be sure to check out the white, un-dyed version of the Crown3 60, which is pretty cool looking and reduces manufacturing water waste by 55%.
Reviews of Earlier Models:
- Granite Gear Crown VC 60 (2016)
- Granite Gear Crown 2 60 (2019)
- MassDrop x Granite Gear x60 Backpack Review (2019)
Disclosure: Granite Gear donated a backpack for this review.