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MassDrop x Granite Gear x60 Backpack Review

MassDrop Granite Gear X60 Backpack Review

MassDrop-Made X60 Backpack

Comfort
Weight
Suspension
Features
Adjustability
Sizing
Durability

Highly adaptable UL-style backpack

The MassDrop x60 is a lightweight roll-top backpack with an optional top lid. Weighing 40.2 ounces, it can be stripped down to 23.2 by removing features you don't need. With a max load of 30-35 lbs, the X60 is one of the best ultralight-style backpacks available today and a real steal if purchased from MassDrop.

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The MassDrop x Granite Gear x60 is a roll top backpack with an optional top lid and an adjustable length hip belt. Weighing 23.2 to 40.2 ounces (depending on the configuration), it has a max load of 30-35 pounds. The X60 is a modified version of Granite Gear Crown2 60 backpack thats been specially designed for and sold by MassDrop. Priced at just $120 it’s an unbelievable value and a best buy in my book. Unfortunately, the X60 is only available in a unisex (men’s) version and in regular and long sizes, unlike the Granite Gear Crown 2 versions which are available in both mens and women’s versions and in short, regular, and long torso lengths. That said, the X60 is a great pack and a great buy, but only if you fit into the segment of the backpacker population that it’s sized for.

Specs at a Glance

Three Versions of the Crown2 60: 2017 Olive, MassDrop Grey, 2019 Black

There are three versions of the Granite Gear Crown2 60 Backpack that you can purchase today.

The original Granite Gear Crown2 60 from 2017 is also a great backpack, although the side water bottles needed some improvement to make them more accessible while wearing the pack. This issue was partially addressed in the MassDrop x60, along with better top lid organization, elastic straps for carrying water bottles on the shoulder straps, and a few other simple modifications. The 2019 release of the Granite Gear Crown2 60 improves on the MassDrop side water bottle pockets still further, switching to a more durable fabric and adding an elastic cord to tension the pocket so tall bottles can’t fall out. Is the improvement enough to justify paying another $80 for the 2019 model. Maybe. I’ll publish a review of the 2019 Crown2 60 soon, so you can decide.

Backpack Storage and Organization

The MassDrop X60 has a 60L main compartment with an internal hydration pocket, two side water bottle pockets, a long front mesh pocket, an optional 5L top lid pocket, and two large hip belt pockets. The main compartment closes with a roll top, so you get excellent load compression and stability. There’s a long extension collar, not included in the pack’s volume calculation, which provides even more storage. This extra space is good for holding a bear canister (vertically) or the load displaced by one, although there are ways where you can also carry a canister on the outside of the pack.

The side water bottle pockets are large enough to carry two 1 liter bottles
The side water bottle pockets are large enough to carry two 1 liter bottles

The two side water bottle pockets are reachable while wearing the pack, and if you have the flexibility, you can pull bottles out and replace them. The MassDrop modification added a slant to the top of the 2017 Crown 2 side pockets making it easier to replace bottles, but kept the same exterior stretch fabric.

Each pocket is large enough to hold 2 x 1 liter bottles. The pockets are made with a softshell fabric that quite tear resistant, even though it’s fairly loose, and stretches out with use. The side pockets could use an elastic cord to hold taller bottles inside better, a modification that was made on the 2019 Crown 2 model. There is a drain hole at the bottom of the pockets and the compression straps can be routed over or through them. This means you can put bottles back into the pocket, even when using the bottom compression strap.

Top down look at front mesh pocket and top Y strap/roll top.
Top down look at front mesh pocket and top Y strap/roll top.

The front mesh stretch pocket is full length, not the half-height pocket you find on other packs. It’s made with a durable, see-through mesh, with a tight weave. It is good for storing snacks, layers, wet gear, and whatever gear you want frequent access to so you don’t have to open the pack to get it.

The hip belt pockets are huge. They’re both hard-faced for durability and water-resistance. I use mine to carry extra gloves, rain mitts, Aquamira drops, compass, a Steripen, a camera, or a smartphone. You can really get a lot of little gear into them.

The hip belt pockets are large and hard faced for durability and water resistance.
The hip belt pockets are large and hard faced for durability and water resistance.

The top lid pocket is optional and can be removed, along with the straps that hold it onto the pack. It can also be converted into a fanny pack using the hip belt, which can be useful in town during a resupply, especially if a shopkeeper makes you keep your smelly backpack outside on the front porch while you shop inside.

The top lid has one zippered pocket, which MassDrop improved by adding two side-by-side pockets inside. There are best used to hold hats or gloves, but not electronics, which still have a tendency to shifting around inside the big pocket area.

The top lid pocket has organizers best used for storing hats and gloves
The top lid pocket has organizers best used for storing hats and gloves.

The top lid is also floating, so it can be raised or lowered to help hold gear onto the top of the pack. It’s a little too loose to hold a full size bear canister horizontally, unless you rig up some additional cordage to hold it in place. The pack’s top Y strap is also not long enough to reach over a bear canister and secure it.  I usually use the X60 without the top lid because I prefer a roll top, but it has its uses especially in winter and when traveling.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

Granite Gear Crown 2/X60 Backpack Framesheet
Framesheet

Internal Frame

The X60 has a two-part, fixed-length frame, consisting of a pliable plastic framesheet (optionally removable) and a grooved foam panel covered by fine mesh with vents cut into it. The framesheet is store in a zippered pocket inside the pack and can be removed, saving 5.1 oz if you don’t need it. If you do take it out, you’ll drop the max recommended load down to about 25 pounds, since the pack will become effectively frameless. When worn, the pack sits close to your back, but maintains enough stiffness to provide good load transfer to the hip belt. The bottom of the grooved foam panel has a slight lumbar pad, which though barely noticeable, helps to prevent the hip belt from slipping down your back.

The x60 has a grooved foam back panel that’s covered with mesh and internal frame sheet
The x60 has a grooved foam back panel that’s covered with mesh.

Shoulder Straps

This being a unisex backpack, the shoulder straps are J-shaped, which most men will find comfortable, but less so for women with breasts (Granite Gear sells women’s versions of the 2017 Crown2 60 and 2019 Crown2 60 with S-shaped shoulder pads and a women’s hip belt , but not through MassDrop).

The X60 shoulder straps have load lifters which are sewn to the pack bag at the top of the framesheet, so they actually work to pull the load closer to your shoulders when you tighten them.   The sternum strap is easy to move up and down the daisy chains sewn to the front of the straps, but the clip used to close it over your chest requires a little concentration to use. My preference would be replace the entire strap and buckle with a sternum strap that closes in the middle. It’s an easy modification.

One of the nice things about all Granite Gear backpacking packs is that the shoulder straps come with daisy chains sewn to the front, so you can attach accessory pockets to them. I prefer carrying my camera, inReach, and Smartphone in pockets hung off my shoulder pads this way, because they’re easier to reach, and they are more protected than if they were stored in my hip belt pockets.

The hip belt is easily resizable
The hip belt is easily resizable

Adjustable Hip Belt

All of the Crown2 models, including the x60 have an adjustable length hip belt w/pockets (see above) so you can adjust the length to fit your waist. It’s such a useful and amazing feature, it’s a wonder that more pack makers don’t use something similar. To adjust the length, you slide the hip belt out of the pack, reset its length using a rip and stick system, and reinsert it, where it’s held in pace with velcro. If you’re a woman and want the gender-specific hip belt, you might be able to call up Granite Gear and buy one to replace the unisex version included with the X60, although the colors will clash terribly. Or you could just buy a regular, gender-specific Granite Gear Crown2 with women’s S-shaped shoulder pads and a women’s hip belt.

External Attachments and Compression

If you’ve never used a Granite Gear Backpack before, you’ll be blown away by the things you can attach to the outside of the pack with ease. Trekking poles, sleeping pads, fishing rods, packraft paddles, tents, etc. It’s a distinguishing feature of all Granite Gear backpacks, that most other backpacks can’t touch.

Top Y-strap can hold a Bear Boxer to the top of the Crown2
Top Y-strap can hold a Bear Boxer to the top of the Crown2

The Crown2 x60 has two tiers of compression straps along the sides *and* front of the backpack that make it possible to strap all kinds of awkwardly shaped gear to the outside.

You can position a full-sized bear canister between the floating top lid and the top of the main compartment. However, the Y-shaped top compression strap that runs over it may or may wrap around it, depending on your load. That shouldn’t matter that much, since the top lid should hold the canister in place. However it is difficult to store much gear in that top lid pocket if it’s stretched tight around the canister. If you own a 3-day Bear Boxer Canister, the Y-strap is long enough to wrap around it, so you can remove the top lid completely if you like.

Side and front compression straps make it easy to strap gear to the packs exterior
Side and front compression straps make it easy to strap gear to the packs exterior

It’s also easy to attach snowshoes to the sides or front of the pack using the two-tiered compression strap system, although it can limit access to the side or front pockets. I hike all winter with a Crown2 38L or 60L because it’s so easy to attach sharp pointed gear, like snowshoes, to the outside of the pack.

It’s easy to strap snowshoes to the front of the pack using the dual compression straps.
It’s easy to strap snowshoes to the front of the pack using the dual compression straps.

When you add in the dual ice axe loops, lid gear loops, and attachment points, there are many other ways you can rig up custom attachment points with some shock cord and cord locks. The only thing that’s missing are ice axe/trekking pole shaft holders, although you can just secure items with the side compression straps or rig up some holders with shock cord.

Comparable Lightweight 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

Recommendation

The MassDrop x Granite Gear x60 is a modified, improved, and significantly less expensive ($120) version of the original Granite Gear Crown2 60 backpack ($200) introduced in 2017 and still widely available. Priced at $120, it’s a great value, but it’s only available in a men’s (unisex) version and for torso lengths ranging from 18-24″, but not the 15″-18″ short size usually offered by Granite Gear.  If you’re female or short, I’d recommend buying the newest 2019 Granite Gear Crown2 60 (men’s or women’s) packs instead. Whichever version you end up buying, you’ll be pleased with the pack. It really is a joy to carry and very functional. Highly Recommended!

Disclosure: The author purchased this backpack.

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13 comments

  1. Odd that a full size bear canister can’t be secured horizontally under the lid. The original Crown2 certainly has that capability. Did Granite Gear change the dimensions of the top lid and shorten the y-strap? Or is it load-dependent?

    • That was poorly worded, so I’ve rewritten it to clarify the point I was trying to make. A full size canister will fit under the lid, but the Y-strap may or may not depending on your load. If you have a smaller Bear Boxer canister, you can secure it with the Y-strap alone, and dispense with the top lid completely. Good catch.

      • Got it. Though we all know that it would not be a tremendous surprise for a manufacturer to make goofy changes like that! When I’ve used my original Crown2, I’ve only had three-season, short-trip loads, and I can well imagine a larger load making it tough to secure the bear canister.

      • For sure. Of course, any such problem can usually be overcome with some elastic cord and a few cord locks. I modify everything, eventually.

  2. I signed up to buy this pack when they first announced its release and have used it for almost a year now. It really is a fantastic pack and my first ultralight pack after years of using standard Osprey and Gregory packs. For the price it is incredibly hard to do better than this. I agree clipping the sternum strap is one of the toughest features on this pack, it is a minor issue but bewildering to me how every sternum buckle I’ve used is better than this one. I also wish the interior top lid pockets had tighter elastic because stuff falls out of them easily. This design seems more for the fanny pack use. My other complaint with this pack is there is no water bladder sleeve. You have to use the framesheet pocket for the bladder. I’d rather have a separate sleeve and sacrifice an extra ounce or whatever that would weigh. It’s less convenient on the trail to unzip the framesheet to remove/replace the bladder because you have to remove more gear to do this effectively.

    I use a BV450 and typically load it up and put it in the center of the pack. It fits easily. This pack swallows gear. If you like keeping the BV450 empty I’ve found it can fit inside the roll-top on top of your gear with the collar extended. I find this has been easier than trying to externally strap the BV450 with the Y-strap. Either way an empty canister on top decreases the functionality of the top lid if you like to bring it, but at least those internal pockets get stretched better!

  3. I’m confused by your sizing rating of 2.5 out of 5. At first, I thought there might be issues with adjusting the pack to fit me. But it seems your rating is more about availability of sizes, correct?

    • That’s exactly correct. That feature rating is to force people reading this review to look at the limited sizing available and the fact that this is a men’s only backpack, not available in women’s sizing or features, like Granite Gear’s other backpacks.

  4. Thanks Philip! Excited to hear your review of the 2019 Crown2 :)

  5. Philip,

    Any recommendations on a pack cover that you might use for the X60?

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