This trip was another chance to use the Granite Gear Crown 2 60L rucksack. Having found the Crown 2 so comfortable on an earlier trip to the Howgill Fells, I was very happy to use it on the Affric Kintail Way.
The Granite Gear Crown 2 is designed as a lightweight multi-day backpack. The previous version, the Crown V.C. 60 had long been one of our ‘Top Pick’ backpacks. We were keen to test the new Crown 2 to see if the changes have made one of our favourite packs even better. The most obvious changes are the introduction of a top lid with storage pocket and an adjustable hip belt with pockets but the back system has also been updated.
The Crown 2 is the most comfortable lightweight pack I’ve used and was perfect for the load that I was carrying on this trip. My pack weighed around 12.5kg at the start of the trek including food and water. This was governed by the forecast of snow so I packed a well insulated mat and sleeping bag plus some extra layers of clothing. By the end of the trek, the pack weight was under 10kg (once the food was used as I’d taken some heavier fresh food for the first day). Granite Gear’s maximum recommended carry weight is 15kg and I didn’t get to test that but I found the pack to be perfect for the weight I was carrying.
I used the short torso version which might work out at a little less that 60L but it was big enough to fit all my gear that including winter clothing and 4 days worth of food. There wasn’t much room to spare but everything went in.
The Crown 2 has a roll top which allows you to compress the contents of the pack down when it’s full or reduce the volume of the pack when it’s carrying less gear. The compression straps on the side of the pack are also effective at reducing the volume for shorter trips, over-nighters or in the summer when your kit takes up less space.
There is a sleeve for a hydration bladder and an exit to route the hose through but I haven’t tried these as when walking I find it easier to use a bottle. Trying to cram a refilled bladder into its sleeve when the pack is full is always a battle.
To keep weight to a minimum, the Crown 2 uses a plastic framesheet combined with a foam back panel. This provides enough structure to transfer the pack weight through to the adjustable hip belt up to the 15kg limit. For such a light pack there is a reasonable amount of padding in both the shoulder straps and hip belt. I found both to be comfortable all day with the weights I was carrying.
There is minimal venting on the back panel, a few recessed channels to allow some airflow. This makes the Crown 2 feel close to your back, helping the weight feel centred and stopping unwanted movement from the pack. It’s a very stable pack over rougher terrain. It does however mean that your back might get a bit sweatier but it’s not a big deal, even with mesh suspension back systems, I get a sweaty back if it’s warm.
Rucksack fit is a very personal thing. I was on the cusp of the Small and the Medium but decided that the small Crown 2 was the better fit and transferred the weight to the hip belt effectively and the shoulder straps contoured my shoulders well. The hip belt can be adjusted to suit your waist size. This is useful feature to allow for wearing more layers or if you lose weight during a long distance trek. Once I had adjusted the belt and shoulder straps initially, I was able to just throw the pack on and go each day.
Granite Gear have selected a mix of 100D High-tenacity nylon and 210D High-tenacity ripstop nylon with NeverWet liquid repelling treatment to help shed rain from the surface of the pack. The higher denier fabric is in high wear areas like the bottom of the pack etc. After 2 trips, it still looks like new apart from a bit of dirt, so it seems to be durable for a lightweight pack. The first places likely to show signs of wear will be the stretch pockets on the side and back of the pack but they have survived unblemished so far.
I appreciated the addition of a removable top lid. I like to keep certain items accessible and the pocket on the lid was really useful for stowing items close to hand. You can save a bit of weight by leaving it at home when it’s not needed.
The Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Litre lived up to expectations for me. The changes from the original Crown V.C. have resulted in an excellent rucksack suitable for most multi-day use. It has performed superbly so far and I’m looking forward to taking it on many more trips.