GRANITE GEAR VAPOR TRAIL PACK
BY NANCY GRIFFITH
January 08, 2008
||5' 6" (1.68 m)
||132 lb (59.90 kg)
I've been backpacking since my college
days in Pennsylvania and since then in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and
now in the Sierra Nevada of California. Most of my trips are section hikes or
loops from a few days to a week. I mostly hike in the summer and fall. I've
recently discovered the virtues of lightening the load by updating some older
gear, but I'm not an ultralight backpacker…yet.
Manufacturer: Granite Gear
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.granitegear.com/
Listed Weight: 30.4 oz (862 g)
Measured Weight: 30.4 oz (862
Other details: Tested version was Short Torso size
The Granite Gear
Vapor Trail pack has one large compartment that is accessed only from the top
which is closed with a drawstring, then by rolling the excess material and
securing two straps; one strap front to back and one strap from side to side.
There is no top lid compartment. The main compartment has a volume of
approximately 2600 cu in (42.6 L) with the remainder in the extension sleeve for
a total of 3,300 cu. in. (54 L) (short size). There are two side pockets made of
stretchy material. Inside the main compartment is a pocket with compression
straps for a hydration pack and a hydration port on one side. The shoulder
straps are attached (non-adjustable). The suspension system can be adjusted at
the shoulders with load lifter straps and at the hip belt with stabilizer
straps. The frame is made with a polyethylene sheet which is covered with
padding and attached to the bottom and sides of the pack. This support works
well for load transfer. Photo courtesy of Granite Gear.
I first used the
Vapor Trail on an overnight backpacking trip on the Tahoe Rim Trail (Northern
Sierra Nevada mountains, CA) from 7300 - 8350' (2225 - 2545 m). It was summer
with temperatures in the 50's - 80's F (10 - 27 C). The humidity was low with no
I also used it on a week-long trip in King's Canyon National Park
(Southern Sierra Nevada mountains, CA) from 5,000 - 11,978' (1524 - 3651 m). The
temperatures were in the 30's - 80's F (0 - 26.7 C). There was no rain the
entire week and only one day of threatening rain. Nights were
Lighter weight backpacking is the way to go! This pack saved me
over 5 lb (2.27 kg) in pack weight alone. That I LOVE. Of course there are
compromises that must be made for this weight savings. For one, it is not as
durable as my old pack both in terms of handling abrasion and in terms of
handling overstuffing. Secondly, the one main compartment (without any pack top
compartment) requires some ingenuity in how to store/find smaller items.
As for durability, I had to develop the habit of setting down my pack
with the strap side down and to carefully pack so that hard items are not
directly touching the inside of the pack. I once set my pack down such that the
back rubbed a granite boulder. The bear canister inside (with no soft padding
around it) caused an abrasion on the pack. See photo.
packing small items, I started carrying my most often used items in my pants
pockets. The others I placed in the elastic pockets on one side of the pack. The
other elastic pocket I used for fuel and/or a Nalgene bottle. NOTE: the elastic
pockets have a hole about 1" (2.5 cm) long on the bottom corner of one side, so
I had to be careful not to put items that were too small near that area or else
they could fall out. I found it to work fine to just place them to the other
side of that same pocket and the elastic held them in place. It was difficult to
access the pockets while wearing the pack, so I either took it off or had my
partner do it.
I used the space between the straps and pack for holding
either my 60 oz (1.8 L) or 100 oz (3 L) hydration bladder. It helped to get all
of the air out before trying to stuff it in. Inserting the bladder before
loading the pack also helped. I never used the inside pocket for the hydration
bladder for fear of a water leak, but I did find it useful for small items that
are rarely used but need to be handy in a hurry such as my first aid kit, ace
bandage and occasionally, map.
My old Madden pack is infinitely
adjustable with gel padded shoulder straps, so I expected the Vapor Trail to be
less comfortable. However, surprisingly I found the Vapor Trail to be more
comfortable and didn't cause the usual hip and shoulder sore spots. This was
probably just due to my lower overall pack weight. I do wish the shoulder straps
were adjustable, but the pack was still very comfortable. It did take some pack
content re-organization to get the comfort-level just right. On the first trip,
I had some heavier items too low in the pack and it was making me feel like I
was being pulled backwards. Now I pack light clothes/sleeping bag at the bottom,
heavier cookset/stove higher and between my shoulder blades with lighter items
toward the outside.
The 3,300 cu. in. (54 L) (short size) includes the
extension sleeve. However, only a portion of the extension could be used while
allowing enough material to roll down to maintain water resistance. Also, the
straps are not long enough to clip if I filled the entire extension sleeve. My
gear fit easily in the main portion, so I didn't use the extension sleeve.
Overall, I would recommend this pack
for anyone who is able to downsize on the amount of gear hauled. It works very
well with a small load that can fit in the main compartment of approx. 2600 cu
in (42.6 L). Its durability and comfort seem well suited for this type of load.
I carried up to 26.5 lb (12 kg) of gear in this pack with no problems. My hiking
partner carried up to 33.5 lb (15.2 kg) in the Regular Torso size which fit in
the main compartment with ease and was comfortable.
My favorite thing
about the pack is that it keeps me from packing too much gear! Granite Gear
claims that 40% of AT thru hikers use this pack. Whether that is true or not, it
means that even a thru hiker can fit everything needed in this pack. I saw a PCT
thru hiker using this pack this summer.
THINGS I LIKE
Hydration bladder pocket
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
Lighter duty durability
pockets for organization
Nancy Griffith This report
was created with the BackpackGearTest.org
Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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