Lightweight but Complicated

Reviewed by JT from CT on Thursday, September 24, 2015
Stumbled upon this pack while browsing STP; the price was right and I had some return credit, so I went for it. Before I pulled the trigger, I did a little bit of background research on Granite Gear and this particular pack and found that it received mostly positive reviews. Reviewers commented that the pack was lightweight and well-made, and I have to agree. There were a lot of mixed opinions about the colors, but I actually think it's kind of cool-looking. I was interested in this pack because I don't currently own a good multi-day pack and figured it wouldn't hurt to have one when the time comes for a longer trip. Part of what sold me on this beyond the light weight was the fact that this pack has some PALS webbing, because I already have a number of pouches that can interface with this system. When the pack arrived I was pleased with the quality, color, and the comfort of the belt/straps, but after fiddling with it for a while came to the conclusion I wasn't going to keep it. The deal-breaker for me is that the pack is just loaded with too much of what I call "gadgetry". What I'm referring to here are extra flaps of material, random hidden pouches, loops of webbing, and way too many mini straps/buckles. Seriously, after undoing a few of them, you start to get confused how it all reconnects; it just seems excessive. For a pack that's designed to be lightweight, they could have just left some of these buckles and straps off, rather than miniaturize them. I don't get the sense that these tiny buckles and their thin straps are going to hold up over time. With regard to the PALS grid on the front of the pack, I was disappointed with how flimsy this panel is, since it's a flap held on by a number of the aforementioned mini compression straps. The intention here is that one could put a helmet or an article of clothing behind it, and a crampon holster on the front webbing. Well if you do that, I can't imagine the crampons being very stable on that thin flap of material, even if you crank down the compression straps. The number of straps ensures the stability of just about any sized load, but you can forget about getting into the pack easily at that point. Perhaps I'm being unfair to the pack due to a disconnect between its intended use and my own needs, because I recognize that it does have some redeeming qualities (lightweight and comfortable). That being said, it just didn't work for me.
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