Gear Review: Selecting a new pack

Granite Gear Crown2 60 vs. Osprey Exos 48

There will never be a pack like my beloved Rosie, but the thru-hiker funk refuses to dissipate, no matter how many times I wash her and how strong the chemicals. She’s being retired, and for my upcoming birthday I am treating myself to a new pack.

I’m going to step you through my decision-making process. Remember, everyone has unique needs, body types, budgets, and tastes – this is just a glimpse into mine. 

Step 1: Decide what I want in a pack

  • Lightweight
  • High-quality material
  • Water resistant
  • 50-55 liters
  • Budget: $150 – $225 USD
  • Good fit for my XS/S torso*
  • Desired features (detailed below)

*If you don’t know what size pack is best for you, you can get measured at an outfitter, or you can measure at home with a tape measure. Measure from the top of your hipbones (iliac crest) to the bumpy bone at the bottom of your neck (C7 vertebra). That’s your torso length. Mine is about 16.5″, which is usually a XS or Small size. Most XS/S packs are between 15″-18″. Remember it doesn’t matter how tall you are; you can be 6′ tall and still need a size Small pack based on torso length.

Step 2: Research online (see my post on sites I visit when researching)

Step 3: Decide on the pack(s) I am most interested in and try them out

  • Trying out: go to an outfitter that stocks those packs, bringing the gear you will be packing into it or just using pack filler weights the store provides
    • Tip: If you are using your own gear, use your winter gear to make sure you have enough room for bulkier, heavier items
    • Gear I used for testing:
    • filler
  • If none of the outfitters stock the pack(s) you want to try out, as happened in my case, I purchased them online and decided to return the one – or both – that didn’t work out

Step 4: Comparision

Feature Granite Gear Crown2 60 Osprey Exos 48
Lightweight

Winner: Crown2

Short: 2 lbs. Short: 2.23 lbs.
High-quality material

Winner: Crown2

100D High-tenacity nylon ; 210D High-tenacity ripstop nylon Main: 100D High-tenacity nylon; Accent and bottom: 100D High-tenacity ripstop nylon
Nerd note on nylon: Denier (D) is used to determine the thickness of the fabric fibers. It’s a unit of density based on the length and weight of a yarn or fiber. Usually the higher the denier, the stronger the fabric. Ripstop fabrics are woven using a special reinforcing technique (thick reinforcement threads are interwoven at regular intervals in a crosshatch pattern) that makes them resistant to tears and rips.
Water resistant

Winner: Crown2

NeverWet liquid repelling treatment No information, except to treat with Nikwax
50-55 liters 

Winner: tie

60 Short: 45
$150 – $225

Winner: Exos

$199.95 $190.00
Good fit for XS/S torso Winner: tie Yes, once straps adjusted Yes, once straps adjusted; felt a bit top-heavy

 

Granite Gear Crown2 60 Osprey Exos 48
Supportive, padded, adjustable hip belt winner: Crown2
GG hip

Hip belt was not as padded as the Exos, but was adjustable and doesn’t have the obnoxious strap loops. Adjusting the “Re-fit” hip belt was an exercise in patience. The velcro is super bonding and it takes sweat and swearing to move this thing.

oe hip belt

Hip belt was padded and comfortable, but not adjustable. I didn’t like the loops on the end of the straps to secure it from hanging down because it limited how tight I could cinch it. If I get this pack, those are being cut off.

Reservoir sleeve and hose placement winner: Exos

*note: My MSR bladder is weird in that it doesn’t have a center loop or hook like a Camelbak or other reservoirs, so I attach to packs using a tiny carabiner.

gg reservoir

No reservoir sleeve at all, so totally exposed to rest of gear. The reservoir hook is just plastic, so probably more prone to break.

gg hose

Hose comes from top center opening, but there are no hydration tube straps to guide it through; I had to use my Camelbak magnetic tube trap to secure it.

oe reservoir

Reservoir sleeve (also a good place to hide valuable papers/money in plastic bag)

oe hose goo pocket

Hose comes out from opening at top of either side. Tube straps are SNUG and hard to push the hose through. This pack has special goo gel pockets in the straps.

 

Removable lid winner: Crown2
gg brain attach

Lid is quickly removed with buckles, which are adjustable. This helps with the sleeping pad con mentioned below.

gg brain zip

gg brain inside

No inner zippered pocket

oe brain attach

Lid is quickly removed with hooks, but is not adjustable at all, so I hit my head on it a lot since it’s packed to capacity.

oe brain zip outside

oe brain zip inside

Inner zippered pocket

Sleeping pad straps winner: Exos
gg front

BIG disappointment here. No external pad straps at all. I was able to raise the lid to fit the pad, which looks ridiculous. I even tried to put an old accordion Ace Camp pad in the front two horizontal straps and then along the side straps, but it wasn’t close to fitting. MAJOR CON for me. If I get this pack, I will have to sew on some buckled loops.

oe pad straps

It HAS pad straps, which are a plus, but it’s a string run through a series of loops and then threaded into pull buckles. I had to skip some loops and wrestle with threading the tiny buckle to get my sleeping pad set.

Adjustable chest strap winner: Crown2
gg chest strap

Simple movable buckle design so I can adjust while hiking.

 

oe chest strap move

Adjustable, but only by wrestling a disc out of one of the holes and moving it. This is definitely not something you would do while hiking.

Pockets winner: Crown2
gg front pocket

gg pocket

Mesh front pocket and hip belt pockets are huge! (SPOT Gen3 GPS for scale)

 

oe front mesh

oe pocket

Mesh front pocket is decent, but can’t hold as much. Hip belt pockets aren’t as big and are also all mesh, so I’d have to keep things in plastic bags if it rains.

Pack closure winner: Crown2
gg top

This pack is a roll-top, which really helps with the water proofing. To further secure it, there is a neat buckle that makes a V with straps across the top. The lid buckles in on top, but this pack is still very functional without the lid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

oe top

Pack is filled to the brim and has a cinch cord. There’s a red strap that buckles across the top to hold things in place.

oe top 2

There’s a “FlapJacket” lid to cover the top if you remove the lid, which is a handy feature. It’s not water-proofed to my knowledge, so that’s still an issue.

Here are the front and back views of both packs:

After comparing all the features important to me, I decided to go with the Granite Gear Crown2 60. Even though it doesn’t have sleeping pad straps (REALLY???), I can add those to the pack myself and use my Thermarest Women’s NeoAir Xlite in the meantime. The reservoir sleeve is more a peace of mind thing than an actual necessity, so I don’t mind that this pack lacks one. It’s a bit larger than I prefer, but I’d rather have extra room than run out of space, which is what happened with the Exos. There are so many great features with this pack, and it fits me well. I look forward to many good years and adventures with this pack!

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