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Granite Gear Blaze 60 Review

The Blaze 60 is a super-lightweight load hauler, that is both comfortable and full of awesome features.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $270 List | $202.46 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Light-weight, comfortable with heavy loads, perfect pocket combination
Cons:  Tiny buckles hard to operate with gloves
Manufacturer:   Granite Gear
By Adam Paashaus ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 5, 2019
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SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 16
  • Suspension and Comfort - 45% 8
  • Weight - 20% 9
  • Features and Ease of Use - 20% 9
  • Adjustability - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Granite Gear Blaze 60 is one awesome pack! Almost everything about this pack was perfectly designed, earning it our top spot as Editors' Choice. It's rare to find a pack this light-weight, that can also comfortably tote heavy loads as this pack does. Not only that, Granite Gear doesn't skimp on excellent features to save weight. This pack has a good size lid that is easily removable, two huge side water bottle pockets, a stretchy mesh stuff-it pocket, huge hip belt pockets, and a full set of versatile compression straps. This pack is a great choice for just about any foray into the wilderness, from an overnighter to a thru-hike.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $202.46 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$280 List$549.00 at REI
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$269.95 at Backcountry
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$289.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Light-weight, comfortable with heavy loads, perfect pocket combinationLight-weight, comfortable, supportive, functional feature setSpectacular suspension, comfortable padding, ergonomic shoulder strap design, extremely weather resistantAwesome pockets, excellent ventilation, general comfortPacked full of features, great pockets, comfortable and solid ergonomic design
Cons Tiny buckles hard to operate with glovesNo lid, back-panel lacks ventilationExpensive, heavier, few convenience featuresNot supportive for loads over 40 poundsSlightly on the heavier side, not the best for super heavy loads
Bottom Line The Blaze 60 is a super-lightweight load hauler, that is both comfortable and full of awesome features.The ULA Catalyst blends excellent carrying comfort with arguably the best-executed set of features, all in a light-weight package.A fantastic all-around pack with an awesome suspension and top-notch weather resistance.The Atmos 65 AG has earned its spot as a cult classic in the backpacking world due to having a great breathable suspension and other great user friendly features.An extremely comfortable and feature-rich design that handles heavy loads, while only being marginally heavier than average.
Rating Categories Granite Gear Blaze 60 Catalyst Arc'teryx Bora AR 63 Osprey Atmos 65 AG Osprey Aether AG 60
Suspension And Comfort (45%)
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8
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8
Weight (20%)
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Features And Ease Of Use (20%)
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Adjustability (15%)
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Specs Granite Gear Blaze... Catalyst Arc'teryx Bora AR 63 Osprey Atmos 65 AG Osprey Aether AG 60
Measured Weight (pounds) 3 lbs 3 lbs 5.00 lbs 4.54 lbs 5.13 lbs
Volume (liters) 60 L 75 L 63 L 65 L 60 L
Access Top Top Top + side access zipper Top + sleeping bag compartment Top + side access zipper + sleeping bag compartment
Hydration Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Materials 100D robic nylon w/ DWR coating 400 Robic fabric Weatherproof N400r-AC squared fabric in areas exposed and a mix of N420p-HT and tN630p-HT plain weave Nylon over the rest of the pack Main body: 100D X 630D Nylon Dobby
Accent: 210D High Tenacity Nylon, Bottom: 420HD Nylon
Main body: 210D Nylon Dobby
Accent: 210D High Tenacity Nylon, Bottom: 500D Nylon
Sleeping bag Compartment No No No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Granite Gear Blaze 60 is one of the lightest packs in our test, yet it carries heavy loads phenomenally, and with all the right pockets in all the right places, this pack is a force to be reckoned with. It's no wonder that Granite Gear has had a good reputation with long-distance hikers going back quite a few years.

Performance Comparison


The High Peaks of northern Vermont were great testing grounds.
The High Peaks of northern Vermont were great testing grounds.

Suspension and Comfort


This pack has a tremendous suspension that can take on almost any load. Not only does the Air Current frame support a monster load, but it also has channels for warm air to escape, making it one of the more breathable back-panels in our test despite not having a trampoline style harness.


The foam used in the back-panel, lumbar area, and hip belts is firm to support the weight of a heavy pack but soft enough to be comfortable. The plastic frame sheet flexes easily to move well with your body, but resists buckling to a downward force, as a result, the pack feels solid on your back without any shifting or slouching.

The back panel of the Blaze offers great breathability without adding extra weight or reducing carrying support.
The back panel of the Blaze offers great breathability without adding extra weight or reducing carrying support.

We found that the hip belt does a good job of supporting a heavily loaded pack even without a beefy frame structure that some other hip belts use. The shoulder straps also do a great job of supporting the weight of a heavy pack, with the lack of any breathable plushy mesh, we found both the shoulder straps and the hip belt to be somewhat sweaty on warm days.

The waist belt and shoulder straps have great support for a heavy load  but without spacer mesh  they don't breath as well as some others in our selection.
The waist belt and shoulder straps have great support for a heavy load, but without spacer mesh, they don't breath as well as some others in our selection.

Weight


Weighing in at a scant three pounds, this is by far one of the lightest weight packs in our comparison. Normally, how much weight a pack will comfortably carry has a direct correlation to the pack-weight, heavier packs support heavier loads, however, with this pack, this isn't the case. This pack is a true workhorse when you need it, but on the other hand, a light, nimble featherweight pack when you don't.


Granite Gear does a great job of adding durability to the pack in places you need it, while keeping things otherwise simple to reduce excess weight. The Robic fabric is both lightweight and tear-resistant. This pack carries well whether you are loading it down with heavy climbing gear or you are heading out with a fresh resupply of food and water for a long desert crossing on the PCT.

The light-weight Robic fabric is super durable.
The light-weight Robic fabric is super durable.

Features


Loaded with great features, the Granite Gear Blaze 60 is built with the avid hiker in mind and it shows. It packs in quite a few great features such as extra-large hip belt pockets, stretchy mesh stuff-it pocket, huge side water bottle pockets, removable top lid, a long, and a hidden front access zipper.


The hip belt pockets on this pack are among the most spacious in our lineup. We used them for a slew of things that we wanted to keep handy and available for the hike, like map & compass, bars, chapstick, headlamp, or even a large phone or small camera.

Huge hip pockets hold all the small things we need access to throughout the day.
Huge hip pockets hold all the small things we need access to throughout the day.

The side water bottle pockets are also enormous, easily fitting two Smartwater bottles each, and a shock cord cinches up the lip to keep everything inside from flopping around or falling out. The side pockets have so much space that we stored our 750ml ti-pot and a Smartwater bottle in one of them for a good portion of our testing.

The stretchy mesh front pocket is narrow at the top making accessing things inside a little tricky, but overall the pocket has a great capacity. We used it for stuffing our rain gear, pack cover, or light layers.

The top of the stuff-it pocket was narrow making it slightly harder to load and access items but that helps keep items contained well.
The top of the stuff-it pocket was narrow making it slightly harder to load and access items but that helps keep items contained well.

Three compression straps go across the front of the pack as well to keep the load tidy and are great for lashing anything from a closed-cell foam pad to bulky layers or wet socks. Each side of the pack also has three separate compression straps. Again, great for keeping the load secured, but also great for holding tent poles in place.

Every compression strap  both on the sides and front of the pack have clipping buckles to allow them to be easily used for lashing items like layers  foam pads  or tent poles.
Every compression strap, both on the sides and front of the pack have clipping buckles to allow them to be easily used for lashing items like layers, foam pads, or tent poles.

The top lid is simple with a single zippered pocket. While not the largest lid, it was handy for storing things like our toiletries bag, snacks, and our dity bag. For some trips when you don't need or want the lid, it can be easily removed and under the lid, the main compartment has a cinch and roll style closure with two crossing compression straps to lock down the top securely. The lid can also be used as a waist pack when combined with the waist belt or as a chest pack for even more access to things while you are on the go.

A basic  light-weight top lid has a short zipper making accessing items a little tough but overall has a decent design.
A basic, light-weight top lid has a short zipper making accessing items a little tough but overall has a decent design.

The long, hidden front access zipper runs up most of the front of the pack, to the side of the stretchy mesh pocket. We found this feature to be less than handy in most cases, but admittedly, this is mostly because we used a pack liner that restricted access to most everything inside, and usually, things we needed to have access to during the day, were kept in the top lid, stretchy pocket, strapped to the outside or in the top of the pack. However, some users will love this feature and we think it is well designed using a heavy gauge zipper.

Adjustability


The new A.C. (Air Current) Frame comes in three sizes for Short, Reg, Long torso lengths and each one has four separate shoulder strap attachment points which are simple to adjust to get the right fit. The hip belt is also able to expand or compress to fit waist sizes from 26" to 42".


We did find the RE-FIT waist belt to be difficult to remove and adjust because the hook and loop connection is hard to access and break free. All in all this pack has good adjustability and is very easy to get a great fit.

Adjusting the torso length on the Blaze 60 is intuitive and anyone can do it without a struggle.
Adjusting the torso length on the Blaze 60 is intuitive and anyone can do it without a struggle.

Value


This pack isn't super cheap but it's also not outrageously priced. Considering how well this pack carries heavy loads and how little it weighs, not to mention all the great features it has, we feel that it's absolutely worth the asking price.

Testing the Blaze 60 above the trees in Vermont.
Testing the Blaze 60 above the trees in Vermont.

Conclusion


If you are looking for the lightest-weight pack available that can comfortably carry a pretty substantial load, there is no better choice than the Blaze 60, earning it this year's Editors' Choice award. This pack is in a class all by itself. Not only is it a solid workhorse of a pack, but it also has a great set of functional features useful to all different types of users, from new backpackers to seasoned section and thru-hikers.


Adam Paashaus