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Granite Gear Blaze 60 - Women's Review

A combination of a lightweight pack with a rigid suspension ready to support moderate loads
Granite Gear Blaze 60 - Women's
Photo: Granite Gear
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Price:  $270 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Huge main compartment, customizable compression straps, super lightweight
Cons:  Dark material makes pack contents difficult to see, hip belt difficult to adjust, rigid padding might not last over time
Manufacturer:   Granite Gear
By Elizabeth Paashaus ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 7, 2021
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59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 14
  • Comfort and Suspension - 45% 4
  • Organizational systems - 20% 8
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Adjustability - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Granite Gear Blaze 60 challenges the idea that a lightweight pack can't handle decent-sized loads. Not only is the Blaze one of the lightest models we tested, but it also has some of the largest and easiest to access storage. We love how simple this pack is, along with the several small compression straps that configure it in different ways to secure even the oddest of items. We wish that the pack came in a lighter color, so things inside were easier to see, and our candy bars didn't melt so easily. Unfortunately, the fit was not quite right for many users.

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Pros Huge main compartment, customizable compression straps, super lightweightComfortable, lightweight, supportive suspension, simple design, large pocketsComfortable and supportive, fully-featured with pockets and access points, adjustable torso and hip beltOutstanding support under heavy loads, well-cushioned hip belt and shoulder straps, highly adjustable, durable materialsUltra comfortable, roomy, inexpensive, durable, can fit a bear can horizontally, low center of gravity, airy mesh frame
Cons Dark material makes pack contents difficult to see, hip belt difficult to adjust, rigid padding might not last over timeNon-ventilated back panel, less organizational featuresMesh pockets lack durabilityHeavy, too tight side pockets, rigid and not suited for scramblingNot many bells and whistles, set torso adjustment points, no back stash pocket
Bottom Line A combination of a lightweight pack with a rigid suspension ready to support moderate loadsA durable bag with all the right pockets and suspension that will keep your back, hips, and shoulders comfortable all dayA comfortable and supportive suspension, a comprehensive feature set, and adjustability all in a lightweight packageThe beast you want for substantial loads, this pack is highly comfortable and incredibly adjustable to many body typesThis simple pack combines comfort, volume, and price; it will take you anywhere and won’t break the bank
Rating Categories Blaze 60 Circuit Gregory Maven 65L Osprey Ariel 65 Osprey Renn 65
Comfort And Suspension (45%)
4.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Organizational Systems (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Weight (20%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
3.0
6.0
Adjustability (15%)
7.0
4.0
7.0
10.0
7.0
Specs Blaze 60 Circuit Gregory Maven 65L Osprey Ariel 65 Osprey Renn 65
Measured Weight (pounds) 3.0 lbs 2.7 lbs 3.4 lbs 4.8 lbs 3.6 lbs
Volumes Available (liters) 60 68 45, 55, 65 55, 65 50, 65
Organization: Compartments Lid, front pocket, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment Side pockets, front pocket, hip belt pockets, main compartment Lid with two pockets, front pocket, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment Lid with two pockets, front pocket, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment Lid, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment
Access Top, front Top Top, side, bottom Top, front, bottom Top, bottom
Hydration Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rain Cover Included No No Yes Yes Yes
Women's Specific Features Women's Specific fit & sizing S-Curve Shoulder Straps Women's specific fit Women's specific fit Women's Specific fit
Sleeping bag Compartment No No Yes Yes No
Bear Can Compatible Yes - Vertical and Horizontal Yes - Vertical Yes - Vertical and Horizontal Yes - Vertical Yes - Vertical and Horizontal
Main Materials 210D HD nylon 500 Cordura Nylon 420HD nylon packcloth 600D polyester
Sizes Available Short, Regular S, M, L, XL, Kids XS/S, S/M XS/SM, M/L One size, with adjustable torso

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Blaze 60 is a lightweight workhorse, perfectly suited for the long-distance trekker. With a simple suspension, it doesn't pretend to be fancier than it is but is well-built to easily support moderate loads. Beginners with bulkier gear will also appreciate the roomy main compartment and exterior straps, ideally suited to hold everything you need and then some.

Performance Comparison


We hauled the Blaze stuffed with things we would never think to put...
We hauled the Blaze stuffed with things we would never think to put in any other lightweight pack such as the enormous Big Agnes Big Six chair and multiple jars of peanut butter.
Photo: Adam Paashaus

Comfort and Suspension


The Blaze combines weight-saving efficiency with support to create a lightweight pack that can handle a heavier burden than other packs in this weight range. The back panel is a combination of hard, sturdy plastic (a throwback to the early 2000s, but better) with a molded-foam back padding that offers comfort, some ventilation, and support.

The Blaze's suspension can support heavy loads of around 45 pounds for some users. The molded plastic frame is strong and is securely attached to the pack but isn't tall enough to take the load off the shoulders for average to taller users. The foam-padded back panel is, as you would expect, significantly less breathable than the trampoline mesh styles. This is a trade-off to be able to carry the load closer to your body, which typically allows more comfortably carrying of heavier packs, so be prepared to appreciate the breeze drying your sweaty back when you put the Blaze down.

As you can see, the load lifter strap is positioned below the...
As you can see, the load lifter strap is positioned below the shoulder of our 17" torso tester on the short sized version of the Blaze even though it is listed as fitting up to 18" torsos. Consider sizing up.
Photo: Adam Paashaus

Even though the pack is very tall when fully loaded, the frame itself sits low enough that you won't bonk your head when gazing longingly towards the top of a long climb.

We noted that the load lifter straps are positioned fairly low compared to many models we tested. This meant that in testers who measured towards the top of the pack's torso length range, more weight had to rest on the shoulders. If your torso is 17" or so, you may consider bumping up to the regular size rather than the short even though Granite Gear's scale indicates that the short is for torsos 15"-18".

On certain shaped hips, belts can curve up and put pressure on the...
On certain shaped hips, belts can curve up and put pressure on the belly. If you can, take it for a spin before you commit.
Photo: Adam Paashaus

Some women complained that the pack pinched their shoulders slightly, so this may not be the pack for you if you have a broader upper build, but other women found the straps to be adequately flexible to accommodate different shoulder shapes.

Overall the hip belt felt cushy against most testers hips but can curve up into the belly for some. We love that the hip belt is adjustable, but the adjustment is invisible, and without prior reading, you'd never know it was there. Removing it to adjust isn't the easiest as you have to jam your hand behind the lumbar padding and pry apart velcro while pulling the belt out, but in theory, this only has to be done once.

Organizational Systems


We gave the Blaze some of the highest marks for its large, easily accessible pockets, removable lid, and compression straps galore. When you open the main compartment of the Blaze 60, you can see just how cavernous it is, and we loved its ability to expand. Beginner backpackers with a bulkier kit and those engaged in epics or heavy loads will love the roomy main compartment. The Blaze was one of a few packs in our test that could comfortably handle an entire two-person tent, an ax, helmet, rope, a bear can, and an extra sleeping pad with room to spare.

The pack keeps pockets only for what you need. Two large, hip belt pockets are the perfect place to stash your essentials and can easily accommodate a phone, while the top brain can handle plenty of additional items. The exterior side pockets are enormous; we could load an entire two and half person tent on one side and two 1-liter Nalgene bottles on the other. They also cinch down quickly if they aren't as full, making them useful for water bottles, tent poles, and extra layers.

The wide range of compression straps can be customized to fit anything you may need. You can criss-cross the straps for added support. The lid of this pack expands upwards by a significant amount, allowing you to pack it full or keep it slim. The mesh pocket in front is large, stretchy, and deep but, if you also want to use the straps on the front of the pack, you won't be able to get much in and out of the pocket.

Packing this pack is a breeze if you utilize the minimalist features properly. Advanced users will love the simplicity, and beginners will enjoy the roomy side and hip pockets for quick access to trail essentials. The dark colors of the pack make seeing into the main compartment difficult in bright conditions, so be sure to pack what you need for the day using the many compression straps and roomy exterior pockets to avoid having to rummage through a dark bag.

The Blaze 60 performed well with our big haul test and had plenty of...
The Blaze 60 performed well with our big haul test and had plenty of room inside and a multitude of straps on the outside to fit all our climbing gear.
Photo: Meg Atteberry

The one feature we wish this pack had is a horizontal strap for a water bladder line. Unfortunately, the Blaze is the only pack in our review with this oversight. If you don't have a magnetic clip on your water bladder, expect the hose to flop around, hit your neck, and bug you.

Lastly, the pack lacks bottom access to trim weight. However, a side access zipper goes well towards the bottom, making getting to the bottom of the bag more comfortable. You can't use this feature if you are using the compression straps, as the straps get in the way. Closing it up when the Blaze is tightly packed can be difficult.

Rather than a bottom access sleeping bag pocket, the Blaze uses a...
Rather than a bottom access sleeping bag pocket, the Blaze uses a vertical zipper giving you access to some of the lower contents. However, it can be hard to zip a tightly loaded pack closed if you have to get something out.
Photo: Adam Paashaus

Weight


At 3.0 pounds, this pack also fits into the lightweight category. There are only a few packs in our test that weigh less than the Blaze. However, many packs offer significantly more breathability on the back panel.

The custom-made material for this bag didn't feel cheap or flimsy but certainly adds to the lightweight nature of the bag. The Blaze survived some brutal scrambling over sandstone and showed no wear from the abrasive rock.

Some users found they were able to comfortably weigh the Blaze down...
Some users found they were able to comfortably weigh the Blaze down with all kinds of luxury gear while others could never get a good enough fit to feel that the Blaze was suited to carry more than ultralight loads.
Photo: Adam Paashaus

Adjustability


The Blaze scores high in adjustability for its 4-inch torso length range and 16-inch hip belt padding range. We also appreciated the multitude of compression straps for cinching down a lightly loaded pack or strapping on more gear for a big expedition.

Beginning backpackers will appreciate the ability to strap on extra gear as they get their kits dialed. We thought that the excessive straps might snag on trees and be a nuisance, but when cinched properly, we found that the straps stayed out of the trees and didn't hold us back. One thing to note, though, the ability to bring more doesn't mean you should bring more.

The Blaze's torso height adjustment uses clips instead of a slider. We liked that the lengths are embossed into the plastic to pick the correct height without having to guess. However, it lacks the infinite level of adjustability found in the majority of packs we tested due to the model's lightweight nature.

The unique torso height adjustment on the Blaze 60 keeps the base...
The unique torso height adjustment on the Blaze 60 keeps the base weight to a minimum on the pack, while still allowing for ample adjustment.
Photo: Meg Atteberry

The hip belt extension is a bit cumbersome and difficult to manage. Still, it offers larger women the ability to actually have a padded belt where they want it rather than having their hips cut into by webbing. This option is also perfect for especially thin women or teens who have trouble finding a pack that can fit both their torso length and waist at the same time. The belt ranges from 26 inches to 46 inches.

Once you get the hip belt out of its sleeve, adjustment is easy but...
Once you get the hip belt out of its sleeve, adjustment is easy but just getting it out is a bit of a wrestle.
Photo: Adam Paashaus

Value


The Blaze is more expensive than many of the packs we tested, but not by much. Considering the difficulty finding comfort for many users and the fact that there are plenty of more comfortable and just as light options out there, this model may not offer enough value to justify the price.

Conclusion


The Granite Gear Blaze 60 doesn't tout fancy features or look like your high-end, modern pack, but it humbly hauls your load and has every pocket and strap you could need. If it fits you well, the Blaze may be a good option, but we think the suspension design of other packs on the market offer superior performance.

We loved taking the Blaze 60 out into desert canyons.
We loved taking the Blaze 60 out into desert canyons.
Photo: Meg Atteberry

Elizabeth Paashaus