Granite Gear Blaze 60 - Women's Review
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Granite Gear Blaze 60 - Women's
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|Pros||Huge main compartment, customizable compression straps, super lightweight||Stable and sturdy, very comfortable, adjustable, spacious||Ultra comfortable, roomy, inexpensive, durable, can fit a bear can horizontally, low center of gravity, airy mesh frame||Comfortable, lightweight, supportive suspension, simple design, large pockets||Ultralight, large stow pockets, comfortable even when fully loaded|
|Cons||Dark material makes pack contents difficult to see, hip belt difficult to adjust, rigid padding might not last over time||Heavy, overbuilt for lighter missions||Not many bells and whistles, set torso adjustment points, no back stash pocket||Non-ventilated back panel, fewer organizational features||Minimal padding, fixed torso length, side pockets hard to load|
|Bottom Line||A combination of a lightweight pack with a rigid suspension ready to support moderate loads||This pack provides unparalleled comfort and support for heavy loads with an excellent feature set||This simple pack combines comfort, volume, and price; it will take you anywhere and won’t break the bank||A durable, straightforward bag with all the right pockets and suspension that will keep your back, hips, and shoulders comfortable all day||This super-light pack gets our award for Top Pick in Ultralight Design; it's made for the thru-hiker, and women who want to go light to go fast|
|Rating Categories||Granite Gear Blaze 60||Gregory Deva 60||Osprey Renn 65||Ultralight Adventur...||Osprey Lumina 60|
|Comfort and Suspension (45%)|
|Organizational systems (20%)|
|Specs||Granite Gear Blaze 60||Gregory Deva 60||Osprey Renn 65||Ultralight Adventur...||Osprey Lumina 60|
|Measured Weight||3.0 lbs||4.7 lbs||3.6 lbs||2.7 lbs||1.8 lbs|
|Volumes Available||60 liters||60, 70 liters||50, 65 liters||68 liters||45, 60 liters|
|Organization Compartments||Lid, front pocket, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment||Lid, front pocket, hip belt pockets, 1 water bottle compartment, main compartment||Lid, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment||Side pockets, front pocket, hip belt pockets, main compartment||Lid, side pockets, front pocket, main compartment|
|Access||Top, front||Top, side, bottom||Top, bottom||Top||Top|
|Rain Cover Included||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Women's Specific Features||Women's specific fit & sizing||Slim profile and women’s-specific Response A3W Suspension||Women's specific fit||S-Curve Shoulder Straps||Women's specific fit and sizing|
|Sleeping bag Compartment||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Bear Can Compatible||Yes - Vertical and Horizontal||Yes - Vertical and Horizontal||Yes - Vertical and Horizontal||Yes - Vertical||Yes - Vertical|
|Main Materials||210D HD nylon||210D 40% Recycled Nylon & 420D 45% Recycled Nylon with PFC-Free DWR||600D polyester||500 Cordura||30D Cordura Silnylon Ripstop|
|Sizes Available||Short, Regular||XS, S, M||One size, with adjustable torso||S, M, L, XL, Kids||XS, S, M|
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.
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.
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".
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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