Hands-on Gear Review

Granite Gear Rift 2 Review

Price:  $90 List | $26.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Great pocket organization, water resistant, comfy shoulder straps, large capacity
Cons:  Small water bottle holders, heavy
Bottom line:  Great pack if you are looking for an ergonomic pack for storing your laptop, books, and gear with the added peace of mind of pocket organization.
Editors' Rating:   
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Volume (L):  32 L
Dimensions:  20.5 x 12.5 x 10 in.
Weight:  2.2 lb.
Manufacturer:   Granite Gear

Our Verdict

The Granite Gear Rift 2 is Discontinued as of Spring 2018

The Granite Gear Rift 2 is a spacious laptop backpack with lots of storage compartments and pockets. It consists of everything you would want in a laptop backpack and has features that work exactly as they are designed to. Its extra large main compartment can fit all your gear needs and the smaller outer compartment pocket comes equipped with a pocket organizer and a key clip. This was a top contender for an award and scored very well on our rating scale but had a few sluggish features that knocked it down in rank.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Katherine Elliott

Last Updated:
Tuesday
November 29, 2016

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The Granite Gear Rift 2 is a versatile laptop backpack that has tons of room and multiple compartments to store and carry anything you may want to take along, explicitly designed to carry one or more electronic gadgets on your daily grind. Its top-loading design allows for easy access to your laptop and other gear, while the secondary outer compartment will enable you to organize and store smaller items and access with ease. Its sternum strap and hip belt make it ideal when you have an extra heavy cargo. The laptop sleeve can also be used as a hydration reservoir; in fact, it was one of the easiest to use with a hydration bladder (out of the four that had this feature).

Performance Comparison


The Rift didn't win any style points with its stiff  shiny plastic looking material but it offers two large compartments and is capable of keeping your gear organized.
The Rift didn't win any style points with its stiff, shiny plastic looking material but it offers two large compartments and is capable of keeping your gear organized.

Laptop Protection


This contender scored very high for laptop protection. The suspended padded laptop sleeve allowed for almost 2 inches of room until the bottom of the pack. If you set the bag down hard on a surface, your laptop would have a little barrier before it hit the ground. While many of the packs seemed to offer this feature, the Osprey Flapjack, our Editors' Choice winner, was the only contender that did an exceptional job of protecting your laptop from slamming into the bottom. That being said, it didn't have a way of securing the laptop into place, so we did notice a lot of movement while walking and bike commuting.

There are multiple sleeves for different sizes of laptops or small electronics  making this a great pack for carrying multiple smart devices.
There are multiple sleeves for different sizes of laptops or small electronics, making this a great pack for carrying multiple smart devices.

Comfort


The Rift 2 has a densely padded back panel that was super supportive while hoisting a fully loaded pack. The shoulder straps are also padded, adding an extra layer of comfort for longer commutes. A few of our more petite users noticed that while riding a bike with the pack, the large back panel tended to ride up and become uncomfortable while seated on a bike.

The Rift 2 comes equipped with a sternum strap and a hip belt. Both are rather difficult to adjust and tend to slip while in use.
The Rift 2 comes equipped with a sternum strap and a hip belt. Both are rather difficult to adjust and tend to slip while in use.

Storage


Space is not an issue for this beast. There are two compartments, and it had one of the largest carrying capacity amongst the ten laptop bags we tested, coming in at 32 Liters. This pack had ample room to hold our 15-inch laptop, a small tablet, an extra change of clothes, shoes, a jacket and water bottle - with room to spare! The smaller compartment has a modest pocket organizer for pens and loose ends and includes a key clip, so you aren't stuck digging at the bottom of your bag for them.

With ample room in this large capacity pack  you can carry your laptop and work accessories  and have plenty of room for your after work activity gear  such as the climbing shoes and a harness.
With ample room in this large capacity pack, you can carry your laptop and work accessories, and have plenty of room for your after work activity gear, such as the climbing shoes and a harness.

Ease of Use


The Rift 2 is one of the largest volume bags we tested, coming in at 32 liters. There is no shortage of space for your gear and electronics in this beast. The Rift Tab Quick Access opens the main compartment without letting anything drop out from the sides. This was a cool feature, but it also was a little clumsy when trying to close it quickly; we noticed more than not that the zippers all over this pack seemed to bunch and became stuck more than we would like (especially for a bag that almost hits the $100 mark). The secondary compartment does have a great pocket for organizing pens, chargers, cords, and earbuds, plus your keys. The front stash pocket zips your smartphone or even a passport for quick access. The padded back panel and shoulder straps are comfortable, regardless of whether you're lugging around books or a hydration reservoir and lunch for the long day hike. This bag would have made top marks for ease of use, but only if the zippers weren't so darn sticky.

With many different styles of laptop backpacks out of the 9 tested  we tended to lean towards the ones with high quality zippers or none at all. Here  the Rift 2 is shown with its easy open two zipper pull; unfortunately  closing this bag can sometimes lead to a zipper snag and a lot of frustration when you are on the go.
With many different styles of laptop backpacks out of the 9 tested, we tended to lean towards the ones with high quality zippers or none at all. Here, the Rift 2 is shown with its easy open two zipper pull; unfortunately, closing this bag can sometimes lead to a zipper snag and a lot of frustration when you are on the go.

Style


The Rift 2 has a lot of great features and functionality of a superior laptop bag. Unfortunately, the shiny plastic looking Tarpaulin material, combined with the bulky cube shape of the bag, didn't mix in an eye-pleasing manner (at least in our fashion based opinion). With that being said, the mellow color choices available and the simple one tone approach make it less ostentatious than the gaudy design of the The North Face Recon.

The Rift 2 is made from a very shiny material and is on the bulky side when fully loaded. It does not make for the most eye pleasing pack - at least in our opinion.
The Rift 2 is made from a very shiny material and is on the bulky side when fully loaded. It does not make for the most eye pleasing pack - at least in our opinion.

Water Resistance


Granite Gear's Barrier Technology claimed to provide a 360-degree water repellency coverage, and they were not lying. Not only did it score amongst the highest in our "shower test" for water repellency, it also has a nifty water resistant easy access valuables pocket - right on the front of the pack - that helps shelter your gear in a pinch (if and when a downpour should occur). The only weak point we could come up with was that if you don't fully zip the top zipper, it leaves a large gap that is hard to see until you experience a downpour, which could leave your gadgets wet. The Patagonia Black Hole 25 scored high marks as well in this category, but the Rift 2's bountiful water-resistant zippered pockets made this one stand out.

This was a high scoring water resistant pack; the only weak point we could come up with was that if you don't fully zip the top zipper  your gadgets could become wet.
This was a high scoring water resistant pack; the only weak point we could come up with was that if you don't fully zip the top zipper, your gadgets could become wet.

Best Applications


The large volume of this bag made it a great choice if you have a lot of gear, as well as your laptop and electronics that you take with you on your travels or day to day commuting. The numerous storage pockets and water bottles holders on the sides also made this a great pack to load up and hit the trails with, and the option for a hydration bladder coming in handy when out on a hike.

The smaller secondary compartment is loaded with places to put those loose odds and ends.
The smaller secondary compartment is loaded with places to put those loose odds and ends.

Value


The retail value of the Rift 2 is $90. This was middle of the road for the price of the various laptop bags we tested and think it's a fair price for the great functionality of the pack. The fact that it is also very water repellent makes it great for not only traveling to and from work or school but also out on the trails.

Conclusion


The Granite Gear Rift 2 is an ideal contender if you are looking for an ergonomic pack for storing your laptop, books, and gear - with the added peace of mind of lots of pocket organization. This model is everything you need for a day on campus or the daily commute to work and back, but it's not going to win any style awards with the shiny plastic look of the heavy-duty Tarpaulin material.

Katherine Elliott

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Most recent review: November 29, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
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3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
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