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 as they are supposed 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 model 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.
Granite Gear Rift 2 Review
Cons: Small water bottle holders, heavy
Manufacturer: Granite Gear
Our Analysis and Test Results
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 serve 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).
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 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.
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.
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, a spare change of clothes, shoes, a jacket and a 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.
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 feature was cool, 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.
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 said, the mellow color choices available and the simple one tone approach make it less pretentious than the flashy design of the The North Face Recon.
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, but 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.
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 bottle 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 retail value of the Rift 2 is $90. This price was middle of the road among 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.
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