Item: Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58 Ki Pack
Intended Use: Backpacking Pack
Volume: 58 liters
Claimed Weight: 3 lbs 1 oz
Load capacity: 35 lbs
Totally Subjective Overall Grade: A-
The combination of lightweight yet exceptionally durable fabrics, a balance of minimalist design with choice features that allow for excellent adaptability, and an amazing suspension make this pack a favorite for my typical style of backpacking.
I’m on my third backpacking pack. When I started backpacking about a decade ago, I used an old Eagle Creek pack that I got for a five week trip around Europe with my sister. It was really more designed for travel—heavy and turtle like with a pop out day pack. When I got serious about backpacking, I was really into lightweight and ultralight gear but had the budget of a graduate student (still using the same soda can stove from back then!). I ended up with an Osprey Atmos and I thought suffering when your pack weights more than 20 pounds just must be part of what lightweight backpacking is about. Last year I decided to check out packs again and boy did I find out that I was wrong. SO WRONG. I loaded up nearly every pack at REI and sherpa’d pillows and bags of lead around the store for hours. The Gregory packs were mostly too heavy, the REI brand seemed lacking in suspension (especially the hip belts), the Osprey packs continued to fit me strangely, but this Granite Gear pack? It was perfect.
The thing I love about this pack is that it’s not too much more than a tube on a great suspension. It has a large, easy-access roll-top under the lid and just enough organization to keep me sane. It also has a ton of options for strapping gear on the outside (with a spot to add an optional crampon pocket), is hydration compatible, and still clocks in at just 3 lbs 1 oz.
Although I like the 58 liter size and the ability to strap more gear on the outside, most of the time I find myself tightening everything down and not making full use of the capacity. I’m sure that I’ll be happy to have so much room for my 73 mile trek on the High Sierra Trail in August, but for my typical 3-day 2-night trips, it’s a bit excessive. I’ve been thinking about picking up the Granite Gear Aji V.C. 50 Ki as an alternative for those super-weekend trips. Or perhaps I’ll try to go without the lid, though losing that easy-access organization would be a little sad.
- Extremely comfortable suspension with customizable hip belts, shoulder straps, and torso length.
- Very durable fabrics.
- Light weight.
- Removable, floating lid with interior pocket and key fob.
- Big, open main compartment that is easy to load.
- Stretch external pockets.
Room for improvement:
- Somewhat confusing compression strap system.
- Most straps are too long for my usual use. I will probably trim them now that I know how I use the pack most.
- Hydration reservoir can only be accessed inside the main compartment.
- Size is a little large for my style of backpacking.
Disclosure: None necessary. I purchased this pack myself at R.E.I.