Review: Granite Gear Blaze 60l backpack
My guest reviewer Anthony Forrest McMahan has been testing the Granite Bear Blaze 60l backpack.
He writes: “I would recommend this pack to anybody backpacking for any length of time. It does come with some (very) minor annoyances. But it excels at its main function, which is carrying all of your gear and kit neatly and comfortably into the unknown.
I wanted to give the Granite Gear Blaze 60 a proper test. Although I reside in the cold north of Minnesota, a recent volunteer medical trip to the Amazon Basin in Peru allowed me to use the pack to some of its potential (not all, I’ll explain later).
Throughout the 10 days of travel, the Blaze 60 was stored in overhead compartments, under bus seats, slept upon, rained on and stored in various locals in the hull of a jungle boat.
- Length: 21-24 inches/ 53.5-61 cm (Long-Torso pack reviewed here. Torso size does not change the pack size)
- 60 litres
- 3660 Cubic Inches
- Weight: 3.1lbs/ 1.41 kg
- Buy from Amazon for around £261.
Pros: What’s Good about the Blaze 60?
Few, but strategic pockets and compartments: What appear to be water bottle pouches on either side of the pack are actually so much more.
The pouches expand to easily accommodate larger pieces of kit. A sleeping mat easily slides into the pouch and the ripcord bungie strap snuggly secures it.
My favourite pockets sit in front on the waistband. My mobile phone, charger, snacks, passport, and flight itinerary easily fit into one of the two pockets.
And, though I don’t actually think that you should keep all of your important eggs in one basket, the pockets will allow it if you so choose.
The Blaze 60 is endlessly adjustable. As I said above, the potential of this pack far exceeds my everyday use.
First off, I did not need 60l of space. The Blaze 60 would be my pack of choice on a through hike. Not every camping or backpacking excursion require this kind of space. But if you need it, the pack comes through. I probably used the pack to half of its capacity.
The top rolls down and disappears inside the bag. The flip-over pouch snaps in place and it looks like your carrying a 30L bag. What’s more, the fasteners and clasps make the bag adjustable almost to a fault. The waist band also adjusts for a more wrap-around feel.
During the week, Amazon rains tested the material of the Blaze 60. A paperback novel in the bottom of my bag remained dry the entire time. I was pleased with the waterproofing. I was also thankful for a breathable external stuff-pouch which I used to store my rain-jacket.
The sheer comfort of the Granite Gear Blaze 60 is what stands out the most. The wrap-around waistband and heavily-cushioned shoulder straps feel like a kind-hearted bigfoot, hugging you from behind.
But the shining benefit of the Blaze 60 lies in its convertible waist-band/top pouch. The waist-band completely separates from the pack, as does the top pouch.
When connected, both convert into a waist bag or bum bag for day trips or lighter hikes. I used it every day to store my stethoscope and other medical gear during our jungle clinics.
Cons: What’s not so good about the Blaze 60?
One major inconvenience for me was the excessive straps and clasps. If the bag is not being used for all 60l, the extra length of straps hangs about and are easily snagged.
I ended up spending a lot of time tucking away straps like I was stuffing an octopus into a bag. And though the bag has an easy-access front zipper meant to be used to access the inside of the pack, I had to unclasp at least two buckles to do it. A deal breaker by no means, just an inconvenience.
Most problems that I had while using the Blaze 60 were due to not utilising it to its full capacity.
Conclusion: The Granite Gear Blaze 60 should be considered for backpacking or camping when gone for any length of time. However, it excels when most of its 60l is needed. You might want to check out Granite Gear’s smaller product if you’re looking for a day pack. But as a comfortable long-haul tool, the Blaze 60 has it all. It’s comfortable, endlessly adjustable, and convertible. And water-proof to beat the Amazon rains.