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(Note: This review of the Best Backpack for Alaska is written for the casual Alaskan vacationer. It is not intended for the rugged adventure traveler. My suggestion is designed to strike a balance between essential features of the product and cost effectiveness for those who may or may not use the product after their Alaskan vacation.)
I will never forget the first backcountry hike I took in the Bush of Alaska. I realized within the first hour that it was going to be a rugged trip. We were scheduled to be on the trail for 7 days. I very quickly became both familiar and fond of the piece of gear that held everything I would need to eat, sleep, fish and climb on that ridiculously life-giving week in the middle of the untamed wilderness of Lake Clark National Park.
That was my first introduciton to the products of Granite Gear, the Minnesota based outdoor gear manufacterer that’s tough enough to be contracted by the U.S. Military. I was very pleased with the performance and efficiency of the Granite Gear pack that I was using that amazing week in 2008. That pack is still usable after dozens of outings and 6 trips to the Alaskan backcountry.
Do You Need a Backpack for Your Alaska Vacation?
Each Alaska vacation is unique from all other trips to the “Last Frontier.” The choices you make for gear should be determined by the activities you will be experiencing. In my best opinion, you will need to consider purchasing a backpack if you:
- will be tackling a one-day or multi-day hiking trail.
- are packing a lot of outdoor gear and need efficient storage.
- plan on spending a large portion of at least one day in the wilderness.
- want to look really cool in your Alaska vacatino photos (ok, just kidding about that one.)
A good backpack makes hiking the wilderness or even trekking through a trail near the center of town in Anchorage so much more enjoyable and attainable. Even a hike up the Bodenburg Butte in the middle of Palmer or a trek across the Matanuska Glacier is a great use of a lightweight backpack or daypack. You can carry lunch, a jacket in case the weather changes, and so many other ammenities to make your trip more enjoyable.
However, I am a big proponent of having just what you need and no more. It is easier on your logistics and your budget to minimize your gear purchases, while having exactly what will turn your Alaska vacation into an epic adventure. So, this backpack suggestion is a balance between all those factors.
The Factors that Determined my Choice
My primary goal on this site is to help turn your Alaska vacation into an epic adventure by suggesting the perfect gear that will be as easy as possible on the pocketbook while still making your trip as enjoyable as possible. I try to suggest gear that is in the mid-priced range, while still maintaining the durablity and performance to stand up to the Alaskan test.
Another factor in my choice of which backpack to recommend for your Alaska trip was ultra-lightweight construction. If you are like me, you are a little intimidated (well, maybe a lot intimidated) by an Alaskan hike. An ultra-lightweight option is perfect for the vacationer who doesn’t do a ton of backcountry hiking, but still wants to milk their Alaska vacation for all it’s worth!
So, here is my suggestion for the ultimate casual pack for the Alaska vacationer who wants to tackle the backcountry.
Drum Roll Please…
Since my first experience with the Granite Gear line of packs, I have been in love with the construction, creativity in design and lightweight, yet durable construction of the Granite Gear Crown2 backpack! I highly recommend this latest version of the Granite Gear Crown backpack.
- Category: Ultra-Light Weight
- Weight: 2.2 Pounds
- Size: 38 or 60 Litre
- Convertible as a Day Pack OR Overnight Bag
- Lots of Extra Compartments
- Load 30-60 Pounds of Gear
Large Load – Light Weight!
The Granite Gear Crown2 comes in 2 sizes. The 38-liter version is perfect for a small pack if you are just going out for a day hike. The 60-liter can be used as a larger day pack or an overnight bag. Both packs are ridicuously comfortable and lightweight for their sizes.
The Crown2 can pack a ton of gear. The 60-liter version has a capacity of 3,360 cubic inches. The 38-liter version loads out at 2,320 cubic inches. The thing I love most about both of these packs is the creativity of design to hold many different types of gear.
Lids, Pockets and Straps… Oh My!
The Granite Gear Crown2 is loaded with extra pockets, straps and clips to help maximize the load capacity of the pack without adding a lot of weight to the product.
Removable Storage Lid
The Crown2 comes with a removable lid covering the main compartment. That main compartment has a roll–top design that keeps water out when the lid is removed.
It also has a dual strap culminating in a singular buckle for maximum compression capability.
The extra storage lid has DWR (Dual Water Repellency) treated zippers to block water. The lid can be used for extra storage or removed to decrease the weight of pack for day hikes.
Large Dual Hip Belt Pockets
I remember my detachable hip belt pockets on my old Granite Gear. Those pockets were my favorite places to keep my knives and bug spray. The Crown2 has a large hip pocket on each side as well. These are the perfect places to keep small items that you need handy for quick access.
Large Stretch Woven Side Pockets
On each side of the main compartment, there are large stretch pockets. These are perfect for nalgene bottles, camera gear or a small tripod. The stretch pockets on this model are larger than most. You may even be able to put 2 Nalgenes in one side.
Stretch Mesh Pocket on Front of Main Compartment.
On the outside of the pack there is a large mesh pocket to stash away a small tent or bedroll. On the outside of that pocket are two compression straps to lock down anything you need to store away.
Hydration Port and Inner Sleeve
The pack also comes equipped with a port to run your hydration hose through. You hydration bladder can slide down into the pack behind the main compartment and against the plastic frame of the pack.
Extra Compression Straps
There are extra compression straps on the outside of the Crown2 to attach other gear and secure it in case you rub against a tree or bush. You can feel secure that you are not going to lose any of your gear strapped to the outside of the pack.
One down side of the Crown2: the bottom straps do not work well to secure a piece of gear under the pack. Other than that, all the straps are well placed for maximum capacity and comfort.
Support Construction – Granite Gear Crown2
The construction of the main support structures of the pack are very well designed and built for your rugged hikes. Here is a breakdown of those components.
The dual density shoulder harness has load lifter straps to focus the weight on the most efficient parts of the body. The removable sternum strap also helps with weight distribution.
Vapor Current Mark 2 Frame
The Crown 2 uses the Mark 2 Frame from earlier models of the Granite Gear. It has been proven to be a great frame. The Mark 2 has the Vapor Current design for great airflow and heat control. This makes for a more comfortable hike as you discover Alaska from the trailhead.
The Mark 2 frame is designed with a 35-pound comfort rating.
Dual Density Re-Fit Hip Belt
Granite Gear has one of the best hip belts in the backpack industry. They have perfected the Re-Fit Hip Belt with dual density construction. The hip belt is adjustable from 26″ to 42″ and locks in with their velcro lock slide through pockets.
That’s Our Recommendation for the Best Backpack for Alaska Vacations 2019
So, there you go!
This Granite Gear pack will serve you well on your epic Alaskan adventure and will be around for years to come as you venture into other exciting journeys in other gorgeous places.
Oh, before we go, whey don’t you comment below to let me know what you are most excited about with your upcoming Alaskan adventure.