I’m a product over-researcher by nature. And when I say over-researcher, I mean digging out every photo and every possible end-user review of every item I’m considering, from a USB-to-HDMI cable to a car. And given that I’m going to be spending several years with my first “real” backpack (with apologies to my trusty but day hike-sized Kestrel 28) I’m tearing up the web making sure I give myself the best chance at a solid first choice.
Because of my overwhelmingly positive experience with its little brother, I was originally considering the Kestrel 48, but I was afraid I might find 48 liters too restrictive for longer hikes. I’d rather have too much space than not enough. So I did a ton of research (surprise) and settled on the Gossamer Gear Mariposa, a fine pack that checks off all the boxes on my list at a fairly reasonable price.
Then I drifted over to Philip Werner’s site, and he had posted a review of the new Granite Gear Crown 2. His impressions of the bag were extremely positive. So I asked him, knowing that he has owned/reviewed the Mariposa, which one he liked better. And he gave the edge to the Crown 2. His recommendation, based on the return policies of sellers like REI, was to order and try both, then keep the one I liked best. That sounded like wisdom to me. Ultimately, user reviews and pro-level recommendations can only take you so far. Philip himself encourages people to not just take his word for it, but to try on every pack under consideration because everyone’s needs (and fit) are different.
So in April I’ll do just that. But I’m already leaning a bit towards the new (and cheaper; money matters too) Crown 2…