It’s A Keeper!

My now-used Granite Gear Lutsen 55, that is. I put a twenty-two pound load of gear and half-liter water bottles into it, and hit a local woods trail for its maiden voyage:

Lutsen 55 Creekside.jpg

Usually I would run out to the AT for a shakeout of a new pack (like I did when I bought my Deuter Airlite 22), but I had concerns about the stiffness of the lumbar pad paired with the rigid framesheet causing me some discomfort. And I didn’t relish the idea of being miles from the car if it did.

Well, those fears turned out to be unfounded: Under load, I found that the pad slid perfectly into place in the middle of my lower lumbar region, and gave the load confidence-inspiring stability. It didn’t bother me at all during my quick four miler, so I was able to focus on the stunning morning and the emergence of green on the trail:

Blackwater CreekBlackwater BridgeBlackwater Split LogBlackwater Rail BridgeBlackwater Sunburst

I’m ready to take it out for an overnight on the AT. Now to find the time…

Note: Another positive came from the hike. I actually got out during the FIRST week of the month, instead of the last, as has been my habit (see last week’s post). So May should feature at least two trips to the trees.

I hope.

 

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Granite Gear Lutsen 55 – First Impressions

That multi-day pack I finally broke down and ordered arrived, and I couldn’t wait to unbox it and toss some of my stuff into it for a quick trek around the living room:

IMG_20180411_092917.jpg

These are my rookie backpacker, still-haven’t-taken-it-out-into-the-woods impressions of this pack…

  1. Fit: With both an adjustable torso length AND a rare adjustable hip belt, I was able to dial in a flawless fit, with one additional bonus: I could make the hip belt size a bit larger than my actual waist size, which pushed the pockets forward to a more reachable position. Sweet! Seriously, if you can’t fiddle your way to a perfect fit with this pack, you’re not trying hard enough.
  2. Flexibility: There’s lots to love here. The top lid floats, has zippered storage, and is removable. The lower side compression straps have the ability to run UNDER the side pockets, a big deal for those who, like me, prefer not to battle those straps when trying to replace a water bottle into a side pocket while on the move. I’m not sure why every pack isn’t built this way. Of course, to those who use a bladder, that’s not a biggie. But to bottle carriers, it’s a very nice feature. And speaking of those pockets, they swallow a 1L Smartwater bottle, which helps with keeping them from slipping out. There’s a cavernous front pocket for wet gear/stuff to be accessed quickly, and two decently sized hip belt pockets for the on-the-go stuff (my Google Pixel with case slides around in one, so a plus-sized phone should fit. YMMV). There are also a sufficient number of lashing spots on the pack, for those who like to hang gear all over their bag.
  3. Filling: The Lutsen 55 is one giant, open cave. I tossed my tent, sleeping bag and self-inflating pad into it without concern for efficient packing, and I still had room in this roll-top to add enough extra gear for a weekend hike. A more effective packing job, and I could go for a week with ease living out of this thing. And I have a reputation for being an effective and efficient packer, so…
  4. Feel: This is the only semi-rub, no pun intended. With nothing inside, the combination of the incredibly stiff frame sheet and solid lumbar pad was a bit harder than I’m used to. Adding a dozen pounds to the pack mitigated it somewhat, and I could see where a heavier load might improve it…or make it feel harder. Of course, a bit of break-in might soften the system a bit too. The only way to know is to pack it up with a decent load of 20-25 pounds and take in out on the AT for 5 or 6 miles. I’m planning to do so next week. Having said that, the load transfer to my hips was perfect; the pack did “sit” correctly on my frame.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the look, fit and function of the pack, especially when factoring in the price I paid. I’m looking forward to taking it for a cruise out of Big Island next week to try it in real world conditions!

 

I Finally Did It!

I actually ordered a multi-day backpack! Regular readers of this humble blog (if that’s you, thanks…and, I’m sorry) know that for MONTHS now I’ve agonized over choosing the right “big” pack. I’ve done a ridiculous amount of research and reading of reviews to get to this day, and it has arrived. Introducing the Granite Gear Lutsen 55:

GG Lutsen 55

A major gear retailer who shall remain nameless put the pressure on me by sending me a members-only 20% off coupon that could be used in conjunction with clearance items. Again, regular readers will know how I’ve managed to accumulate almost all my stuff on the cheap, so my angst over the possibility of wasting this chance to score a significant deal won’t be a surprise to them/you.

Long story, short version? A $220 pack was had for $128, including sales tax. Another entry in my long list of hiking gear deals, added. A Ursack and a stuff sack (or two), and I’m ready to head out for a weekend on the AT…

I’ve always wanted to try a GG pack, and having seen the 35L version of the Lutsen in the wild (the “wild” being a local retailer), I was taken by the look and functionality of the bag. It checked off every box I had on my wish list except one: A raincover. I know, I know, I don’t really need one. That’s what trash compactor bags are for, the wise old backpacker in my head says to me. But this rookie wanted the convenience of it. A VERY minor quibble for sure, as I’m already shopping trash compactor bags online.

Ten for $14.99. Hmmm. Think I’ll wait until they go on sale…

 

Note: When I was ready to purchase, I wandered over to Philip Werner’s site “Section Hiker” and clicked on an affiliate link that took me to REI’s website, where I bought my pack. Support your favorite sites that feature affiliate links to places you buy stuff by doing what I did. It generates revenue for them, and only adds a few seconds to your shopping experience!