GraniteGEAR BLAZE A.C. 60 Backpack Review
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Just the Facts:
GraniteGEAR BLAZE A.C. 60 Backpack facts and information
Specification Short Regular
Gender Men’s Men’s
Best use Ultralight Multi-Day Backpacking Ultralight Multi-Day Backpacking
Volume (Liters) 55 Liters 60 Liters
Volume (Cubes) 3350 Cubes 3661 Cubes
Weight (Kilograms) 1.2 kg 1.3 kg
Weight (Pounds) 2 lbs. 11 oz. 2 lbs. 14 oz.
Frame Air Current Frame Air Current Frame
Frame Material Polycarbonate Polycarbonate
Adjustable Torso Yes Yes
Fits Torso 14-18 inches 18-22 inches
Fits Waist/Hips 26 – 42 inches 26 – 42 inches
Fabrics Cordura® 100D & 210D Nylon Cordura® 100D & 210D Nylon
Pack Access Roll Top Roll Top
Number of Exterior Pockets 3 Stretch Pockets 3 Stretch Pockets
Raincover Included No No
Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin. Forgive me, I couldn’t help myself. Seriously though, that is the point is it not? A pack should be just that, packed up and pack in. Where it goes is completely up to you. That is why backpacking is so amazing. Much like the books I read as a boy, backpacking really is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” activity. You can do a half mile day hike or complete all 2,663 miles of the PCT. The distance, route, and environment are all subject to change. One thing that remains a constant is your pack. It is one of, if not the most vital piece of gear you have. It will carry your entire trip. Neatly packed away inside of its compartments. Such is the life of the Granite Gear BLAZE A.C. 60. This pack was brought into this world to do one thing and one thing only. Hold gear.
The Blaze A.C. 60 has received rave reviews from both the internet and print worlds. It comes up in google searches and internet forums and is held in high regard. It has even earned the coveted title of EDITORS CHOICE 2011 from BACKPACKER MAGIZINE. You will be hard pressed to find any credible negative reviews on this pack. So why even test it you ask?
Have you ever heard the saying “if you want something done right you have to do it yourself”? Well, I have found that statement to be relatively accurate. Every person is different and everyone’s body is different. Some people really like red onions. I hate them! That is just my personal preference though. So, when it comes to choosing a backpacking pack that will literally carry the weight of my trip I needed to test it out myself. A few emails to the great folks at GraniteGEAR and I was soon awaiting the arrival of the BLAZE A.C. 60. I was more than eager to put it to the test.
The BLAZE A.C. 60 is an incredibly light weight pack at only 2 lbs. 14 oz. The 60 liter size translates to as much as 3661 cubes and has more than enough room for all the necessary gear a hiker would need for a multi-day trip into the backcountry. The frame is comprised of a polycarbonate sheet paired with GraniteGEAR’s Air Current suspension. How this translates to the persons wearing the pack is simple. You have a sturdy but flexible composite frame that also has molded foam pad equipped with air channels. The fabric is stretch mesh fabric that works well with the foam to allow evaporation and keep your back cool.
The shoulder straps are just the right width so they won’t cut into the skin but not so wide that they rub your neck. The pack also has load leveling straps that are above each shoulder and allow you to bring the pack closer to your body and put the weight more onto the hips. The hip belt is equipped with webbing loops that can accommodate any manner of applicable accessory. The large belt clip is comfortable and easily adjusted.
The BLAZE A.C. 60 is a breed of its own. Unlike most packs it does not have a lid, though one can be purchased as an accessory. The top of the pack is opened and closed by vertical and horizontal compression straps. A pull string closure provides access to the main compartment. Inside the pack is a zippered compartment equipped to handle a hydration bladder. The outside of the pack has three mesh stretch pockets. Two on either side of the pack for water bottles, trekking poles, and whatever else you might find them useful for. The last pocket spans nearly the entire length of the back of the pack. This pocket is great for just about anything you can fit into it. I like to put a light jacket and my water filtration kit. The Line-Loc compression system strings are not only functional they are replaceable in the event the ever wear out. There are 9 total 3 on either side and 3 over the back. These are great for securing the load and holding things like coats or wet rainfly’s.
Now that we know all about the pack let me take the time to tell you about how my experience went. I am a planner, by my accounts not a great one, but a planner all the same. I want to truly know my gear before I take it up and into the wilds of the great land. I don’t want to discover that a pack does not fit me while I’m 10 miles into the bush. So, what could I do to make that a non-issue? Well, I am fortunate enough to have a great walking path that runs near my home. I decided that I would fill the pack with the load out that I would be taking on my next pack trip and hit the trail. Now, this trail is not much for elevation changes but miles are miles and I was determined to get a few under this pack. This became an after work routine for several nights. The days melted into weeks and I soon had just over 25 miles on this BLAZE A.C. 60. Consensus so far? This pack is amazing!
I had planned a hiking trip with my wife that was up one of our local hiking trials and oddly neither of us had the pleasure of exploring yet.
It was a relatively short hike but it was all we had time to complete. After the crazy work week was over the Friday freedom bell rang and we were soon walking along the shore of the Walla Walla River. The temperature in town was a brutal 106 degrees but fell off to a cool 92 at the parking area. My pack was filled with gear for more than one night though this was only an overnight trip. I was loaded with about 26 pounds of gear as I thought it a good idea to bring some optics along and do some glassing.
The pack rode tight against my body and my shoulders hardly noticed the weight. Good packs make for good hikes. The BLAZE A.C. 60 was proving to be a great pack and it stands to reason after my last statement that this was turning into a great hike.
We entered our camp as the light started to slowly retreat to the west losing its battle against the advancing eastern darkness. My pack was hardly a bother but I was happy to have I off as the night was unusually warm. The air channels on the foam back pad gave a valiant effort but my back was still completely soaked. I rummaged through my pack to find my hammock and get camp set. To my right side my wife responded in similar fashion. Camp was set and soon we both sat swinging in my hammock staring into the never-ending blackness that is space. In those empty moments where thoughts shoot in and out of your mind like shooting stars everything is fair game. I thought of many things including the pack that had hugged my back for the past 3 hours. All I could do was sit in admiration. I broke the silence with just two words “it’s great”. My wife turned and smiled in agreement our minds obviously in different places both thoughts just as valid as the other. It was great, and this was great. We slept.
The morning was oatmeal and pack up time. Everything went smooth and we soon were back in the truck heading to town. My field test of the GraniteGEAR BLAZE A.C. 60 was complete. I had just under 35 miles total on this pack. It had met my expectations and truly proved worthy of the high marks others had given. I too will follow suit and stand quite literally on the mountain to say unabashed that I recommend this pack.
What could be done better?
As with all products there are things that a person could see as wanting improved. The questions is whether it is an issue of improvement or customization? I would like to purchase the lid accessory because I like them. I would like to add a pocket to the hip belt. These are more customizations than improvements. I can’t really think of anything that really “needs” improvement. I think this is a wonderful pack and can see no reason tell anybody any different. GraniteGEAR and the BLAZE A.C. 60 truly shine as top contenders in today’s high end backpacking world.
Go check them out here: http://www.granitegear.com/blaze-a-c-60-packbody-only.html
I give this pack 4.75 stars as I will need to put a few more miles on it to bring it up to 5.