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Backpacker Magazine – May 2006

Backpack Review: 4 Perfect Packs

Midsize internal-frame backpacks that do everything--and do it well

by: Mike Lanza, BACKPACKER Northwest Editor

PAGE 1 2 3 4

©Mitch Mandel

Granite Gear Nimbus Access FZ 3800
Get all-terrain stability with this pack's best-in-class compression.

Imagine a baby koala hugging your back. Okay, too cute. But this pack is so snug and stable it'll feel like a small marsupial on your shoulders, even when you're scrambling uphill and off-trail. It starts with external, internal, and top compression straps that take the bounce out of any load. Then add a unique hipbelt/framesheet combo that enhances load control and comfort. The hipbelt is soft and conforming inside, but has a removable plastic exoskeleton for stiffness and support. The plastic framesheet uses variable rigidity to match the varying demands on your torso: it's flexible in the lumbar area to absorb shock and improve mobility, and stiff behind your shoulders for load transfer. The result: The FZ manhandled 45 pounds in our trials.

Like the Gregory, this pack uses foam lined with a wicking fabric that's soft enough for shirtless hiking. Its most distinctive feature, though, is a double-zipper front panel that lets you grab anything inside without undoing the internal compression; the panel's stretchy fabric also forgives overpackers. Durability is excellent--bushwhacking in New Hampshire's White Mountains inflicted no harm--yet weight is competitive. Two torso sizes and customizable men's and women's hipbelts and shoulder straps produced a comfortable fit on all five testers. Adjusting the shoulder straps requires a screwdriver, but once they're set, they never need further modification. If this pack has a downside, it's the smallish capacity.

Size:3,800 cu. in.
Weight:4 lbs. 12 oz.
Contact:(218) 834-6157;

PAGE 1 2 3 4

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Reader Rating: -


Jun 27, 2012

Would be nice if replies stated the item name they were commenting on. Can't tell which was the worst pack and which packed 65# with ease.

Dec 06, 2011

Because you can see her "review" under the descriptions of all four packs, it's impossible to tell which pack Julie Meadows disliked so much.

julie meadows
Aug 26, 2011

Worst pack I have ever worn. Not packed too full, maybe 40 pounds. I have a small frame. It KILLED my hips and shoulders the whole time. VERY limited adjustability!

Oct 14, 2009

I was wondering about the fore-mentioned heat molding process of the hip belt. Is this actually something that is done in the shop? My focus would be that what if the pack is bought online. Recommendations?

Sep 10, 2009

Great all round pack only used it once (to bad) but love it great for any day huge capacity but hip belt feels funny. Any way great pack very very stable!

Sep 10, 2009

Aug 02, 2009

I have only used this pack on 3 and 4 day trips but it is the most comfortable pack I have ever worn. On three day trips I tend to pack heavy foods; veggies, fruits, cheese. I have the 70 and it handles heavy loads great. To me the 70L looks and feels smaller then it is, I just can't work in the confines of a sub 60L bag, and the suspension in those smaller bags leave a lot to be desired. Go to your local mountaineering shop and try it on. You will be pleased. For smaller loads it packs down nicely. A final not. On my last trip in Yosemite a black bear took off with my pack and got a pack of beef jerky that I missed. He could have easily shredded the pack but he didn't only the small pocket the jerky was in. I got the pack back and now have a story and a pack that survived a bear attack. Hows that for a VOC.

Mar 19, 2009

I've taken this pack on a 24 day trip with 65 pounds and it handled the load with ease, and didn't hurt my back in the process. A great all around pack. The brain turns into a fanny pack which is another neat feature.


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