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Gear Review: Granite Gear Meridian Vapor Pack

Is this the summer you vowed lighten your load? Pick up this sequel to a previous Editors' Choice winner and start the season off right.

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Granite Gear’s Meridian Vapor is an ultralight toploading pack. At 52 liters, it offers just enough space for uber weight-conscious backpackers to cram in a week’s worth of supplies or an extended weekend’s worth for the rest of us.

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The suspension is identical to the discontinued Vapor Trail, which earned our 2003 Editors’ Choice Award. The padding is plush for an ultralight pack, but the real bonus is it comes in two torso lengths with 4 hipbelt sizes that let you nail a custom fit.

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I found the beefy, foam hipbelt comfy as long as I stayed near the recommended 30-pound limit. Granite Gear offers hipbelt pockets as an add-on (not pictured, $20).

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Despite the comfortable suspension, this pack is still less than 3 pounds, and I was thankful for the weight savings during my whirlwind tour of Yosemite’s wateralls (and the corresponding 11,000+ feet of elevation change).

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The vertical frontal zip made internal access exceedingly easy, which was crucial for quick access to the bottom of my pack when we were racing to set up camp before a storm.

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Say what you want about fanny pack fashion sense, but their functionality is irrefutable for quick side hikes from a base camp. The large lid easily held a camera, sunscreen, sunglasses case, and sundry other items.

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Doffing the lid shaves 8 ounces, and the tool loops combined with two front compression make the Meridian Trail the perfect setup for summer alpine ascents.

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The deep, stretchy side pockets were great for everything from tent poles to gloves to oversized bags of gorp. I appreciated the versatile compression straps that could thread underneath the pocket to avoid crushing my food if I opted to store it there.

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Cordura reinforcements at key points mean this pack can take a beating. I dragged it across granite and ice during a scramble up Yosemite’s Liberty Cap. Even after an extended weekend of scrambling all over central Yosemite, I couldn’t find a scratch.

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The Specs
Cost: $199
Weight: 2 lbs, 14 oz.
Sizes: Men’s Torso: Regular, Long (Hipbelt: S,M,L)
Women’s Meridian Vapor Ki Torso: Short, Regular (Hipbelt: S,M,L)
Granitegear.com

Photos and text by Will Rochfort