Fly fishing

Granite Gear Crown3 60 review: Ultralight pack, heavy potential

Ultralight backpacking gear tends to be expensive, flimsy, or uncomfortable. The Granite Gear Crown3 60 reviewed here is none of that.

This is the first day of my Colorado Four Pass Loop hike. between Aspen and Crested Butte, Colorado, and my legs are on fire. My lungs are burning trying to keep a steady pace on a brutal incline known as Trailrider Pass. As I cross 12,000 feet, I reconsider my choices of bringing a little more of everything (i.e. three small boxes of wine) to make the leisurely 4-day hike over 32 miles and 8,000 feet of a little more luxurious climbing.

But what I didn’t question, even weighing nearly 40 pounds, was the Granite Gear Crown 3 60, an ultralight bag that I was definitely pushing out of its comfort zone. Yet step by step, mile after mile, the Crown3 60 beat way above its weight class and way, way above its price range.

Happiness is a full backpack. Granite Gear Crown3 60 review; (photo/Sarah Poinski-McCoy)

In short: The Granite Gear Crown3 60 improves on a time-tested classic. It’s a fantastic backpack for those who count the grams and keep their base weight low. But it also impressed me with its ability to carry moderate loads. The Crown3 60 is a very versatile backpack at a very affordable price. It should be high on the list of backpack buyers, especially those who appreciate low weight and carrying comfort.

Granite Gear Crown3 60 Review

I’m going to cut to the chase here – I really like the Granite Gear Crown 3 60. I’ve only used it for about 30 miles on a hike so far, but in that short amount of time it really impressed me. I think most people looking for an ultralight bag should seriously consider this. Here’s why.

First, I overloaded the heck out of this pack. With a verified weight of 2.58 pounds, including the VC (Vapor Current) Mark 3 frame sheet and optional aluminum stand ($12), this is still an ultralight backpack.

Yet, I didn’t really treat it as such. For my Four Pass loop hike, I stuffed it to the brim. Among my gear was a bear trash can, food for 4 days for two people, half a Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 Tenta small flask of whiskey and three 12-ounce boxes of wine.

The load hit about 40 pounds as my wife and I left the truck at the trailhead. And FYI, it’s not an ultralight load!

Man wearing Granite Gear Crown3 60 while holding dog harness
The author rushes over a scree field in the Granite Gear Crown3 60 to retrieve a fallen piece of gear; (photo/Sarah Poinski-McCoy)

Yet even pushed to its limits, the Crown3 60 performed quite well. At the end of our first and very long day of hiking and over two big passes, I had a few hot spots. My shoulders were sore, as was my back where the belt was in contact with my lower back. So, I wouldn’t recommend the pack for those who will always be carrying heavy loads.

But considering the distance and the weight, it did a good job for a very light bag. And on the second day, after we had eaten some food and drank some wine, the bag was really, really comfortable.

Granite Gear Crown3 60 vs. Crown2 60

If you’re a GearJunkie like me, you probably know that there’s a lot of history in the Crown pack series. The Crown2 has been around since 2017, with many versions sold in conjunction with other brands.

The Crown3 60 updates the popular Crown2 with some notable changes.

First, and most important to me, is that you can add an aluminum bracket to the (also removable) frame of the Crown3. This gives the user great versatility.

Do you have a light load? Remove the frame sheet and stay for a super lightweight pack. Want to carry a little more? Just add the frame sheet. You’re feeling a bit luxurious and want to add some wine and a rod to your backpacking trip? Drop the aluminum stay and you’re good at 40 pounds or more.

And it all happens for $220, which I think is amazing value in the modern market of super expensive backpacks.

Other changes from the Crown2 include the ability to remove the optional top cover and use it as a fanny pack. You can also use it as a chest bag by tying it in front of the body on the shoulder straps. These are nice bonuses that add to the value of the pack, but for me they are not as important as the extra weight carrying capacity.

Granite Gear Crown3 60: Light Pack, Heavy Abilities

While this pack is on the lightweight end of the scale, the Crown3 60 is long on features and usability.

First of all, I love the side pockets on both sides of the bag. These are much larger than most backpacks, allowing me to fit two Nalgene-style water bottles on either side if I so choose. In practice, I used one side to load two Bottles of waterand on the other side to carry a small fly rod and a fly box plus two small wine boxes.

Man wearing Granite Gear Crown3 60 with dog in forest
The author and his dog during a hike on the loop of the four passes; (photo/Sarah Poinski-McCoy)

Then the top lid pocket (which many ultralight purists will leave at home anyway) is a good size, but not huge. I like to use it to store gear like headlamps, first aid and a knife. It worked well and is just big enough to hold the essentials without weighing down the bag.

The fully adjustable Re-Fit waistband was quite comfortable, although I had a few hot spots above my tailbone. I’m a 30 inch waist, and although the brand claims the belt works up to 26 inches, I had it snug about as tight as it would be for hiking. The brand claims the belt fits between 26 and 42 inches.

The back of the bag can be reconfigured in several ways. I used it fully extended and stuffed the stretch mesh pocket to store my puff jacket, our “#2” digging kit, and my dog’s puff jacket. Other configurations could put a Ridge Rest Style Floor Mattress in the middle of the pack.

The straps both have a pair of elasticated bottle holders. Although I haven’t used this feature, ultralight backpackers using small convenience store style water bottles will love this for the access and ease of use.

Crown3-203

Granite Gear Crown3 60 Durability

So how long the Crown3 pack latest? That’s a tough question to answer having only had the pack for a little over a month. However, Granite Gear uses the exact same fabrics in the Crown3 as in the Crown2: high tenacity nylon (100D and 210D) with Barrier DWR.

And the Crown2 60 was a remarkable pack in terms of longevity. Our team tested the Crown2 on 2,000 miles on the Pacific Ridge Trail. The bag proved to be very durable for the whole summer on the trail, a test worthy of any backpack.

In my short tests, the pack had no trouble being crammed with a bear trash can and a bunch of other hard and heavy gear. I expect that with reasonable use, most hikers will get multiple seasons of use out of this pack.

Granite Gear Crown3 60 Specifications

  • Interior dimensions: 23.5″ x 16″ x 8″
  • Cubic inches: 3,660
  • Torso length: 18-21″ (for regular size, short and long options available)
  • Package weight: 2.3 to 2.68 pounds. (short, regular and long, depending on frame and lid)
  • VC (Vapor Stream) Mark 3 frame with 35 lbs. (15kg) load capacity
  • Dual density shoulder harness with load lifter straps and removable double sternum strap.
  • Fully adjustable dual density hip belt
  • Two large hip belt pockets with DWR treated zippers
  • Roll-up main compartment opening with top compression strap
  • Hydration port and internal hydration sleeve
  • Side and front compression straps
  • High tenacity nylon (100D and 210D) with Barrier DWR
  • Large fabric side pockets with zipper
  • Stretch mesh front pocket with wider top opening
  • Lower gear loops for cord customization
  • Pair of elastic bottle holders on both shoulder straps

Who should buy the Granite Gear Crown3 60?

So, do you have to take out your bank card for one of these packs? Consider.

Do you want a bag that can carry a moderate load, up to about 45 pounds? Do you want to strip this bag down for ultralight use at less than 2 pounds? Are large side pockets, a stretch mesh back pocket and quite comfortable shoulder and hip belts important to you?

Could you use the small top lid as a fanny pack or chest bag? Do you sometimes carry a bear trash can? And do you like to get creative by loading up your pack for different styles of outings?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, I would highly consider the Crown3 60. This brings me to the point of the title, that this is an ultralight pack for the masses.

Most hikers should get a lot of value out of this pack, especially at $232 including the aluminum stay supplement.

Then take a look at our best ultralight backpack buying guideconsider the pros and cons, then, most likely, put one of them in your shopping cart.

If my experience is anything like yours, you’ll be satisfied with this versatile, fairly priced backpack for many miles to come.

Check Men’s Price on REI Check Women’s Price on Amazon