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#89208 - 02/06/08 04:49 PM Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this pack?
Buster_Martin Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
So, as some of you might know from another area of this forum, I'm looking to go to Olympic with some friends this August. It'll be pretty much my first backpacking trip, although camping and hiking are not strange concepts for me, and I'm looking for a lightweight backpack for the trip. I stumbled upon the "Vapor Trail" by Granite Gear and was taken aback by the following comment, "roughly 40% of AT thru-hikers were carrying the Vapor Trail, largely due to its exceptional comfort."

Here's the URL to the pack: http://www.backcountrygear.com/catalog/packdetail.cfm?PRODUCTS__ProductID=GG345&code=100

And here are some questions I have...
- Has anyone used this pack before? If so, what are your thoughts on it.
- Can the stat above be anything close to true?
- Is 3600 cubic inches decent for a week long treck in ONP?
- I'm going to do some "warm up" trips this spring/summer at Shenandoah, Smokey Mountains, and the AT. Do you think it will fair equally well (or poorly) in all these locations?

Oh, and my pack will be 30lbs or less for sure. Thank you to anyone that can help!!! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
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#89209 - 02/06/08 05:06 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this pack? [Re: Buster_Martin]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
"Anyone use this pack?"

The short answer is, a whole bunch of folks use and love this pack. I'll give you a brief answer to all your questions; this is one of the 5 most talked about packs on most sites, and nearly everyone likes it. To get way more information than you ever wanted, go to the BackpackingLight and BackPackGearTest websites. It's been reviewed extensively on both sites.

I've loved this pack since I first put it on about 5 years ago; the only other pack I've even considered is its frameless sibling, the Virga. I could never get my load below the 20 pound capacity of the Virga, so I'm happily using the Vapor Trail.

To answer your questions:

Is the 40% stat true? I have no idea - but if everyone else is as smart as me, it should be. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

Is 3600 cubic incehs decent? That depends on the bulk of your load. If you use a synthetic sleeping bag, synthetic jacket, closed-cell pad, and other bulky gear, probably not. If, like me, you use a down bag and jacket, Thermarest 3/4-length pad, and solo tent, it's probably plenty. (I carry 24 pounds in cold weather, and haven't ever completely filled the extension sleeve on the pack.)

Will it fare OK in different locations? Sure - the pack doesn't really know where it is; it's you, your skills, and the appropriateness of your other gear that will determine how YOU will fare in those locations. The pack will just go along for the ride.

My favorite feature of this pack is the plush backpad - it actually saves some weight, if you're carrying a full-length inflatable pad. You can downsize to a 3/4 length pad, and put the empty pack at the foot of the pad; it's large and soft enough under your legs to extend the pad to full length.


Edited by Glenn (02/06/08 05:12 PM)

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#89210 - 02/06/08 05:15 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this pack? [Re: Glenn]
Buster_Martin Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Thanks for the quick reply, Glenn!! You know, before I posted this I did a search on that pack name figuring that if it was as wonderful as the site claimed that someone would have posted about it before...but I got nothing on the results page. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> Go figure! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

Regarding whether or not it will fare in different locals...I guess I'm not sure what I was specifically thinking when I wrote that because now I'm not sure what to say. Brain fart, perhaps? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />
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#89211 - 02/06/08 06:04 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Glenn]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 666
Loc: Upstate NY

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#89212 - 02/06/08 06:48 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Glenn]
Dondo Offline
member

Registered: 05/06/02
Posts: 593
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Quote:

Is 3600 cubic incehs decent? That depends on the bulk of your load. If you use a synthetic sleeping bag, synthetic jacket, closed-cell pad, and other bulky gear, probably not. If, like me, you use a down bag and jacket, Thermarest 3/4-length pad, and solo tent, it's probably plenty. (I carry 24 pounds in cold weather, and haven't ever completely filled the extension sleeve on the pack.)


Another long time VT fan here. I actually use a synthetic bag (Montbell UL Alpine Burrow #3), an ancient synthetic jacket (Moonstone Cirrus), a closed-cell pad ( 1/4" Thinlite, strapped vertically to the back) plus self-inflater (Montbell 90) and still have enough room for about a week's food supply without having to use the extension collar. Having tried a number of lw and ul packs, I still haven't found anything as comfortable.

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#89213 - 02/06/08 07:37 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: DTape]
Buster_Martin Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania


Yeah, that's why I was wondering. After all, about 80% of all statistics are made up on the spot. Since this came from the vendor, I just wasn't sure what to believe. I figured if the general concensus was good around here, then I could rely more on that info.
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#89214 - 02/06/08 07:41 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Dondo]
Buster_Martin Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Quote:
Another long time VT fan here. I actually use a synthetic bag (Montbell UL Alpine Burrow #3), an ancient synthetic jacket (Moonstone Cirrus), a closed-cell pad ( 1/4" Thinlite, strapped vertically to the back) plus self-inflater (Montbell 90) and still have enough room for about a week's food supply without having to use the extension collar. Having tried a number of lw and ul packs, I still haven't found anything as comfortable.


That's great to hear! Thanks for the info! Oh, and I'm trying to find a synthetic bag as well for all these trips (been surviving with an el cheapo and extra clothes for camping trips...but for backpacking I'd like something more reliable), so I'll have to check out that Montbell you mentioned. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Thanks again!
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#89215 - 02/06/08 08:11 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this pack? [Re: Buster_Martin]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
There are probably several hundred posts about this pack on this site; I found them in less than 30 seconds.

You either didn't set the search fields properly or used the wrong search term.

(Note: I am not saying this to make you look dumb, I am saying this because using the search function is easy once you understand how it works. I've been on this site for almost 5 years, I know where things are. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />)

Use "vapor trail" with quotes just like I wrote it in the search box.
Go to the Date Range box. Set it to 3 years for "newer than" and ignore the older than. Then start through the posts.

There are seven detailed reviews here
reviews


Edited by TomD (02/06/08 08:20 PM)
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#89216 - 02/06/08 08:14 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: DTape]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
As I reflected a little on it, I'd probably ignore the statistic. If the pack doesn't fit you comfortably and hold all your gear, it doesn't matter if 99% of thru-hikers like it. You won't - and who's "wrong," you or them?

I learned early in my accounting career that figures can lie, and liars can figure. Not sure how it's relevant, but I've been wanting to use that line for a while now. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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#89217 - 02/06/08 09:08 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this pack? [Re: TomD]
Buster_Martin Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Quote:
There are probably several hundred posts about this pack on this site; I found them in less than 30 seconds.

You either didn't set the search fields properly or used the wrong search term.

(Note: I am not saying this to make you look dumb, I am saying this because using the search function is easy once you understand how it works. I've been on this site for almost 5 years, I know where things are. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />)

Use "vapor trail" with quotes just like I wrote it in the search box.
Go to the Date Range box. Set it to 3 years for "newer than" and ignore the older than. Then start through the posts.

There are seven detailed reviews here
reviews


TomD...thank you! I know you weren't posting that to make me look dumb...but, color me dumb!! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> I looked at the Date Range area and it was at newer than 1 week. For some reason I took that as that it won't return anything newer than 1 week, but everything else should come up. I've been doing it that way on every search I've done - and was wondering why there weren't any results from the seemingly knowledgeable crew here. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> I was definitely interpreting that wrong...sorry about that! Another learning experience for me... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
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#89218 - 02/06/08 09:18 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Buster_Martin]
speyguy Offline
member

Registered: 04/11/06
Posts: 35
Loc: Portland, OR
I own one of these packs. I like it alot, but like my ULA just a wee bit more. Keep in mind that most of the marketing photos of this pack show it with the extension collar down where it is probably closer to a 2800 to 3000 cube pack. It's a 3600 cube pack with the extension collar extended (someone correct me if I'm wrong). I would bet that most of the people that use this pack have lots of experience backpacking and have whittled their way down to this smaller pack thru a few years of experience. My experience hiking with newbies is that they tend to bring too much. If they stay with it, they eventually learn like everyone else and then they are ready for a smaller pack. It's a great pack, but you have to be on your lightweight game.

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#89219 - 02/06/08 09:21 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Glenn]
Buster_Martin Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Quote:
If the pack doesn't fit you comfortably and hold all your gear, it doesn't matter if 99% of thru-hikers like it. You won't - and who's "wrong," you or them?


I agree...but I've got to start somewhere...and I guess for that starting point the majority opinion isn't a bad way to go. If it doesn't work for me, I'll cross that bridge at that time. Good point, though, I must say.
_________________________
My site w/ photo journal: http://www.bustermartin101.com

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#89220 - 02/07/08 12:13 AM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Buster_Martin]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Fit is everything. An ill fitting pack is just an expensive bag. I know, I've had a couple.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#89221 - 02/07/08 04:58 AM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Buster_Martin]
GrumpyGord Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 937
Loc: Michigan
I have the pack and like it. One complaint I have is the top closure straps. There is one strap going side to side and another going front to back. That would be fine if the top of your load were even but mine frequently are not. Last spring I was out and did not properly cinch the drawcord on the top and the pack contents shifted or something and I ended up loosing my Tarptent. The Tarptent was in a small round stuff sack and was able to fall out through the opening. I am thinking about adding some straps going diagonally across the top. I also miss a top pocket to hold rain jacket, maps, snacks etc. GG offers one as an add on but it is far from being a good solution.

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#89222 - 02/07/08 12:32 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Buster_Martin]
jaiden Offline
member

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 123
I got one, as my first pack since I got back into camping, based on a lot of reviews. I'm very happy with it. The ULA packs look nice though. One thing you should do is get your pack LAST, to be sure it will hold everything you want to bring. Also, the VT has almost unusable side pockets. Otherwise it's just one big compartment. So, you may need a belt pocket or two. GG sells these too. I have a fanny pack I'm trying to "adapt" for this use. I like to keep some stuff at hand so I don't have to open the pack.

But overall, very nice pack. I can cinch it down to use it as a day pack without a weight penalty over my old camelback 1000cc day pack.

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#89223 - 02/07/08 02:50 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Buster_Martin]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I'm sorry if that came off as a little harsh (re-reading it in your quote, I can see how it could have.) The older I get, the more I become a practicing curmudgeon.

You're right, the majority opinion is usually a good place to start. I was just trying to tell you not to get too upset if, for whatever reason, you decide to go a different route.

In fact, my own experience with the Virga is proof of that. If you read the majority opinion on the BackpackingLight website, I should have been able to make that pack work using ultralight gear. The only problem was that I couldn't get comfortable with it (literally and figuratively.) However, knowing that I "should" prefer it led to me messing around with it longer than I would have otherwise. Oh, well, Earthling's doodad boxes got a little boost as a result, so it turned out OK in the end.

In the Vapor Trail's case, I suspect you'll agree with the majority - just don't force yourself to do so.

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#89224 - 02/07/08 02:59 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: GrumpyGord]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
You're right - as is, out of the package, the Lid is a poorly-designed add-on. It has plenty of capacity for me, but using it is a real pain. You have to loop the fastener through the compression straps on the back (or is it front? - I'm never sure) to cinch it down. As a result, the only way to get the pack open is to unfasten that loop (or unthread the strap) so the Lid will flip up out of the way. Extremely cumbersome at best.

However, there is an easy cure. Cut the long strap (the one attached to the male end of the Fastex buckle) loose from the Lid. Now take the "back" end - the other end from the male part of the buckle - and sew it to itself to form a small loop, just large enough to slip over the webbing on the compression strap. You now have a configuration where unclipping the buckle lets the male end dangle loose from the compression strap while the Lid flips out of the way. (More like a traditional top compartment works.) This actually makes the Lid convenient! Oddly enough, though, I tend to prefer using the Granite Gear Air Pockets to hold the stuff that I'd normally put in the Lid (maps, gloves, etc.), and store them in the side pockets - they fit nicely, and are now handy. By the way, a Platypus fits the side pockets much better than a Nalgene bottle, too.

Hope this helps.

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#89225 - 02/07/08 03:20 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Glenn]
Buster_Martin Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Quote:
I'm sorry if that came off as a little harsh (re-reading it in your quote, I can see how it could have.)


No, it didn't come off harsh...I completely understood where you were coming from. In fact, I'm grateful for the input!!

Quote:
In the Vapor Trail's case, I suspect you'll agree with the majority - just don't force yourself to do so.


Point taken...and a good one to keep in the back of my mind. Thanks!! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
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#89226 - 02/07/08 03:21 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: jaiden]
Dondo Offline
member

Registered: 05/06/02
Posts: 593
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Quote:
Also, the VT has almost unusable side pockets.


Occasionally, I'll see this complaint about the Vapor Trail. I think this is true only if you over stuff the bottom of the pack. I personally find the side pockets very useful. My silshelter, ground sheet, and stakes are stuffed in one pocket for easy access at the end of the day. Into the other pocket go assorted odds and ends including a small stuff sack containing small items I might need during the day.

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#89227 - 02/07/08 05:28 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Buster_Martin]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6765
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Note that in the Olympics, if you're above timberline or on the beach, a hard-sided bear canister is required. (At the beach it's raccoons, not bears, that are the problem.) I went through this with the Olympic NP folks last summer--they wouldn't let me use my Ursack. Below timberline, if you don't have a canister, you need to hang a bag 12 feet high and 10 feet out from the tree. (even if it's an Ursack). So whatever pack you get, make sure there's room for the canister!

Olympic NP backcountry food storage regulations
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#89228 - 02/07/08 06:21 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Dondo]
jaiden Offline
member

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 123
Quote:
Quote:
Also, the VT has almost unusable side pockets.


Occasionally, I'll see this complaint about the Vapor Trail. I think this is true only if you over stuff the bottom of the pack. I personally find the side pockets very useful. My silshelter, ground sheet, and stakes are stuffed in one pocket for easy access at the end of the day. Into the other pocket go assorted odds and ends including a small stuff sack containing small items I might need during the day.


True. I can get my poncho tarp in the side... but compare it to the ULA. Don't get me wrong, I love the VT, but the side pockets are pretty lame. I have heard of people cutting them and putting the compression straps through the holes. I wish I had another pocket

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#89229 - 02/07/08 06:34 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: jaiden]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Quote:
Also, the VT has almost unusable side pockets.


Perhaps for some but not for me. I keep a 32oz Nalgene or Gatorade bottle in one and my poncho and maps in the other. The bottle can be a bit hard to reach but that's a small price to pay for the exquisite comfort (IMO) and relatively light weight of this pack.

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If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

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#89230 - 02/07/08 07:37 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: OregonMouse]
Buster_Martin Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Quote:
Note that in the Olympics, if you're above timberline or on the beach, a hard-sided bear canister is required. ... So whatever pack you get, make sure there's room for the canister!


I currently have the bearvault 350. It's relatively small so I'm pretty sure it'll fit in the pack...but I guess that's tough to say since I haven't seen the pack yet in person.

http://www.bearvault.com/bearvault_details.php
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#89231 - 02/12/08 07:10 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: Trailrunner]
BobEFord Offline
member

Registered: 01/28/08
Posts: 72
Loc: SE AZ
I would be grateful if someone could help me find a retailer in AZ who has the Vapor Trail in stock to fit test.

My base is Tucson, but I travel to Phoenix and Flagstaff regularly.

My apologies if this is in the incorrect forum, but it popped up as the more recent discussion of the pack.

Thanks

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#89232 - 02/12/08 10:16 PM Re: Granite Gear "Vapor Trail" - anyone use this p [Re: BobEFord]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6765
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
The Granite Gear web site has a dealer finder.
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