The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Granite Gear Alpine Vapor Pack: More All-purpose than Alpine Specific
Posted on: January 18, 2008
Weight: 2 pounds, 10 ounces
Size: 40 liters (3600 cubic inches). Comes in short, regular and long
Having shredded multiple ultralight packs while alpine climbing and cragging the past couple years, I've been looking for a new versatile and medium-sized assault pack for some time. Granite Gear's Alpine Vapor sounded like a good contender with its tough, high-tenacity 210 denier Cordura nylon fabric and its 420 Cordura reinforcement on the bottom. After three months of rock climbing, ice climbing and traveling in South America, the Alpine Vapor easily passed the durability test and showed very few signs of wear. This is a pack that could last me ten years.
I was impressed with the comfort of the padding on the back, as well as the hip and shoulder straps as I made the long grinds to both rock and ice routes in the Canadian Rockies. Even when the pack was completely overloaded, it still carried well. The hip belt has gear loops, but I found its size (4.25" wide by 1" thick) restricted my range of motion while climbing. Fortunately, it's removable, which was good for hauling, for descents and when checking the pack on an airplane.
I did not like the tool straps because they were heavier and more difficult to use than the Velcro or shock cord tool holders I've used on other packs. They also were difficult to cinch tight in the cold. Fortunately, the straps were easily modified by snipping the stitches and tying some shock cord through the reinforced holes, making the pack lighter and more user friendly. I also found the tool loops large, and hammerless tools were difficult to attach securely. A reinforced Hyperlon patch is sewn on the front to protect the pack's body from crampon or ice axe punctures, although the crampon straps could be a little closer together.
I have a few gripes with the Alpine Vapor. It doesn't come with a lid, so keeping small stuff organized is difficult. The roll-top closure system has an extra long collar that makes packing or reaching the bottom of the pack a challenging and annoying process. The dark fabric also makes it difficult to see what is deep down inside. I didn't test it, but Granite Gear makes a "flat" 3-liter accessory lid that can be ordered through their website if you can't find it at your local dealer.
Overall, the Alpine Vapor is a good all-purpose cragging pack that's suitable for some alpine objectives.
Pros: Comfortable; durable; lightweight.
Cons: No lid comes standard; hip belt restricts range of motion while climbing; excess amount of collar makes it difficult to pack; crampon and tool loops could be more secure.