Friday, September 22, 2023

Granite Gear Virga3 55L Backpack Assessment

Granite Gear Virga3 55 Backpack Review

The brand new Granite Gear Virga3 55L (2023) is a frameless ultralight rolltop backpack with an adjustable torso size and adjustable size hipbelt, that’s out there in a number of torso ranges, in unisex (males’s) and ladies’s fashions. The unisex males’s model reviewed right here weighs 26.9 ozwith a hipbelt and 19 ozstripped with out one. Being frameless it has a most really helpful carry weight of 25 lbs, which provides you a multi-day vary should you pack rigorously and use light-weight backpacking gear.

Specs at a Look

  • Gender: Unisex (Ladies’s mannequin additionally out there)
  • Sort: Body-less
  • Adjustable Torso Size/Width: Sure
  • Adjustable Size Hipbelt: Sure, as much as waists 52″
  • Full Weight: 1.68 lbs
  • Minus Hipbelt: 1.18 lbs
  • Load Lifters: Sure
  • Pockets: 3 Open
  • Hydration Appropriate: Sure
  • Ice Axe/Trekking Pole Loops: 2
  • Colours: White (undyed) or Gray/Crimson
  • Supplies: 100D and 210D Robic nylon
  • Bear Canister Compatibility: A BV475 matches horizontally inside; a BV500 vertically.
  • Max Really useful Load: 25 lbs
  • For full specs and sizes, go to Granite Gear

Why a 55L Frameless Backpack?

After I began utilizing this backpack, I needed to ask myself why anybody would desire a high-volume frameless backpack that had a most gear weight of 25 lbs. It is an effective query, particularly since including a perimeter-style wire body would solely improve the pack weight by a couple of ounces extra, however may simply improve its load-carrying capability by 50% to 100%. It’s not just like the previous days, the place including a body or a body keep would add rather more weight to a backpack than one with out.

Listed below are a couple of the reason why you may select the Virga3 55L over different ultralight backpacks:

  1. Price: With an MSRP of $200, the Virga3 55L is way cheaper than many different ultralight backpacks, which have grow to be outrageously costly. Leaving the body out assist retains the retail value even decrease. Doing so lets Granite Gear introduce ultralight backpacking to a a lot bigger viewers, which is one among their acknowledged goals.
  2. Sizing: The torso and hipbelt adjustability, sizing vary, and gender-specific fashions of the Virga3 55L are fairly distinctive amongst ultralight backpacks, that are predominantly designed for younger, skinny males. When you’re like most individuals over the age of 25, you’ll welcome the inclusive sizing provided within the Virga3 55L.
  3. Flexibility: The Virga3 55L’s compression system makes it simple to shrink the pack quantity if it’s not wanted. For instance, you possibly can simply shrink the quantity right down to 40L if that’s all you want. You possibly can’t do this with an ultralight backpack with a hard and fast quantity of 30 or 40 liters. For instance, should you’re attempting out ultralight backpacking and also you’re slowly lowering your gear weight and quantity, having a backpack that may span a number of volumes is a giant plus.
  4. Minimalism: When you embrace a minimalist philosophy, a frameless ultralight pack will most likely enchantment to you multiple with a body. It actually forces you to stroll the stroll.

Backpack Storage and Group

The Virga3 55L is a roll-top backpack arrange in basic ultralight type with two facet water bottle pockets and a entrance stretch mesh pocket. It has higher and decrease compression straps on three sides, not two, which is a signature characteristic of most Granite Gear backpacks and is available in enormously helpful when you must carry cumbersome gear like a folding foam pad, snowshoes, or a cumbersome multi-person tent that received’t match simply contained in the pack.

The Virga3 55 has two tiers of compression straps on three sides of the pack.
The Virga3 55 has two tiers of compression straps on three sides of the pack.

The roll prime clips collectively on prime of the pack and there’s a perpendicular prime strap that holds it down. If choose utilizing a roll prime that connects to the facet of the pack moderately than the highest as a result of it offers higher clearance and compression, you possibly can connect the roll prime clips to the clips on the higher compression strap protecting the entrance stretch mesh pocket. This eliminates any further webbing straps and is a properly executed design characteristic.

There’s no Y-strap on prime of the pack, which is one thing you discover on packs designed to hold a bear canister outdoors and on prime of the primary compartment, one thing that might most likely overload a backpack like this and make it unmanageable. If you must carry a canister anyway, it’s most likely finest to pack it contained in the Virga3 55L as an alternative: a BV500 matches vertically, whereas a BV475 and smaller will match horizontally in the primary compartment.

The side pockets are quite large and have an elastic keeper strap on top to prevent bottles from popping out.
The facet pockets are fairly giant and have an elastic keeper strap on prime to forestall bottles from coming out.

The facet pockets are deep and may maintain two Smartwater bottles. They’ve a shock twine adjustment working alongside the highest so you possibly can pull the pockets tight to maintain the bottles from falling out. The lower-side compression strap may also run by the facet pocket or over it, so you possibly can nonetheless have compression even when the pocket itself is full. The pack is hydration suitable with a middle hose port though there’s only a toggle inside to hold a reservoir and never a reservoir pocket.

Being frameless, the Virga 55L requires a distinct packing technique than a backpack with a body. In an effort to give the pack some stiffness so it received’t collapse if you’re packing it and to pad your again so the gear inside doesn’t poke you, it has prime and backside pad pockets inside the primary compartment, behind the shoulder straps. These are designed to suit a folding foam pad like a Therm-a-Relaxation Zlite Sol sleeping pad.

The Virga3 55L turned inside out. Place a foam pad in the pad pockets provided.
The Virga3 55L turned inside out. Place a foam pad within the prime and backside pad pockets supplied.

There are a few caveats to this. You’re most likely going to wish to minimize down a foam Therm-a-Relaxation Zlite Sol to 4 or six sections. In any other case, the pad can be too thick and it received’t match into the pack pockets supplied. For instance, a whole NEMO Switchback received’t match within the pad pockets. As well as, utilizing a pad that’s too thick can even push your load farther away out of your again and core muscle tissue and make it really feel heavier.

When you get a pad into these pockets, it’s finest to go away it there and never take it out and put it again in each time you wish to use it. I discovered it very ungainly to do that, in contrast to packs which have exterior pad sleeves just like the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60, the place it’s trivial to tug the pad out to make use of it to sit down down if you desire a relaxation. Until you possibly can sleep on 4 sections of a Zlite Sol, this implies you’re most likely going to wish to carry the lacking sections of the Zlite Sol to place underneath your torso and put the Virga3 55L underneath your legs if you fall asleep at evening. That’s fairly widespread truly. That or carry a separate full-length pad with you.

There are pad pockets inside the pack to hold a foam sleeping pad - in this case a dimpled foam Thermarest ZLite Sol.
There are pad pockets contained in the pack to carry a foam sleeping pad – on this case a dimpled foam Therm-a-rest ZLite Sol which reveals by the again panel.

As soon as packed, the Zlite foam pad will flatten out in opposition to your again, so long as you don’t overstuff the backpack. Since it’s frameless, the Virga3 55 tends to barrel should you pack the primary compartment too tightly. That is to be anticipated and the norm for a frameless backpack. It takes a little bit experimentation to pack a frameless backpack, however generally, you wish to pack your gear considerably looser than in a framed pack with a stiffer again panel.

Whereas the Virga3 is rated as a 55L pack, it feels a lot bigger than that should you rely the extension collar. Previously Granite Gear solely counted the primary compartment of their quantity specs and never the extension collar or the open pockets on the outside of the pack, so the pack has a minimum of 55L of capability, and doubtless extra like 65L. It’s enormous for a frameless backpack. Enormous.

Backpack Suspension and Hipbelt

The Virga3 55L has an adjustable torso size so you possibly can size or shorten the torso to suit higher. That is finished by elevating or decreasing the shoulder straps that are hooked up to daisy chains behind the shoulder straps. Granite Gear has thoughtfully marked the torso size equivalent to the positions in inches so you possibly can simply reposition the straps utilizing the gated buckles that join them to the daisy chains.

Frameless backpacks with adjustable torso lengths are fairly uncommon, as a result of frankly, torso size isn’t as essential as in a backpack with a body the place the hipbelt does the majority of the carrying. It doesn’t damage to have an adjustable torso on a frameless backpack, particularly one as elegant and light-weight as this one, however you possibly can simply carry 25 lbs in your shoulders, in order that facet is a nice-to-have, not vital.

It’s easy to adjust the length of the torso or the width of the shoulder straps by repositioning the gatekeeper buckles on the daisy chains.
It’s simple to regulate the size of the torso or the width of the shoulder straps by repositioning the gatekeeper buckles on the daisy chains.

That mentioned the true worth of the adjustable torso on this backpack is the truth that you possibly can alter the width of the shoulder straps. That in my thoughts the true worth of the adjustability on this pack. It’s additionally an actual drawback, particularly with vest-style packs the place one dimension matches all sizing doesn’t work nicely throughout a variety of chest widths and depths for women and men. Granite Gear has at all times had some backpacks the place you possibly can alter the width of the shoulder straps, in order that they’re acquainted with this situation and how you can handle it.

The shoulder straps comes with two sternum straps.
The shoulder straps comes with two sternum straps.

Along with adjustability, the shoulder straps on the Virga3 55L are S-shaped which most women and men discover comfy. They’ve daisy chains sewn to the entrance, so you possibly can connect bottle sleeves or pockets to them in case you have ones you already choose. Alternatively, the pack comes with 4 elastic bottle keeper cords that you need to use to connect smaller ridged bottles to the shoulder straps. I like my very own third social gathering pockets higher.

The shoulder straps include two sternum straps so you possibly can switch extra of the load off your shoulders and onto your higher chest, considerably just like the vest straps which can be showing increasingly on lower-volume packs. That is completely non-compulsory nonetheless and you may simply take away one of many sternum straps in order for you a extra conventional really feel.

The hip belt pockets are really big and can hold multiple snack bars and a smartphone.

The hipbelt, just like the shoulder straps, is adjustable when it comes to size, so you may get a very good match. It’s additionally solely detachable and simply held in place with velcro should you determine to not use it. Since it is a frameless pack, the hipbelt is doing much less load carrying than your shoulders, so its actual worth is twofold: it retains the pack near your torso so it received’t throw you off stability and it has pockets. The pockets are literally fairly giant and handy to make use of with ample house for snacks or electronics.

The length of the hipbelt is adjustable

Different Excessive-Quantity Frameless Backpacks

What different frameless, high-volume backpacks can be found?

You can even get a backpack with a detachable body or body keep and use it like a frameless backpack. For instance,

  • The Granite Gear Crown3 60 liter pack has a detachable body sheet and prime lid which lowers its weight to 32.6 oz. It prices $240 and is sort of related in design to the Virga3 55.
  • There are different high-volume ultralight packs made by Hyperlite Mountain Gear, like their 3400 sequence (55L) packs, however they’re rather more costly costing $375 and up since they’re made with Dyneema DCF.


The frameless Granite Gear Virga3 55L can be utilized for a wide range of climbing and out of doors journeys so long as you retain your pack weight underneath 25 kilos. I get a kick out of utilizing the brand new white undyed coloring, though there are additionally many examples of hikers who’ve illustrated their packs with colourful designs on Granite Gear’s Instagram Feed.

The Virga3 55L is a high volume pack that can hold a huge amount of gear.
The Virga3 55L is a high-volume frameless pack that may maintain an enormous quantity of drugs…so long as it weighs 25 kilos or much less. It might maintain extra, however you’ll really feel it in your shoulders.

There are a couple of the reason why you may like this backpack as an alternative of a smaller-volume frameless backpack or one with a body. With an MSRP of $200, the Virga3 55L is sort of reasonably priced in comparison with different widespread frameless backpacks (see 10 Finest Frameless backpacks), particularly these made with Dyneema Composite Materials or Extremely. If you wish to attempt ultralight backpacking, the Virga3 55L is an effective starter pack to experiment with. It’s additionally amazingly light-weight for its quantity, but additionally simple to compress if that quantity shouldn’t be required. That is notably helpful should you’re going by the method of changing heavier backpacking gear with lighter extra compressible alternate options that require much less quantity. Lastly, when it comes to sizing, the Virga3 55L actually covers the bases on the subject of becoming all kinds of individuals throughout all genders, shapes, and sizes. There’s little question that the Virga3 55L is a way more inclusive backpack that may assist extra individuals get pleasure from the advantages of ultralight backpacking than many of the different frameless backpacks out there right now.

Disclosure: Granite Gear donated a backpack for assessment.

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