BWCA Granite Packs, Traditional #4 or Superior One Boundary Waters Gear Forum
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distinguished member (162)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/23/2024 03:08PM  
Opinions on these two Granite Gear packs? 6000 cu in for the Traditional #4 and up to 7400 cu in with the cinch top on the Superior one. Is the Superior pack worth the extra $50? A loaded up #4 pack can get pretty the Superior pack too big?
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04/23/2024 03:49PM  
CCS Pioneer or Guide

Thank me later
distinguished member(538)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/23/2024 04:03PM  
My two cents are that neither the Superior One nor the Traditional #4 by Granite Gear should be considered for true wilderness use. They are made overseas and now use either a 210 or a 400 denier (fairly lightweight) fabric. Both CCS and Portage North are made from 1000 D and will last for decades and, more importantly, they are both made in Minnesota.

My nod is to Portage North, but I'm biased. Either way, they are not a huge price jump (especially with things like spring sales) for a better product you'll be happier with.
distinguished member (162)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/23/2024 04:05PM  
$132 for a brand new GG Traditional 4....
distinguished member (274)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/23/2024 07:11PM  
I use Superior One packs for 15 years, and they are in top-notch form, though may be don't look it. I travel around a month each season and often in march harsher terrain than BWCA. Average loads are 55 to 65 lbs. May be 15 years ago GG used better materials than they do now? Can't say.
distinguished member (213)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/23/2024 11:12PM  
ISRO: "CCS Pioneer or Guide

Thank me later"

ISRO took the words right out of my mouth.

I have a Granite Gear #4 and it can definitely be overloaded. I now own CCS Hybrid Pioneer and the smaller Hybrid Explorer and I will never turn back. There’s nothing worse on a trip than overloading a big pack. Much better to get smaller packs and double portage. I realize that doesn’t speak directly to your question but an overloaded pack can have such a negative impact on a trip that can be disheartening. What I’ve learned is to not buy a pack that is big enough so that when you do overload it, as most of us tend to do, it will not be too unwieldy or heavy for you to manage.

Now, learning how to not overpack is a whole separate thread!

Good luck and let us know what you choose!
04/24/2024 07:50AM  
I got a GG #4 last year. It's pretty basic but works fine. I thought the straps were comfortable. I don't like the black color, it's dark and hard to see stuff inside. I noticed my outfitter used them as well. It's lighter weight than some but I wouldn't call it "cheap". More along the lines of you get what you pay for. It is huge so it's easy to overload, but that goes with the territory. I've only used it once so far so I can't offer much more of an opinion other than I expect it will hold up to my couple-of-trips-per-year use for quite a while.

Had I known I could go with Minnesota-made PN Voyageur 4 pack for about $60 more (with waist strap) I would have. I like CCS stuff, it's likely the best all around gear out there, but you have to use it a lot to justify the price.

RBW had a great deal on their Expedition pack all winter but now it looks like it's back up to regular price, which itself is a pretty good deal. I haven't seen one in person but it seems to be a well thought out and well built pack. Believe that one is made in China.

04/24/2024 09:03AM  
I bought a superior one pack about 20 years ago it was a nice pack well padded on the back and straps. About 15 years ago I took the pack to their place of business in two harbors for repair and they couldn't do it. I think they had switched all their operations to China at that time. So I've never looked at granite gear again and have gone totally to cook custom sewing packs their number one.

distinguished member(7895)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
04/24/2024 09:07AM  
Any pack can work, but if you want quality, the Cooke Custom Sewing Pioneer Pack is your answer. If you buy one, you will NEVER look back and wish you had purchased something different. I guarantee that you will if you buy a GG #4.

You're already committed to spending $150 on the GG. Dig a little deeper and spend another $150 to buy a pack that you'll always be glad you bought.
distinguished member (162)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/24/2024 12:06PM  
Bought the GG #4. We trip once a year and this will be year 29. We have Kondos and CCS and GG packs in our group. This pack will replace two used Molle II Rucksacks we acquired via ebay. They are fine but the capacity isn't great and frame is extra weight. We tend to overload packs and travel very heavy as base campers, but have some pretty burly dudes (although we're aging and the aches are growing!) to haul gear.

Keep in mind we still use a Mad River Teton canoe I bought for $600 in about 2001 and it weighs in at about 90#. For $132 and free shipping, I'll give it a shot and add it to our gear. Time will tell.
distinguished member (274)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/24/2024 01:32PM  
I wonder how "overloading" could be described as a drawback of pack's design. I have a 35L hiking pack that I use for off-season training carrying some 60lb worth of dumbbells - and it still has plenty of space for another 20-25lbs. Should I through it away and replace with a smaller one?
04/24/2024 02:51PM  
EddyTurn: "I wonder how "overloading" could be described as a drawback of pack's design. I have a 35L hiking pack that I use for off-season training carrying some 60lb worth of dumbbells - and it still has plenty of space for another 20-25lbs. Should I through it away and replace with a smaller one?"

Overloading is a problem for the person carrying the pack, not a design issue. The only time I think about overloading being an issue with design is where the pack is designed to round out as it fills, such as with envelope designs. The bulge in those packs makes them uncomfortable to carry as it pushes the weight further from your body and increases the pressure on your shoulders, even with a belt strap.

Get the CCS Hybrid, Pioneer size. Guide is too big for a single person, but I could see it being useful with kids or if you have a specific plan that won't make it too heavy. Packs can be cinched down to make them smaller, but getting a larger pack than you actually need enables the bad habit of overpacking.
member (25)member
04/25/2024 08:47AM  
The Superior One has been great for cold weather camping and hunting trips as I have often loads that are bulky but not terribly heavy. In the past I had to lash gear to the outside of smaller packs. And I am on a budget.

So I prefer lots of volume in case I am packing in lots of insulation.

distinguished member (396)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/26/2024 11:47AM  
I bought a Superior One and ended up overloading it on my first two uses and had a miserable time hauling it around. Bought a CCS Pioneer and couldn't be happier, dropped probably 20lbs off my loadout just by being forced to pack less and be more strategic. I still use the Superior one when there's another person but most of my trips are solo and it's just too much pack, regardless of how small it can be cinched down. It's a psychological thing a lot of folks battle with - more pack= must pack more. Happens every dang time.

On another note, having both packs, I can definitively say that the construction quality on the CCS is lightyears beyond the Granite Gear packs. Perhaps that has to do with GG outsourcing a lot of their work now? Who knows. But there's always this feeling in the back of my head with the GG, that one day on a portage the shoulder strap is just going to rip right out. I'm probably being paranoid but you can't go wrong with CCS. Kondos is another great option from what I have heard.
distinguished member(1501)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/02/2024 12:43AM  
CCS or Portage North. Both make better packs these days.
senior member (82)senior membersenior member
05/12/2024 02:52PM  
I have the superior 1. If you’re set on GG, superior 1 is worth the extra money as compared to the #4. CCS makes great stuff too.
distinguished member (341)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/25/2024 01:10PM  
I have never owned a Granite Gear pack. I am old school and used regular Duluth packs. I have two number 4s and it is possible to load quite a bit of gear in them. They have held up well for being on multiple trips to the BW, Quetico and Canada. While not comfortable, I have had no problem portaging them. I like the fact that I can organize more gear in each pack so that when I make camp, it is consolidated together, ie., tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, floor maps, tent poles and so forth.

In my opinion, no matter how well you organize a pack, a heavy pack is a heavy pack and each person needs to assess their ability to handle such. As I have grown older, now in my 70s, I have purchased lighter equipment and do not overload packs as much. Double portaging is a given.

Based on my observation, members of this site tend to portray CCS gear with a cult-like appreciation - and in no way is this a criticism of the gear, it is apparently very good. But, alternative gear also works almost as well and lower prices. This appeals to some. As long as my Duluth Packs hold up, I will use them and pass them on to my grand kids. That says a lot about their durability.

So, get the Granite Gear packs. They will work. Do not let the pursuit of perfection keep you from appreciating the good enough.
05/26/2024 07:14AM  
I own a Superior (121L) and a Quetico (82L) from Granite Gear. I've only ever used the Superior for carrying lightweight "soft" stuff like clothes, sleeping bags, etc. Used in that way, the weight is fine but the pack is very bulky. The Quetico is great and manageable even when heavily loaded.

I've never used a Trad #4, and only ever seen one in pictures online. The Trad #4 (98L) is sized in between the Quetico and Superior and I imagine if you're filling it with heavy stuff then the carrier will need physical strength and endurance to portage it.

I'm going to buck the trend on CCS and say that their products have been consistently disappointing. Both on their own and when compared against competing products. I've purchased multiple items from them on the strength of reviews in old threads and recommendations on this forum. I refuse to purchase anything from them again.
senior member (55)senior membersenior member
05/26/2024 04:06PM  
Let me continue answering a question you didn't ask, since that's where the thread has gone.

I haven't used a GG #4, but I use a GG Superior and a CCS Guide on every trip. My Superior is from the era when they were still made in the US, I got it used from someone who hadn't really used it. I end up carrying the GG, and it's fine, but I vastly prefer the CCS. The adjustments are better placed and better thought out, and the materials feel and work better. We have been doing some tough rivers for the last few years and so there's a lot of mess, and the GG soaks up a lot more water and mud when subjected to the same conditions. A good example of how the CCS seems smarter is the additional handle on the bottom of the CCS pack - it makes it much easier to get the pack into the canoe in the right orientation. The pocket on the flap of the CCS is another small detail that I find very useful. The CCS pack feels like it was carefully iterated over time, while the GG seems like it could use another round or two.

We haven't had problems with over-weighting either of them, they usually are both a little less than full, but have completely stuffed the GG space with lighter stuff and had it be fine. If I buy another pack, it'll probably be a CCS Pioneer. If I were you and I thought I was going to use my pack for many years, I really would consider going with CCS even though it costs more.
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