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Granite Gear Virga

in Backpacks - Frameless

Average Rating
4.75 / 5 (8 reviews)


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Glenn Roberts
( garkjr )

Locale:
Southwestern Ohio
Granite Gear Virga on 08/08/2005 09:08:58 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Great frameless pack - well-padded shoulder straps with load lifter tabs pull the pack in close. Use a rolled closed-cell pad, or a Z-Lite Short pad folded 2 sections wide, to get a very comfortable ride with 20 pounds; give up a little comfort and you can do 25 pounds. I don't use either of these for a frame. Instead, I fold a lightly-inflated Thermarest Prolite 3 (short, or regular in colder weather)pad, inside its chair kit, so it's about the same size as the back panel, with the chair stays facing inward, to get a virtual frame that handles 20 pounds very comfortably and 23 -25 pounds fairly comfortably. As a bonus, I can have a chair in camp without feeling guilty, since it serves two purposes. I use a Granite Gear pack liner instead of a pack cover. This separates the pad from the rest of the gear, and makes it easy to slip the chair/pad combo out and back in at lunch without having to repack everything.

This pack has a roomy expansion sleeve that make it equally functional for a weekend or a week with a three-season, near-ultralight load. I carry a tarp (MSR Twing), a down sleeping bag, down sweater, light down pants, and everything fits easily. The pack's compression system is unsurpassed by any other pack I've ever owned, and allows a tight load regardless of bulk. The six straps around the pack, plus the two closure straps on the top, really do an excellent job of controlling a shrinking load on a long trip, maintaining a stable pack the whole time.

Some people might only rate this pack a 3 or 4, because of its weight (about a pound and a quarter), and because they might find the external pockets skimpy, or that two are not enough. I've never had any problems with the pockets, functionally or being too few. And the extra quarter pound or so of weight over other frameless packs is well worth the extra comfort of the suspension.

I've tried the Virga against several other packs (including a Six Moon Designs Starlite and a Gossamer Gear Mariposa), and definitely prefer the Virga. It took a while to really learn to use this pack properly; however, I've worked out all the bugs now, and am truly happy with my Virga.

One caveat: if you vary from the ultralight gear selection (using a synthetic sleeping bag, a shelter that weighs more than 2 pounds, or a stove/fuel package that weighs more than a pound), you won't be able to use this pack year-round. When you add the extra clothing, food, and fuel needed for cold-weather trips, you'll probably exceed the comfort level of the pack. I've found that this pack works with my near-ultralight loads from about April through November; when temperatures drop toward freezing, I'm often back to using my Vapor Trail pack (though a couple of new pieces of gear and a little refining of technique are making this a less frequent occurrence.)

Edited by garkjr on 11/08/2008 21:50:54 MST.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Therm-a-Rest ProLite - Women's priced at: $57.34 - $119.95
Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite priced at: $32.97 - $39.95
John Chan
( ouroboros )
ok, could be better. on 08/20/2005 21:28:35 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I use the GG Virga with a Ridgerest modified for my physique as the "virtual frame". The best thing about this pack is the compression system. But there are critical areas that the manufacturer needs to address in future versions.
The pack is good for my usual carry (15-20 lbs total starting) but its pretty heavy compared to some of the other offerings out there so I would like to suggest some improvements.

1) The extension collar is too long. Chop off 6" and its still functional while reducing weight and clumsiness of operation. Most likely, it will not be exposed to abrasion stress. Replace the 70 D fabric here with 30 - 40 D for more weight savings.

2) Foam shoulder straps are too thick for the intended use. Use foam that is 1/2 as thick for more weight savings.

3) Side elastic material can be replaced with lightweight mesh without losing functionality. Relocate lower compression straps behind the mesh.

4) Too much webbing on the straps etc. Trim to suit.

This pack should be 16 oz for the features that it offers. GG should think about cutting back on the "over-building" to get it in line with other offerings.

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Sam Haraldson
( sharalds )

Locale:
Gallatin Range
Inexpensive, Light, Fully functional on 10/29/2006 14:22:20 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I've been on a hunt for the perfect pack for the past two seasons and I've come close to what I desire with the Granite Gear Virga.

It weighs in around 21 oz and with modifications can easily lose a few of those. The shoulder straps are adequate for a 35+ lb. load, properly hug the tops of your shoulders (unlike many of the cottage industry home-made jobs), have load-lifter straps and a couple daisy chains for hanging gear.

A lighweight but sufficient waist belt made of a simple piece of grosgrain does a good job of stabilizing even heavier loads but lacks a bit in comfort. I find myself transferring loads from shoulder to hip often.

The pack contains two side pockets made of a stretchy material that work well for holding water containers or readily accessible items.

The pack has two compression straps that run around the outside and are very handy however the pack's designers added in some superflous material running vertically which the compression straps attach to. I've since modified my pack by removing this material and replacing the compression straps with a single piece of shock cord. This removed considerable weight.

The pack is lacking in a nice big outside mesh pocket similar to some of Gossamer Gear's offerings which allow for easy drying of wet gear. When modifying my Virga I plan to add an outside pocket running the entire vertical length of the pack which appears to be an easy process.

I rank the pack a 5 of 5 for it's light weight, minimal design (that doesn't skimp on comfort) and easy modifiability.

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Johnathan White
( johnatha1 )

Locale:
PNW
Maybe not SUL bot bomber for it's weight on 03/05/2007 10:54:18 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I bought this pack on sale for 80 dollars vs. its regular 100.00 price tag. I have used this pack over 40 times on day hikes, overnight, and UL week long trips.

Pack design is a simple rucksack, 3200ci with no frame but plenty of side, front and top compression straps. It has 2 load lifter straps, and 2 lower side pockets. The straps (2 on top crossing over each other, 2 in back, and 2 on each side) enable the Virga to be comfortable with a just the basics, cinched down, keeping the load close to your back. The Virga does have a rather long, if cumbersome at times, extension collar. The collar is so long in fact that when fully extended, you cannot clip the top straps together, over the collar. There also have been some negative views of the lower side straps covering the top of the Virga’s stretchy side pockets. I actually find this advantageous for holding in items while climbing or scrambling. The shoulder straps are very well padded, making the Virga capable of hauling 20 pounds quite easily with no type of frame support.

The materials used have allowed me to bushwhack extensively as well as rock climb and scramble with no damage to the pack what-so-ever. At one time I even got the pack snagged on an overhanging set of branches while crawling under blow down. Still to my amazement, no damage was done.

Packing for heavier loads is as simple as using a pad like the Ridge Rest by Therm-a-Rest. I unroll the pad and use it as my suspension as it handles loads comfortably to 35 pounds for me.

The cost in weight for these features and durability is 21.6 oz. I modified the extension collar and took off an ounce.

Brett Grizzle
( bdgriz )

Locale:
Northeast GA
4/5 Great pack with a few quirks on 06/30/2008 23:54:11 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I bought this pack in Harper's Ferry WV on my 06 AT Hike and carried it the rest of the way to Katahdin. The next summer I used it on the Colorado Trail. I use a 6 section z rest for a frame and I've found the pack to be very comfortable in the 20-25lb range (the most I carried in it on the AT) It was less comfortable but still tolerable at around 30lb (dry sections in Colorado) Overall I think it is an excellent pack, not quite perfect, but I would still recomend it to anyone for loads of 25lb or less.

the Good:
-well fitting, well contoured, well padded shoulder straps.

-very good compression and excellent top closure system

-the webbing hip belt does a pretty good job transferring the load at 25lb or less

-I can grab and replace water bottles and snacks from the elastic side pockets while hiking w/o too much trouble (especially after they strech out a bit with use)

the Bad:
- the extension collar is a bit long making it sort of awkward to when loading the pack.

- As most others have mentioned, the lower side compression straps interfere with the side pockets rendering one or the other completely useless.

-After roughly 1400 miles of use, I have noticed that one of the vertical seams running up the front (the non harness side) of the pack is starting to separate near the bottom of the pack. I have seen this seam blow out on other hiker's GG packs as well and I think the problem may be related to the problem with the lower side compression straps. I often cinch my tarp in it's stuff sack to the outside of the pack using the lower front compression strap. this strap (along with the other compression straps)is connected to a strip of cordura fabric running vertically up the pack. If the side and front straps are both tightened, this strip of material takes the stress off the seams in the weaker 1.9oz sil pack body. However, the lower side straps are never tightened because of the interferance with the pockets, this puts the stress on the weaker seam causing it to separate. (at least that's my theory) But my Virga a seen some pretty hard usage and I believe it still has quite a few miles left in it, so this isn't a major dissapoitment.

Edited by bdgriz on 06/30/2008 23:58:47 MDT.

D S
( onthecouchagain )

Locale:
Sunny SoCal
best all-arounder for strength/weight/function on 11/10/2009 09:40:16 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Love this pack; I have gone through many (especially the ubber lite ones) and keep coming back to my tried and true Virga. Have not yet found a pack that carries so well, is as strong and can handle resupply loads like the Virga. Can't say enough about this tough little rucksack.

"couch"

Frank Steele
( knarfster )

Locale:
Arizona
They have improved the pack since first review on 03/04/2010 17:43:45 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Granite gear has improved the pack since first review. I just got one (and a free evernew titanium pot .9L for buying it !) the pack feels very durable and the compression scheme is great. Granite gear now provides the option for the compression straps at the bottom to go inside the lower pockets, so you no longer have to undo the compression straps to get stuff out of these pockets. I am impressed that they listen to customer feedback and work to improve their products.

Edited by knarfster on 03/04/2010 17:44:37 MST.

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Will Elliott
( elliott.will )

Locale:
Juneau, AK
alpine climbing pack on 10/10/2010 23:04:00 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I second the positive remarks above. Many reviewers have been puzzled by the extension collar. It's so big so you can literally climb inside the pack while waiting out the night, waiting for your partner to build the next rappel anchor, etc. If you carry a belay jacket but not belay pants, this feature cuts down on a lot of fear and suffering. If you are hiking along a trail in the sunshine, the giant collar is not that helpful. FYI: the tool loops are smaller than normal— older ice tools like the Grivel wing series are a tough fit. The horizontal compression straps are too widely spaced to hold crampons well.

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