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39554Granite Gear Aurora long-term report - - Karen

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  • karnula128
    Oct 12, 2003
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      Here's my long-term report...it's the first long-term report I've
      written, so please feel free to critique as much as you think might
      improve the report!!
      Thanks to all -
      Karen

      GRANITE GEAR AURORA LONG TERM REPORT

      Background Information:
      Name: Karen Ross
      Age: 24
      Gender: Female
      Height: 5'0" (1.5 m)
      Weight: 103 lbs. (47 kg)
      Email address: kr128@...
      City, State, Country: Boston area, MA, USA
      Date: October 12th, 2003

      Backpacking Background
      I'm 24 and have been hiking and camping for as long as I can remember.
      I'm an avid runner and day hiker, ski occasionally, kayak, car camp,
      and generally like to spend as much time outdoors as possible. I've
      spent time hiking and orienteering with scout groups, as well as while
      doing my military service in Israel. I travel frequently and try to
      use every opportunity to explore. I started backpacking a few years
      ago and my trips have mostly been limited so far to shorter ones.
      However, I spent more than a week in the woods this summer doing
      Appalachian Trail maintenance work and am hoping to work my way up to
      a section- or thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in the next year or
      two. I've been working on minimizing gear size and weight so that I
      can get out into the woods with as little as possible on my back.

      Product Description
      Manufacturer: Granite Gear
      Manufacturer website: www.granitegear.com
      Year of manufacture: 2003
      Listed weight: 2.2 lbs (1.0 kg)
      Measured weight: 2.2 lbs (1.0 kg)
      Capacity: 1600 cubic inches (26 liters)
      Colors: Cedar/Alpine
      MSRP: $95
      (For a detailed description please see my Initial Report)

      Testing Conditions
      The Granite Gear Aurora came with me this summer on any number of day
      hikes and jaunts around town(s). Its primary use, though, was as my
      day bag while working on the Appalachian Trail in mid-July. During my
      stint on the AT, temperatures ranged from around 55 to 75 degrees
      Fahrenheit (13 to 24 degrees Centigrade); we had a few sprinkles, but
      other than that no rain. I was working in south-western Virginia on a
      section of the trail about 3500 feet (1067 meters) high.

      Each morning before heading off from base camp I'd pack the Aurora
      with extra clothes, gloves, gaiters, 3-4 liters (.8-1 gallon) of
      water, food for the day (and boy did I eat a lot of food while out
      there!), and basic first aid supplies. The pack would head with me
      down the hill about half a mile (.8 kilometers) to our work site,
      where I'd put it against a tree and periodically forage within it for
      food, water, or more mole-skin…

      Testing Impressions
      The concerns I had about the Granite Gear Aurora during my initial and
      field reports have not diminished. While the bag is certainly large
      enough to hold everything I need for a day hike (and probably an
      overnight summer hike as well, although I didn't try it out on any
      overnight trips), it's thin, long shape makes getting to most items
      difficult. There are no side pockets in which to stick water bottles
      or other often-needed items, and while I attempted using the side
      compression straps to hold in water bottles, I found that it took as
      much time to un-strap and re-strap the bottles in as it did to look
      inside the bag. Furthermore, I still had to take the bag off every
      time I wanted a drink. Although I did (finally!) purchase a hydration
      bladder, I found it difficult to get the hose through the exit port.

      More significant than the water problem is the more general inability
      to access anything near the bottom of the pack without taking
      everything else out, since the zippers don't run all the way down the
      sides of the pack. Smaller items can be placed in any one of the
      bag's 14 pockets, but semi-large items (such as food items or first
      aid kits) must be strategically placed if they are to be accessed
      without spilling the entire contents of the Aurora out on the forest
      floor. Some of the lower pockets in the Aurora suffer from this same
      inaccessibility and as a result I didn't use them at all.

      Over the course of the testing period I tried adjusting the bag in a
      number of ways to maximize comfort. What I realized is that this big
      is too large for me – despite being a "one size fits all" bag, my
      18-inch (45.7 cm) torso is too short for the bag to sit properly.
      Thus every time I put it on, either the hip belt is sitting half-way
      down my rear end, or, if I buckle the hip belt higher up, the shoulder
      straps are too high.

      On the up side, the Aurora looks nearly new despite being thrown
      around during my hikes. While on the AT the bag got pretty dirty, but
      I was easily able to clean it with a little water. The zippers,
      buckles, and straps are holding up wonderfully.

      I made a valiant attempt to use the Granite Gear Aurora as often as
      possible during the past 6 months (even taking it with me to work and
      school to test its `urban' capabilities), but the length of the bag,
      coupled with its accessibility-impeding design, are leading me to
      relegate it to the back of my gear closet. I think someone with a
      longer torso (and more patience trying to push a hydration bladder
      valve through the bag's exit port) might be entirely satisfied with
      this pack, but my own experiences with it were significantly more
      negative than positive. My suggestion to Granite Gear is to provide
      sizing information about this pack, because it really doesn't fit the
      "one size fits all" mold. I would also suggest enlarging the exit
      port and/or adding side pockets to the pack.

      Thank you to BackPackGearTest and to Granite Gear for allowing me to
      test this product.
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