Field Report Granite Gear Stratus Latitude Pack - Pam Wyant
- Field Report Granite Gear Stratus Latitude Pack - Pam Wyant
Sorry this is a few hours late - long day & lots of interruptions.
HTML version here:
Granite Gear Stratus Latitude Pack
Date: June 27, 2006
(Photo - Stratus Latitude at Hogpen Gap Shelter)
Name: Pam Wyant
Height: 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight: 165 lb (77 kg)
Torso Length: 18 in (46 cm)
Waist at top of hipbone: 38 in (97 cm)
Chest : 40 in (102 cm)
(measured across shoulder blades & under armpits):
E-mail address: pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location: Western West Virginia, U.S.A.
Finally pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking 3 years
ago. I've progressed from day-hiking and single overnights my first
year, to weekend trips the second, and finally to a 7-night trip on
the Appalachian Trail in Georgia this year. I hike and backpack
mainly in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, and generally use
a hammock sleeping system. For a two-day trip my typical pack weighs
22-30 lb (10-14 kg) including consumables, and I'm still trying to
lighten that a bit.
Product Information :
Manufacturer: Granite Gear
Year of manufacture: 2006
Date of Delivery: March 28, 2006
Model: Stratus Latitude
Advertised Weight: 4 lb 14 oz (2.21 kg)
Weight as delivered: 4 lb 9 oz (2.07 kg)
Advertised volume: 4800 cu in (79 L)
Color: Golden Brown/Black
Manufacturer Website: http://www.granitegear.com
MSRP: $290 US
3D molded composite Tepex frame
Light Pack Exoskeleton Belt
Customizable fit/exchangeable parts
Internal and external compression straps
Removable "Hidden Lid"
Panel access for front loading
Women's large hipbelt
Medium trim shoulder straps
Approximate Pack Measurements as Measured by Tester:
Height 27 in (69 cm)
Width across front (28 cm)
Depth (varies) 8-9 in (20-23 cm)
The Granite Gear Stratus Latitude is a panel loading pack featuring
a large pack bag with double zippers, internal and external
compression straps, two open topped exterior side pockets and an
interior "Hidden Lid". The pack has a Tepex framesheet which is
molded with indentations at the head and shoulder areas and a convex
curve at the small of the back, to better conform to the wearer's
body. The Stratus Latitude can be ordered with components of
different sizes to customize the fit. For a more detailed
description of the pack, please see my Initial Report.
So far, I've used the Granite Gear Stratus Latitude on a 7 day trip
on the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail from Springer
Mountain to Unicoi Gap, where elevations ranged from around 2500 ft
to close to 4500 ft (750 to 1200 m), during an outdoor workshop in
the eastern mountains of West Virginia at elevations around 2500 ft
(750 m), at Girl Scout camp in western West Virginia, at elevations
from around 600 to 1000 ft (200 to 300 m), and on Snowshoe
Mountain, West Virginia at elevation up to 4800 ft (1450 m). Trip
temperatures have ranged from around 30 F (0 C) to over 90 F (30
C). Weather conditions have ranged from dry to rainy during my
trips, and from calm to breezy, but most hiking and backpacking has
been in dry conditions. Weight carried has varied from 25 to 37 lb
(11 to 17 kg).
My first use of the pack was at Girl Scout camp, for an overnight
training event. I found the pack a bit of a struggle to pack,
finding my usual method of using generously sized stuff sacks to
hold my sleeping bag and clothing which I then push to the bottom of
the pack not working very well with this panel loading pack. I did
manage to fit everything I needed for an overnight at camp (hammock,
sleeping bag, extra clothing, toiletries, first aid kit, and other
essentials) with some room to spare, but I had to pack my sleeping
pad on the exterior of the pack. I found the Stratus Latitude made
it easy to carry everything I needed into camp in one trip, and
found it easy to find what I needed at any given time. The "Hidden
Lid" (essentially a large pouch with a drawstring top and foam-
filled bottom) was convenient to store toiletries and rain gear.
The one drawback I noticed was that it was difficult to push
everything back into the pack to zip the panel back up after
removing items. On this trip, I didn't hike any distance, just to
and from the lodge (a matter of yards) and a nearby wooded area
where I hung my hammock (also just a distance of a few yards).
The next weekend, I again used the pack for an overnight Girl Scout
training, under similar conditions, carrying the pack just a few
yards to a tent unit. Once again, everything fit, but it was a
struggle to pack the panel loading pack and re-zip it when removing
items, and the stiff hip belt made it more awkward to carry in my
sport utility vehicle and use in my tent than a duffel bag, since I
had to leave room for the extended width of the hip-belt or fasten
it behind the pack, which made that end stand up higher than the
The Granite Gear Stratus Latitude was put to hard use the following
week on the Appalachian Trail, on my 7 day 50 mi (84 km) trip. We
spent the night before the start of our trip at the lodge at
Amicolola State Park. Once again, I noted the pack was a little
awkward to transport in a vehicle (van) due to the stiff hip belt,
and it was a little difficult to maneuver the loaded pack around the
lodge if I wasn't carrying it on my back. Once I started on the
trail though, the performance of the pack was fantastic. Although I
started my trip carrying about 37 lb (17 kg), I found the pack very
comfortable to carry from start to finish. Although the rest of our
party of four complained about sore shoulders and backs for most of
the trip, I'm happy to report I didn't have this problem, which I
attribute to the comfort and balance of the Granite Gear Stratus
Latitude. I did, however, find my legs tired fairly easily during
the early part of the trip. I attribute this partially to the
mountainous terrain, but also partially to the load transfer of the
pack, which places more weight on the hip area than my prior pack.
On my old pack, I often found I adjusted the shoulder straps and
load lifters to take a good portion of the weight on my shoulders to
make uphills easier on my legs, but with the Stratus Latitude, I
find it difficult to transfer much weight to the shoulders - even
tightened up, most of the weight transfers squarely onto the hips
and in turn down to the legs. I do have to admit though that it was
nice not to experience that feeling of pulling a heavy pack onto
sore shoulders, and by the end of the trip my legs had strengthened
and become more accustomed to taking the weight during uphill climbs.
The room provided by the "Headroom Arch" contoured into the frame
sheet made it comfortable to look all around while wearing the pack,
even to the point of being able to lean back and look up - something
I had a hard time doing with my old pack. The Stratus Latitude had
a very stable carry. I never felt the weight of the pack shifting
as I walked, even when negotiating tricky rocks or stream
crossings. I was able to bend over to pick things up or move from
side to side without feeling overly encumbered by the pack. The
pack was so comfortable, that on the third day of our trip I was
able to pack out about 7 lb (3 kg) of trash left behind by others by
tying it to the back of my pack in a plastic trash bag and carrying
it for around 5 mi (8 km) until we reached a roadside trash can.
I did find it difficult to fit all of my gear into the pack,
especially when starting out with five days food (more food than I
needed as I soon discovered). One thing I did like was that I could
easily fit my trekking poles in the outside pockets when I was
transporting the pack to and from the trail, which means I don't
have to remember to pick them up separately. In the outside
pockets, I also packed a small ditty bag with a plastic trowel and
six tent stakes, a 1 L Platypus bladder, a Platypus Sport bladder
(1/2 L), a trash bag, a plastic Zip-lock bag with toilet paper, a
Mapdana, and during part of the trip a gravity fed water filter. On
the side compression straps I fastened a small container of hand
sanitizer, a small LED light, and a thermometer/whistle/compass
combo. My RidgeRest Large sleeping pad, cut to fit my hammock, was
carried under the compression straps over the main pack
compartment. The "Hidden Lid" held rain jacket and pants,
KlearWater water treatment, first aid and survival kit, a small
journal and pen, and pack cover. The rest of my gear was carried in
the main body of the pack - sleeping bag and sleeping clothes in a
large stuff sack; hammock with hexagonal fly inside "snakeskins"; a
stuff sack with clothing including a Big Sky Products Convertible
Sweater and Jacket I was also testing, a mid-weight zip-T, fleece
pants, fleece hat, lightweight gloves, extra socks, tank top, and
shorts; a small stuff sack with toiletries and essentials such as a
headlamp, small knife, and extra toilet paper; my kitchen kit and
stove (all of which fits into my large GSI pot); and my 2 L
hydration bladder. My food was placed in 3 one gallon size Zip-lock
bags and tucked into the pack around the other gear. At first,
everything barely fit, and the pack was very hard to zip closed, but
after a day of food consumption, I had a bit more space and the pack
was easier to zip. One thing I found very convenient was being able
to zip the pack open from the top without having to take my sleeping
pad off the back of the pack. This made it relatively easy to reach
water treatment, sunscreen, and other small essentials stored near
the top of the pack, or to stuff a jacket in when the day warmed
up. It was however more of a nuisance to get to my food and other
clothing, which ended up stored more or less in the center of the
pack, where I had to remove the sleeping pad to get to them. I
found I really liked the compression straps over the exterior
pockets, which helped hold items in place when the pack was loaded
so I didn't fear losing them. When the pack was unloaded at the end
of the day, I did have to be careful not to lose things, because
items in the exterior pockets would inevitably work their way loose
and fall out due to the lack of support on the inside.
Temperatures on this trip were hotter than I had anticipated,
running over 90 F (30 C) several days, so this gave me a good chance
to test the ventilation of the back of the pack. I was pleased to
find that the contoured frame sheet kept the pack away from my back
enough to allow some air circulation. I still sweat some under the
pack, but it was less than I would have expected given the
temperatures, and I never felt I needed to throw the pack off just
to cool down.
I had one interesting experience with the Stratus Latitude along the
trail. At the Walasi Yi Center at Neel's Gap, one of my friends was
looking at some new packs and asked about trading his pack in. The
owner said it might be possible, and looking out at the packs we had
deposited on the porch, said he would be interested in trading
for "that pack", pointing to my Stratus Latitude. Unfortunately,
for my friend's sake, he wasn't interested in his!
Directly after my Appalachian Trail adventure, I packed the Stratus
Latitude for a weekend stay at a cabin during an outdoor workshop.
Here I found the pack a bit of a nuisance, because three of us
shared the small cabin, and storage space was limited. I had to
store the pack upright, and found it a hassle to get to things I
needed while keeping everything else inside the pack.
A couple of backpacking trips I had planned on taking fell through
due to family commitments, but I was able to use the pack again at
Girl Scout camp, inside a half-cabin. I believe I'd grown more used
to using the pack at this point, because I found it easier to find
what I needed and easier to keep everything inside the pack for
storage. Being able to store the pack laying down undoubtedly
helped. I found the Stratus Latitude much easier to haul around
camp than a duffel bag on this trip, and really enjoyed using it for
My final use during the Field Test phase was for camping on Snowshoe
Mountain, at another Girl Scout event. For practical reasons, I
kept the pack inside my car, but was easily able to access items I
needed throughout the day and evening, and found it was as
convenient as a duffel would have been.
Conclusions so far:
I'm very pleased with the load bearing ability of the Granite Gear
Stratus Latitude, and the comfort I've experienced carrying it. I
still have some concerns with the capacity of the pack for cold
weather backpacking, but it held everything I needed for a week on
the Appalachian Trail (with one food re-supply) and should work well
for me on nearly any "3-season" trip as long as I don't carry more
than 5 days worth of food at a time. I do feel the capacity of the
pack is overstated, since it seems to hold about the same amount of
gear as a 3250 cu in (53 L) pack I own, and I am disappointed that I
have to carry my sleeping pad on the outside of my pack, where it
tends to get snagged by bushes or tree branches, getting beat up and
The "Hidden Lid" is convenient for storage since it clips to the top
of the pack, but it does add more weight than a simple stuff sack.
Although it can be carried separately by the drawstring, I haven't
discovered a good way to rig it to make it usable as a fanny pack to
carry a few essentials on side trips while leaving the main pack
The pack cleans easily - dirt and dust seem to just fall off it for
the most part, or at the worst, a wipe with a damp cloth cleans
anything I've managed to get on the pack so far.
One thing I would like to see improved about the pack is the
hydration port. Each time I want to remove (or add) my Platypus
bladder, I have to take the bite valve off the hose, which creates a
nuisance trying to keep water from getting all over my pack contents
when the bladder is full.
Overall, I consider the good points of the pack outweigh the bad,
and I am quite pleased with its performance.
Testing Plan -
Anticipated Field Conditions
Additional testing of the pack will be on the trails of West
Virginia and Virginia, mostly in mountainous terrain, on weekend
backpacking trips varying from 7-15 m (10-25 km) with elevations
from 2500 to over 4000 ft (750 to over 1200 m) and temperatures that
may range from lows around 40 F (5 C) to highs above 90 F (30 C).
Trips will involve a lot of uphill and downhill hiking from moderate
to steep, and several creek crossings. Days may vary from bright
and sunny to day long rain and anything in between, with high
humidity levels likely. I expect my pack to weigh 30-35 lb (13-16
kg) with consumables.
I will be continuing to monitor the fit, comfort, and weight
distribution of the pack. Do my legs continue to be more fatigued
in mountainous terrain due to the load transfer to the hips? Does
it continue to be stable under various pack weights and allow me to
maintain balance and flexibility?
I'll also be testing whether the panel loading becomes easier as I
continue to use the pack. Do I find I end up altering my packing
method to make the pack easier to close?
I'll be monitoring durability. Does any damage occur to the fabric
such as scuffs or scratches? Does it continue to clean easily? Do
the zippers continue to work smoothly and conveniently? Have I
experienced any failure of the material, zippers, or straps? If I
experienced any warranty issues, were they well handled?
I also hope to discover how the pack handles various precipitation
levels and whether I find a pack cover necessary. Will I find the
Granite Gear Stratus Latitude becomes my favorite pack, or do I find
it necessary to look for a pack better suited to my needs?
Super comfortable carry
Nice head space
Small hydration port
Panel access is still a bit of a struggle to pack for me
Smaller capacity than what I expected means I have to pack my pad on
the outside of my pack
Thanks to Granite Gear and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to
test the Granite Gear Stratus Latitude pack.
Thanks for your report! As always, it was very well written and a
pleasure to read. I only have a few minor edits. Upload when ready.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "pamwyant" <pamwyant@...>
Webpage: Photo is a little dark on my monitor and it is difficult to
see the pack. It would be helpful to lighten the photo and crop it so
that more of the pack is visible. Holler if you need help to do so
(or just send me the image and I can do it for you).
> Chest : 40 in (102 cm)EDIT: extra spaces before ":"
> Product Information :EDIT: extra spaces before ":"
> storage. Being able to store the pack laying down undoubtedlyEDIT: change "laying" to "lying"
- Thank you for the edits Sonjia. I made all the edits, and lightened
the photo, however since my goal in this picture was to show the pack
in the setting (a shelter along the Appalachian Trail), I have not
cropped the photo further. I believe my Initial Report had enough
close-up photos of the pack, so that wasn't what I was after.
For my LTR I'll try to get some different photos - maybe one of the
interior of the pack when it's loaded.
De nada. I'm ok with keeping the photo un-cropped. I forgot about
the earlier photo (early senility?).
--- In email@example.com, "pamwyant" <pamwyant@...>
> Thank you for the edits Sonjia. I made all the edits, and lightened
> the photo, however since my goal in this picture was to show the pack
> in the setting (a shelter along the Appalachian Trail), I have not
> cropped the photo further. I believe my Initial Report had enough
> close-up photos of the pack, so that wasn't what I was after.
> For my LTR I'll try to get some different photos - maybe one of the
> interior of the pack when it's loaded.
> Pam Wyant