Brand Spotlight: Granite Gear

Inspired by the Boundary Waters to Create Better Packs

Canoe enthusiasts are a different breed of outdoor lover. They are at once gearheads and traditionalists, with a love of classic designs, gear that is durable yet efficient, and the joy of embarking into the wilderness on their own power. On a multi-day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters or Quetico Provincial Park, the St. Regis Canoe Area in the Adirondacks or on the Allagash, canoeists demand packs that can hold a significant volume of gear, yet can be carried easily over long portages.

Granite Gear utilized the same unique, purpose-built philosophy behind canoe camping and tripping gear, and applied it to technical backpacking, hiking and military packs. The result is a brand defined by the seemingly opposed qualities of durability, minimalism, comfort and efficiency. Granite Gear has always designed packs that buck superficial industry trends and flashy elements in favor of superb functionality and efficient design, which has garnered them a cult following among serious hikers, canoe campers and military personnel.

The inspiration for Granite Gear came from an idea that founders Jeff Knight and Dan Cruikshank had on a 1986 canoe trip in Quetico1. They found that their canvas and leather portage packs, which were common at the time, were uncomfortable and they dreamed of creating canoeing packs using new techniques and ideas from the backpacking packs2. They decided that by adding basic features common to backpacking packs like padded shoulder straps and hip belts, internal frames and others, they could make a better portage pack that would be significantly more comfortable compared to other offerings at the time3.

Granite Gear Superior One Portage Pack

Granite Gear’s Superior One Portage Pack

Knight and Cruikshank returned from their trip with an idea for a better pack brand that could fill the needs of canoe trippers in ways that other brands were not. Both men also brought the drive and enthusiasm needed to commit fully to an untested idea. Upon returning from Quetico, Knight and Cruikshank, who were both attending the University of Minnesota, dropped out of college and began building the company that would become Granite Gear2.

Their packs were popular among canoe enthusiasts because they provided the weight disbursement benefits of an internal frame pack, as well as compression straps and a padded suspension , with a shape that would fit well into a canoe and that would not interfere with the yoke and thwarts while carrying a canoe on the shoulders3. The combination of a lightweight materials with the high carrying capacity necessary for canoe camping naturally lead Granite Gear to branch out into backpacking packs, which helped them grown into the trusted brand that they have become.

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A Commitment to Quality, Durability and Performance

Today, Granite Gear has a reputation as one of the finest pack makers in the world. They have never tried to seek attention through flash or gimmicks; instead seeking to build the best packs for the greatest adventures. In 2015 alone, Granite Gear packs were the choice of gear on two separate groundbreaking outdoor achievements.

Granite Gear athlete Lonnie Dupre, a polar explorer and adventurer, completed the first solo summit of Denali, North America’s highest peak4. Dupre used the Nimbus Trace 70 for his climb because it provides a huge volume and weight carrying capacity in a relatively lightweight package.

Additionally, hikers Shawn “Pepper” Forry and Granite Gear athlete and Product Design Consultant Justin “Trauma” Lichter completed the first thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in the winter. Lichter and Forry used a combination of the Crown V.C. 60, Leopard A.C. 58 and the Virga 2, as well as Granite Gear’s Uberlight Drysacks and Air Zippsacks for organization5.

It isn’t just world class outdoor athletes who trust Granite Gear however; the company produces a full line of tactical packs and gear trusted by military personnel around the world.

Granite Gear's Crown VC 60 Pack

Granite Gear’s Crown VC 60 Pack

Granite Gear’s packs combine ultralight materials with durable fabrics like Cordura in key wear areas, as well as intuitive design that maximizes both weight savings and durability. This smart approach to pack design is unlike what most companies on the market present, which makes Granite gear the smart choice for thru-hikers, backpackers and other adventurers. Additionally, Granite Gear continues to produce quality products for canoeists, ranging from organizational bags and map holders to traditional-style portage bags. For all of your adventures —whether you are a canoe tripper, backpacker or climber— trust Granite Gear for the best quality and performance available!

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  1. “Our Story,”, last modified 2015,
  2. “Company Spotlight: Granite Gear,”  Outside, Oct. 31, 2011,
  3. “Meet Granite Gear,”,  last modified 2009,
  4. “Our Athletes,”, last modified 2015,
  5. “First Winter PCT Thru-Hike,”, last modified 2015,

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Published:August 6, 2015

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