Gear editor Chris Townsend reviews the lightest rucksacks between 45 litres and 60 litres designed for backpacking. On test Granite Gear Blaze A.C. 60 backpack

Granite Gear describes the Blaze A.C. as ‘Spartan in its simplicity’. This may apply to the features, though some other packs are even more minimalist, but it doesn’t apply to the suspension system which is actually one of the more complex reviewed. The A.C. in the name stands for Air Current and refers to the two-part back system that consists of a moulded framesheet with air flow channels and a perforated thick foam mesh-covered pad. Granite Gear says the A.C. system helps ‘vent heat and moisture away from the back, allowing for natural evaporative cooling’. I’ve certainly found my back less sweaty with this pack than with most others so it works to some degree. Despite the thick foam pad and the gap between it and the frame the Blaze fits quite close to the back and is stable in use. The frame is vertically stiff but flexes from side to side. The curved hipbelt is well-padded and quite firm. Granite Gear says it’s designed for 16kg. I reckon it’s okay with 18, if you can fit it all in.

The pack is tall and quite slim with a long rollover top that makes access a little difficult. There’s a long mesh pocket on the front. This is fine for a tent or tarp but not so good for small items as it’s so narrow access isn’t very good. I prefer a much wider pocket, especially on a pack that is quite narrow too. There are plenty of adjustable cords for compressing the pack in any direction and also for attaching gear on the outside. I guess the 60 litre capacity includes the pockets as the main compartment isn’t much bigger than those on 50 litre packs.

I have mixed opinions on this pack. I really like the suspension system but I’m not so keen on the poor access to the pack and the narrow front pocket. If you’re happy with the design it is a comfortable pack though.