Granite Gear knows packs, and their new Escape series is a tour of best practices in modern pack design. We reviewed the A.C. 60, a 3,660ci/60L top loader internal frame design that tips the scales at a mere 3lb 4oz for a medium torso. It's a hiking model that cuts weight without cutting features.
The Air Current suspension builds on Granite Gear's proven and popular Vapor system with improvements like a mesh-covered curvy molded foam pad that rests against your back on little foam nipples like you find in those foot-massage slippers. The nips work with a few dozen inch-diameter holes to provide excellent air circulation and, combined with the solid waist belt, provide a truly comfortable carry. Rated for loads to 35lb, with careful packing we comfortably exceeded that by ten pounds or more with no problems.
The single main compartment is secured any which way you want with a compression webbing strap across the top center, two cords per side and two more in the front. Granite Gear uses their Line Loc cord system instead of webbing in their compression sacks and packs, and while they might result in brain-freeze for traditionalists they work great. The main bag has a zippered hydration pocket with toggle and velcro tube ports , and it's backed up by two zippered compartments, one on the floating top lid and one running the length of the front of the pack. Both have zippers centered over the compartment rather than at one edge, another slightly non-traditional design choice that works great, especially on the front compartment where you can stuff jackets and other light, compressible items. A third small zippered compartment below this one is for a pack rain fly.
Adjustments include load lifters, a sliding sternum strap and even an adjustable framesheet. The waist belt has dual pull-forward straps, and although there are no built-in waist pockets there are daisy chains to attach accessory pockets. There are two side pockets per side, a mesh stretchy forward-canted outer water bottle pocket over a cordura upward-opening inner pocket. This is the only part of the Escape that doesn't quite work smoothly, because if you put stuff in the inner pocket it makes it harder to put your water bottle in the outer pocket. Also, the mesh is just an inch too short to go over the top of a quart bottle; we'd recommend going with 20oz bottles. Overall, two thumbs up for an awesome pack that pushes the envelope on weight and features without sacrificing comfort and durability.