Granite Gear has been busy creating an award wining pack that has proven its worth to many already hitting the trails, including us. We’ve had the Nimbus Trace Access 70 in our hands (or rather on our backs) for a few months now while doing some thorough testing. After 30+ miles of hiking with this pack it is easy to see why it’s the pinnacle of the Granite Gear’s Nimbus pack series. It’s plenty big enough for longer trips, yet lightweight, durable and functional.
- 60 LB LOAD RATING
- ADJUSTABLE TORSO LENGTH
- DUAL ZIPPER FRONT ACCESS PANEL
- DUAL DENSITY HIP BELT AND SHOULDER STRAPS
- 4 SIZES OF SHOULDER STRAPS (S,M,L,XL)
- 4 SIZES IN MEN’S HIP BELT AVAILABLE (S,M,L,XL)
- SIDE COMPRESSION
- TOOL LOOPS
- HYDRATION PORT & INTERNAL SLEEVE
- STRETCH SIDE POCKETS
- MASSIVE FRONT STRETCH POCKET
- 10MM COMPRESSION STRAPS
- HIP PACK LID
- INTERNAL NIMBUS TOPOFLEX™ FRAMESHEET
- CORDURA® HIGH TENACITY NYLON (100D AND 210D)
The first noticeable difference we saw when looking at this pack compared to others on the market was the 3D molded TopoFlex framesheet. Designed to mimic the way your back naturally flexes, the composite material remained stable while naturally following the topography of my back AND without adding a whole lot of extra weight to the bag. The padding that extends over the framesheet is designed for extra breathability which was definitely noticeable after several miles into our expeditions.
The shoulder straps and hip belt are padded very well, however, I did notice some rubbing along the edges when I had a lighter shirt on (less to no rubbing noticeable with a thicker shirt or fleece). The adjustability on both the hip and shoulder straps are really nice. You have the sliding adjustable sternum strap and the load lifter straps plus a single “Pivot Point” attachment system that allows for a more precise fit and wider range of motion. While hiking all day I noticed that my posture changed several times, so I was able to easily readjust on the fly to help redistribute the load along my hips, shoulders, and back without having to stop and take the pack off. This helped tremendously since we had plenty of ground to cover.
Compression straps galore! With a variety of items scattered throughout this pack it was great having an abundance of compression straps to help cinch down the payload so there was very minimal movement in the pack itself as we hiked some tricky terrain. The center face of the pack features a big stretch pocket, while the sides each have an additional stretch pocket that are great for water bottles and other items for quick access. These are nice pockets but I do wish one of the side pockets had an open lip so it would be a little easier to toss a water bottle back in there after use. Above those pockets are two more stretch mesh side pockets near the top, which include a zipper to secure your items. And of course, more compression straps along the side and more opportunity to latch gear to the exterior of the pack. The Nimbus Trace Access 70 also features a zip open access panel (from the bottom up) and internal compression straps which made it much easier to grab random gear at the bottom of the pack without having to take items out of the top. With the plethora of storage space on the inside and outside, you still have more, with the roll top spin drift collar that expands even further for more items and clothing. The amount of storage and organizational options for a pack this size is very impressive.
The first trip out with this pack we covered 27.07 miles / 56,237 steps (to be exact). We had about 37 pounds packed nicely into the Nimbus Trace Access 70 with a few items hanging on the outside loops. The first hour is always a breeze but the following seven gradually became tiresome. Luckily the comfort level for this pack was better than I had expected. The ability to utilize all the compression straps to cinch down all the gear made life much easier. The overall balance was good, however, it did take some time to get just right. Once I was able to dial it in, the pack seemed really stable. Of course taking the pack off after hiking 5 straight hours is a different story. Let’s just say I had a hard time not tipping forward into a tree after instantly loosing 37 pounds from my back.
The TopoFlex frame and padded back fit comfortably with my contour. The shoulder straps, although padded, still rubbed my shoulders a bit and left my collar bone feeling weak after several miles. I was able to tighten them down a bit more and I found that wearing a thicker shirt (in my case a fleece) helped enhance the comfort level. It did take a bit of adjusting to get the fit just right, plus I had to keep adjusting along the way as the terrain and my posture changed. The waist straps were quite comfortable and had enough padding to rest securely on my hips to help distribute the weight.
Overall, the Nimbus Trace Access 70 is a solid pack for longer hikes and expeditions. There’s plenty of storage and compression straps to keep things in place and organized. If it came with a few pockets on the waist belt and a rain cover that would put the cherry on top, but besides lacking those minor things, this pack will get you where you want to go comfortably and securely.
- TopoFlex framesheet works great
- Zip open access panel for easy bottom access
- TONS of compressions straps
- No waist band pockets
- No rain cover
Do you know if the pack could fit the 22inch carry-on height requirement most airlines have, assuming the pack wasn’t fully stuffed?
No home run,…but it could have been. After receiving my new NTA 85 size Short today I was at first impressed with seeing it’s well done aspects, so after checking the torso adjustment recommended and finding it on the 16″ setting (which is my torso size), I loaded it with 30 lbs to check the feel. That’s when my disappointment set in. Several huge design flaws became very evident and makes this a pack that will not work for anyone, PERIOD. I know this is going to hurt sales of this pack, but my number one concern is for the end user’s fine experience. The following is a synopsis of my experience:
1. The size M hip belt that it came with when fully tightened was slightly too big to stay in place walking around, though I used the sizing chart on Granite Gear’s web site the Medium called for there is too great in circumference when cinched as tight as it will around my 30″ waist/33″ hips. Its fit was only snug at the bottom, so it would squiggle down a bit as I walked. Rigid and vertical without any ability to cant to the shape when in position, so the very bottom edge digs in causing numbing in a matter of minutes and from the middle of the belt to the top edge there’s no contact at all; standing off my body 1″ of air. I’m a small 66 year old man 5’8” with an athletic build, a 30″ waist and 33″ hips. The hip belt doesn’t cant with my hip shape. May be easy to remedy with an exchange for a women’s small size; but probably not considering the rest of the design flaws and here they are.
2. Remember, it’s a total 30 lbs including the pack and I loaded the items properly. I put on the pack, cinched the hip belt as tight as it could go, tightened shoulder straps, sternum strap and then the load lifters. Oh yeah, the load lifters when snugged were horizontal and at the end of adjustment, which caused the shoulder straps to tighten excessively to the point that I could tell this was an unsolvable problem. It’s well known that the load lifters optimum angle is 45 degrees; acceptable between 30-60 degrees and these were zero. This means that the physical height of the pack is 4″-5″ shorter than they needed to be correct by design. If actually used for even a day this alone would make the pack unbearable, due to the pull back pressure they put on the shoulder straps. There’s no solution for this outside of complete redesign making the pack body 4″-5″ taller and bringing their lateral location toward the center of the shoulder straps. (FYI, I spent two hours in adjusting from 17″ to 18″ where now they were a negative angle wrapping around and down the shoulder straps causing even more stress on top of my shoulders, too. I even tried the 15″ adjustment with only a 5 degree rise and that’s not even close.
3. With a secured 30 lb. load the pack wobbles and sways out of control with every step to the point that I could now see that Granite Gear has a great need for designers that actually have backpacking experience and people to test in the field to give them real feedback from use. That’s where I come in. I’m doing R&D for several companies whose names I cannot mention that respect the knowledge of experience with good pay; primarily so they don’t end up putting themselves out of business with spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on some know-nothings brain flatulence. I’m estimating hundreds of thousands of dollars lost with the production of this pack alone; not to mention the damage to reputation. Gross mismanagement there.
4. The maple core frame is another flop. When on it’s very uncomfortable and restrictive due to having no flexion. Forget about shaping to the curve of your back to adjust this. The edges of the maple core sheet are rough sawn and as they’re not sanded smooth will accelerate the corners wearing through the two 2″ wide corner pockets where they are supporting the top of the pack.
5. Other points of improvement needed are, the shoulder strap padding needs to be more comfortable, the yoke sucks and so does the one point connection of the hip belt. This is probably the reason it’s so uncontrollable. I’m always looking toward a better mouse trap, but now that I’ve tried this maple core panel, I’m not impressed with the fit, nor does it appear that it will endure the rigors of extended trail use.
All this from an ooold trail tramper since the ’60s that was trying to go a bit lighter. I’m not on the ultralight groove, but cutting my base weight by 4lbs/4ozs was my endeavor, without sacrificing all that I like about my Arc’teryx Bora 80. Yeah, it’s heavy even empty at 8lbs/8ozs, but I can carry 42-50 lbs in comfort and it’s married to me with every move I make. I see my error in trusting some award winning baloney about this pretender.
What the GG NTA 85 has I do like is great materials and manufacturing, the front double zip access, a roll top, etc. GG, but as pretentious as this is you don’t get to second base. You’re out, when it could have been a home run, if you had designer’s with the knowledge of experience. So it’s been returned for refund and though I’m disappointed that it doesn’t work, I’m going stay with the old lady Bora. It’s more comfortable, controllable, and it’s indestructible. It will be handed down to my grandson and maybe his son, too.