King of the Trail

Granite Gear not only improves trekking equipment but the trails themselves

By Max Roberts

While on a Boundary Waters canoe trip in 1986, Granite Gear founders Jeff Knight and Dan Cruikshank were inspired to create a tougher, more durable portage pack. They “felt that the quality of portage and backpacks at the time weren’t at their standard,” says spokesperson, Shelly Smith. From then on, Granite Gear has made its home on the edge of the Boundary Waters in Two Harbors, Minn.

Today, Granite Gear continues to prove the true grit of its packs, outfitting athletes setting out on some of the world’s most challenging treks, from the Himalayan Trails of Nepal to the North and South Poles.

Granite Gear is also turning its attention to helping trekkers blaze new trails and care for the wilderness that supports their sport. By sponsoring and equipping 16 dedicated trekkers, the company’s “Grounds Keepers” program engages hikers to “Leave it Better” by collecting and packing up trash as they hike.

Each Grounds Keepers volunteer is outfitted with the Crown 2, an ultralight, 60 liter pack, weighing in at a feather-like 2.2 pounds. An upgrade of the original Crown pack, the Crown 2 includes a detachable pack lid, providing unencumbered trekkers with pack access and adjustable waist support. Grounds Keepers also test out the upcoming Crown 2 38-liter pack, set to hit shelves next spring.

In the near future, Granite Gear hopes to expand the program into shorter regional and local trails, but the ultimate goal is “to eliminate all trash and pollution, making the Grounds Keepers program obsolete,” says Smith.

The Crown 2, which launched in February 2016, sold out in three weeks. Granite Gear packs can be found online or at your local outdoor retailer.