|This little thing!|
There are few mainstream backpacking gear companies that earn my full respect for truly pushing the envelope as far as lightweight backpacking. While most mainstream companies are starting to flood REI and EMS with lightweight packs, those packs still resemble traditional framed packs. They have lids, zippers, pockets, and extra straps galore. Meanwhile, Granite Gear has been quietly putting simplified ultralight backpacks, cuben fiber, and catenary-cut silnylon tarps into major stores for years. They don’t take the full plunge into the fringe like cottage manufacturers, but their equipment is fairly common, which means they are helping the message of ultralight backpacking get out there in a big way.
I could go on about the company in general, but there’s one thing I want to highlight today that I think every manufacturer should learn from.
Granite Gear’s stuff sacks (like the Air Bag Sil Stuff Sack) are packaged in small, mesh zipper bags, rather than plastic throwaways or boxes. The last time I bought a stuff sack, a Granite Gear Air Bag, I was so excited by the little zipper bag that I almost forgot about the stuff sack itself. Unlike most packaging, the only waste was a small flap of plastic with the product info, which I didn’t even need to cut off (but I did anyway).
|Now it’s a handy camera case for my shoulder straps!|
The zipper pouch has small loops at either end so that it can be attached to your pack’s shoulder straps or hip belt. The front is all mesh, so you can put wet things in them to dry (in theory). I’ve been using mine as a toiletries bag for the past few years. It’s not fancy, but it is elegant and simple. In fact, I’ve used the zipper pouch more than the stuff sack itself.
Of course, you probably won’t go out and buy a new stuff sack just so you can get one of these pouches, but how wonderful that something that has traditionally been trash is now something useful. As much as I love Sea To Summit’s stuff sacks, each one comes in a stiff, plastic tube. The tube is recyclable, yes, but usable is better than recyclable. It’s kind of like how I used to turn styrofoam box inserts into forts for my action figures when I was a kid, except even better!
So hats off to you, Granite Gear. Now if only my local outfitter would start carrying their bags.