Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack ReviewJuly 27, 2015
- Very lightweight
- Roll top closure adds weather protection
- No frame
- No integrated rain cover
The redesigned Granite Gear Virga 2 backpack is lighter than previous models, has more padding in the shoulder straps and has a true roll top closure for better weather protection. Make no mistake, this frameless pack is a true ultra-light backpack built for hikers and backpackers who are counting the ounces.
The Virga 2 has good overall comfort, provided loads stay below 25 pounds. I found no reference for a recommended load weight for this pack, but based on my experience with it, I discovered that loads in excess of 25 pounds quickly became uncomfortable. With lighter loads, the pack felt light and very agile and made me feel as though I was carrying a large day pack.
The Virga 2 hip belt does not allow for adjustments, so be sure to research and purchase the correct size. The hip belt itself is very light in both padding and features; a small hip belt pocket would have been nice, but I suspect it was cut for weight considerations. The lack of hip belt padding did not bother me and did not detract from comfort since the pack is designed for light loads.
The Virga 2 is frameless—just one of the reasons it is so light-weight. But this also means that it does not use a back panel. The pack will therefore sit right on your back, rather than using a back panel and frame between you and your load. To help adjust to this, the Virga 2 uses redesigned shoulder straps (with added padding to improve comfort), easy to access load lifter straps, and an easy to adjust sternum strap.
The Virga 2 felt stable with lighter loads, but because it doesn’t have a frame, it’s easy to overload. The Virga 2 was comfortable with loads up to 25 pounds, but began to shift and float with heavier loads. While traveling with lighter loads, the Virga 2 felt much more like a large day-pack rather than a backpack.
The Virga 2 provides top loading access to the main compartment, but instead of the traditional storm flap, the Virga has a true roll top lid. It is easy to close, provides extra weather protection and allows flexibility to expand space in the main compartment if needed. Old school backpackers (or at least those used to the traditional lid) might miss the extra, separate storage space that the lid provided.
The Virga 2 comes with a stretch mesh side pocket on each side of the pack. These side mesh pockets are very deep and easily held and secured 1-liter water bottles, even over difficult terrain. There is also a large stretch mesh pocket on the front that is elongated over the entire length of the pack. I used this pocket to store tent poles, rain gear, other items of irregular shape and size and/or items I wanted easy and quick access to.
The Virga 2 comes with an internal hydration hook, rather than a full sleeve to shave a bit more weight from the pack. This worked just fine, even for a bladder up to 3 liters, and I did not miss a full sleeve.
The Granite Gear Virga 2 is surprisingly durable for such a light-weight pack. The straps and hip belt stood up well to a variety of weather conditions on and off the trail, and there was no damage to straps, pockets, and remainder of the fabric. I also used this pack as a carry on while traveling and found that its light-weight nature and storage options worked well for this purpose, especially since it did not have a frame. The versatility of the Virga is one of its strongest features.