While it’s easy to buy tents, jackets and cooking equipment that saves a few hundred grams here and there, all that effort is wasted if you then stuff all that lightweight gear into a heavyweight rucksack. But lightweight rucksack development has been somewhat stifled by the need to ensure that the resulting design is comfortable with a heavy load and practical enough to be user-friendly. The Montane Grand Tour 55 has been designed specifically for long distance lightweight backpacking, and with a wealth of practical features and a weight of 1290g, could it be the pack we’ve all been waiting for?
The Grand Tour 55 is credited with being designed for use on routes such as the Pacific Crest Trail, and it follows Montane’s very successful release of a range of smaller rucksacks in 2012. The pack has many of the style features of the brand’s smaller packs but is large enough to accommodate 15kg of lightweight camping kit, thanks to its 55 litre capacity.
The pack is built around a VertErgo Tour back system comprising of a lightweight removable panel with an aluminium stave, and it is this that is designed to carry 15kg loads effectively and comfortably. From the outside all you see is an orange area of padding, but this is actually stiff and supportive to allow load transfer to the hipbelt’s fins, which are also stiffened to allow effective carriage of the load. There is no back length adjustment, but throw the loaded sack on your back and it feels stable and comfortable.
The body of the Montane Grand Tour 55 is made from Raptor Zero fabric, which is lightweight but not as skimpy and delicate as some lighter packs, and it does appear to be reasonably durable. The base is made from more durable Raptor UTL fabric and feels very robust.
For a lightweight sack it’s a relief to see a sensible scattering of features to make packing and using the rucksack easier. So you get a main compartment with a single-buckle lid, and the lid is very well-designed to sit easily over the main opening, even when the compartment is overloaded with kit. The lid pocket is very large and has a good lip so your small items don’t fall out too easily when you open the zip. The body has stretch mesh pockets on the sides and compression straps, so you could easily stash a small lightweight tent on the sides of the pack if necessary or any number of long items such as trekking poles. A nice touch is that there are two additional zipped mesh pockets, placed slightly further around on the front of the pack, which don’t interfere with the side compression and are ideal for stowing wet gear on the move.
The Montane Grand Tour 55 has a long list of details and interesting features, and I’m sure that many users will have their favourite: perhaps the buddy pocket or the zip pulls will tickle your fancy?! But the bottom line is this is a great pack for lightweight backpacking. It’s bursting with features that are appealingly useful, and as it weighs in at a very respectable 1290g it joins a small club of packs that are both practical
and lightweight – and at £120 it is reasonably well-priced too. What’s not to like?
Capacity 55 litres
Fabrics Raptor Zero, Raptor UTL
Back length one size
Light enough to be comfortable yet fully featured so as to be practical, the Montane Grand Tour 55 is ideal for weekend backpacking trips as well as longer superlight trips. It highlights that lightweight gear does not need to be impractical.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine May 2013