Granite Gear - Virga 2
Technical specifications & features
|Weight||1 lb 2 oz (Short) 1 lb 3 oz (Regular) 1 lb 4 oz (Long)|
|Color||Tiger / Moonmist|
|Mfg Sku/Part Number||643175|
|Cubic Inches||3051 (Short) 3300 (Regular) 3540 (Long)|
|Liters||50L (Short) 54L (Regular) 58L (Long)|
|Material||Nylon (100D and 210D)|
|Torso Length Range||15-18 in (Short) 18-21 in (Regular) 21-24 in (Long)|
|Other Features||Fixed padded belt
10mm webbing straps
Internal hydration hanger
Large stretch side pockets
Stretch mesh front pocket
Padded rolling stay
Cordura® High Tenacity
- Perfect ultralight pack
This pack was the final puzzle piece that made ultralight fall into place for me. I had tried the original Virga 10 or 12 years ago, when it first came out, but could never keep my load under the 20 pound capacity of the pack. The original didn't have a true hipbelt, just a narrow piece of webbing. Now, they've added the hipbelt, and the pack really works well.
You do need to keep the load under 20 pounds; over that, the hipbelt starts to fold and the pack starts to sag to the point of being uncomfortable. If you regularly carry more than 2 liters of water, or aren't willing to spend some money for lighter gear, you'll be better off with Granite Gear's Crown or Blaze packs.
The pack is simplicity itself: one large compartment, three very large stretch outside compartments, a minimal hipbelt, lightly but adequately padded shoulder straps, and load lifter straps that are actually functional, and help transfer the load to your hips.
Storing the pack in a one-person tent, which ranges from a minor nuisance to a headache for most of my hiking buddies, is a non-existant problem for me: I just roll the empty pack up and toss it into a corner of the tent, down by my feet.
Using mostly Cascade Designs' lighter lines of gear (MSR titanium cookware, Carbon Reflex tent; Thermarest down quilt and sleeping bag, and XLite and XTherm NeoAir pads; and Platypus bottle and filter) and keeping my menu very basic, I'm only carrying a 14 pounds load in the summer; that leaves plenty of capacity for a couple of liters of water to make a dry camp, or some warmer clothes for the winter. I might even be able to pull off a week with this pack at, say, Isle Royale in late August.
The best part, for me, is that I can now justify carrying a chair kit: it's part of my pack frame. As mentioned in the description, you create a "virtual" frame by using your sleeping pad. Most people use the tube method: roll the pad, drop it in, and load the inside with gear. Those with a folding pad, like the Z-Rest, can simply fold it two sections wide and insert it along the back panel of the pack. (They even made the back panel a different color - orange-reddish - which makes it very easily to align the pad.)
I do something a bit different. When I'm packing for the trip I insert my full-length deflated NeoAir into the Thermarest Compack Chair kit, fold the extra length into the chair, fold the chair in half, then fold the chair stays in toward the center until the resulting package is about the size of the pack's back panel. I insert that down the pack's back panel, lock it in place with my sleeping bag, stuffed into the pack bottom (no stuff sack), then pack everything else. When I'm done, I snug the compression straps down to firm up the load. Then the magic happens: I open the valve on the sleeping pad and blow a few breaths of air in - just enough to stiffen the pad a bit, and really lock the load into place. Then I put it on, and find that it's every bit as stable as a framed pack, and I can transfer the load as effectively as any other pack I've ever used.
At the end of the day, I unpack and guess what? I have a great chair for sitting around in camp! I can leave the bottom half of the pad folded into the chair, or I can let it extend unfolded so I have a lounge-style chair that gets my legs and feet up out of the dirt. (I usually use my tent footprint under it, so it doesn't get dirty. That footprint also lets me pitch my fly and poles to make a lunchtime shelter in the rain.)
When it's bedtime, I simply unclip the straps on the chair, fully inflate the pad, and put it under my sleeping bag or quilt, still in the chair. The next day, I let the air out, re-fold it into frame configuration, grab my pack from the foot of the tent, insert the pad-as-frame, stuff in the sleeping bag, set it outside the tent, follow it out, and break camp.
This is a truly versatile pack, that really did complete my ultralight, minimalist style of backpacking - and, at 65, I'm thinking that ultralight may very well allow me to keep backpacking well into my 70s, or longer. That's an awful lot for a very simple pack to do.
For a lightweight pack from a major manufacturer this pack is perfect. I use a 3/4 length sleeping pad as the frame sheet by rolling it up and filling the circumference of the pack and then packing everything into it. This adds substantial reinforcement to the pack and allows transfer of the weight to the waist belt, your hips and off the shoulders. Everything for 3 days and 2 nights weighs an even 21 pounds including water and a one person not so ultralight tent.
I am 5 feet 10 inches tall but have a long torso. I have been measured at 21.25 inches and take a long. I have 2 other Granite Gear packs: Crown VC 60 and Leopard AC 58 and use them all depending on weight and purpose. I am a long or large in all 3 packs.
Without a sleeping pad as a frame sheet I think this pack would get uncomfortable beyond the rated 20 pound capacity but with the sleeping pad it can probably handle up to 25-26 pounds.
The pack seems more durable than the hand made cuban fiber packs I have seen but a little heavier.
I added 2 side pockets from Zimmerbilt and did not use the provided clips as they dug into my skin. I just cut some paracord and tied them on. They add 1.9 ounces to the total weight but add convenient access to snacks and camera/phone.,
I'm always trying to get lighter and this pack helps a lot. It weighs 20 ounces, my Crown VC 60 with airframe weighs in at 33 ounces, and my Leopard 58 is 48 ounces (I think). Granite Gear is high quality gear and I highly recommend this pack. I'm really surprised there are not more reviews around.
Questions & Answers
Thank you for your question.
The Virga 2 (regular) measures 8.5" x 22" x 10.5" (DxHxW), and the extendable collar can extend the height of the bag by ~10".
The Virga 2 would make a great choice for that trail, as pack weight is typically kept to a minimum on the Camino de Santiago due to the typical absence of a tent and long-term food. Also, the pack's roll-top style and compression system allow it to accommodate small to bulky loads equally well, and it's super-low weight keeps your overall pack weight low.
There are a few considerations to keep in mind with this pack though, one of them being that it is frameless. This requires either careful packing, or use of a lightweight foam pad to line the bag, in order to provide a comfortable carry against your back. Also, the pack is designed to be comfortable for loads up to ~25lb. You will want to make sure the gear you plan on packing, plus food and water, would not exceed this weight, or the pack may become uncomfortable to carry.
I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.
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