By T.C. WORLEY
It’s built to carry loads of 40 pounds or more. There are Earth-tone fabrics and long lengths of cording crisscrossing the large pack body. A strange, gill-like panel was made to “fit the topography of your back.” My first impression of the Nimbus Trace 62, a model new this month from Granite Gear, was that it is overbuilt. I’ve grown used to streamlined, light-and-fast gear over the last several years, so for me this bag seemed like something of a throwback.
But the $260 backpacking backpack is large and capable, with the capacity to tote up to 3,800 cubic inches (62 liters) of gear. Its features are generous, including thickly-padded shoulder straps and waist belt, a removable lid, stash pockets, tether points, webbing loops, and the aforementioned “fish gill” back panel for ventilation and support.
The Nimbus Trace weighs 4 pounds when empty, which is not light. But the ideal buyer of the Nimbus is not looking to break trail records. This pack has mucho support and a lot of capacity made for long hauls with lots in tow.
All around it is a burly pack, including the rip-stop body, nylon Cordura reinforcements, its big zippers and serious stitching. I liked the replaceable cording used for side compression straps, but many of the cord-ends on my prototype bag have fallen off and are lost. I’m told that the issue is now fixed.
As the lid is removable, beneath it is an extra long collar intended to either extend capacity for longer trips or fold over and seal up in lieu of the lid when going light. There are no hip-belt pockets. Where the pockets might be Granite Gear has added attachment points where you can mount any in an array of pouches from the company to make a customized system.
I initially disliked the back panel, as it seemed bulky and over-engineered. But I grew to appreciate the odd-looking “Advection” system, which has padded strips that cushion while keeping airflow. Its internal frame is a sheet of fiberglass that tapers toward the small of your back to center the weight and form a pivot to move with the body. After some testing, I found the back panel to be comfortable with big loads, and it kept my back drier than other designs I’ve used as of late.
The fast-and-light crowd can skip the Nimbus. Look to other Granite Gear packs for more minimalist builds, including the Gear Junkie favorite Virga model. But for backpackers shopping for a burly, multi-day pack that can carry a ton, the Nimbus Trace could be a great fit.