- Buyer's Guide
A casual, lightweight and weatherproof backpack with some nifty features.
Arc’teryx introduced their Granville backpack a while ago with the memorable words: "Sophisticated and efficient for downtown, practical for commuting, the Granville embodies the relaxed elegance of west coast life". Let’s do that again: "embodies the relaxed elegance of west coast life". Does it live up to that promise? You’ll have to agree that Mr Zing couldn’t pass on the opportunity to try one…
Who it suits
The Granville is a good mix between an urban and outdoor pack. It’s way more weatherproof than a "normal" urban pack and much less outdoorsy than a "normal" outdoor pack. It can hold a laptop and a bunch of other stuff for a day out in the town or in the woods.
Who it doesn’t suit
Its advantage is obviously its disadvantage. Superhipsters will choose superhipster bags and hardcore outdoor people will choose a hardcore outdoor pack. Being a bag with little structure, heavy loads are less evenly divided.
- Name: Granville
- Brand: Arc'teryx
- Format: Backpack
- Capacity: 20 L
- Weight: 0.74 kg / 26 oz
- Zippers: YKK
- Material: N420p-HT nylon 6,6 plain weave; N400p-AC² nylon 6 plain weave
The Granville is a toploading backpack of about 20 liters and it’s available in red, black or green. The flap is closed by two magnets and/or a metal hook on a row of loops. The fact that there is no side pocket, waist band or sternum strap makes for a clean look (here comes relaxed elegance ;-)). It’s hard to ignore the big logo on the front of the bag and easy to ignore the Granville name on the side.
The bag is mostly made of a waterproof, lightweight "hardshell" nylon, without a frame or further reinforcements, except for the back. The back of the bag is enhanced with foam so you won’t feel any oddly shaped items inside on your back. When empty, the bag can be rather formless and being a lightweight bag it can give the weird feeling of...well...not wearing a bag.
Then there’s the top flap. The magnets do their work if the bag isn’t full, the hook provides more stable closure, but the flap sticks out a bit.
The Granville is made mostly out of HT nylon 6,6 plain weave and Arc’teryx custom N400p-AC² nylon 6 plain weave, which Arc’teryx use in more and more bags (they even have a separate section online for AC2 bags).
The inside is white, which helps with finding stuff in the dark.
The main compartment of the Granville closes with two magnets on either side of the front flap and/or a metal hook in the middle. YKK zippers are used for the back and top pockets and there’s ITW Nexus buckles for the straps.
At first sight, the Granville looks like a simple toploading backpack. Just a big main compartment, a laptop sleeve and a top pocket.
The laptop sleeve can be separately accessed from the back of the bag. This is something we’ve rarely seen, but it enables you to fully stuff the main compartment, while still being able to access your laptop.
Then there’s the top pocket on the flap. We love top pockets on backpacks because of gravity. Since the stuff that’s in the main compartment sinks to the bottom, chances are that, if your bag isn’t fully packed, there’s still room at the top. The top pocket will be easily accessible and it won’t get in the way of other pockets. The top pocket on the Granville has a weatherproof zipper and even a separate pocket within the top pocket for extra organizing,
The magnets on the front make for easy closure that can be enhanced with the closing hook. If there’s little stuff in the bag, the magnets will more or less close automatically and you won’t need the hook (unless for security reasons).
Since there’s one main compartment, a lot of stuff can fit in. We found that the opening for the main compartment is smaller than the rest, some stuffing might be required.
The back access of the bag is unique, though a bit far-fetched. One might use it if the rest of the bag is full and you just need to access your laptop.
Pockets and Organizing
Not much to say here. One main compartment, a laptop section and a top pocket. We found it to be sufficient and rather refreshing.
The straps are good, though simple and the back padding takes care of oddly shaped items pushing against your back. That means there’s not a general problem with comfort. The back padding is rather thin and the back of the bag can still easily be "folded"; for me the back padding could have been more robust. There’s not much structure otherwise in the bag but that doesn’t have a negative influence on comfort. When there’s a lot of weight in the bag, you start to notice the lack of a hipbelt or sternum strap but then again, living that elegant West Coast life doesn’t go along with a lot of weight anyway. ;-)
You’ll need to find the sweet spot for the zippers on the back panel, because you might feel them on your back if they’re in the wrong position.
Ah...this is where the Granville shines among other bags. The materials and structure make for great weatherability. We put it in the Belgian Rain for two hours and everything came out dry. With the flap the bag is obviously not waterproof but it can hold its own in bad weather. The fact that there are no side or front pockets helps because there are no seams or zippers for water to sip through.
Alternatives to Consider
There’s a universe of toploading bags, outdoor bags, urban bags and even other Arc’teryx bags if you’re looking for a 20-liter backpack. Being a crossover between urban and outdoor makes the Granville kinda special though.
Nifty features: back access, magnet closure and top pocket
The Not So Good
What an extra $20 worth of materials would have done: the lack of structure and the limited back padding in combination with the light weight makes the bag a bit...let’s say...wobbly and amorphous. Extra materials would have provided a bit more reinforcement in the back and bottom of the bag.
Furthermore the straps are okay, but a little more of a spend could of provided some lush straps like in Herschel Supply’s Little America.
Arc’teryx makes good on its promise of relaxed elegance, be it West Coast or whatever coast. I found the weatherproofness reassuring and the simple design refreshing and easy to use. A few adjustments could make the Arc'teryx Granville a world-class bag.
[Editor's Note: The bag utilised for this road test was supplied by Arc’teryx]