Review: Granite Gear Perimeter 50 Backpack

Granite Gear Perimeter 50
$250, 50L/3,050 c.i., 3 lbs. 3 oz./1.4kg (women’s regular with standard hipbelt)
Sizes: unisex regular and long, women’s short and regular

I already had close to 35 pounds loaded in the Perimeter 50 on the first day of a four-day, 45-mile, late-September backpacking trip in Yosemite, when I added about 12 pounds of water and carried it over a mile uphill to a waterless campsite—and was pleasantly surprised at how comfortably it hauled weight that exceeded what Granite Gear rates the pack to handle. While we all have a different measure of max weight and comfort, much about the Perimeter 50 will appeal to backpackers who haul light to moderate loads and appreciate a backpack with an adjustable fit and highly functional features.

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Granite Gear Perimeter 50 harness.
Granite Gear Perimeter 50 harness.

Long known for its attention to backpack fit and design details, Granite Gear introduced its Perimeter series packs with adjustability for both torso length and shoulder width, accomplished by easily resetting the position of a clip behind each shoulder strap between regular and wide settings along a vertical daisy-chain. The two women’s sizes fit torsos ranging from 15 to 21 inches, and the two unisex sizes torsos 18 to 24 inches.

Interestingly, while I was inadvertently shipped a women’s regular (I asked for unisex regular), it did fit me quite well—because I could adjust the shoulder straps to the wider position and the correct length for me. This tells me that the pack’s fit range would accommodate just about anyone. The unisex regular fits the same as the women’s regular for torso length but they have different width measures and hipbelt sizes (two hipbelt options for unisex and women’s).

With a spring steel rod to give the pack an ergonomic shape plus rigidity along the vertical axis and some horizontal flex, and a PE board cone to disperse weight and provide structure for anchoring the shoulder straps, the Perimeter suspension system is rated to carry 40 pounds, according to Granite Gear. As mentioned above, I found it carried 45 pounds or more well—though not very far—and was quite comfortable hiking 11- to 14-mile days with 30 to 35 pounds inside.

That’s a good weight capacity for a 50-liter pack that weighs just a few ounces over three pounds empty. I’ve seen few backpacks that compare with that over the past three decades of testing gear.

The pack’s padded and widely adjustable Re-Fit hipbelt proved soft enough to embrace the contours of my hips while sporting enough structure to not collapse under loads at the upper end of its capacity. It’s available in two size options in both the unisex and women’s models. The dual-density foam shoulder straps contour nicely, differing in that regard between the unisex and women’s harnesses, and have a quickly removable sternum strap.

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A top-loader, it has a removable, floating lid pocket with a DWR-treated (durable, water-resistant) zipper and a cinch-and-roll closure with crossing compression straps, and a wide mouth that opens to a spacious, bright main compartment. The Perimeter 50 has good space for at least five days of food and three-season, lightweight gear, including a full-size bear canister (which I carried in Yosemite, inserting it upright; my Bear Vault BV500 does not fit horizontally in the Perimeter 50). On our four-day hike in Yosemite, I brought my favorite luxury gear item—a one-pound camp chair (scroll down in this review to see it)—plus some superfluous gear I was field-testing. It filled the Perimeter 50 but I didn’t have to greatly extend the lid.

The eight external pockets include two spacious hipbelt pockets with DWR-treated zippers and room for a smartphone and at least a couple of energy bars. A bottom flap has a zippered pocket for storing a rainfly or shell jacket and clips to the front side of the pack body—a handy way to carry a sleeping pad, although doing that effectively depletes the space in the flap’s pocket. Two stretch-woven side pockets and front pockets add abundant capacity and are more durable than similar pockets on many backpacking packs. The 100-denier and custom 210-denier, Robic high-tenacity nylon fabric is as durable as you’ll find on most backpacking packs.

The series also includes the unisex and women’s Perimeter 35 ($230, 3 lbs.).

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Granite Gear Perimeter 50


The Verdict

For backpackers who carry light to moderate loads and appreciate a customizable fit and highly functional features in a backpack, the Granite Gear Perimeter 50 represents a great choice at a modest weight and price.



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Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip,” A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking,” and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.” With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read all of those three stories for free; if you don’t have a subscription, you can download the e-guide versions of “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip,” the lightweight and ultralight backpacking guide, and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.”

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.

—Michael Lanza

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2 thoughts on “Review: Granite Gear Perimeter 50 Backpack”

  1. Great review Michael, still helpful in 2024, since these packs don’t usually change much in a few years time.
    I find the photos very helpful, (seeing what the pack looks like fully loaded, on someone’s back), although I always like to see the area that contacts my back, (I’ve noticed on some ultralight packs, there’s no ventilation panels / channels, which I find helpful). Some do use a pad that can double as a sit-pad.
    Thanks again, Jerry