Granite Gear Nimbus Access FZ Backpack Review

Granite Gear-Nimbus Access. Click to enlarge.

Nimbus Access FZ Backpack — A comfortable burden.

Granite Gear Nimbus Access FZ pack offers one of the most comfortable and capable backpacks available today. Comfort, we can report after several uphill battles with elevation and rocky trails, is a standout feature you won’t see in the literature. This is a light-duty one-to-three day backpack that molds itself to your torso.

This comfort level can largely be attributed to the three dimensionally molded pack frame made from composite materials engineered to flex in the zones along the spine. The flexibility of the composite frame allows the Nimbus Access FZ pack to move with your upper torso in a more perfect relationship. Yet the three-dimensional composite pack frame always returns, no adjustment needed, to its original shape. Granite Gear describes this composite core frame design as Framesheet Technology. What it means to us is a level of comfort that gives you confidence on the trail and under the weight of your equipment.

The other prime component of comfort is the harness system Granite Gear has designed into their products in general. This harness

Click this image to check out the Nimbus harness system. It fits and flex's with your torso. You're going to like the way you look!
Click this image to check out the Nimbus harness system. It fits and flex’s with your torso. You’re going to like the way you look!

system offers the wearer excellent padding in all the right areas from the shoulder harness to the hip belt.  It is not only the cushioning element of the harness system, but the design vision that determined how and where the harness system contacts the torso.  Pack load is evenly distributed across the back, so no one area feels the pack weight.

At an empty 4lbs, 9oz, the Nimbus Access FZ offers 3800 cubic inches or 62-liters of gear storage. Access to your gear is excellent. With a zip away front panel, and an inner compression-strap system, you can get to any part of your kit without unloading the pack. Three composite clip-fastener straps on the interior of the front zip away panel create a compression system that keeps gear from moving around on the trail and manages bulky items in concert with the compression straps on the exterior of the pack.

All fasteners and straps seem to be of ideal gauge and composite (nylon and plastic) materials to handle the Nimbus Access FZ pack rating of about 50 pounds. Even though it is a never ending quest to get your pack as light as possible, just the fact that you will need to carry a sufficient amount of water, even for an overnight trip, your pack is gonna’ weigh enough to rely on the straps and fasteners to keep the pack load secure. We found the compression strap and strap fasteners to be well positioned on the pack and very reliable.

Nimbus Access FZ is hydration compatible. That means the pack interior has a pocket and drinking hose exits built into the pack. Drinking hose exits are located on the upper left and right sides of the top of the pack. This feature accommodated a two-liter Camelbak hydration bladder on all trips, with no issues whatsoever.

Removable and roomy, the top storage compartment of the Nimbus Access FZ is convenient to un-snap from the pack and bring your valuables inside the tent. With an empty pack at the camp site, it’s more useful to take the top compartment off so when you go to re-pack, the primary body of the the Nimbus is easier to load up without the top compartment bobbing to one side or the other.

Nimbus Access with interior compression/access enclosure.
Nimbus Access with interior compression/access enclosure.

After several day trip hikes, we already had a sense Nimbus Access would be comfortable on the back. The tell-all experience is always actually getting on the trail – with your wilderness permit — and slugging your way into the high-country with an overnight destination and full-reliance on the gear in your pack. So with the pack loaded with approximately 45 pounds of gear and water, we ventured into the John Muir Wilderness of the Sierra Nevada for two nights. Getting back to the “comfort” comment at the start of this review, this trip became the defining occasion. With a rise-over-run in elevation that would cripple a sea-level donkey laden with only a child, the hike rose from the 7,500-foot elevation to right below timberline at about 10,000 feet elevation in a few miles. Terrain was typical Sierra Nevada with tons of rocky, dusty, sun –soaked exposure; enough to create a withering sensation even with no backpack on at all.

But here’s the thing; regardless of the trail conditions and the elevation, the Granite Gear Nimbus Access FZ backpack was never a

Full access to your gear is easy.
Full access to your gear is easy.

distraction in either comfort or load-carrying capability. Even at those times along the trail where a needed rest break — just leaning on my one trekking pole in the shade – did it occur to me to take the pack off! The fit and comfort of the Nimbus Access FZ was, in my experience, amongst the best. Unless there was a situation calling for dismounting the Nimbus to get something out of the pack, there was no compelling reason to take it off along the trail. Lack of comfort is usually the reason a backpack comes off while under way on a trail, and the Nimbus did not give us a reason. That’s perhaps the one thing most appreciated and valued about reviewing this backpack. Obviously when you take it off your back at the end of the day you are going to feel like a boneless chicken for about 45 minutes, but that’s a great feeling.

Removable and roomy, the top storage compartment of the Nimbus Access FZ is convenient to un-snap from the pack and bring your valuables inside the tent. With an empty pack at the camp site, it’s more useful to take the top compartment off so when you go to re-pack, the primary body of the the Nimbus is easier to load up without the top compartment bobbing to one side or the other.

This 3D suspension system, harness, and accessibility to you gear can be found in other Granite Gear backpacks of larger and less cubic inch capacity. Quality workmanship and functional design stood out with this Nimbus Access FZ, but it was the comfort that jumped out at us, on the first hike it went on. It’d be great to have a rain cover on-board the pack.  But nonetheless, we enjoyed full confidence in this cool blue backpack.

By Rick Shandley

Specifications

  • Torso Sizes: Short | Regular
  • Weight: 4 lbs 9 oz | 2.07kg
  • Volume: 3800 Cubes | 64 Liters
  • Suspension: Topoflex Internal Frame
  • Load Capacity: 50lbs | 23kg
  • MSRP: $279.95

 

Materials

  • 70D Ripstop
  • 210D Nylon Cordura Body
  • Stretch Woven Pockets and front panel
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3 thoughts on “Granite Gear Nimbus Access FZ Backpack Review

  1. Nice and very interesting review. I even like the appearance of the backpack…it looks cool :) The last time I bought my backpack is 2005 and now it looks torn and tired so I’m gonna buy a new one. Thanks for the review anyway.

  2. I just ordered 2 of these (A regular for me and a short for my wife). I am replacing an older Alpine pro backpack and my wife’s Kelty Coyote which we bought a long time ago and which I now know doesn’t fit her. At the time I bought it I was a novice backpacker and didn’t know anything about torso length.

    I also bought an REI Ridgeline for her on a special discount and which I will return if she agrees to keep the Nimbus Access pack. I just got the packs in the mail last night and haven’t had time to load them up to see how they feel. But as I have read the instructions at work I am hoping she keeps the Nimbus.

    She is a novice packer and tells me the Ridgeline has a better padded hip belt and she argues that it will be more comfortable for her. I have done a lot of research on packs and really believe in the long run the Nimbus will be more comfortable than the Ridgeline but you really don’t know that unless you hit the trail with them.

    What advice would you have for her in helping her pick the better pack of the two. Would you mind commenting

    Thanks Lynn

  3. Lynn,
    To be honest, the best way is as you say, to try out the packs with the full weight in them. Ultimately all packs will feel differently and although you like the Nimbus, her comfort is what’s most important. We would recommend taking both packs out with full gear as you would on a regular trip, but go on a two or three mile day hike with them on. That will give her an indication of how each pack will feel. Make sure both are properly adjusted for her. Most of the weight will fall on her hips so she will be able to tell which is more comfortable. That should always be the top choice. If she’s not comfortable wearing the pack, she probably won’t enjoy backpacking in the future.

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