Nate Gillette is an adventure sport junkie living in Fort Collins, CO, who considers the Rocky Mountains and American Southwest the ultimate playground. He is an avid mountain biker, skier, whitewater paddler, camper, and traveler. When not exploring, Nate works as the Logistics and Operations Coordinator for the No Barriers Warrior program, which provides back-country trips for veterans with disabilities across the United States.
Honest question… how often do you travel with some sort of stuff? I use the term “stuff” loosely, but in reality, “stuff” is almost always part of our daily lives, and often, out of want or need, it travels with us. Enter the Mountainsmith Grand Tour.
This backpack is happy to swallow up 19L of your gear for anything from a day at the office to your favorite day hike, although it’s obvious to me this pack has been designed to cover your daily commuting and travel stuff hauling needs more so than technical outdoor adventure use.
The pack has some pretty great features that make it stand out as a fantastic commuter pack option. One of my favorites is the dedicated laptop zipper that runs vertically along the back of the pack. No need to open the main compartment to access your laptop with the separate zippered one dedicated to keeping your beloved computer safe. The sunglasses pocket is soft and padded enough that I toss mine in there worry-free, and the front pocket has become the permanent home of my shell jacket.
The water bottle holders are really well made, and don’t seem like they will get the “soggy elastic” issue with regular use, but I didn’t like how much effort was needed to squeeze a full size Nalgene in there, especially if the pack is loaded down (my 16oz steel bottle is a perfect fit though). The straps, elastic cord, and hardware on the front of the pack is a bit busy for my taste, but doesn’t necessarily get in the way of accessing any of the pockets.
As far as use goes, I absolutely love the Grand Tour for my daily bike commute to work in Fort Collins. It stays put on my back without using the waist belt, and loaded down with a heavy old laptop and my other daily use items, feels great walking around, or hunched over on a bike. It is simple enough that I don’t have to fish for things in tiny obscure pockets, but has enough features to keep my stuff organized and quickly accessible.
I did take the Grand Tour on a decent 4-5 hour day hike, loaded down with extra layers, camera gear, snacks, and enough water for me and the dog. The pack carried well, but the lack of any kind of back ventilation or structure made it fall short in the action/adventure category in my opinion. Some breathability would be a welcome addition, even for the commuting aspect.
All in all, the Grand Tour is a winner for me, and what I need it for. Although it will be staying at home though when I hit the trail in lieu of a more technical featured pack, I’ll be relying on it for my daily “stuff” hauler from here on out, and as burly and well-built as this pack is, I expect to be a long time!