I’ve now had the 34L GR2 for some time, and I’ve taken it all over with me. One thing which is common knowledge about the 34L GR2 is that it is essentially (though slightly taller) a GR1 26L with an extra compartment added on — making it deeper.
This is all true, and it makes the GR2 a much better bag for organization and better for travel amongst most people. This article came about, as I recently reread (I know, terrible idea) something I wrote not to long ago:
If I had to choose just one bag to use for everything it is a 34L GR2.
What was I thinking? I had completely forgot that I made this claim, and have since, been making the claim the best backpack on Earth is the GR1 in the 26L variant. So now that I was reminded (by myself no less) that I made this statement, I need to clear it up a little.
Why the 34L
I know why I picked this bag, it’s small enough that you can mostly get away with it for daily carry, but large enough that a savvy packer like me could travel the world with it. Truly, if you had to pick one bag, there’s a lot worse bags you could pick. The 34L looks good, organizes well, carries a ton, and can be modified to slim down when it’s not stuffed fully.
It’s a compromise bag in this scenario. But it compromises in the right spots. It doesn’t get taller, so you can still wedge it under the seat in front of you on a plane. But it’s still big enough that most people could travel with it for more than a few days.
It’s a fantastic bag. If what I did most in life was travel, this is the bag for that.
Why the GR1 Bests It
Even after saying all of that, I’ll still stand by the fact that I was wrong, and that if you can only pick one bag, you pick the 26L GR1. It’s slimmer, but almost the same size. It travels and carries far better.
It’s all around a much better EDC bag — it’s not even funny how much better. It also won’t knock a ton of people over when in tight quarters. More than any of that, is that it’s smaller size makes it far more versatile.
I travel often, not a lot, but likely more than average. Even still, the GR1 is a better bag for me. If you can pack in a 34L GR2, than it’s probably not that hard for you to pack in a 26L GR1. And if you can’t pack for a trip in either, then you are taking a large bag in addition, and not looking for the same type of bag, so you’ll want the GR1 to compliment that.
But even for me, and my traveling, the majority of my bag usage is EDC. It is carrying normal shit around, not going on an airplane. And for that, the GR2 is not nearly as good. The critical mistake I made when picking the GR2 was weighing the use I do far more infrequently too heavily.
For what I, and for what most people do frequently — weighted correctly — the GR1 is the better bag.