WasatchWill

Apr 23, 2014

REVIEW: Teton Sports Summit2800


This past Saturday, I set out to take my Teton Sports Summit2800 pack on a legitimate test drive and had quite the adventure in doing so.

The path to purchasing a Summit2800 started with a number of "boy scout" pack trips over the years where I would pack all the luxuries I could into larger capacity packs (e.g. camp stool, roomy tent, the kitchen sink, etc).  I quickly learned that there is value in packing less and lighter weight products, especially when hiking longer distances.  That old saying, "Less is more", certainly applies to backpacking.  

Now, I do have an REI Crestrail 70 that I found to fit me exceptionally well and provide a good measure of comfort even under heavier loads.  This will be my go to pack when I'm taking any of my young kids along and need to pack extra gear for them, for any winter camping when I need to carry extra layers of insulation and other gear, for extended trips where I need to haul a lot more food, or simply when I do just want to hike out a few miles to set up a luxurious base camp and lounge about or explore from there. 

However, for shorter weekend trips or where high mileage hiking is the objective each day, a 70 liter pack is overkill if it doesn't kill you over first.  Unless, of course, your journey requires several day's of food and fuel, in which case you'll be significantly shaving weight with each day of food and fuel consumed.  In addition to the Crestrail, I wanted something that would force me to pack less and lighter while still being sturdy and affordable.  

Enter the Teton Sports Summit2800.  

This summer, I plan to hike from the front door of my home in Provo to the door of my in-laws in Summit Park, Utah just outside of Park City. The route will be approximately 63 miles with some significant up-and-down elevation changes throughout. The first day will be the longest with about 23 miles to where I'd like to camp for the first night.  I plan to complete this trip in 4 days, if not 3.  This means my objective will be lots of miles each day, and to achieve that, I need something that will be able to hold all my essentials and do so comfortably.  

I have been hoping that my Summit2800 will be able to do that.  I have no doubts about it's ability to accommodate a quick warm-weather overnight/weekend trip but when you look at 4 days of food with enough calories to sustain the mileage I'll have to cover, no matter how well packaged, you'll know it will take up some significant space along with adding significant weight to your load. So, I took up the challenge to see if I could fit 4 days worth of food along with all of my other gear that I plan to take on this trip into the Summit2800.  

Success! 


I got most everything to fit, filling the pack to full capacity with the food taking up about a third of the space in the pack and the few items I couldn't find a place for inside of the pack were easily strapped on and attached to the outside of the pack.  I should also note here that in order to save space and weight, I did not insert or use a hydration bladder, but instead, used water bottles stored on the outside for my pack for hydration needs.

In setting out for a true comfort and functionality test, I wanted to nail two birds with one stone by also hiking a good stretch of my planned route for the Provo to Park City hike and in so doing, confirm a trail's existence that is part of my planned route, only in reverse direction from which I'll ultimately travel it.  

It worked out where my daughter had a soccer game at a park right next to the Rock Canyon trailhead here in Provo where I could park my car.  After the game, I had my wife shuttle me in our family car to Bridal Veil falls up Provo Canyon where an entry point to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail exists.  






For this hike, I planned to follow the BST from the Bridal Veil Falls area to a junction with what is called the Pole Canyon Trail according to Google Maps.  This trail is not marked on any other map I've seen however, including USGS and National Geographic Trail Illustrated, so I wanted to confirm the existence and condition of that trail.  When I drew up my route, this was one of few trails that was hard to confirm the existence of with satellite imagery due to thick tree cover and vegetation.

Well…Pole Canyon Trail does exist!…though no signs are there to mark it.




It climbs ups along side a ravine named, well…Pole Canyon.  Given the amount of snow still up on the high peaks above, I was surprised to find that there was no considerable flow of water running down the channel.  The trail itself leads through, as evident on satellite images, a nicely shaded area of trees and other vegetation  from the Bonneville Shoreline Trail to Hope Campground.

The campground was not open yet and given all the bear warnings around it, it was kind of eerie to be the only one there as I rested in silence.  





From the campground, the trail continues up through some meadows until it reaches Squaw Peak Road and Little Rock Canyon Overlook at which point you can either stay on the road and follow it southward to Rock Canyon or take a non-motorize vehicle connector trail up toward Buffalo Peak before descending down into Rock Canyon.  Getting up to this point I began to encounter snow still on the trail, but nothing much deeper than my calves and only for small stretches.  Looking back provided a nice view of Mount Timpanogos.




When I reached Little Rock Canyon Overlook, I rested to a great view of Utah Valley below.



From here I began to make my way along the trail upward to Buffalo Peak and here is where an expected adventure began.  Within no more than a couple hundred feet the trail hit snow, and a lot of it!  There were already other footprints existing in it, so I did my best to make life easier and follow in their stride.  However, after about quarter to half mile it became too much for me.  The snow was reaching up to my thighs in some spots and the unnatural high stepping began to take a toll on my legs leading to some painful cramping of my calve muscles, especially on my right leg.  After waiting for the cramp to release and giving it some stretch and massage treatment, I checked my map and decided that, despite the Buffalo Peak route being the shortest distance over to Rock Canyon I still had a ways to go and the snow was going to make it take more time than I had.  I opted to head back down to the overlook and take the road.


Once on the road, I was able to walk much easier again, however, after about a half mile up the road or so, it too began to give way to too much snow and the uphill walking on it began to tease me again with more leg cramps. So, I turned around and went back to the overlook where I pondered three options: Try to find a way down through Little Rock Canyon, continue heading down the road a few miles in the opposite direction to its junction with the BST, or go back the way I came and have my wife pick me up where she dropped me off.  There was no marked trail on the map for Little Rock, nor was there a visibly established trail down into Little Rock Canyon from its overlook though I had previously read about other people successfully hiking up through it so I figured I could handle it too.  There was no snow in sight and so I notified my wife of my route change and navigated my way down.  I soon settled into the little stream bed, thankful that there was nothing but a little trickle in it for it provided the least vegetative resistance.  There was no completely avoiding the dense vegetative growth along the top of the canyon though.  The stream bed soon made its way through a good stretch of bushes, trees, and other plants.  At this point, I felt as if I were playing a continual game of Red Rover with what seemed like never-ending branches extending over the stream bed from both directions.  Finally, it began to open up and with that I became more confident in my decision to press forward down the canyon.  



When I had read about Little Rock Canyon before, it was noted that were there a number of nice little campsites sheltered under some nice big pines and indeed there were some big pines now in sight.  Again, this gave me confidence that there must be a more established trail somewhere in the narrow mountain canyon and it was only a matter of time before I'd stumble onto it.  Not long after all the bushwhacking, including a dance with a good sized freshly fallen pine tree that was lying across the stream, I found myself walking right into what would become the first of a string of campsites I had read about and seen in images earlier.  It was at this upper most site that I also found a more established trail.  I tried to trace it upward back out of the site, but there was nothing.  Satisfied I had come down the most legitimate way above that point, I followed the new found path gratefully as it weaved its way downward, back and forth across the stream bed through the rest of the canyon, only stopping to size up each of the other campsites along the way.  







Along the way down, there were a couple of well trodden paths forking northward out of the canyon that I would have been more tempted to pursue for exploration's sake if I wasn't already crunched on time to get back down to my car.  Those would have to wait for another day.

Because of the path weaving back and forth through the stream bed, it was still no easy cakewalk due to there being several places where I still had to ease my way down off some big rocks, boulders, and so on.  At last, I had reached the mouth of the canyon.  I was hoping to find a path connecting down to the BST to follow through the foothills back to the mouth of Rock Canyon where my car awaited a little over a mile south.  However, true to the maps, I had to descend into the neighborhood there at the base of Little Rock and sidewalk it for about a half mile in order to skirt around around some fenced off private property there on the southern base of Little Rock Canyon.  

Eventually I found a spot where I could ascend back above the neighborhood and onto the BST.  Along that stretch of the BST, I found a thoughtful rock that put it all into perspective.




About ten minutes later, I arrived at my car to get me home just in time for dinner as originally planned with my family.

As for how the Teton Sports Summit2800 faired…



THE GOOD

It is easy to organize and attach extra gear to outside when needed.  Lots of external gear straps make this a very versatile pack for many users such as rock climbers.  Minimalist gram counters will despise this and would probably want to cut them off.  It is still large enough to accommodate enough essential gear and food for a few days but small enough to be used for day hikes without looking like you're overpacked.

With a base weight of about 19 pounds and 7+ pounds of food, water, and fuel for a combined weight of about 26 pounds, it rode rather well.  Let's just say it was much more comfortable on my hips and shoulders after 8 miles than my 21-month-old is in either kid carrier pack I have after only 2 miles.  

With the pack strategically packed with my heaviest item being the food bag being positioned to be at the mid center of my back, I was able to achieve a good center of gravity for greater balance and control on the steep terrain I had to descend and when negotiating obstacles.

Through all of the bushwhacking, the pack held up fine to the clawing branches and bushes it was subjected to with no visible markings or threads coming loose.

THE BAD

While the pack rode fairly well, and did not lead to any significant soreness on my neck, shoulders, or hips, I would have still appreciated a hip belt that was a bit larger and firmer with a bit more padding.  It gets the job done for the most part, but I felt like I still had to bear a bit more weight on my shoulders than I should have without loosening my shoulder straps so much that the pack starts to dangle and sway.  Perhaps a taller frame allowing the load-lifters to sit at the proper angle may have made the load-lifters more functional at directing more weight onto the hip.  Even then, a firmer and cushier hip-belt would be in order.  Perhaps I have been spoiled by this functionality on my REI Crestrail among other packs I've tried on.

I will concede here that the shorter frame and smaller hip belt on the Summit2800 is probably by design to reduce weight.  For the lightweight hiker with minimal gear, the relationship between load lifters and a cushy hip belt is probably less critical and given just the mild soreness I had on my neck and shoulders afterward I can confirm this One must keep in mind that some ultralight pack manufacturers don't even include any kind of frame and instead rely on the user inserting a firm sleeping pad or other item to serve as a structural frame.

Another minor issue is that the external accessory pockets are virtually useless when the interior is packed to capacity first.  It's like trying to slip items into pockets of tight jeans after they're put on.  If using the external accessory pockets for organizational purposes, I'd recommend packing what you want into them first, then packing the interior.  However, make sure those items you put in there are still not items you'll need throughout the day because they will still be hard to get back in with a full interior pushing out from the back side of the pockets.  Perhaps a butterfly fold of fabric would have prevented this problem, much like that found on the side pockets of Teton Sports' bigger Escape 4300.  Again, this is a minor issue for me, and I opted to just place everything I could in the interior and lid before securing what I had left to the outside.

Another nice feature would have been a hip belt pocket or two, though I was easily able to add my own.

THE SPECS
  • Dimensions: 26.5" x 13" x 10"
  • Shell: 420D Double Line Ripstop / 600D PU
  • Hydration Capacity: 101–Ounce (3 Liter), Not Included
  • Capacity: 2800 Cubic Inches / 45 Liters
  • Color: Metallic Grey
  • Pack Weight: 3.2 lbs
  • Waist Belt: 26" – 60"
  • Torso Length: Fixed 19.5"


OVERALL

Despite the minor drawbacks, I would recommend this pack to those looking to spend less without sacrificing much in the way of quality and comfort.  

At over three pounds, it isn't what I would classify as an "ultralight" pack, but is what I would call "lightweight".  Given its affordability, I think it makes an excellent choice for one, like myself, looking to cut back on weight by cutting back on how much they can pack and who is in the process of transitioning to a lightweight or ultralight setup.  I purchased this pack for that purpose and after this test hike, in light of the unexpected obstacles and terrain I encountered with it, I am more confident it will serve that purpose well.


Note: Teton Sports co-hosts the weekly #hikerchat on Twitter, Fridays at 12pm ET/10am MT which provides a great way to connect with other hikers and outdoor adventurers. You can follow them on Twitter at @TetonSports.  

Teton Sports also has a great reputation for customer service and satisfaction.  

For more information on the Summit2800 and other Teton Sports products and gear, you can visit their website at tetonsports.com


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About Will

Will Will lives at the footsteps of Utah's famed Wasatch Mountains. He enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, sports, running, vegetable gardening, nature, food, photography, art, and spending time with his wife and kids.

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