This week, I'm going to tell you about the backpack that I use most often these days. It's the Teton Sports Summit 1500. It's one that I saw perusing the interwebs while just looking to see what might be out there. To me, it looked like it would be a good pack. When I initially tried to order one, they were out of stock everywhere and the Teton Sports website was backordering them. I eventually ordered one because I really liked what I was seeing. Then I made the mistake of hitting YouTube for reviews. By and large, folks on the Tube of You don't like this backpack, and they don't like it for (what I think are) stupid reasons. But I digress.
Also, once again, full disclosure. Most of the pics of this pack are ripped from the Teton Sports website. You'll know the one that I took.
I had started thinking about getting another day pack mostly because I realized that with what I usually carried, if I pulled my sweatshirt or jacket off and put it in, there was no room for anything else. So, if I was doing a long hike and carrying, say, a lunch, I didn't really have room for my jacket. If I stuffed my jacket in, the pack had no room for anything extra. So I started keeping an eye out for a pack that was a little bigger.
Enter the Teton Sports Summit 1500. It's a 25L pack. It holds a 3L water bag. It has 5 zippered pockets, including a couple that are in the lid. It's more narrow than a lot of daypacks I've seen, but it's taller. It also has a rain cover stashed in the bottom. So what are the features?
It has one big main compartment. No interior pockets or dividers except the sleeve on the back wall for the water bladder. It has a double draw-string closure that then clips closed. So, whatever you put in that compartment is going to be pretty well secured. It's not going to accidentally fall out.
On the face of the pack is a zipper that runs up almost the entire height of the pack. Inside that zipper is a shallow pocket that runs the width of the bag. I have found it perfect for trail maps, those brochure-sized ID cards, and the little notebook that I carry when I hike.
On the sides are the usual 2 mesh pockets that fit water bottles pretty well, and there are also 2 zipper pockets at the top that zip about half way down the pack. I've never tried to stuff these full, but have found that one is the perfect size for a bandana or small towel or gloves or things like that. The one on the other side is where I put my snacks.
There are 2 zipper pockets in the lid, one is on the inside of the lid, and the other is on the outside. The one on the inside seems like a good spot for all those little misc. items that I occasionally want, but (1) don't need often enough to put in an outside pocket or (2) don't want to have to dig around in the bottom of the main pocket to find. The one on the outside is where I stash my little trail first aid kit as well as wallet, keys, and stuff like that.
On the bottom it has trekking pole loops and on the top it has straps to strap something down. The loops are where my trekking poles live when I'm not using them. The straps work really well for my butt pad. As with the other pack, I have added a couple of grimlocks (plastic D-rings) and some shock cord.
The pack has those 2 cinch straps on each side, 2 cinch straps on the front for that tall zipper pocket, 2 more for the lid, and the 2 straps on top to cinch something down onto the top of the pack. In total, that's 8 straps on the pack. In fact, there was one vid that I watched after I bought the pack but before I had it in hand. The reviewer in question was complaining about "too many straps. You can't do anything on the pack without having to move straps around."
You can see in the pic above all the straps. Yes, there are lot. However, I don't think it's too many, and I don't think they get in the way all the time. Most of them have an elastic band on them to tuck the unused portion of the strap back onto itself to keep it tamed. I tuck the excess of the lid straps into the side mesh pockets, and the excess for the tie-down straps on top I have tied into a loop that keeps them up by the lid. I really like the fact that I can cinch the pack down as much as I can.
The pack has comfortable straps...once you get used to them. The first time I wore the pack, my shoulders were super tired. I couldn't figure out why. The next time I went hiking with it, I did just the opposite of what I thought I should do, and I loosened the shoulder straps up. That seemed to fix it. It's been super comfortable ever since.
The hip belt rides a little higher than I like, but it's tall enough that it does still carry some weight. Not that the pack is big enough to really need to carry weight, but it's nice that it does. On a pack as small as this one, I would expect that the hip belt is primarily to secure the pack to your back a little better. I've also added a couple of hip belt bags and hang my bear spray off the hip belt. And, yes, I know that there are no bears in my part of the country, but I carry it for hogs. The hogs down here are prolific and ill-tempered.
The back has that upside down T thing going on to help with ventilation on your back. The H2O port comes out on the right side (when you wear it) just under the lid. The sternum strap clip doubles as an emergency whistle if that is something you like your pack to have. The back does have an internal frame of some sort and is non-adjustable, but the straps adjust enough that, for a small pack, it all seems to work together to be comfortable.
There are a couple of things that I immediately changed on the pack. You can see in the pic just above that it comes with ice axe (I think is what that is) straps. I guess that makes the trekking pole loops to officially be axe loops. I've never actually even seen an ice axe, so I thought it fitting to pull those straps off and put shock cord straps on in place of them. That's how I secure my trekking poles now.
I, also, didn't like that there were no hip belt pockets. I'm still trying to find the perfect attaching pockets, and have been through several, but am still on that quest. I got some from Alps Mountaineering that I used for a while. They weren't bad, but I wanted to put a small pair of binocs in one, so I am currently using a set I bought off of Amazon. The ones I got I think are sold primarily to the survivalist crowd and probably usually attach to their bug-out bags, but they're working pretty well at the moment.
Other than those 2 things, for me, this is about the perfect day pack. It holds what I need, and it offers plenty of room to stow a jacket while still leaving a little room to carry something else if I want (like lunch or a book to sit and read along the trail). I love this little pack. It's built extremely well. It has plenty of room for short and long hikes. And in the world of backpacks, at $60, it's pretty dang economical. In my opinion, not only could you not go wrong with this bag, but it's the best one out there right now.
I like this pack enough that Teton makes an almost identical pack (the Summit 2800) that is 45L and gray instead of orange, and I got it for camping. It's pretty much the same, only bigger. It, also, on the bottom has an extra pocket for a sleeping bag. That sleeping bag pocket opens up to the main pack using a drawstring closure. So you can make the main pocket one big open pocket or one not quite so big pocket with the sleeping bag compartment underneath it. Also, the sleeping bag compartment is accessible from the outside. Other than those things, honestly, it's just a bigger version of the orange one.
Teton Sports seems to make a lot of good products that are quality without having to pay the premium associated with some of the high end brands. In addition to these two packs, my wife uses their Scout 3400 pack when we go camping or backpacking. I've also got one of their pop-up tents and their sleeping bag liners. Everything I've gotten from them seems to be good quality and built to last. In addition, I've talked to their customer service reps on several occasions, and they've all been super helpful and friendly. I'm, honestly, surprised that I don't see more reviews on Teton Sports and more people using their products. If you need quality equipment on a budget, be sure to give them a look. In my opinion, bang for the buck, you'd be hard pressed to find anything better.
This week I'm going to tell you about that Outdoor Products backpack. Over the course of the week since I typed up that last post, I actually found the name of the backpack. It's the Outdoor Products Trail Break pack. it has an 18L capacity, and came with a 3L water bag. It looks like Walmart still sells the black one online for $35, or you can get the green one on eBay for around $20. It hasn't been listed on the Outdoor Products website for probably a year, and I've been told by their customer service that they're not making it anymore.
Also, full disclosure. The professional looking pics I have below I stole off the Walmart website. I'll start it off with this one.
The back of the pack has the compartment dedicated to the water bag, and I'll get to that in a bit. The pack has 1 big main pocket in front of that one that I've always described as a school backpack pocket. You can zip it open from either side (2 zippers for this pocket). You zip it open, and it's just a big, open space. No dividers or internal pockets in it.
There's a secondary main pocket that only has one zipper to it. So it zips to and from one side. It's not as big and open as the main pocket, but it has 3 smaller pockets on the back wall. The smaller pockets are 2 different sizes, and one of them has a velcro clasp over it. I'm guessing that was intended to be a phone pocket or something...velcro it in so it doesn't accidentally fall out.
It has a much smaller zipper pocket on the face of the pack. That one is about the size of a phone, but since there's no protection in it, I always used it to throw a snack bar or small bag of trail mix. This pocket is, honestly, not really big enough for much else.
It has the pretty big mesh pocket on the face of the pack that you can clip closed. I always found that one handy for keeping a trail map or the little notebook that I carry when I hike. I'd also typically stuff my wallet and truck keys in this mesh pocket when I'd leave the ride.
Just below this mesh pocket is a zippered pocket that holds the included rain cover. I'm not a huge fan of rain covers. Sometimes they work with very dry results. Sometimes you wonder if it kept any water out at all. I used this one a couple of times in mist and drizzle, and it seemed to work well enough.
Then there are the 2 mesh pockets on the side that I imagine most folks use for water bottles. There's a cinch strap on either side of the pack just above the mesh pockets. There are no pole loops on this one, so I always carried my trekking poles in these pockets, and secured them using the cinch straps.
There are two "daisy-chains" on it just above the mesh pocket on the face. I put daisy-chains in quotes because on a pack this small, they're more like double loops. I have a couple of grimlocks (plastic D-rings) on those. That makes it handy for clipping something on the pack if needed. I strung a loop of shock cord between the two, and used one of them to clip my butt pad to the pack. I'd stuff it under the shock cord to keep it from flopping around while I was walking.
Rounding out the pack are the hip belts. There's a pocket on each of those, but they're small and tight enough that my wallet wouldn't fit, and my keys were a bit too big. I'd usually carry a small bag of trail mix in one of those.
Overall it's a great pack! At 18L, it's not so small that you're only carrying water, but it's not so big that you're carrying more than you would need. In addition to my usual load, I could stuff a sweatshirt or jacket into the main pocket, but that would fill it up. It's a relatively comfortable pack even though it's not adjustable. The only thing that bugs me occasionally (and it's more a preference and not a comfort thing) is that the hip belts are a bit high. They ride above my hips, so they help secure the pack to my body, but they're not carrying any weight at all. Then again, on a pack this small, there's not a lot of weight to be carried.
Now the water bag pocket, they used an interesting concept for it. After using the pack as much as I have, I'm still not sure whether I like it, but I know I prefer the more traditional approach better. Take a look at the two pics below, and then I'll describe it for you.
If you look on that back ridge of the pack in the pic on the left, you'll see a long zipper that appears to continue on down the right shoulder strap. If you look at the pic on the right, you'll see that zipper does, indeed, continue about half-way down the length of that shoulder strap. Rather than have the usual H2O port on the back of the pack somewhere, that zippered pocket is it. Open it up, and it's a very thin pocket where you hang the bladder. Then you run the tube the length of the zipper to where it exits on the shoulder strap.
It's an interesting way to solve that problem. It's, also, where my bag had an issue. I used it for a long time, and always had the bladder in it. Then one day I decided that I was going to use it without the bladder, and realized that they had not actually sewn in one side of the end of the zipper. So long as the water tube was run through the shoulder strap, the zipper would stop a couple of inches short of the end. When I pulled the bladder out and zipped that up, the zipper just came off the end, and, despite my best efforts, the zipper would not go back on.
The Outdoor Products warranty and customer service were both stellar even though the pack already had a lot of miles on it. I let them know I had an issue, they asked for pics, and they quickly covered it. The backpack wasn't being made at that point, so they gave me credit on their website. I already had my eye on the pack that I'll talk about next week, so I gave the credit to my wife to get one that she needed. Later on, I ended up doing some surgery on the bag to get the zipper back in place, and then sewed everything up so that it works again. Not long after I bought the bag, I replaced all the gray zipper pulls with bright yellow ones, so I used bright yellow thread on it when fixed the zipper.
I really like this daypack. I've used it enough that it's well broken in. I've personalized it by adding those grimlocks, changing the zipper pulls, and now it has the yellow stitching where I fixed it. It's relatively comfortable, and it holds enough to get you by for a day, but not so much that it's really going to get heavy. The back on it has that upside down T pattern that helps with ventilation. I've got no complaints about this pack. In fact, at the $35 that it is currently listed on the Walmart website, I don't know that you could get a better bang for your buck day pack.
I must confess. I have a thing for bags. I like them. They're extremely useful. They can be stylish. And you can personalize them and make them fun. I have a bunch of them. Notice I didn't say too many. I'm always out for a good bag. I have an armoire full of them. I've got quite the array of bags. I've got canvas bags. I've got leather bags. I've got bags for work. I've got bags for play. If I need a bag, I'm sure I have one to fill the bill. My wife says she doesn't understand why I think bags are cool. She has like 2 purses. I have at least 10 backpacks. And that's not counting the messenger backs, laptop bags, and others still.
Like I said, I have lots of bags, including all those backpacks that I claim as mine. I have also bought my wife another 3 or 4 backpacks because I think she needs them, because bags are cool. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I'm going to talk about a couple of my favorite backpacks. For today, I'm going to just scratch the surface on those two and one other.
First backpack to talk about is my Saddleback Square Pocket backpack, aka The Tank. No, seriously, the company calls this backpack The Tank. It's certainly built like one. If I had to have one backpack and no other, this would be a serious contender. It's HUGE! It's built to last. You could probably fit a small car and a week's worth of luggage into this backpack. The pic below doesn't do justice to how big this pack is.
Mine is in carbon black. That just means it's a kind of a flat back color and not shiny like the one in the pic. The only downside to this pack is that it's so big and heavy. I think I weighed it once at just over 7 pounds empty. I once used it hiking through a national park in SE Utah. My back was soaking wet by the end of the trail, and my shoulders were especially sore. I decided that night that I needed a lighter backpack for the next day.
Two things I like about this bag. The leather on it is thiiiiick. Seriously, I could drag this thing behind the FJ and it'd just be scratched up. It would still be totally usable. Second is that it has no less than 8 D-rings on it. I love clipping and attaching things to my backpacks, and those D-rings come in especially useful. I don't think I could wear this bag out if I tried. Despite its weight, this is one of my favorite bags. And, at over $500, it was definitely the most expensive (but totally worth it imho).
The next backpack to talk about is my Outdoor Products backpack. I have no idea the model. They don't make this one anymore, and I've long since forgotten the name. I was on the hunt for camping gear a while back at the local Walmart, saw it, and went back the next day to buy it. It's been a trooper. Well made. Very economical at I think $30 when I got it. I've got probably 150 miles on this one. 3 liter water bladder capacity. Multiple pockets. Rain cover (that I've had to use a couple of times). This is one of the ones that I'll talk about more later.
Full disclosure. After I had it about 6 months, one of the zippers failed. I looked at it closely and realized it looked like it might be a manufacturer defect. I contacted the company, and they quickly got me fixed up with no hassle. They already weren't making it anymore, so they gave me credit towards another pack. I added some to that credit and bought my wife a pack for some stuff she was doing. Great customer service! I liked the pack so well that I ended up figuring out how to fix it on my own, and I've continued to use it.
You'll see that I swapped out the zipper pulls to add some color and added some grimlocks on it. I'm always adding stuff to my packs to personalize them and make them what I want. This has been a great pack.
Last pack to talk about today is my current daypack. It's the Teton Sports 1500 backpack, and, for me, it's about the perfect pack. When I was researching it before I bought it, a lot of folks were complaining about various aspects of it. I thought then, and think now, that those folks were just complaining. It's a great bag. Still pretty economical at $60. I've got almost 100 miles on this one so far.
Like the previous pack, it can handle a 3 liter water bladder. It's got pockets everywhere...5 zippered pockets. One on the front. One on each side. And two in the lid. Two mesh pockets on the side. The big main compartment. Straps everywhere. Loops for trekking poles. A rain cover. In my humble opinion. this is the best daypack made. In fact, I like it so well that they make an almost identical pack that's 45 liters. I got it for short backpacking and camping trips.
Since I got this pack, I've picked up several Teton Sports items, and have been impressed with all of them. From packs to tents to cots, it all looks good. I've got packs and a tent. So far, they all work as advertised, and they're economical. Not quite as inexpensive as the Outdoor Products packs, but definitely less than what you're going to get someplace like REI. I've been told that Teton makes "budget" gear. My experience has been that their gear is just as good as the REI stuff I have, it just doesn't cost as much. So, if "budget" means good-quality-low-cost I'll take it every day over good-quality-high-cost. Teton makes good stuff. And this bag is no exception.
I've got a couple of others that I really like...like the one that attaches to a gig bag...but I use these three probably more than any of the others right now. In later posts, I'll take the two day packs, and talk about them in a little more detail. So what's your favorite backpack? These are three of mine.
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. He believes chocolate milk made from milk that is anything less than whole milk is basically water and deserves to be dumped down the sink so nobody has to suffer through it. He hates having to shop for clothes. But he has a thing for really cool bags, and, consequently, has more gig bags than guitars and a closet full of messenger bags and backpacks. He still misses his dog who was taken by cancer 5 years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.