At the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City this summer, I had a chance to see a lot of what many companies are cooking up for the coming year. There was a lot of good stuff, but one very practical item caught my attention and recently I had the chance to test it out in the field. It was the Sierra Designs Summit Sack, which will be out in the spring of 2012.
The Summit Sack is a bring-along day pack that was built by Sierra Designs for a very practical reason: the same pack you need to carry all your gear into the backcountry is probably too big to use when you summit all the out-n-back peaks tempting you just beyond base camp. You really should be using a day pack for that. But most day packs are too heavy and bulky to pack into your trekking backpack. So you almost always end up just dumping all your junk out of your trekking backpack and then using its full 75 liters just to carry water, snacks, and a first aid kit up and down every peak in sight. Either that or you just end up skipping the out-n-backs, and you hang closer to camp.
The Sierra Designs Summit Sack solves that problem by being a day pack that is extremely packable…meaning that you’ll rarely leave it at home…meaning that you’ll also likely bag more peaks. And seeing those rarefied views are what it’s all about, sometimes.
The Summit Sack is a top-loading day pack that has a lightly padded back panel and shoulder straps, 1300 cu. in. of storage space, a couple of well-placed organizational pockets, and weighs in at only 12oz. It comes in plenty of candy colors, such as yellow, blue and red. Gray is also available if you’re the more subtle, mysterious type. And the pack turns inside out to pack itself into one of its pockets that is only about 4 inches square. Easy to tuck away into a corner of your larger trekking pack, and you’ll be glad you have it on-hand once you’ve set up camp and you want to start exploring. On that self-stuffing pocket it has printed out the essentials you need to bring when doing a short day excursion: hydration, illumination, emergency shelter, etc. One more thing? In a pinch, the Summit Sack can also double as a rudimentary stuff sack for your sleeping bag (but don’t expect it to compress the sleeping bag like other stuff sacks might).
I tested this pack out on the famous Joint Trail in Utah’s Canyonlands after having backpacked in and set up camp in Chesler Park, and the Summit Sack delivered just fine. Plenty of space for all the essentials, and the sternum strap and waist belt held everything in place. I gave it a scar or two, squeezing through some extremely tight slot canyons. But all in all, it held up very well.
If you’re looking for a day pack for aggressive ski touring or car-to-car pushes, this pack probably lacks the beef and structure you’re looking for. But if you’re looking for a day pack to stuff into a larger pack and use for exploring beyond camp, the Sierra Designs Summit Sack is just the right thing. I intend to give mine a few more scars, and see a few more peak-top views, before it hits shelves for the general public in the spring.