This lightweight summit pack is versatile enough to take to school, the gym, and up your favorite peak.
When I was younger and working for the first time, I took my first paycheck and went to REI. I walked in and the only thing I felt like I could afford was one of the Flash packs. It was made of ripstop nylon and resembled a stuff sack with basic straps on it. It was fun to organize it with the Bic lighters I stole from my dad and any other “survival” items I could snag. After I got my full-size hiking pack to hold some civilized gear like my tent and stoves, I retired my Flash pack to holding my sleeping bag. The idea was to hike to somewhere fun like a lake or the base of a mountain, then pull out a smaller bag that holds the necessities and still keeps you light enough to tackle some distance.
The Gossamer Gear Type II is the more adult version of that REI bag I had as a kid and it sets the criteria for other summit packs to follow. Starting off with the material: on my old bag, the nylon seemed to have a rubber coating on it to help with water resistance while Gossamer uses their 210 Robic Nylon and Extreema grid that is very water-resistant. I sprayed the Gossamer pack down with a hose for a few minutes, even had my laptop in it, and all that got wet were the straps of the pack. The material in all of the high wear spots such as the bottom and the side pockets seems like it would hold up to a day of slot canyon adventures.
The straps on the pack are much fatter than typical straps on a smaller bag like this, constructed with a breathable foam mesh it feels spongy to the user. The chest strap is adjusted easily and has an elastic strip to keep it snug. The back of the bag is constructed of a spandex type material that will be soft when you are taking shirtless Instagram pictures. You have access at the top of the panel to remove the thin foam insert and possibly replace it with a sleeping pad or just ditch it to save weight.
Water bottle pockets are a pet-peeve of mine and I can’t stand it when a pack has mesh side pockets because they end up snagging and getting holes. I am glad Gossamer chose to have full paneled side pockets. They are the perfect size for a 1 liter Nalgene and I like how the elastic at the top of the pocket prevents the bottles from slipping out.
The top lid should always be big enough to hold a Glock 19. This lid held my J Frame revolver, knife, Glock, and my wallet, still with some extra room. It has a large lanyard to attach your keys, although it should be noted that it does not have a method of attaching your keys to it so you need to provide your own snap link. Under the lid it is completely blank and I might sew on a pocket for my first-aid kit in the future.
Moving to the interior of the bag is a conveniently hidden pocket, so hidden I had not noticed it for about 5 days of use. The pocket is zippered and made of the same spandex material used on the back panel, soft enough to put in your sunglasses. This is the perfect spot to toss your wallet in. This pocket also has enough room to stow away my revolver in its holster. The interior compartment also has a rather large hydration pouch with a few lashing points to attach whatever water bladder you choose. This sleeve is big enough to hold a MacBook or notebook. Personally, I like to put a Rite in the rain notebook in it because it makes the back of the bag stiffer and more comfortable to me.
I started stuffing this pack with everything I would take to do a summit starting with snow pants, a fleece jacket, stove, trekking poles, gloves, and it just kept going. Whatever I wanted to stuff in it I could. For looking small, this pack can carry a surprisingly large load. Once full, the exterior of the pack has a few straps that allow you to tighten the pack down so it’s not loose regardless of how full or empty it is. There are also a few lashing points to run a bungee cord through to assist in compression if you wish to add that yourself.
Some things that this pack doesn’t have are slots for pens and pencils. If you are looking for a commuter bag or designated school pack, there are better ones out there. It also lacks a nice hip belt which saves weight but it might make it uncomfortable if a user is taking it out for a multi-day ultralight hike. This pack is also not going to win any awards on looks… I would call it stone grey.
I would get this pack if you are always filling up your current summit pack and wish you had more room. The volume and durability this pack offers should keep it hanging around your campsite for several seasons.
Author – William Hoyt is a former Army Ranger of 1/75. He is now pursuing his bachelors in psychology and coaching swimming.