02 november 2012

Gear: Mountain Hardwear SummitRocket 40

As part of the Ueli Steck Collection, Mountain Hardwear have created the SummitRocket 40 pack 'for the expedition alpinist pushing the limits with a superlight, high-performance pack with good versatility and volume'. I got to test the updated 2012 version.
Mountain Hardwear SummitRocket 40
Mountain Hardwear SummitRocket 40 (2012)

I've used the SummitRocket 40 on a number of trips; I've taken it while alpine rock climbing in the Austrian Alps, while hiking and camping in the Candian Rockies and as my only luggage during a relaxing holiday on Bali - on average the pack has performed very well.
The SummitRocket 40 has won a Gold Outdoor Gear Award in 2011. Mountain Hardwear have updated the model since. The most obvious difference is the pack's closure; the 2011 model had a roll-top closure, while the 2012 model has a zipper closure with a pocket in the lid.
Mountain Hardwear SummitRocket 40 front and side
Front and side of the SummitRocket 40
It's obvious for me the pack was designed for alpinists. The double haul-loop, the daisy-chains, a good system for carrying ice axes - these are all features an alpine climber appreciates. The sides of the pack feature compression straps, which make it possible to decrease the volume of the pack.

One thing I would suggest you do if the pack is empty for the most part (including the lid-pocket), is to connect the front and back haul loop with a small carabiner (see example in the picture below). This greatly improves the way the pack carries (and looks), because theres less loose material flopping around.This floppiness is the only thing I really dislike about the pack (luckily theres a fix)

Mountain Hardwear SummitRocket 40 connecting the front and back haul loop
Connecting the front and back haul loop on the SummitRocket 40

The back of the pack features a foam pad. This adds rigidity to the pack and better transfers the weight of the pack to the hipbelt. Alpinist will appreciate the weight-reducing multi-use aspect of this pad; it acts as: a back-pad, a sit or bivy-pad and if necessary a splint.

Mountain Hardwear SummitRocket 40 suspension system
Suspension system of the SummitRocket 40 with the hipbelts folded back
Mountain Hardwear SummitRocket 40 foam pad suspension
Foam Pad and the system to keep it in place
When walking up to an alpine hut I've carried loads of around 10-12 kilo's in relative comfort in this pack. At first glance the suspension systems almost looks to be too lightweight to do the job, but it's not. It's just light, but also gets the job done. The hip-belt is fairly minimal, but not uncomfortable. The same goes for the shoulder straps. Carrying stability is increased by the sternum strap and load lifter straps.
Mountain Hardwear SummitRocket 40 suspension 2
A better view of the SummitRocket 40's suspension system
The volume of the pack is big enough to carry all the required gear for three-day camping/climbing trip or a week-long trip if you're staying in alpine huts. The SummitRocket 40 doesnt have side pockets or a big stow pocket on the back. Off course this influences the total volume. But, if you consider what this pack was made for, alpine climbing, it makes sense these features weren't added - if you're climbing in a narrow chimney, those sidepockets can get caught behind rock. Also the narrow/slim profile increased your agility when climbing.
A close up of the material the SummitRocket 40 is made of
The SummitRocket is made of a mix of fabrics. The white fabric is a type of Cuben, which is a light and waterproof material. While the pack's not officially waterproof, I've used it in moderate rain, and the contents of the pack stayed dry. After some use I found the bottom of the pack, which is made of that white fabric, starts to look a bit dirty. Nothing too terrible though.

Some pictures of the pack in use:
Scrambling on Penon de la Mata in Spain
Scrambling in the Sierra de Huetor near Granada, Spain
Mountaineering on Mt Cline near Banff in Canada
Mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies (near Banff)
Alpine Rock on the Kaunergrat in Austria
Alpine Rock in Austria (Kaunergrat)

Disclaimer: the pack was provided for the purpose of inclusion in a 'state of the market report' of 40 liter climbing packs in the Dutch climbing magazine Hoogtelijn, for which I am an editor. I liked the pack, so I decided to write an review on my own blog as well.
beerbottle opener on the Mountain Hardwear SummitRocket 40
Basic Alpine Essentials: a beer pottle opener

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