Mountain Hardwear Summit Rocket 30
Siveretta Ski touring
I had seen the blerb and pictures of Ueli Steck with the pack on and I immediately thought it looked just what I would look for in a pack. Simple, light and durable.
When I got my hands on the Rocket 30, what struck me first was that this really was a very light weight pack, 440g advertised 448g verified. I also thought it was quite fetching with the black, white, orange colour scheme. Next thing to strike me was the white material that the pack bottom and rear panel seemed very tough and conversely the black side panels felt quite flimsy. The pack is super simple just one large void and a lid pocket both closed by zips. These zips also seemed very light weight compared to what I am used to on a sack. My initial thoughts were along the lines of “Well I might only last a short while but it it is super light so I don’t care!”
Via Ferrata Marmolada, Dolomites, Italy
So I have had the 30 for about 18 months now and the 40 for 10 months. Both have seen a lot of use from days cragging and walking in the Peak to climbing and ski touring in the Alps and Atlas. So it's had a good trashing even if I do tend to be quite light on my gear.
Has the pack lived up to the first impressions or have there been any surprises?
First off the defining factor is that this is a super light pack 448g for a 30l pack is incredible! As it goes it feels like it will hold more gear than other 30l packs I have used, I think this is a factor of the shape of the main compartment. It is just a simple tube. I can fit in a days cragging gear assuming a 60m rope, single pitch rack, shoes harness, chalk. However my helmet has to live on the outside in this case. Another way to look at it is I can carry everything I need for a multi day hut to hut ski tour comfortably.
My first impressions had questions about durability. Well these have been answered. The white Xply is very tough holding up to rock, tools and ski edges well. I do have a couple of holes from diagonal carrying skis but even these are small and have shown no sign of enlarging with use, so much so I haven’t bothered getting out the sewing kit to fix them.
In use, I have been concerned about the zip closures blowing or the stitching going when fully loading the sack, or should I say overloading! As it goes this hasn’t been a problem even if the zips are lightweight affairs.
The back system is very simple which I like. Just a foam back reinforced with a wavy plastic sheet, lightly padded shoulder straps and the most minimalist hip belt. For a pack of this size I don’t want any more, I’m not going to carry 30kg here so why overcomplicate matters. There is a caveat with the back system and that is you really must pack you sack well. Which of course we do with every pack don’t we? If you don’t the pack can feel misshapen and lumpy and wont carry well. Be warned no laziness here when throwing that rack in at the end of the day.
As an addition to the back system the pouch holding the HardWave reinforcement doubles as a hydration pouch with a loop above for hanging a bladder. There is no exit hole for the tube so it must exit through the main zip. To be honest I have never used it as I have a bottle for my water rather than a hydration system and actually use the loop to clip my keys to.
Another feature I really like is the multiple haul loops two inside and two out at the top of the pack. Really good to use the pack as a rope bucket on multi pitch climbs. Lastly the compression system is very simple and removable or customisable using the two rows of daisy chains.
So is there anything wrong with it?
Well not everything is perfect! The worst of it is the light weight ethos perhaps went too far with the shoulder straps. While the straps themselves are comfortable and well made, the adjustment webbing is lightweight and slippery, meaning it slips through the buckles. This is to the extent that it is necessary to tie a knot in the webbing when adjusted to the size you need it. So effectively making it one size for everything job. This is actually only a problem for me when the sack is almost empty and I would like to tighten it up a little but can't. I would sacrifice some of the other features for a heavier duty gripping webbing here.
0.5 Gully Ben Nevis
So all in all I think this is an excellent do all day pack that will swallow what you need, for most one day mountain activity, just avoid packing in the classic British “kitchen sink” mentality. You will need something bigger for long trad mountain routes, overnight stays outside and winter mixed adventures. Which is naturally where the Summit Rocket 40 comes in! It is great to feel like all you are carrying is your gear and not have durability worries. OK It's not nukeproof but it is pretty good and soooo light! Functionality and comfort come together in light durable package, assuming you can pack a sack properly.
The Best Bits
Très léger! Have I said this enough? Surprisingly tough and wonderfully simple keeping just enough features for versatility and customisation.
The Not So Good
It's not going to last you a lifetime. Its a pain to have to knot the shoulder webbing to keep the size adjustment. It would be nice to have a cinch strap over the top of the bag to tighten up the top when the bag is half empty.
Neil Warren is an instructor at Pure Outdoor in the Peak District.