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Summit Gear Solitary 35L Ultralight
4 Apr 2023

Summit Gear Solitary 35 Ultralight

There’s a bit of a knack in building a good pack, and it’s probably as much an art as a science. A good pack can be simple – little more than a sack with straps – but still be comfortable and durable. A bad pack can have all the bells and whistles – a pocket, strap, or clip for every conceivable eventuality – but still be unwieldly and unusable.

I mention all of this because it’s difficult to articulate why the Solitary 35 is a nice pack. Trust me it is, I’ve dragged it up hill and down dale as well as over cliffs and through canyons over the last month of pretty rigorous testing, but this is my 3rd go at trying to tell you why its a nice pack and still haven’t nailed it!

It might be the cutting-edge materials. Things like dyneema and funky modern composites of nylon and dyneema branded into exciting fabric names like “Ultragrid” and “Ultrastretch”, glove friendly buckles, nifty little hooks, thin straps, and nice big zippers that run smoothly.

It might be the features (lots for a pack this size and weight). The snack pocket on the hip belt, the outward pulling closures on the waist strap, the roll top that easily captures a rope, the stiff back sheet that can double as a splint, the hydration bladder pocket and hole, ice axe holders, guidebook pouch, and more.

It could be the construction. Bullet proof (like all Summit Gear products), ergonomic, well finished.

But most likely its a combination of the above. It’s tricky to somehow balance all of this stuff and assemble it in a way that produces a pack that’s intuitive to put on and fit and feels nice to wear when it is under or (more usually) over loaded. Like I said, the knack of building a good pack is probably as much of an art as a science, but one Summit Gear have perfected.

Just want the numbers?

  • 35L (a smallish 35L)
  • 810g with the frame sheet and padding
  • 655g stripped down to sending weight
  • Expect to about $550

What we love about it…

  • It’s comfortable (even with a double rack, rope, and associated climbing gear for a big day)
  • The profile doesn’t encumber your climbing
  • It’s light
  • Made in Katoomba by members of our local community

If we could change just one thing…

I guess the benefit of testing a prototype is that we get to have feedback before the production run. The tweaks we suggested (enlarging the large zippered pocket on the back of the pack, and lengthening the compression straps slightly to make it easier to strap on a fat rope) have already been built into the finished product.

It’s a lovely pack and I’d be reluctant to fiddle much with it, but the next time I chat with the Summit Gear team I might suggest a small gear loop on the free side of the waist strap and see what they think.

So how do you rate it?

After having this mighty little unit on my back for many more days than not for the last month I have become quite attached to it and look forward to using it more. I’m happy to give it 5 “stretch mesh woven with UHMWPE fibre” stars out of 5 stars.

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