Teton Sports, an Epic Social Adventures partner, provided an Escape 4300 for the Hell Hike and Raft 2015 crew. Spoiler alert: these packs saved out asses. And, with the Leaf Green color, are badass looking to boot. I customized mine even more by having a local shop embroider the trip’s name on the front pocket.
The Teton Sports Escape 4300 (MSRP $129.99) is willing and able to take on enormous loads: 4,300 cubic inch capacity with seven pockets, two pouches, four compression straps, daisy chain gear loops, D-ring, eyelets and slide-storage under hood. Happily, while we didn’t need it, the pack (like most Teton packs) comes with its own bright yellow rainfly, making this an even better buy.
Super adjustable, this pack, over the last two years, has fit Hell Hike and Rafters from 5’0″ish to 6’5″, with a variety of bellies to boot. The back panel is channeled to provide airflow and padded to provide support, while the straps are made for comfort as well as utility. The waistbelt is padded and boasts pockets big enough for a phone and snacks, necessities on a long day of backpacking,
We really beat the shit out of these packs – I was not the only one to overstuff my pack and drag it across the Seven Devils (though mine WAS the chunkiest looking). The cool thing about these packs is that they are comfortable from empty up to beyond bursting. Because the pack is super adjustable, you can keep moving it up and down until it fits just right. The wide padded belt really allows for the weight to be distributed across the hips, relieving the upper body from having to shoulder the burden (hehe). Lots of pockets and an interior divider means that customization of your pack an distribution of the weight is easy to do. I literally used every single available stash point, lashed trekking poles to the outside, and then even carried another crew member’s tent on the very top on the last day of hiking. The pack handled it all with aplomb.
Pros: Super adjustable; lots of pockets; straps galore for compression; amazingly comfortable even with too much weight over three days of pretty technical and difficult backpacking; great price for the quality.
Cons: I was not a big fan of the side mesh pockets and wished they had been angled forward or higher – I had a hard time reaching back to reinstall water bottles after drinking (of course this may also be my old age and lack of mobility being equally culpable). The top pack was floppy and difficult to work with, at least when it was shoved full of gear – again, this may have been my enthusiasm for filling both pockets to their capacity. Honestly though, there were times I wanted to pull this off and throw it in the nearest lake. (I needed the things I had stashed there, however.) Lastly, even though it’s the growing norm, I felt like this pack was very skinny and tall – I would have preferred a wider interior to keep the weight down even lower.
Overall: I can wholeheartedly recommend this pack as an amazing buy for the price. Teton Sports is well known for their customer service, so if anything ever goes wrong, you know they’ll be fair on the other end. This is definitely on the heavier end of packs these days, but it compensates by amazing comfort even fully loaded.