Price: R2099 (at time of writing)
Retailer: Cape Union Mart
Capacity: 65 litres
Dimension: H: 85cm W: 50cm D: 30cm (when fully packed)
Access Points: Top, front, sleeping bag compartment
Material: Polyester with DWR and PU coating
The K-Way Summit 65 is part of the brand’s “Expedition Series”, supposedly for more serious adventurers. In terms of pricing and design it places above the entry-level K-Way Venture backpacks, but is clearly a more budget-friendly alternative to the likes of Osprey, Deuter and Black Diamond. I’ve put it through its paces in the Hexrivier mountains and on the Oorlogskloof and Swellendam Hiking Trails, and it still looks almost brand new.
A novice hiker might be intimidated by all the bells and whistles on this pack, but it does show that a lot of thought went into the design. It’s kitted out with daisy chains, ice-axe loops, hydration pack compatibility, a rain cover and a myriad of straps for compression or lashing gear to the outside.
The durable construction of the pack is the first thing that you would notice (apart from the giftige red colour!). The rubber-sealed YKK zips, straps, buckles and fabric are well-stitched and have held up excellently against scratches, splashes and hard wear on the trail. It’s not the lightest pack out there, but it will handle almost any abuse you can throw at it, and the 65 litre capacity is the “Goldilocks size” for most backpacking trips.
The Summit 65 has a similar suspension system to the cheaper K-Way Venture series of packs, dubbed “Air-vantage”. A sturdy, well-padded hip belt (no belt pockets, unfortunately) is paired with a decent shoulder strap assembly that can be adjusted vertically for torso length.
All the usual adjustment straps are present, with an elastic sternum strap that incorporates an emergency whistle into the buckle. The suspension isn’t space-age, and the mesh padding is a tad scratchy, but it does ventilate quite well and distributes weight of up to 20kg comfortably to the hips.
Ease of use
The top flap of the pack has a large compartment, ideal for storing snacks and a camera – the zip is also by your head so it’s easy to reach back and take out items while you are on the move. A strap across the top opening of the pack is also handy for compression and holding a rain jacket for quick access.
I found the double straps on the sleeping bag compartment to be useful for lashing tent poles or a small mattress, but they are slightly too short to strap around a full tent. The vertical top flap straps are much better suited for lashing large items to the pack, if you are one of those hikers who likes to decorate their pack exteriors like a Christmas tree.
A (small-ish) rain cover is included: it is adequately waterproof but will not fully cover your pack if you have attached some items to the outside. Its drawstring cord is also not elastic, causing it to slip off occasionally. If you’ll be hiking often in wet weather, consider buying a larger aftermarket elasticated rain cover.
The pack has two large internal side pockets, perfect for storing water bottles or fuel. They help to keep a slimmer pack profile, but are a bit of a squeeze to access when the main compartment is fully loaded. There is also a pair of stretchy mesh pockets on the lower sides, but they are very small and the elastic is so tight that nothing wider than a Powerade bottle will fit. You’ll have to ask a hiking buddy to take your bottles out for you.
Some nifty features:
- Large front-entry zip, to quickly grab that energy bar stashed in the middle of your pack.
- A pair of cinchable bungee cords, ideal for holding trekking poles or hanging wet socks/towel outside the pack.
- A clip for car keys in top flap compartment.
- Divider between the main and sleeping bag compartments – can be zipped off to make one large compartment.
- Internal sleeve for your hydration bladder.
- Attach as many carabiners as you like to the daisy chains.
- Two handles on the bottom corners really help with lifting the pack onto your shoulders.
Solid construction, largely well-designed features, bang for buck, great customer service from a trusted brand.
A few design niggles, suspension can be more comfortable, difficult to access water bottles, not super lightweight.
Apart from a few shortcomings that K-Way hopefully straightens out with the next iteration, the Summit 65 is a very capable piece of gear that will serve you well on multi-day treks. It’s perfect for more serious hikers who want to upgrade from their first entry-level packs, or those looking for a budget-friendly option that punches well above its weight.