The Teton Sports Scout 3400 falls under our budget backpacks review, but far underperformed others in the category. But at less than half the price of the next cheapest pack, we still gave it the award for Best Bargain Basement Backpack. This is the choice for you if you want a functional bag at the absolute lowest cost. We took this pack on several overnight trips, and while there are things that we didn't like about it, the bottom line is that it works. Its craftsmanship reflects the low price, but it's a capable overnight pack with all of the necessary features.
Teton Sports Scout 3400 Review
Cons: Uncomfortable, bulky straps and buckles, difficult to use pockets
Manufacturer: Teton Sports
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Our Analysis and Test Results
During our research, we saw the excellent price of the Teton Sports Scout 3400 and decided it would be a good option to include in our budget backpacks review. We were unfamiliar with packs from Teton Sports, unlike the manufacturers of the other packs we reviewed. During our testing, we found this pack to be much less comfortable and more difficult to use than our other packs. Between rough materials, a lackluster suspension, difficult to open pockets, and some poorly executed features, this was our least favorite pack to use. But, it still worked well enough to support us on our shorter overnight trips, so we awarded it as the Best Bargain Basement Backpack.
Suspension and Comfort
The suspension on this pack is basic, with foam against the upper and lower back as well as around the hips and shoulders. We felt that the foam on the lower back was less comfortable than the rest of the packs we reviewed, and the waist belt was stiff and straight. This meant that the pack and straps did not contour to our hips and the weight didn't feel evenly distributed. We noticed this discomfort during our longer days with the pack, especially with heavier loads.
The shoulder straps weren't too comfortable, but the biggest problem was the abrasive fabric. When putting on and taking off the pack, the fabric would scrape against our skin, which we felt significantly decreased the comfort of this pack. The more expensive packs use nicer fabric that is much less rough on the skin. We certainly couldn't wear this pack without at least a t-shirt.
Features and Ease of Use
We gave the Scout 3400 a 4 out of 10 in this metric because it has the features that we find necessary in a pack, but that's about it. We found some features to be difficult to use, and other unnecessary in the first place. The pack volume is 3400 cubic inches or 55 liters.
The pack features a familiar design with a retro look. The main compartment has standard access from the top, but we felt that the bottom zipper was poorly executed. The elastic flap covering the zipper got in the way and made it hard to open, plus the opening was too narrow to easily access gear. Similarly, the top lid of the pack was hard to use. It is sewn onto the top of pack, so it is not removable or adjustable for storing extra gear underneath it, similar to the Osprey Rook 65. That, in combination with the narrow zippered opening, made it quite frustrating to pack and access gear in the lid.
Each side of the pack has two pockets; one elastic pocket on the bottom and one zippered pocket on the top. Both of these are just barely large enough for a 1-liter nalgene bottle, but it was no easy task to fit the bottle in, and we noticed that the rough fabric scraped our fingers. The upper pockets are nice for other items that you want access to, especially since the waist belt does not have any pockets on it.
We were able to attach gear on the outside of the pack fairly easily. The lower straps are great for attaching a sleeping pad or tent, and the pack has ice axe loops as well. There is a mesh pocket on the back of the pack, but it is far too small to fit most items that we wanted to, like a rain jacket. It was good for storing things like your compass or maps, but we prefer a larger mesh pocket like that on the Gregory Stout 65.
There are elastic drawstrings on both the rear of the pack and the top of the lid. We actually liked the one on the back, where we could store a fleece or jacket. The elastic on the top of the pack was less useful because it made the lid even more difficult to access, plus the cord was too long in the first place. While it didn't hurt the pack performance, we felt that this top attachment didn't add anything to it either.
Another aspect that we didn't like about the pack were the straps and the buckles. The straps were thick and stiff, while the buckles were bulky and the plastic felt cheap. We didn't have any issues with the durability, but it was a bit difficult to tighten down the straps and the buckles were tougher to open when it was cold.
This pack was tied for the second heaviest pack in our budget backpack review. It weighs 4.5 pounds, which is quite heavy for such a small pack. The only pack that was heavier was the REI Co-op ruckpack 65, which has a host of travel features that add to the weight. The Scout 3400 does include a rain cover, but it doesn't weigh very much at all. Since the price of the pack is so low, its understandable that the weight to size ratio is higher, but this probably isn't the pack for you if you're looking for the lightest budget backpack you can find.
This pack is adjustable to a degree but much less so than other packs like the Osprey Volt 60. The shoulder straps are adjustable via a Velcro release system that is fairly easy to use, so it fits a range of torso sizes. Beyond that, there was not much adjustability. The waist belt was difficult to cinch down because, unlike all of our other packs, it does not feature a reverse pull tightening system. Many of the other straps also feel stiff and are harder to tighten than we would like.
For the reluctant backpacker or the someone who only gets out 1 or 2 nights a year, a $70 model isn't a bad idea. The carrying capacity is plenty for trips up to a week in duration, if you can handle the abrasive fabrics and less than ideal suspension.
This is a high value, low-quality pack. Within the budget backpacks category, there are better packs available from brands like Osprey and Gregory. But, none of those packs can be found for a comparable price. If your priority is simply the lowest price tag for a functional pack, then this pack has a great value.
Although this pack has a good value, so does a more expensive pack like the Osprey Volt 60. This pack has some frustrating features and a weak design, but also an unbeatable price tag. This is why your needs are important. If you'll be using your pack often and for longer trips, these shortcomings of the Teton Sports Scout 3400 might outweigh the cash that you can save. If you want a beginner pack, or simply won't use it often enough to justify a more expensive pack, then this extra cheap pack offers a good compromise.
— Ben Skach