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Exped Summit Lite 15 Review

Though it has a low price and weight, this pack also has low durability
Exped Summit Lite 15
Photo: Amazon
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Price:  $49 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Light, inexpensive
Cons:  Fragile, wimpy shoulder straps, no back padding
Manufacturer:   Exped
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 26, 2021
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52
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 5
  • Climbing Utility - 25% 5
  • Durability - 20% 3
  • Versatility - 20% 6
  • Weight - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Exped Summit Lite 15 does most of what we ask of a rock climbing daypack but at a much lower price point than many other options. This is among the lightest packs we tested and stuffs into its own pocket to then be crammed inside a crag pack or overnight rucksack. The best use for this bag is on long face climbs or splitter cracks that don't get wide. Take care, though, because its low weight comes at a cost in durability. However, with its low price tag, climbers who are only occasionally taking on long routes will be satisfied.

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Exped Summit Lite 15
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $49 List$80 List$69.95 at Amazon$60 List
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Pros Light, inexpensiveSimple, great zippered pocket, streamlinedComfortable, easy to pack, great packing volumeSimple, sturdy, lightDurable, sleek, stylish
Cons Fragile, wimpy shoulder straps, no back paddingLimited attachment points, easy to drop stuffHeavy, average durability, no emergency whistleNo emergency whistle, draw cord and cord lock blend into packUncomfortable shoulder straps, no external carrying options
Bottom Line Though it has a low price and weight, this pack also has low durabilityThough there are no extra features, this bag ticks all the boxes for multi-pitch climbingThis pack is great to climb with and easy to load, though it's not particularly lightThis is a great pack for multi-pitch rock climbs at a very fair priceThis classic is still going strong, though you cannot carry anything on the outside of the pack
Rating Categories Exped Summit Lite 15 The North Face Rout... Petzl Bug Black Diamond Rock... Black Diamond Bullet
Comfort (25%)
5.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Climbing Utility (25%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Durability (20%)
3.0
7.0
5.0
7.0
7.0
Versatility (20%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Weight (10%)
9.0
5.0
5.0
7.0
5.0
Specs Exped Summit Lite 15 The North Face Rout... Petzl Bug Black Diamond Rock... Black Diamond Bullet
Capacity 15L 16L 18L 15L 16L
Measured Weight 0.7 lbs 1.1 lbs 1.1 lbs 0.9 lbs 1.1 lbs
Padded back? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fabric Type 100D triple ripstop nylon 420D nylon 400D nylon 840D nylon 420D nylon, 1260D ballistic nylon
Whistle? No Yes No No Yes
Accessory Pockets? One internal zip, one external stretchy One external zip One external zip, one external open, one internal zip One external zip, one internal zip One external zip, one internal zip
Outside Carry Options? Daisy chains Daisy chains Top strap, one daisy chain Top strap doubles as rope strap No
Hip Belt Yes, removable Yes, removable Yes Yes, removable Yes, removable
Hydration System Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Key Clip? No Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The past popularity of cheap, ultralight packs for use in multi-pitch climbing piqued our interest. The Exped Summit Lite 15 is the latest in this type of small climbing pack.

Performance Comparison


Leading with the Summit Lite.
Leading with the Summit Lite.
Photo: Jessica Haist

Comfort


This pack's ultralight design made it both less and more comfortable, resulting in a middle-of-the-road performance overall. Though the shoulder straps are a decent width, they're minimally padded. This is also the only bag in our review with no back padding. While this enhanced the weight and packability, it calls for careful packing if you're stuffing your rack in there.

While climbing with a light load, we thought this pack was pretty comfortable. In these situations, many of our testers forgot they had it on. While the Summit Lite isn't great with heavy or sharp items, it is comfortable with a light and squishy load.

We generally prefer packs that are more tapered than this one for...
We generally prefer packs that are more tapered than this one for comfort.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Climbing Utility


The Summit Lite has many of the features we prefer in a small climbing pack. The hook for hanging the hydration system may not immediately work with all reservoirs, but a small loop of cord can usually be rigged to remedy this. The hip belt is easily removable.

The lid of the Summit Light is a zippered closure with another zippered pocket on the inside. There is a stretchy external pocket which is great for keeping snacks or a small water bottle handy on the approach. Though we wouldn't want to store our phone in there, this pocket is more secure than we expected while climbing, especially when the rest of the bag is fairly full. This bag has a fairly smooth outside — we had no problems with snagging on brushy approaches.

While there are several attachment options for hauling, none of them are particularly inspiring strength-wise. On top of that, we doubt the 100d nylon could stand up to much abrasion. We also missed having a key clip on this pack, and the sternum strap buckle does not double as a whistle. We feel that this simple and low-cost feature should be standard on any small pack designed for adventure.

We like this stretchy pocket. It seems the most secure when the pack...
We like this stretchy pocket. It seems the most secure when the pack is full.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Durability


Durability is the Achilles heel of the Summit Lite. It is made of 100 denier nylon. Abrasion is the primary enemy of durability in a small climbing pack, and this is not a very abrasion-resistant fabric.

While we did a short test haul using only the thin grab loop, we don't think it's reliable for much hauling. This pack can withstand face climbs, but climbers should be careful on any route with movement where the pack could come into sustained contact with the rock. You'll also want to avoid packing anything hard against the fabric, as this will greatly increase scuffing and damage.

The 100D fabric and #5 zipper on the Summit Lite are for light...
The 100D fabric and #5 zipper on the Summit Lite are for light weight, not durability.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Versatility


The climbing applications of the Summit Lite should be limited to situations where its low durability won't come into play. In non-climbing situations, the bag's low weight and packability make it very versatile.

The whole pack is designed to stuff into the under-lid pocket. It will then fit easily into a larger pack for a jaunt into a backcountry base camp for ticking multiple routes over multiple days.

The Summit Lite has two external daisy chains. While these are useful for attaching items, it isn't easy to do so in a way that keeps them from flopping around on scrambly approaches and descents. One of the daisy chains has an ice axe loop at the end, though you'll have to rig your own attachment for the shaft of the axe. If you want to attach a pair of tools to the pack, be prepared to do a bit of rigging to attach the second tool.

Testing the Summit Lite's versatility on an alpine climb. It rode...
Testing the Summit Lite's versatility on an alpine climb. It rode inside a larger pack on the approach.
Photo: Alyssa Krag-Arnold

Weight


The Summit Lite 15 is among the lightest packs in our test at 10 ounces (283 grams). The weight can be reduced 1.2 ounces more by detaching the hip belt and sternum strap. The low weight is due both to the simplicity of this bag's design and the lightweight materials used. We often grabbed it for routes with difficult face climbing and no hauling.

It's light!
It's light!
Photo: Ian McEleney

Value


One of the main advantages of the Summit Lite 15 is its low price. A great many climbers never haul and avoid chimneys and offwidths. If this is you and you only occasionally climb multi-pitch routes with a pack, this bag is a great value.

Conclusion


The Exped Summit Lite 15 conforms to the current trend toward making climbing gear as light as possible. It does most of the things we need a climbing daypack to do with a simple design and low weight. The main downside of this pack is its fragility. Die-hard adventure climbers should choose a more durable option. Most other climbers will find that the Summit works well for them.

The Summit Lite is inexpensive and light.
The Summit Lite is inexpensive and light.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Ian McEleney