Review: Summit Gear Canyon pack

UPDATE: I’ve used this same pack for about seven years now, during which time it has spent at least 250 days in the bush. It’s pretty much ready for retirement, with the outer layer of fabric on the bottom shredded and the buckles on the shoulder straps regularly failing, but you’d be hard pressed to find another pack that would last as long. Over this time the price has gone up, from $249 when I bought it $329 in late 2017. Summit also took on board the feedback about the pack’s size, developing a smaller version — the Canyonita — which is well suited to day trips that don’t require a bigger pack. This smaller pack uses the same fabric and drainage system, but is 10 litres smaller.

When I first started canyoning I wasn’t keen on forking out money on fancy new gear, so I just kept using other packs I owned. Of course, that didn’t turn out too well, and not only did those packs not hold up to the level of abuse, but climbing out of swims with a bag full of water on your back wasn’t the most fun either (thankfully the canyon gods decided to punch plenty of new ‘drainage holes’ into the packs for me!)

When I finally decided to spend some cash I wanted to get something that would stand up to the physical pounding of the canyon environment.

The ‘Canyon‘ pack made by Summit Gear isn’t the cheapest option, but it is made in Australia by a company with a long history making items for the particularly rough Aussie bush (probably the only Australian made packs you can still find).

It also isn’t super light, weighing in at 1.8kgs despite being frameless, but that is thanks to the incredibly heavy duty fabric. It is also due to the unique mesh side walls that allow water to stream out, which is why unlike other packs when you climb out after a swim the pack is unnoticeable.

At 55L it sounds like a mid-sized pack, but thanks to the open, frameless design it seems cavernous, and I’ve used it comfortably for four-day canyoning trips and six-day walks. In fact, the size is probably its biggest fault. I’m stuffed if I can work out what people carry on a day trip, because even with a wetsuit, harness, 60m of rope, food and everything else I can think of for a day trip it is nowhere near full.

My ‘Canyon’ backpack, made in Australia by Summit Gear, still going strong after some serious use

The end result is that for many short, easier day canyons I end up sticking with my old day packs, or use no pack at all, reserving this pack for larger trips where more rope / gear will be required.

Where it has come into its own is on multi-day trips, where it performs valiantly whether in the canyon environment it was designed for, or simply on longer bushwalks.

It has some nice touches, like clips on the shoulder straps so that it can be quickly dropped in an emergency (which I’ve had to do once). It also has a good strap under the hood that you can use to tie down your ropes on longer trips where the inside of the pack is full.

Other than a small pouch on the hood (handy for a couple items you want close) there are no bells and whistles to add to the weight and complexity.

I still love the ‘Canyon’, and would highly recommend it if you are looking to do some multi-day canyoning, but I would love to see Summit put out a smaller version. Perhaps around the 35 – 40 litre mark with the same mesh sides and heavy duty fabric, but more suited to day trips?

In action. My Summit pack mid-way through a six day walk in the Blue Breaks


  • Durability / toughness — 4.5/5
  • Usefulness — 4/5
  • Value for money — 3.5/5
  • Overall — 4/5

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