EMS Summit 5500
Max. Load Carried: 65 lbs.
Height of Owner: 6' 2"
Price Paid: $200
I have been very pleased with this backpack that I bought in 2003. Although they have gotten rid of a few cool features in newer designs, I still feel confident that this pack is one of the best you can buy for the money. After having a strap rip during my third season with the pack, I considered getting my money back (EMS has a 100% money back guarantee on most of their equipment).
I researched quite a bit on-line, but decided to stick with what I had been using. Customer Service was phenomenal when I had to deal with them. It was shipped for free from the store, repaired well beyond my expectations, and returned for free -- unless you want them to mail it directly to your home as opposed to the store.
The materials are durable, the suspension is exceptionally comfortable and adjustable, the hydration pocket holds the big Camelbak reservoir, and my older model has a see-through pocket inside the front panel pocket. It has bottom, front, and top access, which is nice. The sleeping bag compartment is especially large, easily holding my winter bag plus other gear. The description included here from EMS sorts out the important details. . .
The pack has two problems: the strap lengths are ridiculous and it weighs seven pounds. If I have another problem with the pack, I will probably look into getting something different. . .and lighter. Great backpack and four stars isn’t so bad. . .
Design: top-loading internal
Size: 5500 cu in
Number of Pockets: one large; extra removable two side
Max. Load Carried: 46 lbs.
Height of Owner: 6'1" @ 220 lbs.
Price Paid: $159
I've had mine since 2004. It's blue and very, very comfortable, even when packed to the expandable top. I added side pockets (EMS, black, $25) which easily are removed if not needed. I use the pockets to load water bottles higher than the mesh side pockets at the bottom, on the sides of the bag pocket.
My MHW Skyledge 2 tent, with footprint in bag (see separate review), fit nicely along one side, which pulls right out at camp and enables me to settle this stuff...on the other side goes my mess kit (with stove inside), water filter, toiletries, then stuff sack with clothing. On the top goes food. I use the removable (fanny-pack) top for rain gear and first aid pouch. The weight distribution when fully loaded suits me fine (max weight so far tips 46 lbs.).
The single front access flap, with big volume pocket over it, provides great internal access without opening the pack from the top. I use the lower exterior straps to harness my sleeping pad, which helps support the pack vertically when I taking a break.
It's been rained on (once, then I got a pack cover) and stowed on wet ground in the tent's vestible several times with no evidence of material degradation. I primarily use this every other month for average weekend-long outings with the Boy Scouts. I'm looking forward to a week-long backpacking excursion next summer.
I love this pack.
Design: internal frame
Max. Load Carried: 70
Height of Owner: 6.0
Price Paid: $200
This is a great pack. Some of the frills are missing but this pack has great trail integrity and has all of the good needed features. I have found that the sizing is very important since I bought my pack a little big and hav grown into it. This pack has carried big loads for me: 65 lbs. in a 4 nighter in the Grand Canyon, 70 lbs. in the Porcupine Mtns. I have always had a great weigh distribution and have only good things to say about this pack. Well done, EMS, well done.
Where to Buy
The EMS Summit 5500 is not available from the stores we monitor.
You may want to check pricing and availability directly at these EMS retailers:
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Here's what other sites are saying:
If you prefer to carry most of the backpack's weight on your hips instead of your shoulders (as most people do), then go for the Summit 5000/5500. The contoured, fully padded waist belt is hard-mounted to the pack, creating fantastic weight dispersal to your hips. Ideal for extended backpacking trips like the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails. Made from abrasion-resistant, high-density 420-denier nylon ripstop reinforced with 1,000-denier Kodra nylon on the bottom. Fully adjustable suspension with shoulder straps that pivot into place. Front-panel access through the front pocket and through the sleeping-bag compartment. Floating lid converts to a fanny pack. Hydration sleeve and port; two large water-bottle pockets with integrated ski slots. Axe and trekking pole loops. Comes with our regular size waist belt (fits waist 32-36 in.) and shoulder harness (fits torso 17-22 in.).