4,000 Cubic Inches is transitional size for backpacks – when you need to stay out longer than a weekend trip, but you’re not ready to commit to a full size INCH pack. Perhaps just a weekend trip in winter with bulky gear. Maybe you need to get far enough into the backcountry to get some alone time.
Can you escape the crowds with the Teton Sports Escape 4300? Let’s find out!
The market is pretty crowded in this area. You’ve got the weekender packs from 3,000 CI to 4,000 CI, the big INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) packs starting about 4,700 CI, and there’s options at every weight and price point. The ideal pack would be as light as a weekender, much cheaper than an INCH pack, and able to expand or contract to fit the bulky items that pushed you up to this range in the first place. Into the fray comes the Escape 4300 offering from the ever-innovative Teton Sports.
Made in China with a focus on weight and cost, this 70L (4300 CI) pack weighs only 2.5kg (4.5lbs) and is aimed squarely at budget and weight-conscious hikers. It goes for $94 from Amazon, or $129 directly from Teton Sports. It comes only in Green.
Here’s the specs from the manufacturer:
- Capacity: 4300 Cubic Inches (70 L)
- Pack Weight: 4.75 lbs (2.5 kg)
- Shell: 420D 2MM Squared Double line Ripstop / 600D PU / 900D PU
- Dimensions: 33″ x 17″ x 12″ (83.8cm x 43.2cm x 30.5cm)
- Water Bladder pouch: 101-Ounce (3 L). Bladder Not Included
- Color: Leaf Green
- Waist Belt: 28″ – 45″ (71cm – 114.3cm)
- Torso Length: Adjustable 17″ – 21″ (43cm – 53cm)
- Sleeping bag compartment
- 4 compression straps
- 7 pockets
- Map pocket under lid
- Rainfly included
This review will be a lot like the previous pack reviews, and cover these sections: Fit, Build, Comfort,Performance, Hiking, and Value. This was done by two people over a three day hiking trip. We covered a lot of ground, little of it flat. We were hiking, re-loading, and swapping packs nightly to get a good comparison. This means both of us got a chance to carry the pack under typical loads. We covered about 32 km (20 miles) of ground and 670 m (2200 feet) of elevation going up the Arizona Trail from Sunset Trailhead over the San Francisco peaks to Kelly Tank. My wife has also been using this pack as her primary camping pack for months, including snowshoeing in Taos and our cross-US trip, so we’ve spent quite a lot of time with this bag behind the camera.
For this trip, we carried the majority of our gear in the Escape 4300. This included 5 liters of water, 4 days of food for 2 people, the roomy Teton Sports Mountain Ultra 2 tent, a dry bag with my basic clothes and the tablet I wrote this review on, and our usual supplies. Fully loaded, we had it sitting at just under 18kg. Ideal testing weight for a bag this size.
On to the Review!
- First: Fit
If your backpack doesn’t fit and you can’t easily adjust it, what’s the use of owning it?
The fit of the Teton Sports Escape 4300 is quite adjustable, and I found no issues with it, nor the other two folks using it. It adjusts comfortably for my wife, my son, and myself – 5′ 10″ to 6′ 3″ with no difficulties at all. It was easy to snug down an average load, and carried it well. The hip belt in particular deserves praise – it is like a more advanced version of the excellent split-belt design on the Teton Sports Hiker 3700, and it was very comfortable.
- Second: Build
Durability, weight, design, layout, and comfort are all vital to a backpack
The build quality for the Teton Sports Escape 4300 is very good overall. The seams are well taped, there is decent water bottle tube routing, the bag is moderately water resistant with an included rain fly, and it loads and carries well. It is definitely built better than the packs I examined at its very low price point. Weight and cost saving measures are noticeable, but they don’t really cause any issues. There are several quality touches, such as the gear loops, belt pouch, and extra straps top and bottom. I found that my water tube was just barely long enough, so you may want to take that into consideration.
We’ve been using this bag under many conditions for quite some time, and it has minimal wear. These photos pretty clearly illustrate the condition of this year-old pack.
- Third: Comfort
Comfort is highly subjective, but this bag was good for everyone
All three of us find this bag very comfortable. The straps are wide and pretty well padded. The hip belt is very adjustable, with that split system that allows good movement and snug fit. The lumbar support and adjustable backpack slats made for a very custom feel. All of us, regardless of size or shape, rated the bag well on comfort. I’ve had better, I’ve had much much worse. I’ve never had a bag this cheap be this comfortable.
- Fourth: Performance
How a bag lives up to its potential on the trail makes the difference between a bag and a backpack. Can it really improve your trip, or does it just get the gear there?
I really enjoyed my trip with this bag. I was carrying nearly all the gear for our entire group, but it didn’t bother me. This bag did an excellent job when fully loaded, and in the snow it did an excellent job fitting all the over-sized warm weather clothing my wife required for sub-zero temps. We treated it roughly on the trip across the US, the bag stood up to everything.
It’s my wife’s favorite bag to take camping, and that’s saying something. She is very picky about her gear. This is the first backpack she’s been able to carry up mountains, hotel steps, and load/unload from a Jeep without complaint. It’s easy to load, easy to unload, and takes whatever is tossed at it.
The sleeping bag compartment will hold even the large Leef 0 degree sleeping bag, and there’s room aplenty to pack everything you need for a trip ranging from 2-4 days without issue. The pockets are pretty well laid out, and I think the only thing missing is an easy way to to secure a bear bag.
- Fifth: Hiking
If hiking is your main focus, you probably care about this section quite a lot. This is about how well the bag gets your gear to the site, how comfortable it is all day, and how you feel about putting it all back in the bag the next morning to hike to the next site.
This bag is ideal for hikers who are weight and/or budget conscious, but want to get that long backpacking trip in. It has a traditional backpack style fit, excellent layout, a very narrow profile, and it rides nicely. There is no doubt in my mind that this is an excellent hiking pack.
- Finally: Value
What are you really getting for your money?
For under $94 from Amazon, or $129 directly from Teton Sports, you are getting a bag that is easily the best out there for the money. I’d say this bag is easily worth $200. It’s well-built, well-designed, has a lifetime warranty, and will probably last through whatever adventures you have planned for it.
Will it last the rest of your life? Probably not. It will, however, outlast any other 4,000 CI bag under $150. I’d rate this one a great value for money.