By April 22, 2011

Evenflo Summit Tension Gate Review

I love my dogs, and treat them as part of my family. I used to work from home, and they were a constant part of my life. We all slept in the same bed at night, and they had run of the whole house.

Things changed, and it became hard to get a good night’s sleep with two people and three dogs all in the same bed. Someone would roll over, and it would trigger a tidal wave of getting up, jostling around, pushing, and snorting. Then Sedagive? and the dogs would all have to move, too. 😉

We needed to keep the dogs out of the bedroom, but I hated the feeling of stale air in a room with a door closed all day.

We needed a baby gate.


http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/10223-2/baby+gate.jpg

We ran a traditional baby gate for awhile — you know, the kind with the arm in the center that is a pain to adjust and falls down half of the time. We suffered with this type of gate for about a year and a half. Back in Virginia we had one of the gates at the bottom of the stairs so all of the bedrooms were dog-hair free. It was a pain to go over the gate when our arms were full. Sometimes I’d knock the top of the gate with my foot, and it would send the gate crashing to the ground.

Then we moved to Minnesota, and it was clear the locking arm style of gate wasn’t going to work. We had to lift the youngest boy over the gate every time he wanted to go upstairs or downstairs. So I started researching gates with swinging doors.

I was surprised at the price for these things. My friend has a very nice swinging door gate (also to keep a part of his house dog-free) but it was $80 or $90. It looked great and was easy to use, but wow. $90 is almost two copies of StarCraft 2.

So I found the Evenflo Summit gate on Amazon. It was $37 with 2-day shipping included via Amazon Prime. I figured the price differential was worth the ugly appearance. As long as it worked, who cared?

First Impressions

The first thing I noticed was how battered the box was. The gate was shipped in its retail container. Most of my purchases from Amazon arrive in a protective box built explicitly for shipping. The box had a hole in it and was dented in several places.

I opened the box, and there were several notices about how important it was to keep the gate closed until it was fully installed. There was a big, thick zip tie around the gate, and a cardboard shroud was supposed to be over the latch.

I saw “supposed to be” because both the zip tie and shroud were broken, and my gate was open. It was very, very hard to compress the gate enough to mount it. I wound up squeezing the gate closed the best that I could, and then using twine to cinch it up a little at a time. Be careful, but if your Evenflo Summit box arrives looking like Tina Turner don’t fret.

Installation

The gate was easy to mount once I figured out how the retaining feet worked. The instructions don’t mention it, but the frame itself has no threads — the retaining feet bolt is held in place by a threaded plastic cup. I made the mistake of inserting the retaining feet all the way into these cups, and I couldn’t figure out how to properly apply tension to the door frame.

The Evenflo Summit has to be mostly level in order for the gate latch to operate properly. There is a plastic peg that keeps the gate shut, and if the gate is too uneven the peg won’t line up and/or line up enough to maintain a good latch. I used the bubble level application on my HTC Droid Incredible phone, and that seemed to be good enough.

For this reason I’d recommend having a buddy help you. The gate doesn’t need to be manhandled, but keeping it straight and level will be easier with another set of hands. This may also help you out should your gate arrive opened like mine did.

Stability

The gate seems stable enough. My security requirements are probably more lax than a parent of human children; I don’t have to worry about my dogs getting their heads stuck in between the bars, and my dogs don’t lean or push/pull on the gate like a human kid may. That being said, the youngest boy in the house has a little difficulty opening the gate and sometimes he has to shake it. The gate has stayed absolutely solid. However, you may want to test the gate out yourself should you have any concerns.

Ease of Use

I’m not a super fan of how the Summit latch works. You have to depress two plastic buttons and then press down on the top of the latch. At first this was hard to figure out, and we used both hands to open the gate. Eventually we learned to “pinch” the two plastic buttons and then push down with the palm of our hands on the center of the latch.

The flaw with the design is that it’s decidedly one-directional. Approaching the gate from one side will always feel more normal than the other. The side that feels more natural will depend on how you mounted the gate. In our case, it is easier for me to operate the gate from within the bedroom than from inside of the hallway. The latch is naturally shaped and designed to be opened with a specific hand position. If you’re carrying a basket of laundry in one arm and trying to open the gate with the other, you’ll have to train yourself to leave the “correct” hand free to open the gate easily.

Here’s a long-ish video with my impressions of the gate. It runs about eight minutes long and repeats some of what I’ve typed here, but you can see the latch design flaw more readily.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m happy with the gate. I wish it had a “pull-top” opening mechanism like my friend’s, but the price of the Evenflo Summit is hard to argue with. If you are more aesthetically minded you may want to look for another gate. Also, if someone in your house has weak hands or arthritis the Summit may give them a hard time. Look elsewhere.

Otherwise, if you’re looking for a less-expensive, swinging gate to keep pets and/or kids out of certain areas, the Evenflo Summit does the trick.

Recommended

Related posts:

Posted in: review

2 Comments on "Evenflo Summit Tension Gate Review"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. kim says:

    Dr. Falken,
    this video was SO helpful! I bought this gate today and was having such a hard time installing it. You are so right. The instructions don’t explain that it’s the “cuff” on the bolt that holds the tension. I thought the bolts that came in the package must be too small for the application. Your explanation helped me get this installed quickly and figure out how to open it once installed. The manual doesn’t really explain that either and it wasn’t intuitive to me. None of the other videos on-line had these details and therefore were of no help.

    THANKS!

  2. Susan says:

    Thank you SO much for this video! I purchased this brand new at a garage sale and thought it was broken because the latch didn’t close all of the way. Apparently the people I bought it from thought it was broken as well, as it still had the zip ties on it. Once I applied tension (As you said you did using ropes to slowly get the gate closed) the gate and the latch matched up and viola! It closes! Thanks again!