- The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest backpacks are made with Hyperlite’s signature Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF), making them lightweight, durable, and waterproof.
- A no-frills main compartment maximizes the storage capacity of the Southwest. Dyneema-reinforced external pockets provide additional storage space that is more durable and less conspicuous than mesh pockets.
- A variety of pack sizes means that a Southwest backpack can be customized to have a perfect fit, no matter what size or body type you are.
- All of Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s packs are made by hand in Biddeford, Maine.
Reviews by our Readers
Wonderful pack! Really comfortable, light, and well-made as you’d expect from HMG.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Southwest 2400, 3400, & 4400
$310, $345, $380
Camping, hiking, travel, thru-hiking, packrafting, climbing, biking
WHERE TO BUY IT:
Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Website
30″ x 10.5″, 34″ x 10.5″, 38.5″ x 10.5″
1.88 lbs, 2 lbs, 2.45 lbs
40 lbs, 40 lbs, 60 lbs
40L, 55L, 70L
Small, Medium, Large, Tall
Backpacking is a discipline that relies on minimalism – the principle of carrying only what you need. In recent years, many backpackers have chosen to go “ultralight”, allowing them to move faster and further with lighter loads. Backpacking being a physically demanding activity as it is, going ultralight promotes efficiency by foregoing some of the usual comforts and conveniences. However, going ultralight does not need to be a miserable experience, especially if you’re equipped with a Hyperlite Southwest ultralight backpack.
Hyperlite is a company that specializes in creating ultralight camping and backpacking equipment. This is made possible by the technology of the Dyneema composite fabric – an ultralight fabric that is lighter than nylon but stronger than Kevlar. Dyneema is a composite fabric made by extruding ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene into fibers and weaving these into a durable fabric which is then sandwiched between layers of polyester. Beyond being light and durable, the design of the Dyneem composite fabric also makes it waterproof, chemical-resistant, and UV-resistant, and it’s used by the company on their ultra lightweight jacket, HMG’s The Shell.
The Hyperlite Southwest backpacks are available in three sizes. The 2400 is the smallest variant which is made to carry a weight of up to 40 lbs. The internal compartment of the 2400 can accommodate up to 40 liters. The next largest variant is the 3400, which also has a similar weight capacity of 40 lbs but has a larger internal compartment that can fit up to 55 liters. The largest of the family, the 4400, can carry a load of up to 60 lbs and can fit up to 70 liters in its internal compartment. All Southwest backpacks have external pockets with a 9.8-liter capacity.
Pro tip: Stuff the super packable Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack inside your Southwest pack for additional carrying capacity whenever it’s needed.
The Hyperlite Southwest series of backpacks retains much of the same form factor as the popular Hyperlite Windrider backpacks. The liberal use of Dyneema composite fabric gives the Southwest backpacks their characteristic combination of being ultralight, durable, and waterproof. Aside from the main body of the backpack, the shoulder straps, hip pockets, and external pockets are all made with Dyneema. This makes the Southwest backpacks among the lightest framed backpacks available today, with the 2400 weighing in at slightly less than 1 kg.
The main compartment of the Southwest backpack contains no dividers or sub-compartments, save for a small mesh pocket meant to hold a hydration bladder. This serves to maximize the volume that each backpack can accommodate, although keeping your equipment organized can be quite a challenge. The main compartment also features a roll-top closure mechanism like those usually found in dry bags. Although this helps keep the main compartment waterproof, it also makes accessing the main compartment virtually impossible if you’re in a pinch. The Southwest backpacks also do not have a “brain” or lid compartment, which we suspect was a decision made to keep the design of the backpack streamlined.
What we really like about the Southwest backpacks are the spacious external pockets. In contrast to the Windrider backpacks that had mesh pockets, the external pockets of the Southwest backpacks are made of Dyneema-reinforced nylon. This makes the pockets both durable and flexible and does a good job of hiding the contents from prying eyes – after all, you do not want to have your dirty laundry visible for everyone to see. The external pockets are perfect for items that are too smelly or dirty for the main compartments, such as the aforementioned dirty laundry, cookware, tent poles, or trekking poles. The side pockets are perfect for water bottle storage since you can just reach over to access them without having to remove the backpack.
The Southwest backpacks also have spacious hip pockets for the easy access of small items, such as snacks, a whistle, or a flashlight. Being made of Dyneema, the hip pockets are also durable and waterproof. However, their design could use a bit of improvement as they are a little difficult to open and close, and filling them to their capacity tends to allow their contents to push uncomfortably into your hips.
Keeping comfortable with the Southwest is as simple as choosing the appropriate pack size for you when you order your backpack. Hyperlite offers four pack sizes: small, medium, large, and tall. Their site contains a helpful guide to help you pick your pack size based on your body measurements. In addition to having perfectly adjusted shoulder straps and hip strap, the Southwest backpack features two removable aluminum stays to give the backpack some rigidity. The stays come preformed but can be easily bent to better match your body shape.
The fact that the Southwest backpacks do not have full frames means that the pack weight can be unevenly distributed and cannot be compensated by the use of load lifters. This puts more importance in implementing a smart packing strategy where heavier items are placed as close the back panel as possible so that the center of gravity is as close to your body as possible. Poor packing can result in the center of the gravity of the pack pulling you backwards, making it extra hard for you to carry the pack.
The areas where the Southwest backpacks undoubtedly excel in is durability and waterproofing. Despite the very thin Dyneema composite fabric material, it can withstand the roughest conditions the most adventurous backpacker can possibly go through. Whether you’re in extremely hot or cold climates, the Dyneema fabric is basically impenetrable by sharp rocks, branches, thorns, or any sharp items that you might carry inside the backpack. It can also protect your precious camping equipment from heavy rains or even wayward splashes while kayaking. With the Southwest, you do not need to worry about your tent, sleeping bag, or clothes getting wet.
Hyperlite offers a 1-year warranty for all of their products which covers any failure due to manufacturing defects. At their discretion, they may offer a repair, replacement of the product, or a full refund of the original price. This warranty will not cover a product which has undergone any modification, misuse, or damage due to an accident. It also does not cover normal wear and tear.
- Made with durable, lightweight, and waterproof Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF)
- Spacious and no-frills main compartment optimized for maximum carrying capacity
- External pockets are also reinforced with DCF, providing a degree of privacy on top of durability and flexibility
- Hyperlite offers personalized pack sizes for each customer, ensuring that each backpack fits its wearer perfectly
- No internal pockets (except for hydration pack) or dividers in the main compartment makes organization of camping equipment difficult
- Hip pockets seem poorly-designed
- The lack of a full frame results in uneven weight distribution
The Hyperlite Southwest backpacks are a different flavor from their Windrider backpacks that still retain the same level of quality and durability. Being made from Dyneema composite fabric, the Hyperlite Southwest backpacks are a great companion for ultralight backpackers who value durable, comfortable, and waterproof packs. The strength of the Southwest backpack is in its Dyneema-reinforced external pockets which are stronger and provide more privacy compared to the mesh pockets of the Windrider. In any case, the Southwest high-quality backpack that will prove to be a steady and reliable element of any ultralight backpacker’s arsenal.