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Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Backpack Wins Section Hiker Gear of the Year Award

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Pack has solid external pockets for greater durability in tough backcountry conditions.
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Pack has solid external pockets for greater durability in tough backcountry conditions.

Every year, I like to recognize the piece of gear that has the biggest impact on my hiking and backpacking experience by giving it the Section Hiker Gear of the Year Award. This year’s winner is the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Backpack, which has withstood the rigors of backpacking, peakbagging, off-trail bushwhacking, and backcountry fly fishing in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, home of the world’s worst weather and a four-season playground for hard-core hikers, climbers, skiers, hunters, and fisherman.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Backpack



The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest is built bomber tough for multi-day backpacking trips with frequent resupplies. Equally at home on the trail as well as off, this lower volume pack also makes an excellent day hiking or winter pack for more technical trips when you need to carry extra gear or clothing.

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New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest is an extremely rugged place to hike and I like to challenge myself by climbing its rocky peaks, hiking off-trail through dense bush, and backpacking in remote areas that few hikers venture into. While I own many backpacks, I’ve repeatedly taken the 2400 Southwest Pack on my trips this year because it provides the best balance of bomber durability, lightweight, and function for the kinds of trips I like to take. The pack’s slender shape provides an excellent form-fitting carry that is essential for exposed rock scrambles and slipping through dense spruce and dead trees on my off-trail hikes, while the volume is perfect for the challenging day hikes and the 1-2 night backpacking trips that I try to take every week or two.

Bushwhacking to Mt Jeffers
Bushwhacking off-trail in the White Mountain National Forest

While I’ve always been a big fan of ultralight backpacks, most of them are made for hiking on well-manicured trails like the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. But if you’re a habitual backcountry explorer, or like to combine other sports with backpacking such as climbing, packrafting, hunting, or fly fishing, you’ll quickly discover that most ultralight backpacks will be ripped to shreds as soon as you take them off of well-traveled trails into dense forest or mountain terrain, where the only route is the one you define yourself.

While Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s packs are made with ultralight and ultra-durable cuben fiber, I feel that the durability of the 2400 Southwest Pack is due to its streamlined design as much as the toughness and water resistance of the fabric used to make it. The use of solid Dyneema fabric on high wear areas such as the hip belt, the solid rear and side pockets instead of fragile mesh, the streamlined external attachment system, heavy-duty stitching, and taped seams pretty much guarantee that you can take this pack through hell and high water. I’ve maimed and destroyed enough ultralight backpacks in the White Mountains to be an authority on the subject.

Fly fishing on a remote mountain stream with the HMG 2400 Southwest Backpack
Fly fishing on a remote mountain stream with the HMG 2400 Southwest Backpack

I’ve always placed a premium on owning durable and functional backpacks over carrying the lightest ultralight wonder, something which I stress when I review products on But frankly, I’d pretty much given up on being able to find any ultralight backpack that could stand up to the punishment that I put packs through on my backcountry trips in the Whites. Unfortunately, there’s some truth to the perception that most ultralight backpacks lack durability since they’re streamlined for on-trail use, not multi-sport activities into untracked backcountry.

That’s why I’ve been so delighted with the 2400 Southwest Pack from Hyperlite Mountain Gear this past year and why it’s earned the Section Hiker Gear of the Year Award. If you’re the kind of person that backpacks into the mountains in search of wild streams to see if they hold trout, is on a mission to climb every unnamed mountain on the map, or who knows where every climbing ledge is in the backcountry, you’ll appreciate the durability and adaptability of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s 2400 Southwest backpack. I just wish HMG would rename it the 2400 Northeast Backpack, so I wouldn’t have to explain to all my New England friends why I carry a pack made for the desert when it’s so perfect for the north country.

Previous winners of the Section Hiker Gear of the year Award include:

Disclosure; Philip Werner ( received a sample 2400 Southwest Backpack from Hyperlite Mountain Gear earlier this year, but was under no obligation to keep using it after he reviewed it (see the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Backpack Review for an in-depth analysis of what makes this pack tick.) 

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  1. I got an HMG Porter 4400 last winter for the added capacity for my winter trips to the ADKs and Whites and was so smitten with it’s durability and comfort that I’ve kept using it with smaller loads in 3 season conditions.

    • Equally tough areas to hike. What do you like about the Porter the best?

      • It’s definitely the most comfortable pack I’ve ever owned; the framesheet and aluminum stays fit my back very well. I like the slim and streamlined design from the pack, less likely to get snagged. The durability of the material is a great feature for me, I don’t have to worry about scraping it over rocks are getting it snagged on branches. The versatility is also great. In the winter I throw on the Stuff pocket to hold a stuff sack of gear I need easy access to, stow an avalanche shovel behind the pocket, use the daisy chains to secure my ice ax and strap insulated bottle holders to the side. In three season conditions I’m able to strip it down to just a bottle holder on the side and some shock cord run through the daisy chain loops on the front to hold wet gear, and for a large pack it compresses very well around smaller loads.

  2. Thank you for this write up Philip. As I’m looking for a new backpack I keep coming back to the HMG 3400 SW. I do a lot of off trail here in the Big Bend Country and am prepping for a thru hike as well. How do you feel this pack carries heavier (20-35 lbs) weight in comparison to some of the other UL packs? I realize this pack is built for different use then most of the other ones and you stress that here. Thank you!

  3. Via email, Philip recently suggested to me to try on an HMG. As luck would have it, I just happened to be traveling to central Maine this past weekend so stopped at HMG headquarters. Really nice folks BTW. I met with Sam who first fit me up with a small 3400 and then a medium (just right). I then loaded it with my own contents, the same stuff I would normally carry including 2 days of dehydrated food and 1L of water. As I said to Sam, based on my previous experience (discomfort) with other foam suspended packs I was fully expecting to NOT like the HMG. I was pleasantly surprised to find it not only comfortable on my back, but especially the shoulder straps and also the hip belt. Aside from general fit and comfort, one of the main problems I’ve had with foam suspensions is heat build-up and so my preference has been toward trampoline suspension. Well, I kept the pack on for quite some time but did not experience any kind of discomfort, keeping in mind that hanging around an air conditioned facility is not the same as climbing mountains etc. In contrast, the heat with a Mariposa builds surprisingly quickly and goes very high.

    I think I and my 7yr old grand daughter were there well over an hour (or was it 2?) but Sam patiently put up with me and answered all my questions and them some. After discussing some customizing possibilities, my only question concerning an HMG was do I really need a 3400 or would the 2400 be just enough?

    The only thing that prevented me from pulling the trigger right then and there was that I have one more brand of pack with trampoline suspension to try on, if only to rule it out. After returning home, I told my wife that I felt I could be very confident with an HMG.

  4. Actually it was Thurs, not the weekend.

  5. I love my HMG 2400 windrider, but the only thing I would change (and have) is the ability to remove the foam back. I put my sit pad in place of the foam backing, because what is the point of carrying foam if you can’t use it?

  6. I noticed in your review of the porter pack you were complaining of the lack of load lifters. Is that a problem for this pack or are your loads light enough in the smaller pack it doesn’t matter

  7. Philip,I opened the seams and sewed in my own pad holder.

  8. I got a HMG Porter 4400 last year. Great pack, I used it for winter backpacking here in the Tahoe area and took it to the Ventana Wilderness for a major bushwacking trip. It is unbelievable how tough the fabric is. It carries a 35 lb winter load very well. It just plain works.

  9. Great review, Philip. I’m thinking about getting one, not only as a three season pack, but also to use for winter day hikes in the Whites. Do you have any experience with strapping snowshoes onto this pack using the HMG accessory straps? If so, how did it work out?

    • Jeff – I plan to use it this winter as a day pack too. I don’t think you need to buy the accessory straps. You can stick the snowshoes in the back pocket and use the existing strap to hold them in place, strap them uner the side compression straps (one on each side), or rig up a guyline or two with cordlocks to hold them in place.

  10. I have recently subscribed to the Section Hiker because of your pros and cons unlike a lot of sponsered you tube videos where everthing the blogger is reviewing is ‘amazing’.
    Keep up the great reviews and using your testing on products and how they could be improved etc, its a breath of fresh air for honest opnions.
    ps I have just ordered a Southwest pack as you know here in England it rains a lot. So this pack hopefully will be perfect.
    Thanks for makinf a great site Phil
    All the best

    • Not sure if you know Martin Rye in the UK but he’s also in an HMG pack these days. Good for the rough and tumble, that pack.

      • I have now…i m just watching him in the peak district on you tube channel. Like me he has a lot of American gear…its just so much better than are stuff. You guys reinvent ideas and make them better.

      • Philip,
        I know this award/ review is about 5 years old. I’ve come to l8ve and trust your reviews and am shopping for a new pack. The HMG Junction is a front runner. Do you still recommend them or have you changed your opinion on their packs? Thanks!

        • I still use a 2400 and 3400 Sw constantly. All of the HMG packs are identical except for the external pocket treatments. I prefer solid pockets because they’re more durable. I’m on my second 2400 though. Destroyed the first one after about 3 years.

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