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Hyperlite Mountain Gear Packing Pods Review

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Pods are cuben fiber storage cubes that fit perfectly into Hyperlite's backpacks
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Pods are cuben fiber packing cubes that fit perfectly into Hyperlite’s backpacks

Hyperlite Mountain Gear makes small and large packing pods which are the ultralight equivalent of the luggage packing cubes that people use to pack travel bags. They’re U-shaped to fit snugly into Hyperlite’s backpacks and can be used in place of a white plastic compactor bag to provide extra moisture protection for the gear stored inside them. They won’t survive a complete dunking because they have sewn-on (untaped) zippers, but they increase the space utilization inside a Hyperlight backpack so there’s virtually no wasted volume inside. Made out of DCF (formerly called cuben fiber), they’re also exceptionally lightweight, so you can swap them out for your existing stuff sacks without a weight penalty.

Specs at a Glance:

  • Small size pod: 1.2 oz. 6.8L
  • Large size pod: 1.3 oz, 10L
  • Made from: DCF11 Dyneema Composite Fabric (formerly cuben fiber)
  • Click for complete specs

In addition to better space utilization, I’ve found that the biggest benefit to using them is organizational because I can pack many more items into one than I do today into several smaller stuff sacks. For example, my quilt, sleeping pad, sleeping clothes, and electronics all fit snuggly into one, which I can then shove to the bottom of my pack. This keeps them all together and separate from stuff higher up in my pack which is packed more loosely for more frequent  access. When unpacking in camp, the clamshell design makes it easy to find exactly what you want without a lot of digging around, because the top zips open like a footlocker and you can pull out exactly what you need.

It helps to zip the pod half way when stuffing bulky items like a quilt to sleeping bag
It helps to zip the pod half way when stuffing bulky items like a quilt or sleeping bag

Here are a few more observations about the pods:

  • When stuffing one of the pods with a bulky item like a quilt or sleeping bag, it’s best to zip it up halfway before you start stuffing, because it’s too difficult to close the lid if it hasn’t been already “started.”
  • If you overstuff the pods, the flat part of the U-shape (that slides down the inside of the back of your pack) becomes rounded and can barrel (uncomfortably) into your back.
  • The pods come in two sizes, one for use in Hyperlite’s 2400/3400 series backpacks and the other with their 4400 backpacks. I tested a small and a large pod from the 2400/3400 size.
  • The pods also work well in backpacks from other manufacturers including the Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus 58L, a Zpacks Nero 38, and even a Osprey Talon 44. I doubt that was intentional, but it’s a happy accident.
  • Each pod has a white label area that you can write on with a sharpie, but I suspect it will be permanent, so proceed with caution.

These Hyperlite Mountain Gear packing pods aren’t revolutionary and they really are just stuff sacks with a unique shape. But they are a clever way to help you organize your gear and pack it in a way that efficiently uses all of the space in your back. I was surprised at how much more gear I could get into my backpack when using them, which becomes increasingly important as the weather becomes colder and the amount of sleep insulation I need to carry increases.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Packing Pods

Weight
Durability
Space Utilization
Volume
Moisture Protection

Excellent

Hyperlite Mountain Gear's U-shaped packing pods are the ultralight equivalent of the luggage packing cubes that people use to pack travel bags. Made with Dyneema Composite Fabric (formerly cuben fiber) they're an ultralight alternative to stuff sacks that improve space utilization in backpacks in addition to moisture protection.

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Disclosure: The manufacturer provided the author with sample pods for this review.

Written 2017.

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26 comments

  1. How long before the others jump on board with the shaped stuff sacks? Its a neat idea to try and fill the gaps and have no wasted space.

  2. I’m going to be buying a 4400 in the next couple of months and have been looking at these pods on the web site. When it comes to keeping the essentials dry (bag, clothing, etc.), I’m a belt and suspenders guy. I use a light weight dry sack and a pack liner. Do I understand that you wouldn’t use a pack liner with these pods?

    • Depends on what you have in mind. If you expect full immersion where you’re swimming across rivers while wearing a pack (really bad idea) or you might swamp in a packraft, I’d line your pack with a Sealine welded-seam dry bag. If you’re just a normal hiker plodding through rain or snow, these will be fine. They do have sewn, untaped seams to hold in the zippers, but provide plenty of moisture protection. Keep in mind that you’re buying an HMG seam taped backpack. That will do a lot to keep you gear dry all by itself. These are made with DCF primarily to keep them lightweight.

      • Thanks. I’m a normal hiker plodding through the elements, but worry about the occasional unexpected fall while crossing a river or stream.

      • Phillip, are the seal line welded dry seam bags the lightest you have found that are waterproof when immersed?

        Despite the hype, the HMG pods are most certainly not waterproof.

      • I’ve never made a determined effort to compare them with other brands, but yes, they are wicked light.

  3. I love these things. I used them on a 12 day trip to Philmont with the Boy Scouts this summer. I used 3 – a large for my sleeping system (quilt, xlite, inflatable pillow), a small for clothes and gadgets and a small for my shelter. Packing / unpacking was simple.

  4. Would they fit in a Zpacks Arc Haul ?

  5. Use these as well in my Southwest 3400. They work amazing and the additional water protection is a plus.

    These will fit in Deuter packs as well, as my girlfriend enjoys stealing my pods when we go hiking now.

  6. Philip, what size and degree quilt are you using with the pods?

    • That’s a Feathered Friends Flicker 40 but it’s not only item in that pod. There’s also a sleeping pad and all of my sleeping/extra clothing

      • Yes, I thought that’s what I read. It seems like it can swallow a lot of gear. I use a pack liner and stuff everything that needs to stay dry, into it. I’m not sure if I would benefit from the pods. Do you use more than one of them?

      • Maybe a stupid question… did you roll the sleep pad or fold?

      • cant remember, but I typically roll and fold an Xlite.

    • I use the large pod with my 20 Degree Hammock Gear Quilt. It’s a little work but it fits. I’ve been using the pods since they came out and organization/pack space utilization to me was there best selling point. Love’m but I’m a little OCD. Work well with my HMG 3400 and my ZPacks Arc Blast.

  7. Eagle Creek makes a similar product called “Pack It” for travel but I have used them for backpacking too.

  8. These pods are a game changer. I use 5 of them in my 3400 windrider and they utilize the space better than cinched down footballs, keep your gear from clanging around and like Philip said the are amazing for organizing. I’m able to fit a large xtherm, revelation 20degree quilt and a pillow in a large like he said with no problem. They may be pricy but worth it. They’ll probably go on sale around Black Friday which is when I got mine to save on cost. I found a good hack for them too. I run a strap through the two loops on the side of the pod, fill it with some clothes, strap it to my pad and use it to prop my head up more with my camp pillow. It made a huge difference in my sleeping comfort on the trail. Thanks for this great site Philip!

  9. If you don’t need the U-shaped fit and zipper, ZPacks makes cuben stuff sacks that are much cheaper. The small Hyperlite pod is 6.8L and costs $50. A medium ZPacks stuff sack is 5.6L and costs $20.

    • And HMG stuff sacks are more durable than other brands of cuben fiber stuff sacks. I use a combination of white ones and silver ones in my pack.
      https://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com/cf8-stuff-sack-set-1.html
      The smallest white ones are good for first aid kits, a UL Wallet, and keeping your aquamira bottles together.

  10. Anyone know which size works best for a ZPacks Arc Blast? 3400 or 4400 series?

    Tks

  11. I don’t see the point of these pods besides being organizational for my Hyperlite Windrider 3400. I had my pack in completely submerged water in Zion National Park doing the subway. I spent 5 hours continual submersing my pack in water, of course i had a wet suit on. Nothing in my pack got wet, in fact I was the only one with dry clothing to change into.

  12. Will these pods fit the ULA Circuit or OHM 2.0 and fill the space similar to how they fill the space of the HMGs? Im looking for better formfitting type organization than what I get with standard stuff sacks.

    • You’ll have to try them. I don’t have those packs in the gear closet at the moment.
      They do fit in a lot of my other packs.
      I suspect they’ll fit the Circuit better than the Ohm.
      The Pods are “soft” so they’ll squeeze into anything.
      Suggest you compare the measurements from both manufacturers to decide.

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