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