Review: Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Backpack

Lake Oberon

Yours truly with the 2400 Southwest pack | Arthur Range | Southwest Tasmania Traverse | March, 2016.

I recently dubbed 2016 as the “year of the Big Carry.”

For the traverse of Southwest Tasmania, I started with forty-two pounds (19 kg); twenty-eight (12.7 kg) of which were food. For the early September hike along the Sangre de Cristo crest, I came out of the gate hauling thirty-four pounds (15.4 kg). And, finally, for the Badlands Traverse, I began my journey toting forty-four pounds (20 kg) total; roughly twenty-six (11.8 kg) of which were H2O.

In order to carry these loads I did something I hadn’t done for almost a decade. I used an internal frame backpack. Specifically, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest pack.

Here’s the review:

Specs  (as per HMG website)

Price: $300

Weight: 28.6 oz (811 grams)

Sizes: HMG backpacks come in four torso sizes.


2400 Southwest pack on top of Cottonwood Peak | Sangre de Cristo Traverse.


  • Interior: 2400 cu. in. (40L)
  • External: 600 cu. in. (9.8L)
  • Center pocket: 300 cu. in.
  • Side pockets: 150 cu. in.


  • Body: 50D Dyneeam®/Poly hybrid
  • Bottom: Double reinforced 150D Dyneema®/Poly hybrid
  • External Pockets: Dyneema® Hardline

Great Sand Dunes National Park | Sangre de Cristo Traverse.

Load Rating:

  • 20 – 40 lbs as per HMG website.
  • Sometimes (actually quite often) you need to take companies load ratings for their backpacks with a grain of salt. In this particular case, I can personally vouch for the 2400 Southwest being able to carry 40 lbs relatively comfortably in very challenging conditions. Whether most folks will be able to fit in 40 lbs worth of stuff is another matter entirely. 😉
Food supplies

Food Bags at the end of Day 1, Southwest Tasmania Traverse | Would two weeks worth of food fit in a pack with a 50 litre capacity? You betcha………but only just (Note: There was an additional ziploc bag with a day and a half worth of provisions just out of picture).


The Southwest 2400 is an internal frame pack that employs two removable aluminium stays for structural support. It has a slim profile, a rolltop closure and 10 L worth of external storage space.

  • Is it waterproof?:  Not 100%, but pretty close. Given extended exposure to heavy rain, a tiny amount of water will come in where the shoulder straps are sewn into the main body of the pack. If you’re fording waist high rivers, H2O can also seep through the seam at the bottom of the pack. In other words, you should still line the inside of your backpack with a trash compactor bag.

The ultimate in backpack waterproofness tests………a 150 metre paddle on my NeoAir across the frigid Davey River. The 2400 Southwest pack bobbed along behind me attached to my right leg with six foot of guyline | Southwest Tasmania Traverse.

  • Rolltop Closure: The combination of the rolltop seal and Y-strap over the top make for a very secure closure.
  • Side pockets – Ideal height at which to access your water bottles. I use either 1 litre Smartwater models or 600 ml Gatorade bottles. Both fit in easily.
  • Hip belt pockets – Big enough for most point and shoot cameras or a 5 oz bag of trail mix. The zippers can be a little finicky when it’s cold and/or when the hip belt is cinched firmly whilst traversing technical terrain.

Wind River Range, WY | Late September, 2016.

  • Mesh Internal Hydration Pocket: I cut this out upon receiving the pack. I’ve never been a fan of hydration hoses.
  • Shoulder Straps: Good balance of width and thickness.
  • Side Compression Straps:  Unlike in the photo on the HMG website, I tend not to join the side compression straps with the rolltop closure clips. Instead, I clip the side straps together over the main external pocket, which tightly secures any items I may have placed there. I have found this system to work well when bushwhacking through dense vegetation and also in winter as a way of firmly securing snowshoes (see photo below).

Into the Gloaming | Winter in Oregon | Early February, 2016.

  • Weight Distribution:  Very good. Indeed, the weight transfer capability from shoulders to hips was one of the main reasons I decided to go with the 2400 Southwest pack. Over the years it has been my experience that when total pack weight exceeds 25 lbs (11.3 kg), you are better off with an internal frame pack that has a fixed hip belt. This particularly holds true when negotiating rugged off-trail terrain for extended periods.
  • Colour:  Virgin white will give way to a light grey after a month or two of regular usage. Personally speaking, it could be fluro pink with purple polka dots for all I care as long as it performs well in the field.

Final day | Badlands Traverse, South Dakota | September, 2016.


If I could give it more than a double thumbs up I would.

Without a hint of hyperbole, over the past year I’ve taken the 2400 Southwest pack through some of the harshest wilderness on the planet. It doesn’t get much tougher on backpacking gear than going off-trail in south west Tasmania. The HMG pack passed that test, as well as other demanding examinations in the Badlands, Sangre de Cristo mountains and Wind River and Beartooth Ranges, with flying colours.

20160314_143600 (2)

Yours truly after the west coast stage of the SW Tassie traverse. The clothes took a bit of a beating, but the pack was thankfully in pretty good shape.

Value for Money:

Retailing for $290 the 2400 Southwest pack isn’t cheap. That being said, you generally get what you pay for when it comes to high performance backpacking gear. This pack is no exception. Considering its made in the US, extremely durable and impressively comfortable under the weight of a heavy load, I would say it offers good value for money.


The HMG 2400 Southwest pack represents a great option for hikers with a base weight of 12 lbs (5.4 kg) or less, who enjoy the occasional excursion into rugged, off-trail environments. For those that generally carry a little more stuff, consider taking a look at its big brother, the 3400 Southwest Pack. Same backpack, 15 L more carrying capacity.

Disclaimer: I was given the 2400 Southwest pack free of charge in exchange for feedback from the field. I was under no obligation to write a review for the pack.


Review: Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Backpack — 26 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great review……i was on the fence with gettting HMG WR 2400 but really wanted to try a frameless pack from MLD. I just bought a Prophet and can’t wait to try it out. I had Ron add load lifters and I’ll use my lg neoair for a frame. After loading up it feels great! Most of my trips don’t require more than 4-5 days worth of food so shouldn’t be a problem to keep it well under 25lbs even with winter and dogs gear.

    • Hey Richard,

      Thanks for the kind words. The Prophet (pretty much all MLD packs) is a great option. I’ve used its little brother, the Burn, quite a lot over the past seven years.



    • Thanks, Jeremy. I don’t do a lot of gear reviews, but when I do I try to make sure that I’ve taken the products for a pretty good test run beforehand.



      • As typical you’ve succeeded. 🙂

        The Hiking Life – how aptly appropriate describing the site and your lifestyle.

        I’m smiling on you.

        • Hey Dogwood,

          Thanks for the kind words. You’re right; hiking and heading out into the woods has been a fundamental part of my life since I was a kid.

          I was fortunate with the name. It was the first one that came into my head when I decided to put a website together, and it just happened to be available.



  2. wow love the blog you really do get around lol i cant say i have use this backpack yet but i realy do need a better one just cant find myself spending $290 on a backpack lol

    cheers mate
    will keep following

    • Hey John,

      I hear where you are coming from; HMG gear isn’t cheap. But as I mention in the article, their quality is top notch and you usually get what you pay for in regards to backpacking gear. On the bright side, they are running a 15% off special for the rest of the month on all their packs and shelters.

      If you’re on the lookout for a similar sort of pack, you may also want to check out ULA, Gossamer Gear, MLD and Granite Gear, all of whom make great products that come in at around $180 to $300.

      Best of luck!



  3. Great review and pics!

    I found this review while trying to decide which size Windrider to get. My baseweight is 13-15 most of the time, and my typical hikes are 1-3 nights, so total weight is less than what you have described. That’s good because I’m not in the same shape you are!

    Although I think I can fit all I need in the Windrider 2400 for 90%+ of my outings, I am looking forward to some winter weekend and maybe some longer hikes in the next few years (JMT or 12-day Philmont). On one hand I hate to upsize just for those future hypothetical trips, especially when I read about many fitting gear for longer distances/days in the 2400. I’ve also heard the Y-strap will hold a bear canister if needed, and that makes me think it could a food bag too.

    On the other hand, the 3400 is not much more in cost or weight, and according to HMG it compresses down to the same overall size as the 2400 if not filled up.

    I need some encouragement to commit to the smaller pack as you have, or is it smarter to size up to the 3400 and carry that extra space for shorter trips? Thanks again for the great review and any further feedback

    • Hi Bob,

      Thanks for your mail and kind words.

      If you’re happy with your current base weight, go with the 3400. For $40 and 3.8 oz more, it will give you a bit more flexibility for those future trips you mention.

      On the other hand, if you are seriously considering dropping your base weight to around 10 or 11 lbs, then opt for the 2400.

      Either way, it’s a very good pack!



      • Hi Cam,

        One more question about the HMG packs if you don’t mind. You picked the solid pocket Southwest rather than the mesh windrider. From my brief hands on look, the mesh looks really tough, and would presumably make it easier to see what’s in side and maybe dry out wet gear as you walk. On the other hand, I guess it could still snag on branches, which sometimes even encroach on-trail. Was the solid pockets a hard requirement for you, or do you think it makes much of a difference?

        Thanks again for your help.


        • Hi Bob,

          I picked the Southwest rather than the Windrider because I was headed down for a trip in Tasmania, where I knew there would be a lot of heavy bushwhacking.



          • Hi Cam,
            I went for the 2400, but having some trouble with my bulging between the stays. I pack my quilts and clothes in a trash compactor bag in the bottom, and I’m used to compressing it down by hand. Then I load other gear, layering clothes and food above that. I think if I used a stuff sac or their pods it would solve this. What do you do with your puffy stuff?

  4. Thanks for a great blog Cam!
    Posted you earlier last year and mentioned I was hoping to do Haute Walk (Chamonix – Zermatt) in September. Started with the Jungfrau Tour ( following Kev Reynolds guide) which was fantastic scenic walk but realised my crook back wasn’t going to survive the high hike I changed plans and spent a further week in Zermatt doing Day walks (paradise), before joining my wife in Leon to do last part of Camino ( brilliant social experience).
    Main reason for this contact is I have taken your advice to lighten up my load and was impressed by yours and others opinion of HMG packs.
    I ordered a 2400 Southwest pack and look forward to new lighter walking!

    • Hey Mike,

      Thanks for the mail. I think the Swiss Alps is one of those places that no matter where you walk, it’s all pretty good. It’s like hiking in a big alpine postcard.

      Congrats on lightening your pack load! As someone who has carried both monster and featherweight loads, I can attest that it really can make a big difference, both physically and mentally.



  5. I’m a huge fan of HMG, right now I have their ice pack and summit pack the Southwest 3400 is next on the list. There are no other packs I’ve found that fit as comfortably, almost feels like you are carrying less weight.

  6. I just ordered the HMG Windrider 2400 after reading reviews here and on the sectionhiker’s blog, as well as seeing one briefly at a shop here in SoCal. Based on Cam’s advice, I am committing myself to getting my base weight down closer to 10 lbs. Thanks again for the reports, reviews and quick responses to questions.

    -Bob (Slbear)

  7. Good review! I’m looking into getting this pack for the Pacific Crest Trail next year. My only concern is the lack of padding on the shoulder straps and hip belt – did you find this to be an issue at all? Thanks!

    • Thanks, Shona. Personally I didn’t find the relative lack of padding on the shoulder straps or hip belt to be a problem. In regards to the latter, I actually prefer minimal padding as I find it helps the belt mould to my hips a bit more (handy when scrambling and/or descending technical terrain). Best of luck on the PCT!



  8. Hey Cam,

    I notice you always have shoulder strap pockets on your packs. What brand and style do you use and how do you use them? I was looking at MLD and Zimmerbuilt.

    Tim W

    • Hey Tim,

      I’ve always used the ones from MLD. In one of the pockets I’ll generally keep some sunscreen, hand sanitizer and lip balm. In the other one I’ll usually have my phone/camera. In the pockets of my shorts I’ll keep my compass and the map I’m using at the time.



  9. Hi Cam: Thanks for your wonderful reviews of gear and trips. My habit has been inserting a cylinder cut piece of Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest into my previous knapsacks. Just received my new Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 3400 and the first thing I did was place a coil of RidgeRest in it. How do you think this will work with the pre-bent aluminum staves? I prefer minimizing (including foam pad) what hangs on the outside of my packs. Have you used a coil of a foam pad inside your HMG 2400? Thanks Jon

    • Hi Jon,

      Thanks for the kind words. I can’t say I’ve ever tried the cylinder technique with the 2400. On all my trips with that pack I’ve used either a NeoAir XLite or XTherm (sometimes combined with a GG Thinlite), which I always place folded against the back.



      • Thanks, Cam, like your suggestion, will just use my NeoAir, definitely makes for easier more spacious packing and saves a bit of weight.

        • When I first tried to pack my 2400 with the quilts, clothing, and other gear loosely stuffed in a trash compactor bag, I found the pack “barreled” and was uncomfortable on my back. The cylinder technique may cause that too. I was hammock camping, so no pad in that case.

          I switched to putting my quilts and puffy in a stuff sack on the bottom, and other clothes and gear like my hammock laid horizontally above it. That solved the barrelling.

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