I think the use of a hip belt depends on pack weight, style, and personal preference. After reading Ray's Beyond Backpacking I started experimenting with no hip belt, no sternum strap, and single shoulder strap carrying with nice success. Since then I have used 5 different packs all without hip belts. My baseweight ranges from 4.5 lbs in summer to 6.5 lbs winter (NC winters). So I'd say yes cut it off if you know your style matches it. I hiked 70 miles with the hip belt dangling from my side...came back and whacked it off. But make sure you aren't someone who may want it later or you don't want to sell it later as I think this would reduce its value.