Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter / Expedition Pack Review


Display Avatars Sort By:
Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter / Expedition Pack Review on 01/12/2012 06:29:04 MST Print View

I was extremely excited to hear about Chris's new role as gear editor. I'm think he will provide a renewed ephasis on technolgies and trends that many of us are interesting in. Congrats Chris.

WRT this arctile...as many have stated the opening style does not work well for me. I'd much rather stick with facts and highlight what is possible by changing ones perspective.

I am all good with emphasizing other benefits beyond weight. I agree with the 3 listed...durability, comfort, and aesthetic design. Yes even aesthetics. To engage a broad market I would add cost to this list. For furture articles consider what can be possible for far less cost?

I realize aesthetics can be an individual thing, but color is an extremely important design element. For me this pack does nothing aesthetically and I think it is mainly from color. A white pack doesn't do it for me (this one included). MLD, ULA, Zpacks latest round of packs appeal to my aesthetic side far more than this pack does. But I may be the minority on this.

I have noticed a trend in cottage companies moving towards gear that is exactly as you call out ... more durability, comfort, and aesthetic design...and yes resulting in slightly heavier gear. I would like to see BPL call these out and keep us informed on these trends. Candidly, this is something I have thought BPL has missed covering over the last few years. Again a big opportunity for Chris.

Some examples....
- Zpacks drops silnylon pack line (durability)
- New cuben pack colors (black and stealth - aesthetics)
- MLD moving away from waist straps and towards padded hip belts in smaller packs
- Many manufactures beginning to offer optional stays/frames
- Features being added/many optional - pocketed lids, belt pockets, stays, compression systems, etc

I encourage BPL to report on what gear makes possible from an outdoor experience. Please continue to consider weight as a main contributor to that experience (pos and neg). Yes please tell us about durability, comfort, or aesthetic design. Also consider that cost may be just as important to many people.

Lastly, to engage me, statements need to be positive ones. The opening to this article is not what I want to read in the future.

Jamie

Edited by jshortt on 01/12/2012 06:34:38 MST.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter / Expedition Pack Initial Opinions on 01/12/2012 06:43:19 MST Print View

Excellent post. as usual Jamie.

John Frederick Anderson
(fredfoto) - F

Locale: Spain
"Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter / Expedition Pack Review" on 01/12/2012 07:17:11 MST Print View

As someone on the fence about joining back up here, it is good to see more content and was tempted by the review to look at the free three paragraphs you can read as a non member.
The tone and style of the opening two paragraphs quickly put me off joining up to read the rest of the article, and therefore, BPL. Sorry, maybe next time. Ryan Jordan's recent contribution wasn't a barrel of laughs either, bad day in Bozeman?
As a professional photographer, writer and photojournalism professor at various universities, the two first paragraphs should be removed as superfluous personal opinion, and the article should begin with the third para. That's what I would tell my students as tutor and editor, so there's my professional contribution.
Good to see more content, good luck to Chris with more writing, just ease up on the 'style' next time and write for others, not yourself.
2c Fred.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: journalistic style on 01/12/2012 07:39:04 MST Print View

John, I'd response to your critique by saying that such bland style is why I find so much journalism specious and boring. Everyone writing about any thing has an opinion and bias going in, why not air it out and let it drive a more interesting discussion. The very fact that so many folks apparently feel personally injured by so few words tells me they have some relevance.

I hope the rest of the review expands on that thesis.

I'd also say that if you never carry more than 25 pounds, of course these packs aren't meant for you. Hikers that only do week or less trips in mild weather will be able to prioritize pack weight to a larger extent than most. Add a packraft, skis, winter gear, a big camera, food and gear for kids, etc and life gets more complex. Speaking for myself, I cultivate a SUL baseweight for summer so I can bring 8 oz of fishing gear and 8 pounds of packrafting stuff. Ergo the Expedition interests me, whereas no pack from Gossamer Gear does.

John Frederick Anderson
(fredfoto) - F

Locale: Spain
Journalistic style on 01/12/2012 08:01:47 MST Print View

Hi Dave,
You are putting words into my mouth if you suggest I advocate a 'bland' approach. I am merely pointing out what most editors would point out.
The discussion of the journalistic style detracts from the discussion of the points raised in the article, so your own argument contradicts you there, I'm afraid, and that would be the reason to edit the first two paragraphs on a professional level.
There is plenty of good journalism out there, albeit swamped by a lot of average stuff, so keep looking! ;)
I'd put a rewritten, toned down version of the first two paragraphs somewhere near the end of the article, which Is where opinion should be in a review.
Mine wasn't a critique either, as I can only read the first three paragraphs, I was merely pointing out some basic journalistic conventions as construcive criticism based on professional experience. Trying to help...
Anyway, I use an SUL setup, but I didn't take offence to the content of the opening paragraphs (sticks and stones etc), just the style, which, in my opinion, isn't very professional, and was trying to suggest positive feedback to BPL on that level. It is Chris' first article, so rookie mistake, no biggie, looking forward to more articles etc...
Up to 4c now:)!

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: This review on 01/12/2012 08:07:08 MST Print View

Just so it's out there...

I do not consider myself a UL packer. I have a close to 33-34 year old 34ounce pack that has served me well, both when the kids were growing, and, for daily walks around the park. It still works, magnesium frame and all. I carry my old SVEA for all trips, because resupply of canisters is iffy, and getting alcohol means chasing 20-30 miles out of the way to find suitable fuel. I use a two person tarp and net tent because it is what I have, I do not change gear till something gets broken. Durability and reliability counts for a lot. That said, I have been out on fishing trips with my sleeping bag, a pound of hot dogs, a few rolls, a knife, a lighter and my cup. Total base load was less than 2pounds, not counting fishing gear.

When the obsolete Miniposa pack can last me 6 or 7 years, overloaded at the start of most trips because of food, I have to wonder if a heavier pack is really necessary. Yes, it has a couple holes in it. Stuff happens. I use what I have to destruction. Last fall I finaly shredded the old GG G5 spinnaker pack used for UL pack loads. I really cannot complain about the longevity, since I had it longer than the Miniposa. The Ospry has been around a few years and carries well for 35lb loads. I would not ask the old G5 to carry 35lb of gear. Wrong tool for the task.

Like you say, chosing the correct tool for the task at hand is important. Attempting to use a 2lb pack for 20pound pack load is a bit overdone, I think. Lightweight gear works fine for light weight loads. For changing oil, I only need a couple jack stands. For changing an engine, I need a hoist. I do not use a pack that weighs more than what is needed. Packing light is about picking the lightest tool that will get the job done. If you are guiding a group, it makes sense to have a larger, overbuilt pack.

Light weight backpacking is not about weight, though everyone seems to think it is. It is a mind set. Use a 6pound Gregory for UL hikes...Why? An 8ounce pack will do the job as well.

Writing a review?? Nobody wants to read about all my obsolete stuff, anyway. I'ld just as soon hike into the woods, set up a tarp, drink coffee and brandy, and listen to the loons all night. OK...call me looney.

Juuso Juuri
(JuusoJ) - F
Re: Re: pack dimensions on 01/12/2012 08:09:03 MST Print View

For a change, some questions about the packs for Chris and Ryan.

It is stated that Expedition gains its larger volume by increased circumference and taller extension collar. Is the circumference of the Expedition increased by making the pack just deeper or also wider? Also, are both packs equally compressible with the side compression straps? I'm pondering with the two versions and if their compressibility is similar I see myself getting the Expedition.

Daniel Goldenberg
(dag4643) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwet
Shallow/Superficial (and embarassing) Question about the Porter/Expedition on 01/12/2012 08:59:31 MST Print View

I'm not crazy about the white color, but guess it could kind of grow on you. I'm curious though how the material will look after some use. Will it get all grimy and stained from dirt etc with wear that is difficult to remove? Or is the material kind of slick so that it can be easily wiped clean without dirt/stains etc soaking into the material.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter / Expedition Pack Review on 01/12/2012 09:00:44 MST Print View

"And, they missed a UL backpackers needs (mine at least,) regardless of how well it carries. It is simply too heavy for the size."

We must not forget that some of use choose weeklong trips. With up to 20 lbs of consumables (water, food and fuel) and a baseweight of even 8 lbs, a pack with real suspension of either size is sometimes needed.

Dan Mchale has some excellent perspective on UL frameless packs and I encourage you to have a read including an article on Eric Ryback (sp?).

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Shallow/Superficial (and embarassing) Question about the Porter/Expedition on 01/12/2012 09:11:01 MST Print View

Daniel-

It gets dirty and more or less stains. I've had both brown (dirt/mud) and red (blood) on mine. Taking how that happens in to consideration though.....it's very possible you could dye it any color you want (remember the outer fabric is a nylon). I haven't tried it so do at your own risk of course.

Update: I've been told that the material likely isn't color fast based on testing.

Edited by simplespirit on 01/12/2012 14:03:07 MST.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Re: Re: pack dimensions on 01/12/2012 09:18:16 MST Print View

Juuso-

I'll see if I can get Ryan to take some measurements on his Expedition. My suspicion though is that a little depth is added as well as some width. I believe the Expedition has an additional three inches of circumference at the bottom and five inches at the top.

Both *should* be equally compressible and the Expedition only weighs about an ounce more. Before I got the latest version with the thicker stays, I found the pack to carry significantly better when the load is at or above the top of the shoulder straps (and stays). My personal recommendation would be to compress the pack before you fill it when carrying a smaller load. This should keep the load closer to your back as well as push it up and over the stays.

Philip Werner
(earlylite) - F

Locale: New England
Alpine Style Packs vs The Expedition on 01/12/2012 09:53:47 MST Print View

I have an HMG Expedition and I'm a winter backpacker and peakbagger. I've really had a hard time getting used to the fact that it has no external storage. There isn't an ice axe loop on the pack, there aren't any pockets to store food, extra gloves and hats in, and no floating collar to sandwich rope or extra gear.

I find that I like an old school alpine style pack a lot better because I can quickly access gear, food, new gloves, hats, maps, headlamps and so forth without having to unpack my entire pack. Mike seemed ambivalent about providing these add-ons when I encouraged him about it. I am hopeful that he's changed his mind because I am a novice sewer.

When you write the BPL review, perhaps you would compare the Porter/Expedition to comparable 4,000 c3i packs from Wild Things, Cilogear, and Cold Cold World. They're not as lightweight, but they are a lot more functional. I have a comparatively lightweight base weight for a winter backpacker - around 22 pounds - but function and speed are far more important to me than an extra pound or two in winter, which is why I still prefer my Cold Cold World Chaos over the Expedition.

I'd also appreciate it if you'd evaluate the functionality of a roll top closure on a winter backpack. I'm not sure it works, but I am interested in other points of view.

Philip Delvoie
(PhilipD) - MLife

Locale: Ontario, Canada
For the tall among us on 01/12/2012 10:27:55 MST Print View

In case any tall folks are interested, I asked HMG about the length of the shoulder straps on the Porter and Expedition and if they account for the extra length in the body...here is the reply:

"The pack shoulder straps increase in length as the size gets bigger. However, the large and the large/tall have the same length straps."

Glad to see they lengthen the straps as the torso size increases. I have run into a few packs with the same length shoulder strap regardless of torso size to keep the manufacturing process simple...results in straps and buckles which sit oddly or overly high on the torso.

I like the simplicity of the pack design...looking forward to hearing a bit more on this one.

Stephen Owens
(walknhigh) - MLife

Locale: White Mtns, AZ
Comfort over weight. on 01/12/2012 12:55:10 MST Print View

I have always choosen comfort over weight when it comes to packs. No fetish. When I pack for a load above twenty pound for the long haul I still use my Mountainsmith Ghost. 42 ounces and it has loadlifters and hip huggers. Nice review, but poor generalization about narcissistic backpackers(just don't look at the fetishes in my old backpack).

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
A few musings... on 01/12/2012 14:32:07 MST Print View

Not all of us are the same. To be honest I thought the introduction was not stellar, but it did not prevent me from reading the entire article.

I do expect a review to be well written. My main focus though, is on the expertise of the reviewer and how well he or she conveys the information. Perfect grammar, style, and convention are secondary to me, and that really is the job of the desktop editor.

Regarding bias... no reviewer is going to be 100% unbiased. For example, reading many of Ryan's articles over the years, he seems to have an Industrial Engineer approach to gear. He is very organized and has analyzed every step he takes when using or setting up gear. No unnecessary steps or wasted movements for him. So he may not be interested in a lot of pockets or pouches to hold gear, he is already very efficient. But other people may not be organized and need said accessories to keep the gear in a place they can quickly find it. So if he recommends pack with no external goodies, then he should tell us why.

Second thought on bias... somehow I have a feeling that Chris and Ryan really wanted to like this pack before using it, and I get a sense that this may impact their objectiveness. I may be wrong, and if I am I apologize now.

I do not like the rolling review format. Why is BPL doing it this way? Is it to try and tantalize us with a little information so we have an appetite for the next installment? This has worked with some STOM reports, but the format/goal is a lot different. Or was this a knee-jerk reaction to get something quickly published in response to the large amount of negative comments about the future of BPL? Or is it something else?

IMO, if we publish a gear review, it needs to be a complete gear review. Why do we publish reviews? I think it is to present a new product (or even an old one) so potential purchasers can make an informed decision based on an unbiased review. To drag this out over time may not be the best method. However, I do like the idea of a long term report, and that is something that has been missing in the past. How well does a product work after a year or more of extensive use. Have features failed that were not anticipated, or have perceived weaknesses not occurred?

Regarding cost, durability and comfort. This has come up in this thread already and in a lot of other threads lately. I think it is important... everyone does want to how much it costs, right? If it exceeds one’s budget then it is not viable unless one realizes that gear that does not last long or does not do the intended job well is expensive, because it must be replaced. Also it is not a good environmental model if it does not last long. I have a Kelty D4 that is 41 years old. It was my main pack for 35 years, which included two 6 month trips, dozens of multi-week trips, lesser trips, and airplane baggage apes. Actually I was going to use it last weekend for one of my "nostalgia" trips and noticed a seam separation at the bottom divider. This is one durable pack and I have gotten my money’s worth out of it. And yes, I just mailed it to Kelty to get it fixed. The UL packs I have owned fall apart way too soon, and they are uncomfortable. In 2009 I posted my thoughts on getting a heavier, more durable, and comfortable pack which ended up being a McHale. After my experience with this pack I will never consider any other brand. I have owned many packs over the past 45 years and nothing is as well constructed, comfortable and well fitting as a McHale. Yes, it does increase my base weight but at what cost? It will last longer than I will live. And amazingly, I never have a single sore point on my body from the pack, no matter how much weight I put in it. Last month I did a week trip in some back country. Nowhere to resupply for food, and water was only available every two days. The pack had to deal with Acacia Catclaw, volcanic rock, scrambles over slick-rock, slips as I navigated between canyons, and dry waterfall run-over’s. It was very stable on scrambles, boulder hopping, and minor rock climbs. With 20 lbs of food and water, it was extremely comfortable. So a pound or more of comfort is worth a LOT to me. I want a pack that is designed to go where I want to go, not where the pack might or might not work. I can save enough weight on all my other gear, that a 2 or 3 lb pack is not going to slow me down, and the right one will actually allow me to hike further and longer, because I don’t even have to think about it… a McHale pack just does what I hope and want it to do. And I think that Ryan is perhaps shifting his perspective to more durable and comfortable gear. I can still do a week or longer trip with a 3 pound pack and be under 10 lbs base weight in 3 season use.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
The Hyperlite thread... on 01/12/2012 17:18:50 MST Print View

I have a pack question:

the taping of the seams, is that done from the inside on the cuben side of the hybrid fabric? What sort of tape is it, a decent cuben tape of the like that is commonly used for building tarps etc (without stitching)? Could they/do they reinforce the critical stitching areas inside the pack on the cuben with say glued on patches of lighter cuben material? Are the seams from the outside treated in any way, say with seam sealer? Some of these things could increase long term durability substantially depending on how they are done. Some more close up macro pictures of the key stitching points would be good as the review develops.

I can definitely see the need for a pack like this. I would buy something like it myself if it proved durable in the long term. It would go really well bushwalking in Tasmania, though I wouldn't take it off track there, I'd err on the side of caution and take a pack with a stronger fabric. It would also go well for big unsupported trips. I imagine it would have been a strong contender for the Arctic 1000 if it was around back then.

I agree some comparisons with other similar packs in the ballpark would be good.

I'm broke, so even at the price listed, which I think is pretty good, I won't be buying one for a few years. In the meantime my One Planet Shadow does a pretty similar job, albeit not waterproof, but that doesn't bother me in South Australia. 1450 grams with some basic strap chop modifications I've done (and I can remove more, eg the lid and side bottle pockets), and it carries weight superbly, with a harness I can adjust perfectly to my back length. Perfectly comfortable to 25kg, only slight discomfort up to 30kg, haven't tested it beyond that. And I know for sure that its going to be long term durable, and if something does fail on it, One Planet will definitely fix it for me for nix.

REVIEW FORMAT SUGGESTIONS: I like the rolling review idea. DPReview, I'm sure RJ reads that website, maybe Chris does too, has a great system of review, with a "preview" coming out before the full review. Because they set it up with multiple pages under headings, it makes it easy for them to update it, and make it clear for the reader what the updates have been, as the first ~6 pages that come in the preview don't change (unless they make a mistake). I'd suggest changing to a style like that might work well. In the preview, there's no reason why you couldn't have a page headed something like "Initial testing", so that you can include your comments based on a minimal use experience of the pack.

-----

I'm another person that was taken aback by the wording of the opening statements of the article, particularly given the nature of previous reviews over the years on BPL, which I've found to be excellent, written as objectively as possible, and as scientific as reasonably possible. I've been a member of BPL for a long time now, and it turned me off, sadly. I guess until recently I kind of relied on BPL to be as objective as possible, and somewhere that multiple opposing views were welcome and encouraged (outside of chaff of course) and debated, not vilified, patronised and put-down harshly. There are ways to get your view across and educate people with different views, opinions, knowledge and experience without offending.

I'm wondering if, in the interests of improving the quality of reviews and articles on BPL, there could be some sort of peer-review system? Reviews on pieces of gear could be sent out to members by the editor to be peer-reviewed before they are published. Not totally necessary that the reviewers have used the piece of gear themselves or not. In science, I don't perform the exact studies and experiments of the journal papers that I peer review (no one does), but I have enough experience close enough in the field to judge the scientific merit and general integrity of the paper and can suggest constructive improvements. No reason why there couldn't be a similar system on BPL.

Cheers,

Adam

EDIT: spelling

Edited by oysters on 01/12/2012 17:20:10 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: This review on 01/12/2012 17:20:50 MST Print View

"Attempting to use a 2lb pack for 20pound pack load is a bit overdone, I think."

Not necessarily, James. I do it all the time with a 1# 6 oz OHM, and have gone as high as 25#. Above that, IME, it's time to start looking for a pack with a beefier, and heavier, suspension.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
rolling reviews on 01/12/2012 18:29:50 MST Print View

A word on reviews, which is blatant thread drift and my opinion (as a BPL contractee) only:

There's a tough, often impossible balance when reviewing gear between comprehensiveness and timeliness. For me, really getting a good sense for something, and especially even beginning to test durability, takes a long time. Often that time frame, added to the delays of the editorial process (to say nothing of hiccups in actually getting the test gear0, means that once the review is published it has limited relevance. This is less the case with cottage gear, which is not so driven by retail cycles, but is a big problem with clothing. My sense from the outside looking in is that rolling reviews are an attempt to have the cake and eat it in this respect.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re rolling reviews and request for Chris on 01/12/2012 18:48:50 MST Print View

My thoughts exactly David. If I was looking to purchase a Porter I'd appreciate the review that is out so far. Its more useful than waiting till next fall after Chris and Ryan have used their packs for the summer season.

Chris if you're reading this I like the idea of rolling reviews IF the updates are published in a relatively timely manner. If you wait too long enough people will have done informal reviews of the product that there won't be much us in updates.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Re: Re: This review on 01/12/2012 18:55:17 MST Print View

Not necessarily, James. I do it all the time with a 1# 6 oz OHM, and have gone as high as 25#. Above that, IME, it's time to start looking for a pack with a beefier, and heavier, suspension.

Yeah, I agree. Note that your dead weight ratio is about 5.5%. For more than about a 20pound pack load I would take something a little beefier myself, not the Murmur. I never go out with >30pounds anymore. ('Cept with the canoe...about 26pounds total.) Usually I head out for about a week at ~20-23pounds pack weight.

A single pack, lacking features I expect, as Philip was saying, should not be about a ten percent ratio, IMHO. Your 5.5% is good. Guiding and leading groups is very different. You need cameras, extreme first aid kits, overload capacity (as pictured in the article), GPS, phone, and a host of other things BECAUSE you are leading. I do not normally carry that stuff when I am out solo. Nor do I plan for a disaster, meaning I have to carry someone elses load. There is NO someone else. Two different packs are needed and wanted. I don't think I can add the Porter to my stable for these reasons:
weight, lack of features, wrong "focus", high cost.

Regardless of how well it carries, or how durable, it has failed too many critera. I don't care for the GG Gorilla, either. It is has too much volume for it's load carrying. Nor the Jam, it doesn't have enough suspension. These are all debatable and my opinion only. As is my opinion of the Porter/Expedition after this review.