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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 4400 Backpack Review on 01/18/2013 00:31:32 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 4400 Backpack Review

(idtejera) - MLife

HMG Porter vs. Ula Epic on 01/18/2013 04:16:21 MST Print View

Hi, I loved this review. congratulations. I took a year to decide whether to buy this backpack or Ula Epic for trips with Packraft and trips with my kid. You who have used both, which do you think would be better choice?

Thank you very much

Brendan Swihart
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 4400 Backpack Review on 01/18/2013 08:18:29 MST Print View

Nice review. I find it crazy that HMG didn't use a hybrid cuben with a heavier face fabric. I received some samples from Cubic a while back while looking for fabrics for MYOG project and the versions with the heavier face had far stronger seam strength and abrasion resistance in my very non-scientific testing. I was honestly surprised that there hadn't been more complaints out seam holes in the HMG packs. If "expeditions" are the intended use, a couple extra ounces seems like a no brainer, especially for such a pricy pack.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Porter 4400 review on 01/18/2013 11:45:21 MST Print View

It's almost hard to believe no one else has figured this one out yet: put quality stays in a pack with decent harness components. Sometimes simplicity is complex. I see a modular hipbelt in the 4400's future, from a design standpoint it would be easiest to improve the seam strength and lumbar padding that way.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
McHale Belts on 01/18/2013 12:45:53 MST Print View

+1 Dave.

The McHale Guide Harness the best load-carrying belt/lumbar construction for the weight that I've ever used. I don't know if there's intellectual property protection there or not, so maybe that's a consideration. But this construction probably isn't the only way to address this issue.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Epic vs. HMG Porter 4400 on 01/18/2013 14:33:32 MST Print View

I love the Epic's concept.

Harness packs and dry bags make great packrafting kit.

But the Epic seems to carry its loads pretty low, the beavertail harness just doesn't have the oomph to bring the load tightly into the suspension, so it slumps. This doesn't have a dramatic impact, but it does feel kinda funny when you're walking.

What I love about the Epic is that I can take the dry bag off and use the harness to haul firewood!

We carried 55-60 lbs as a starting pack weight in the Epic when we started our trek across the Arctic in 2006 (at this time the packs we used were prototypes, but the suspension hasn't significantly changed since). This was a painful experience, but it worked. I'd rate the Epic's load carrying capacity in the 40-45 lb range if the load carrying capacity for me for the Porter 4400 is around 50-55 lb.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Seam Strength, Cuben Fiber on 01/18/2013 14:41:38 MST Print View

Brendan --

I feel ya, man, but there's more here.

The seam holes above indicate an area where a change in seam type would be of more benefit than a change in material.

The seam in question is called a "half fold" (it might be a one fold, I didn't pull it apart) seam, they are inherently weak and should only be used in low stress areas. You could have made this seam with 1000d Cordura and high stress will still result in these types of holes ripping in response to stress.

Stronger types of seams are double folds, or flat fells, and are perhaps more appropriate for seams where compression straps are inserted.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
re: Modular Hipbelt on 01/18/2013 16:22:42 MST Print View

Dave and Ryan, agreed.

That's why I asked Mike to put the Ice Pack hipbelt on the 3400 Porter for me. I also had him modify it so that it would accept the Granite Gear UL hipbelt, my favorite after trying out all the manufacturers.

So far, the modular formula on the lower volume (3400 ci) Porter has been really nice. It adds a level of trip customization that I really appreciate. I hope that Mike makes it a standard option on the Porter line soon. The stiff foam that he uses for the base of the Ice Pack belt carries really well, and the full 10 inches of contact the top of the belt makes with the lumbar pad really improves and stabilizes the load carry without losing the wrap-around feature.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Seam Strength, Cuben Fiber on 01/18/2013 16:24:15 MST Print View

>Stronger types of seams are double folds, or flat fells, and are perhaps more appropriate for seams where compression straps are inserted.

Interesting observation. I'll have to keep this in mind for an MYOG pack I'm planning. It's a little more time and work at first, but it sounds like it will pay off in the long run.

Edited by GlacierRambler on 01/18/2013 16:24:45 MST.

Brendan Swihart
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Re: Seam Strength, Cuben Fiber on 01/18/2013 16:49:18 MST Print View

Agreed, Ryan, that a felled seam would be much better there and that construction methods are perhaps more to blame in that case.

What I'm thinking is that using such a lightweight face fabric (which, granted for its weight is impressively strong and abrasion resistant) means that the cuben is a huge part of the fabric's overall strength, and we know that needle holes can be problematic in cuben. Using a heavier face fabric takes some of the overall fabric strength role off the cuben. Using a high-bias cuben, like Cilo and McHale use, seems wise as well.

The hybrid cuben is really awesome stuff; I'm just thinking that given the intended use they could have much longer lives for a couple ounces.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Durability on 01/18/2013 18:21:29 MST Print View

Well I'm slightly disappointed to hear the you finally began wearing it out Ryan but I'm not terribly surprised. Still sounds like a good value. For me the appeal of this pack is that it CAN carry 40+ pounds occassionally but its not overbuilt to handle normal loads which are normally much less (I rarely top 25).

Ryan in your opinion do you think the modular hipbelt that Clayton mention would resolve the hipbelt durability issue?

Edited by Cameron on 01/18/2013 18:32:57 MST.

Tim Cheek
(hikerfan4sure) - MLife
Fastening packraft paddles to pack without pockets on 01/18/2013 18:30:01 MST Print View


Would you post a picture of how you lashed or secured your packraft paddles to your pack?
I have alpacka's Sawyer paddles and used one of McHale's bottle pocket with success, but wondered if there was another approach? ( The other bottle pocket held crampons.)

Thinking I'd have Dan create something for my paddles until I read this article.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Epic on 01/18/2013 18:41:04 MST Print View

Since the Epic was mentioned I was curious whether anyone knows of a way to modify it so it doesn't ride so low? Seems like a MYOG mod would be doable with such a pack I'm just not sure how to improve the low riding effect.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Epic on 01/18/2013 19:03:52 MST Print View

I am confused. Wasn't Ryan involved in the development of the Epic with Brian Frankle? Didn't BPL sell the pack directly for a spell?

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Epic on 01/18/2013 20:14:53 MST Print View

"Didn't BPL sell the pack directly for a spell?"

I don't know the answer to that, but I can tell you my Epic has BackpackingLight stitched on it. [Well, mine's called an Arctic, but I believe it's the same thing].

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Arctic @ BPL on 01/18/2013 20:39:11 MST Print View

Edited by kthompson on 01/18/2013 20:41:08 MST.

Jeremy Gustafson
(gustafsj) - MLife

Locale: Minneapolis
Re: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 4400 Backpack Review on 01/18/2013 23:19:59 MST Print View

Funny timing!! After much research, I ordered a 4400 and a 2400 just yesterday. The 4400 will be used for family trips with our 3 little ones and for winter trips. For the family trips, my wife will fill a Golite Pinnacle with clothes and sleeping bags while I will put all the heavier goods in the 4400. For this year anyway, I will probably carry our 25 lb one-year old on my front in an Ergo carrier and give our 3 year old some breaks as needed on my shoulders. Which reminds me, I should start my training now for a spring trip!! I did order the 4400 with the hip belt pockets and accessory stuff pocket. Somewhat necessary when kids are constantly needing things. Additonally, I have a feeling the 4400 will quickly and easily replace my Golite Pinnacle as my winter pack. Not sure I will get out this winter as life is too busy with the little ones, but looking forward to using it next winter...

I had Mike at HMG customize the 2400 to be able to use it primarily for bike commuting. The size is a bit more than I need most of the time, but I am finding myself bringing my laptop home many nights these days and an occasional stop at the grocery store for something small. I had him make the hip belt removable and have the option to use a 1,5" webbing strap as a waist belt for biking. It might seem silly, but I also had him add a loop for a blinkie light for biking. Pretty much all of my winter commuting is in the dark. It's nice to have the extra light to make me more visible and an easy place to attach it to. The white is certainly more visible than the black and gray packs I have been using. This should easily replace three different packs I have been juggling for commuting. It is a simple pack that will easily compress when not using the full volume and of course it is stripped down and clean looking, making it nice and stream-lined for cruising on the bike. It feels great to be simplifying my gear! The regular hip-belt will of course be great for shoulder season trips or longer backpacking trips when I have the extra weight of more food, fuel, and/or insulation. I know my details on the 2400 is a bit of a distraction from the article on the 4400, but it shows the great customer service of HMG,and their willingness to meet the needs of their customers.

Can't wait to get the new packs! I had rotated a Windrider through my pack rotation a couple years ago and it just didn't fit my need at the time. The construction quality was superb and thus I had no reservations about ordering more from HMG. This article certainly confirms that I made the right decision. Thanks Ryan and Chris for the detailed review!!

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Porter 4400 Feedback on 01/18/2013 23:51:54 MST Print View

@Tim Cheek: I split the paddle into 2 pcs and stow them inside the side compression straps, blades up.

@Luke Schmidt: I think the pack has provided me with great value, actually. Stuff wears out. I can't comment on Clayton's suggestion; I saw an early proto of the Ice but haven't seen the new ones.

On modifying the Epic, yes, here's what I've done, but it's tricky, and requires disassembly of quite a lot of the bottom of the pack. Remove the beavertail. Reattach the bottom of the beavertail six or eight inches higher up the frame panel. Problem fixed. On my first iteration, I kept the beavertail where it was originally, and instead added a pair of 1" webbing "straps" that attached 6-8 inches up the frame panel; these ran under the dry bag, around the outside, and clipped into the top of the pack. That also works well. This may not be needed as much with the newer Epics which have the bottom cinch straps, which should help some.

@David Ure: Yes, we commissioned Brian to build three of these for us for our arctic trip in '06. Then people started asking for them. Brian didn't want to sell them through ULA, so we sold them through BPL, and bought small quantities from him. There's probably only 100 of these or so out there. They have the flat back panel and the "BPL Arctic Pack" embroidery on them.

@Ken Thompson: thanks for the link to Hendrik's video review. I hadn't seen that before.

Tim Cheek
(hikerfan4sure) - MLife
Fastening paddles with compression straps on 01/21/2013 20:45:40 MST Print View


I guess I'm in the pocket or "slot" camp for packs. When I tried blade up the blades were so wide they kept the compression straps from compressing the pack. Not an issue initially, but as my food was depleted it would have become one.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Porter 4400 Feedback on 01/22/2013 09:57:08 MST Print View

Nice review

I keep gleaning information about making my own pack from articles and people's posts

Ha, ha - I'm in the no pockets camp - I just like the aesthetic of a smooth bag with no pockets sticking out. And if your bag is basically a cylinder closed with a flat felled seam, then the fabric and seam are the strongest.

Rather than sewing hip belt wings to the side of the pack, why not have the hip belt be one continuous belt with the pack bag sewed to it. Have several rows of stitches sharing the load, over the width of the hip belt. But if the pack shows that amount of wear over 100 days of rugged use, then maybe it's good enough as is. Anything will eventually wear out.