Even in the event you haven’t seen, you’ve in all probability seen various backpacks from Hyperlite Mountain Gear round. Their easy design and subdued black and white shade scheme are immediately recognizable, as are the grody thru-hikers connected to them. As soon as a uncommon and extremely coveted merchandise reserved for under essentially the most hopelessly bothered ultralight backpacker, HMG packs have constructed a strong popularity for being sturdy, light-weight, and reliable over the lengthy haul. Now they’re just about in all places.

Whereas they’ve been a sizzling merchandise on the lengthy trails of the world for the higher a part of a decade, HMG’s latest backpack is extra attractive than ever. Designed particularly for thru-hiking, the Unbound refines most of the options which have made earlier packs a smashing success. However how a lot might HMG actually enhance on one thing that was already so easy? That’s what I aimed to seek out out after getting my arms on the Unbound 40. Is it actually the most effective HMG backpack for the AT, PCT, or CDT?

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 40 At-a-Look

I spy with my little eye, some options which are completely different from different HMG backpacks.

MSRP: $369+
Weight: 30.1 ounces (measurement M)
Obtainable sizes: S, M, L, T (torso sizes: 15”-21+”)
Quantity: 40 liters inside, 9 liters exterior (55L model accessible)
Max. really helpful load: 40 kilos
Pockets: 1 essential compartment, 1+ entrance mesh, 2 hip-belt pockets, 2 facet pockets, 1 backside mesh
Body: Single, contoured aluminum keep
Materials: DCH50 and DCH150 (aka DCF)

Supposed Use

Whereas HMG packs are not any stranger to the longest thru-hikes, the Unbound 40 has been designed particularly with über-long backpacking journeys in thoughts. This factor isn’t your weekend Airbnb. Nope, you’re transferring in indefinitely. Promote your automobile, ‘trigger you ain’t gonna want it the place you’re going. In truth, HMG’s complete Unbound product line was created with thru-hiking in thoughts.

Not that you have to reside within the dust for months when carrying the Unbound 40, however this factor is supposedly prepared and able to going the gap. Relative to their different backpacks, HMG emphasised pocket accessibility, which could appear to be a delicate and boring focus. Nonetheless, it’s the small issues that matter day after day, snack break after snack break.

Circumstances of Overview

Occupied with life and Dyneema Stretch Mesh close to Cottonwood Go on Collegiate West. Photograph credit score: seigenbrot

After gushing about how the Unbound 40 will survive months of on-trail abuse, I’m chagrined to confess that I haven’t even come near pushing this pack to the restrict. Nonetheless, primarily based on my expertise with different HMG packs, I really feel certified to touch upon the long-term sturdiness of the supplies and craftsmanship. Moreover, my week on the CDT’s Collegiate West part mixed with different hikes within the Sawatch Vary, supplied ample alternative for me to type just a few robust opinions in regards to the Unbound 40.

HMG Unbound 40 Options

Yo, test it out, the dual-access mesh pocket. Each openings result in the identical place.

DCH building: This stands for Dyneema Composite Hybrid, which is just about the identical stuff as legendary DCF. Whereas DCF is a well-liked alternative for ultralight shelters, it suffers from some drawbacks that make it a less-than-ideal materials for backpacks. That’s the place DCH is available in — it’s that very same superior DCF with an added outer layer of woven polyester. This builds on the superior properties of DCF and boosts abrasion and puncture resistance to ranges worthy of an extended thru-hike.

Single body keep: A single aluminum keep runs down the backbone of the Unbound 40. Other than the semi-rigid foam/plastic again panel, that is the one body construction of the backpack. This can be a departure from most different backpacks which generally use two stays, together with most HMG packs.

Twin-access mesh pocket: HMG has tweaked the ever present, giant mesh pocket by including one other entry level just a few inches above the underside. Don’t fear, every part remains to be safe, however this makes it simple to seek out the small issues that sometimes disappear. I can assure that I didn’t describe this nicely, so I’m hoping the photographs will bail me out.

Backside pocket: On the very backside of the pack, there’s one other stretchy mesh pocket that may maintain absolutely anything — snacks, rain gear, maps, you title it. One facet is totally open for rummaging, and there’s a tiny entry port on the other nook for stuffing in your snack wrappers.

Y high strap: Nothing particular right here, however you gotta have it. An adjustable Y-strap clips throughout the highest of the roll-top closure and has loads of slack for securing cumbersome objects equivalent to a foam sleeping pad, bag of chips, or bear canister.

Roll-top closure: Dry bag fashion. This helps seal out the weather whereas additionally serving to to maintain the pack tidy as the quantity fluctuates throughout your hike. Broaden the extension collar for these huge meals hauls, or roll it approach down once you’re operating on empty. You’re trying good both approach.

The highest strap retains snack break necessities useful. My sit pad and chips are only one clip away.

Fully seam taped: DCH is 100% waterproof when new, however the stitching course of compromises this by poking tons of holes in all places. To regain climate resistance, HMG seam tapes all sewn factors. It’s harmful to contemplate any backpack totally waterproof, however the Unbound comes shut.

Dyneema Stretch Mesh: A primary on HMG packs, the Unbound makes use of a brand new wonder-mesh, which mixes the sturdiness of Dyneema with the stretchiness of stretchy mesh. At the least in my restricted expertise, these items is superior. Extension is nice, so the massive mesh pockets can maintain a ton of stuff. And HMG should be assured in its sturdiness to make use of it for the underside pocket, essentially the most abused space of a backpack.

Already aware of HMG backpacks? Right here’s what’s new with the Unbound 40

The Unbound, except for having its personal bumper sticker, is completely different from the traditional HMG packs. Oooh, ahhhh, Dyneema stretch mesh.

HMG has been making superior light-weight backpacks for a few years now. In truth, their success and recognition have garnered a lot consideration that their Southwest packs can be found at mega-retailer, REI. Whereas the design has been tweaked over time, HMG’s three hottest packs for thru-hiking (Junction, Southwest, and Windrider) are primarily the identical. The outer pocket materials is the one distinction.

So whereas the Unbound really seems completely different from these three widespread thru-hiking characters, what has really modified? Is it a very new pack, or yet one more reimagining of the identical outdated, albeit wonderful, factor?

To dream up the Unbound, HMG claims to have regarded exhausting on the important wants of thru-hikers. The consequence? A brand new emphasis on accessibility — preserving the necessities available whereas preserving the pack on the shoulders. Certain, earlier HMG packs had been good for thru-hiking, however the Unbound is designed particularly to maintain hikers mountain climbing longer. Listed here are the key variations:

Aspect pockets: The water bottle pockets are bigger to accommodate water bottles, a cook dinner set, tent poles, and so on. higher. In my view, the facet pockets had been one of many weakest elements of the traditional HMG packs (they squeezed out empty bottles), so I’m thrilled to see this improve. These pockets are enormous and simple to entry. Grabbing and changing a water bottle is as simple as ever for these with cheap shoulder mobility. An adjustable drawstring additionally helps safe objects that might in any other case float loosely.

This isn’t a revolutionary design (they’re nearly equivalent to my favourite facet pockets ever on the Granite Gear Crown2 60), but it surely’s superior to see them lastly integrated by HMG. That is essentially the most vital improve, and it’s a giant one, even when it appears boring.

Detachable hip belt: Contemplating {that a} hiker’s weight can fluctuate considerably over the course of a thru-hike, or simply life, having the choice to vary the hip belt measurement can hold the Unbound in use by means of these adjustments. Different HMG packs have sewn-in hip belts, which signifies that your torso measurement determines your belt circumference no matter your private measurements.

And in the event you don’t like hip belts in any respect or for a particular journey, then you possibly can take away yours with out taking scissors to an costly pack. Substitute hip belts can be found by means of HMG’s web site.

Dyneema Stretch Mesh: That is the primary time HMG has used a stretchy materials for the massive exterior stuff pocket. Functionally, this doesn’t change the utility, but it surely does lead to a safer match and streamlined look.

The underside pocket is created from Dyneema mesh and is an effective place to maintain snacks. Additionally, discover the orange daisy chains and large facet pockets.

Backside pocket: That is yet one more pocket that retains stuff inside simple attain whereas sporting the pack, and is exclusive to the Unbound amongst HMG packs. Actually, I couldn’t determine use it successfully, however had some success storing snacks. I believe it could be an excellent residence for gloves and a beanie too, however not different clothes objects that require eradicating the pack to placed on. For these you have to take off the pack anyway, so why retailer them in a weak place on the underside of your pack? Anyway, a cool pocket if you determine what to maintain in it.

And for what it’s value, I sucked at stuffing snack wrappers within the small nook port. My fingers ain’t huge, however they felt too giant to tug off this fiddly maneuver.

Single body keep: The Unbound has a single aluminum body keep, which is half the quantity utilized in HMG’s different packs. Eradicating a rod of metallic is clearly good for slicing weight, however doing so should scale back the burden capability versus different fashions, proper? Not in keeping with HMG. The Unbound remains to be rated to 40 kilos. Suspicious? Me too, however no complaints up to now.

Externally certain seams: The Unbound seam construction is completely different and higher. Not solely are the seams certain (learn: robust), however they’re additionally on the surface of the pack, which makes inside seam taping simpler and more practical at preserving moisture out. Virtually, the exterior seams are additionally mixed with daisy chains to supply beaucoup attachment factors.

Aspect compression: Gone are the no-stretch webbing compression straps of different HMG packs. The Unbound makes use of adjustable shock twine to safe giant objects and hold the primary pack physique tight. Transfer this up and down the daisy chains as wanted or take away it altogether.

Smaller {hardware}: Webbing and buckle measurement have been decreased on the pack physique for the minor weight financial savings. All of it works the identical, however is lighter obligation.

Weight: Even with all these adjustments, the Unbound just about weighs the identical as the opposite well-liked HMG thru-hiking packs. That is spectacular on condition that there are actual enhancements, however nothing is free. The one body keep and smaller buckles definitely diminish efficiency/sturdiness. Hopefully, not a noticeable quantity.

How’d it do?

The HMG Unbound has been simple to make use of comfortably irrespective of the situations. Photograph credit score: SpiceRack

The HMG Unbound 40 is a superb backpack. I actually haven’t any real-world complaints, and if I might determine a strong use for the underside pocket then I would really like it much more. Nonetheless, I need to add that backpacks are extremely private. I really like the simplicity of the Unbound and related packs, however if you’d like greater than essentially the most fundamental options, you then may need to hold trying. That mentioned, the HMG designed the Unbound for a particular objective, and in that it excels.


The facet pockets are superior. I really like how a lot they maintain and the way simple they’re to make use of whereas remaining safe. The adjustable drawcord retains issues from squirting out or flopping round, irrespective of how a lot stuff is in them. Yep, these pockets are a serious enchancment over these on different HMG packs.


Though I by no means loaded my Unbound to the 40-pound restrict, I additionally by no means had motive to complain in regards to the consolation. At first look, I used to be apprehensive that I’d really feel the only aluminum keep on my backbone, however I by no means seen it. The froth again panel did an excellent job of padding that spot and preserving a pleasant flat interface for my again even when the pack was stuffed full. No barrelling, at the least in my expertise.

I’ve used cushier hip belts and shoulder straps earlier than, however these on the Unbound are a lot huge and supportive. They’re completely unremarkable, neither good nor unhealthy, not higher or worse.

Regardless of discovering that the Unbound match me nicely, this received’t be true for everybody. For those who can, strive before you purchase. Whereas the Unbound is difficult/inconceivable to seek out in shops, their Southwest is accessible at REI and is a superb place to start out.


With out 2,000+ miles with my Unbound, I can solely speculate about how nicely it is going to maintain up over the course of a thru-hike or two. With this in thoughts, I don’t assume that there’s something to fret about. The bottom HMG DCH building is a confirmed amount, recognized to final for a number of thru-hikes.

The brand new Dyneema Stretch Mesh is the largest query mark, but it surely feels way more sturdy than the stretchy stuff utilized by different manufacturers equivalent to Gossamer Gear, REI, Osprey, and Granite Gear, which have gone the gap earlier than. If something does put on out, will probably be that confounding backside pocket. Nonetheless, if the Dyneema mesh is every part it’s cracked as much as be, then that can take some time.


You already know that I really like the facet pockets and am confused by the underside pocket. Apart from these, the hip belt pockets are cavernous and simple to make use of, and webbing on the shoulder straps can accommodate aftermarket shoulder pockets if that’s your jam.

Lastly, the massive, stretchy entrance pocket is pretty much as good as they arrive. That fancy Dyneema mesh actually does stretch lots so I used to be capable of hold all of my common issues in there with room to spare. Relating to the dual-entry characteristic, I believe that it’s a sensible tactic for bettering accessibility with zero sacrifice. I did discover it useful for grabbing my poop package good and fast when the urge known as, and I anticipate being stunned by its usefulness for a lot of miles to come back.

Bear Canister

The Unbound 40 can deal with your commonplace ~11-liter bear canister like most different backpacks on this class. Pack it inside vertically, or use the lengthy Y-strap to safe it exterior, on high.

HMG Unbound 40 Professionals

Quite a lot of options on show right here. Look how a lot stuff is in that facet pocket!

Pockets: HMG nailed the pockets once they designed the Unbound. If there was ever a weak point with the opposite HMG backpacks, then it was the facet pockets. Larger, safer, and simpler to entry, they’re higher on the Unbound in each approach. Moreover, I really imagine that the Dyneema stretch mesh is darn close to a really perfect materials for the massive stuff pockets.

Light-weight: There are lighter packs on the market, however the Unbound can do lots for one which weighs lower than two kilos. The load capability and sturdiness specifically set it aside versus most different backpacks this light-weight.

Sturdiness: DCH is a confirmed materials. It survives lengthy journeys in rugged terrain regardless of its low weight. The Unbound joins a time-tested line of HMG backpacks which are recognized to outlive the longest trails with out difficulty. The one query mark is the Dyneema mesh, however I’m assured that point will show this to be one of the vital sturdy stretchy materials accessible.

Simplicity: With only one essential compartment and some outer pockets, the Unbound is your traditional UL design. Whereas some people may like just a few extra bells and whistles, the simplicity retains group simple and centered. Plus, there’s nonetheless a whistle on the sternum strap and you’ll add a bell.

Detachable hip belt: All our bodies are completely different, and a replaceable hip belt will assist the Unbound match extra of those our bodies comfortably. This can be a refreshing and long-awaited addition from HMG. It’s unclear whether or not or not it’s potential to save lots of $50 by swapping hip belt sizes once you initially order.

HMG Unbound 40 Cons

No hydration port, or hydration sleeve, in sight. Try that single body keep too.

No load lifters: These helpful straps are uncommon on ultralight backpacks, however that doesn’t imply they aren’t value their weight. Operating from the highest of the shoulder straps to the highest of the again panel, they’ll carry a number of the load off the shoulders and in addition alter how shut the pack conforms to the again. I missed these on the Unbound. However I get it. With a single body keep, there’s not sufficient construction for load lifters to make sense. 

No hydration port: I couldn’t find a hydration port if there’s one. The facet pockets are able to preserving loads of water inside attain, however in the event you like consuming out of your dangly straw, you then’re out of luck.

Ultimate Ideas

For thru-hiking or peak-bagging, the Unbound 40 is a keeper. Photograph credit score: SpiceRack

HMG did an ideal job with the Unbound 40. It’s simply my favourite of their backpack choices, principally due to the improved facet pockets. Nonetheless, nearly all the opposite variations between this pack and their others (Junction, Southwest, and Windrider) are enhancements in my e book as nicely. Whereas all of the tweaks are comparatively minor, they make a noticeable distinction each day when within the backcountry. HMG sought to construct a pack for thru-hikers, and so they succeeded.

If I’ve any reservations in any respect, they relate to the body. It’s exhausting for me to think about that the only aluminum keep capabilities as robustly because the double keep system utilized in most different related packs (together with others from HMG), but the load score remains to be a considerable 40 kilos. With neither the need nor fortitude to actually put this quantity to the check, I’ll must take them at their phrase. And I’m cool with that. If I plan to hold a load that giant for any period of time, then I’ll in all probability take into account a unique backpack anyway. The Unbound is ultralight, so it’s advisable to maintain max hundreds as near 30 kilos as potential.

All issues thought-about, the Unbound is a high possibility for folk in want of a brand new backpack. It takes the legendary awesomeness of HMG’s time-tested DCH design and makes very actual enhancements. I received’t be stunned in any respect to see this overtake the others as HMG’s hottest pack on the lengthy trails of the world.

Store the HMG Unbound 40

Comparable Light-weight Backpacks

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 40
MSRP: $349
Weight: 30.8 ounces
Capability: 40 liters
Max. Load: 40 kilos
Materials: Dyneema Composite Hybrid

Durston Kakwa 40
MSRP: $250
Weight: 27.8 ounces
Capability: 40 liters
Max. Load: 45 kilos
Materials:  Extremely 200

Learn our assessment of the Durston Kakwa 40 right here.

Zpacks Arc Haul Extremely 50L
MSRP: $399
Weight: 20.6 ounces
Capability: 37 liters
Max. Load: 40 kilos
Materials: Extremely 100

ULA-Gear Extremely Circuit
MSRP: $380+
Weight: 34.7 ounces
Capability: 39 liters
Max. Load: 35 kilos
Materials: Extremely 200, 400

Six Moon Designs Swift X
MSRP: $270+
Weight: 34.8 ounces
Capability: 38 liters
Max. Load: 35 kilos
Materials: LiteSkin or X-Pac

Disclaimer: The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 40 was donated for the aim of assessment.



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