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Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter 55 Review

Built for serious adventures with lots of external attachment points and a durable construction
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter 55
Photo: Backcountry
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $360 List | $360.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, simple design, lots of external attachment options
Cons:  Expensive, lacks features, few external pockets
Manufacturer:   Hyperlite Mountain Gear
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 1, 2020
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 15
  • Weight-to-Volume Ratio - 35% 8
  • Comfort to Carry - 25% 7
  • Features - 20% 8
  • Adaptability - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Durable, simple, lightweight, and adaptable, this is only the beginning of the positive praise we had for the Hyperlite 3400 Porter 55. This pack is similar to other models from Hyperlite, but with an even more slimmed-down feature set. We loved the additional external straps, which made it easy to securely attach ice tools, skis, boots, or sleeping pads to the outside of the pack. The Porter, as the name suggests, works great when it's loaded down with a lot of gear. We found that it actually becomes more comfortable with more weight, as it floats oddly when empty. For alpine missions, ski traverses, or desert adventures where durability is key, the Porter shines.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $360.00 at Backcountry
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$270 List$145 List$139.95 at Backcountry
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$199.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Durable, simple design, lots of external attachment optionsDurable, comfortable, well-designed pockets, carries light and heavy loads wellSimple design, inexpensive, durableVery light, large volume, versatile compression systemGreat for medium loads, inexpensive, thoughtful set of features, external storage and lashing options
Cons Expensive, lacks features, few external pocketsLarge capacity makes it less versatileFoam pad falls out easily, shoulder straps lack supportNo frame, poor comfort for medium loadsHeavy, less durable than others
Bottom Line Built for serious adventures with lots of external attachment points and a durable constructionThis pack wowed us with its perfect set of features, comfortable design, and carrying capacityA lightweight, simplified version of our favorite pack from this same company, making a durable, well-designed optionFor the ultimate lightweight pack, this pack steals the show with its entirely frameless design and streamlined set of featuresThis incredible pack has tons of features, carries medium-sized loads well, and is comfortable to boot
Rating Categories 3400 Porter 55 Gossamer Gear Mariposa Ultralight Adventur... Granite Gear Virga 2 Osprey Exos 48
Weight To Volume Ratio (35%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
4.0
Comfort To Carry (25%)
7.0
10.0
6.0
5.0
9.0
Features (20%)
8.0
10.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
Adaptability (10%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Specs 3400 Porter 55 Gossamer Gear Mariposa Ultralight Adventur... Granite Gear Virga 2 Osprey Exos 48
Measured Weight 31.5 oz 30.5 oz 24 oz 18.5 oz 37.6 oz
Stripped Weight 31.5 oz 30.5 oz 23 oz 18.5 oz 33.9 oz
Claimed Volume 55 L 60 L 54 L 50-58 L 48 L
Measured Main Pack Volume 58 L 48 L 45 L 41 L 40 L
Measured Volume Total (minus hip belt and shoulder strap pockets) 58 L 64 L 53 L 49 L 59 L
Measured Volume Stripped (minus hip belt, shoulder pockets, and removable lids) 58 L 59 L 53 L 49 L 53 L
Average Weight-to-Volume Ratio (grams/Liter) 15.4 g/L 14 g/L 12.8 g/L 10 g/L 18.9 g/L
Carrying Comfort 15 pounds Great Great Great Good Good
Carrying Comfort 30 pounds Good Great Poor Poor Great
Frame Type Dyneema Hardline, removable aluminum stays, padded back panel Foam pad/ removable stay Removable foam pad None (foam pad) Tensioned Frame - AirSpeed SL Suspension
Fabric Dyneema 70 & 100 denier Robic nylon 210 Robic nylon, 400d Robic Bottom Panel Cordura 100D high tenacity nylon, 100D high tenacity ripstop nylon
Main Pack Pockets None 4 3 3 3
Hip Belt Pockets 2 2 2 None None
Single Hip Belt Pocket Capacity 2 cliff bars 4 2 cliff bars N/a N/a
Shoulder Strap Pockets None No No No No
Whistle on Sternum Strap Yes No No None Yes
Internal Hydration Sleeve No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bag Sizes/Torso Lengths Available M, Tall, L S, M, L S, M, L, XL Long, short, regular S, M, L
Mix and Match Hip Belt Sizes No S, M, L S, M, L, XL No No
Can Easily Strip Off Frame and Hip Belt No Good No No No
BearVault BV500 Compatibility Ok Good Ok Ok Just OK
Lid (aka Brain) No No No No Yes, Removable

Our Analysis and Test Results

Though there are fairly subtle differences between the three Hyperlite packs in this review, the Porter is our favorite for light and fast missions in the alpine. Its simple frame means that it carries a bit less comfortably than other packs in this review, but it also means that it is low profile and sleek for technical missions. We liked the beefy side straps, which provide lots of external attachment options, depending on your use. The waist pockets provide quick access storage for snacks and other essential items. Plus, the pack is super lightweight, especially for its capacity. This is crucial for technical outings where your gear may be a bit heavier than a typical ultralight backpacking kit.

Performance Comparison


Here, we have the Porter loaded almost to max capacity.
Here, we have the Porter loaded almost to max capacity.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Weight-to-Volume Ratio


The Hyperlite Porter is about as simple as it gets, which means there are few options for talking weight off; what you see is pretty much what you get.


Luckily, the pack is made with lightweight travel in mind, with a total weight of 1.9 pounds, or 31.5 ounces. This is just under two pounds — incredibly light for such a burly pack with large carrying capacity. In our calculations, the Porter falls in the middle of the pack in terms of weight-to-volume ratio. These types of packs usually have more features and are made from lighter, less durable fabrics. The Porter, on the other hand, provides more volume and durability, with fewer feature options. This is ideal for ski mountaineering or climbing outings that require a heavier kit.

Simple external carrying options on the Porter make it lightweight.
Simple external carrying options on the Porter make it lightweight.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Load Carrying Comfort


Though Hyperlite packs typically have minimalist frames that don't provide excess support or comfort, the Porter has the classic, burly waist belt that greatly helps these packs carry heavy loads. Two aluminum stays provide structure and support to the back of the pack, but that's it in terms of a frame.

The Porter's back panel, shown here, is fairly minimal, besides its...
The Porter's back panel, shown here, is fairly minimal, besides its two aluminum stays that provide structure to the pack.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Unfortunately, this also means that the Porter lacks the breathability of some of the more high-tech frames we've tested. In the mountains, we prefer to have a low profile, sleek design as a priority as opposed to an overly designed, but comfortable frame.


Features


The best part about this pack is its lack of features. So, how'd we find anything to write about for this metric? The few features that the Hyperlite Porter does have are thoughtful and super useful, without feeling like overkill.


We loved the waist belt pockets, which are large enough to fit sunglasses, sunscreen, snacks, and even a phone (if you like to listen to music while you hike, this is super key). The hip pockets found on other packs tend to be too small to fit most essential items, rendering them fairly useless.

The hip belt pocket is large enough to fit a few snacks and a phone...
The hip belt pocket is large enough to fit a few snacks and a phone. It is crucial this pack has this feature because it lacks any other external storage options.
Photo: Alexa Flower

We also liked the fact that the side straps have two solid webbing buckles, which can be used to secure ropes, skis, boots, and other items that don't fit inside the pack. These buckles are secured by more webbing strips that allow flexibility in terms of other clip-in points and options for additional elastic attachments.

Adaptability


The roll-top feature on the Porter makes it easy to carry more, or less gear, depending on the mission. We used this pack for day trips into the mountains when loaded up with ropes and gear for rock climbing and on a fast and light backpacking trip. The pack is slim enough and can be stripped down for single-day outings, should you decide to do so. We like this aspect of versatility.

Here, on a shorter mission, we've cinched the Porter down to...
Here, on a shorter mission, we've cinched the Porter down to accommodate a smaller load.
Photo: Alexa Flower

The roll-top is the only feature that can be adjusted, depending on load size, which limits the adaptability of this pack somewhat. Other packs that get higher scores in this metric have more removable parts that allow the pack to be stripped down to a super-light trail weight, if necessary. The Porter lacks some of this versatility, but we like that its volume can be adjusted while still maintaining carrying comfort.


Durability


Made of the revolutionary Dyneema Composite Hybrid materials, which are designed to withstand the burliest treatment, the Porter is one of the most durable packs we've tested.


The bottom of the pack is reinforced with an extra layer of Dyneema to prevent tears and abrasions that come with buttscooting through talus and scraping through rocky chimneys. The pack is also waterproof, which is a major benefit when it comes to adventuring in marginal conditions.

Made from some of the most durable materials around - the Porter...
Made from some of the most durable materials around - the Porter gets high marks in this metric.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Value


Made by hand in a small mill that has been converted into a backpack factory in Maine, Hyperlite Mountain Equipment is a small-scale, high-quality manufacturer. To get the level of quality and attention to detail that these packs have, they come with a hefty price tag. Purchasing a Hyperlite product is an investment. Most folks who choose these products accept the large price tag because they know they're getting a well-made product. The Porter is no exception, and comes at a high cost. That said, this pack is a good value, as Hyperlite products last years and years. Plus, its simple design is timeless and won't go out of style any time soon!

This pack is simple and sleek - great for the alpine (or desert...
This pack is simple and sleek - great for the alpine (or desert alpine, in this case!).
Photo: Alexa Flower

Conclusion


The Hyperlite Porter is made for lightweight adventures in technical terrain. Multi-day ski tours, alpine climbing missions, or off-trail desert adventures are the ideal uses for this style pack. Its simplistic, sleek design makes the Porter feel low-profile, even when it's loaded down with gear. The external carrying options are more minimal than those that sport extra bells and whistles, yet the Porter still provides opportunities to attach skis, boots, or tools to the outside of the pack. The hip belt pockets are a small, but crucial feature that allows quick access to snacks, sunscreen, and other small items. The durability that this pack provides is unparalleled, and one of the most outstanding features of the pack. Plus, we like its look, which earned it style points. This pack is the perfect companion for your next alpine mission.

Jane Jackson