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Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest Review

The 3400 Southwest is made of durable Dyneema material and has a simple, utilitarian design.
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Price:  $365 List | $345.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable, comfortable, unique materials used, good feature set
Cons:  Lacks support for heavier loads, expensive
Manufacturer:   Hyperlite Mountain Gear
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 3, 2019
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 15
  • Weight-to-Volume Ratio - 35% 5
  • Comfort to Carry - 25% 7
  • Features - 20% 8
  • Adaptability - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest is a simple pack made of tough, durable fabric. It provides a ton of volume for its weight and can carry a wide range of loads due to its highly adjustable roll-top closure system. The large exterior pockets use the same durable material as the rest of the pack, unlike its slightly lighter sibling, the 3400 Windrider, which has mesh pockets on the outside. It's one of the largest-capacity packs in this review and weighs only a little over two pounds. We loved the large waist belt, with enough padding to keep it feeling comfortable under heavy loads and two large storage pockets with well-situated zippers.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $345.00 at REI
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$270 List$260 List$145 List$139.95 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Durable, comfortable, unique materials used, good feature setDurable, comfortable, well-designed pockets, carries light and heavy loads wellLightweight, carries light and medium loads well, adaptable, perfect feature set, more durable than mostSimple design, inexpensive, durableVery light, large volume, versatile compression system
Cons Lacks support for heavier loads, expensiveLarge capacity makes it less versatileA little small for a bear canisterFoam pad falls out easily, shoulder straps lack supportNo frame, poor comfort for medium loads
Bottom Line The 3400 Southwest is made of durable Dyneema material and has a simple, utilitarian design.The Mariposa wowed us with its perfect set of features, comfortable design, and carrying capacity.The Gorilla delivers a perfect set of features, plenty of pockets, comfortable straps, and carries well.The CDT is a lightweight, simplified version of our favorite pack from this same company, making a durable, well-designed option.For the ultimate lightweight pack, the Virga 2 steals the show with its entirely frameless design and streamlined set of features.
Rating Categories 3400 Southwest Gossamer Gear Mariposa Gossamer Gear Gorilla Ultralight Adventure Equipme... Granite Gear Virga 2
Weight To Volume Ratio (35%)
10
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5
10
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7
10
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7
10
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8
10
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9
Comfort To Carry (25%)
10
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7
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
6
10
0
5
Features (20%)
10
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8
10
0
10
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7
10
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8
10
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7
Adaptability (10%)
10
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8
10
0
8
10
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8
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8
10
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6
Durability (10%)
10
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8
10
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9
10
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9
10
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10
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8
Specs 3400 Southwest Gossamer Gear... Gossamer Gear... Ultralight... Granite Gear Virga 2
Total Weight (ounces) 35 oz 30.5 oz 31.5 oz 24 oz 18.5 oz
Stripped Weight (ounces) 35 oz 30.5 oz 27.5 oz 23 oz 18.5 oz
Claimed Volume (liters) 55 L 60 L 40 L 54 L 50-58 L
Measured Main Pack Volume (liters) 46 L 48 L 38 L 45 L 41 L
Measured Volume Total (minus hip belt and shoulder strap pockets)(liters) 57 L 64 L 53 L 53 L 49 L
Measured Volume Stripped (minus hip belt, shoulder pockets, and removable lids)(ounces) 51 L 59 L 48 L 53 L 49 L
Average Weight-to-Volume Ratio (grams/Liter) 15 g/L 14 g/L 13.5 g/L 12.8 g/L 10 g/L
Carrying Comfort 15 pounds Great Great Great Great Good
Carrying Comfort 30 pounds Ok Great Great Poor Poor
Frame Type 2 removable alumium stays Foam pad/ removable stay Foam pad/removable stay Removable foam pad None (foam pad)
Fabric DCH150 70 & 100 denier Robic nylon 70 & 100 denier robic nylon 210 Robic nylon, 400d Robic Bottom Panel Cordura
Main Pack Pockets 3 4 3 3 3
Hip Belt Pockets 2 2 2 Two none
Single Hip Belt Pocket Capacity 3 cliff bars 4 4 cliff bars 2 cliff bars N/a
Shoulder Strap Pockets No no No No None
Whistle on Sternum Strap Yes No Yes No None
Internal Hydration Sleeve Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bag Sizes/Torso Lengths Available S,M,L, Tall S,m,l S,m,l S,M,L,XL Long, short, regular
Mix and Match Hip Belt Sizes No S, m, l S, m, l S, M, L, XL No
Can Easily Strip Off Frame and Hip Belt No Good Good No No
BearVault BV500 Compatibility Good Good Ok Ok Ok
Lid (aka Brain) No No Yes No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

Regarding adaptability and weight-to-volume ratio, the Hyperlite 3400 Southwest was top notch. We loved the durability, as well as the water-resistant qualities of this pack's Dyneema material. The large external pocket and dual water bottle holders on each side are well-positioned and useful, giving the Southwest high scores in the features metric.

Performance Comparison



Weight-to-Volume Ratio


The Southwest is fairly average regarding weight-to-volume when compared to other packs in this review. The Gossamer Gear Mariposa had an average of 14 g/L, and the Hyperlite Southwest has an average of 15 g/L. Though the Mariposa has a larger capacity on paper, the Hyperlite has a larger feel. The downside to the Hyperlite is its lack of adjustability; the pack is fairly simple and what you see is what you get when it comes to reducing the overall weight.

The Hyperlite Southwest has a fairly good score in terms of weight-to-volume - as its fairly light overall and has a large capacity.
The Hyperlite Southwest has a fairly good score in terms of weight-to-volume - as its fairly light overall and has a large capacity.

Load Carrying Comfort


Due to its simple frame and overall lack of padding or suspension, it came as no surprise that the Southwest 55 was not the most comfortable pack in the fleet under heavy loads. The shoulder straps are thin and the back panel provides little ventilation for sweaty backs. Since the overall design is very similar to the Windrider, we found the Southwest to perform similarly under heavy loads. When carrying more than 30 pounds, the Southwest caused our shoulders to ache a bit. For us, this was to be expected, since the pack provides very little regarding support. We recommend this pack for loads between 15 and 25 pounds if optimum comfort is your goal. For a model that works better with heavier loads, see options with a more substantial suspension system, like the Mountainsmith Scream.

The Southwest sits close to the back  which is good for heavier loads as it keeps the weight closer to the center of gravity.
The Southwest sits close to the back, which is good for heavier loads as it keeps the weight closer to the center of gravity.

Features


We were very pleased with the features of the Southwest. Simplicity is the key word here — as the pack is a waterproof, seam-taped Dyneema sack with a few external pockets for storage. The material is waterproof and tough, making this a great pack for wintery or wet conditions. One large external pocket made of the same durable material lacks stretch but is baggy enough to fit extra clothes or gear that you plan on using throughout the day. The two side water bottle holders can be reached when the pack is on and are deep enough to keep bottles from falling out. We preferred the pockets on the Southwest to the mesh versions of the Windrider.

We loved the Southwest for its simplicity and thoughtful feature set.
We loved the Southwest for its simplicity and thoughtful feature set.

The pack also has many compression straps on the outside. We liked the V-Shaped, over-the-top compression strap to keep our kit secure. The side compression straps often went unused when we were out with the pack since the pockets and main body had so much storage space. If features are your thing and the HMG packs don't fit the bill, check out the Osprey Exos 48 or the Gossamer Mariposa, which both have a few more options for external storage.

The large external storage pockets provide tons of extra storage beyond the main body of the pack.
The large external storage pockets provide tons of extra storage beyond the main body of the pack.

Adaptability


The roll-top-closure contributed to the 3400 Southwest's high scores in this metric. When fully opened, it was hard to reach the bottom of this pack without falling in! This makes the Hyperlite a good option for a bivy sack in a pinch, as it came above our waist when we crawled inside. With all the compression straps, the pack can be condensed to a small size if your load is small. On the flip side, it can expand to be one of the largest-volume packs in this review (compromising some comfort when fully loaded down). This pack had a much larger range than the Mountainsmith Scream 55, even though both packs claim the same volume.

The back panel is minimal  though it still provides support with two small aluminum stays that give the pack structure.
The back panel is minimal, though it still provides support with two small aluminum stays that give the pack structure.

Durability


When it comes to durability, HMG packs are hard to beat. Compared to the delicate fabrics used in the ultralight Gossamer Gear Murmur, the Southwest is miles above. The pack uses 100% Dyneema, which is the same material used in the construction of many climbing slings (which are rated to over 20kN. Lacking the mesh pockets of the Windrider, the Southwest is by far the most durable pack in this review. That said, if you plan on carrying metal in this pack (i.e. climbing gear or a carbon-fiber bear can), the sharp metal edges can wear through this durable material if you are moving through lots of rocky terrain. So, be forewarned — this pack is nearly indestructible, but the sharp metal edge of the bear can cause abrasions if it is not padded well.

This may be nit-picky  but we did notice a small nick in the fabric along the roll-top fold after a few months of use.
This may be nit-picky, but we did notice a small nick in the fabric along the roll-top fold after a few months of use.

Best Application


This pack is a durable, large capacity pack that shines in wet conditions, though we don't recommend it for heavy loads (despite its fairly large carrying capacity). If you are planning on doing lots of scrambling through rocky terrain, or hike mostly in wet environments, this pack is a good choice. If comfort is your main concern, it may make sense to look elsewhere.

Value


With a price tag of $365, the 3400 Southwest is one of the most expensive packs in this review. The pack's 100% Dyneema fabric raises the price of this somewhat simple pack. Unless you are set on this brand, the price tag is hard to rationalize when there are many less expensive options out there.

The Hyperlite claim to fame is their use of Dyneema in their fabric construction. This makes their packs incredibly durable.
The Hyperlite claim to fame is their use of Dyneema in their fabric construction. This makes their packs incredibly durable.

Conclusion


This pack's durability, simplicity, and "cool" appearance make it a popular item among the ultralight crowd. While we liked the pack for these reasons, the overall lack of comfort made this pack fall a bit short in our side-by-side comparisons.


Jane Jackson