Reviews You Can Rely On

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 Review

This pack is incredibly durable and waterproof and carries a lot of volume compared to its overall weight
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400
Credit: Hyperlite Mountain Gear
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $379 List | $378.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  More or less waterproof, very durable, plenty of external storage
Cons:  Side compression straps lack functionality, uncomfortable with heavier loads
Manufacturer:   Hyperlite Mountain Gear
By Brandon Lampley ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 15, 2018
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
  • Weight-to-Volume Ratio - 35% 7.0
  • Comfort to Carry - 25% 6.0
  • Features - 20% 6.0
  • Adaptability - 10% 7.0
  • Durability - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 is an impressive pack that delivers a lot of volume relative to its weight. This competitor is a simple, yet functional option for ultralight backpackers. It has lots of external storage, including large hip and side pockets and a waterproof main pack. The Windrider's waterproof hybrid Cuben fabric is a compelling feature in very rainy climates. It is sized well for thru-hiking, and if durability and water resistance are more important to you than load-carrying comfort, this might by a winner.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 earns a top adaptability score and high scores for weight-to-volume ratio and durability. The primary limiting factor in the overall rating is mediocre performance carrying medium loads. We hoped this pack would comfortably carry 30 pounds or a bit more, but were disappointed.

Performance Comparison

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 ultralight backpack - ample external storage in mesh pockets is a much appreciated...
Ample external storage in mesh pockets is a much appreciated feature. Not only can damp clothes and equipment dry off, it's easy to see what you're after.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Weight-to-Volume Ratio

This pack is available in four torso sizes and two fabric choices; we tested a large pack with the lighter weight white Cuben hybrid fabric.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 ultralight backpack - we love the exterior pockets, but hate the compression strap system...
We love the exterior pockets, but hate the compression strap system. The lower one seen here tightened over the top of the pocket is useless if you want to access your water bottle or other gear on the side. You'll notice in all our other in use photos, this strap is not in use.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

At 15 g/L, both max and stripped, the Windrider earns a decent score for an average weight-to-volume ratio of the packs we tested. This model has a very high roll-top closure. Our extended main volume measurement used just three folds to close the roll top. A more typical use mode rolls the top down much further. A total volume of 51 liters without extending the top is the best direct volume compared to the other top scorers.

Load Carrying Comfort

This product earned a "Good" rating for carrying both 15 and 30-pound loads. While HMG suggests this pack can reasonably carry 40 pounds, we didn't find this to be the case. One of our testers took his Windrider on a three-day trip into Colorado's Lost Creek Wilderness loaded down with 35 pounds and was disappointed in its performance. He found that the frame stays and hip belt did not adequately transfer this amount of weight to his hips, and his shoulders suffered. This pack has many very nice attributes, but we wouldn't recommend carrying more than 30 pounds and expecting your shoulders not to suffer. Besides, the waterproof Cuben back panel fabric that hugs your back is one of the worst for hot weather and sweaty backs.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 ultralight backpack - high volume and a larger-than-average main bag girth is a nice...
High volume and a larger-than-average main bag girth is a nice feature of the Windrider. It easily swallowed this wintertime load. We just wished it carried 25+ pounds more comfortably.
Credit: Brandon Lampley


The most distinguishing feature of this pack is its waterproof main pack fabric and seam-taped construction. Otherwise, this pack brings basic features to the table. Two independent aluminum frame stays stiffened the back panel, and the roll-top closure completes the "waterproof" main bag. The large exterior pockets are a loose, non-stretchy mesh with elastic at the top openings; this creates a lot of volume, but equipment shifts around if they're not full. Two hip belt pockets are larger than average, but not big enough to be in the way. The waist belt tightens with a traditional center buckle.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 ultralight backpack - a single ice axe loop is appreciated, but better lashing to secure...
A single ice axe loop is appreciated, but better lashing to secure it would be nice. It would also play much nicer with the front pocket were it to one side rather than on center.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

The compression straps are one of our complaints with the Windrider. The two straps on each side are outside the mesh pockets, and the lower one is virtually useless if you want to be able to access the side pockets. That said, we do like the V-shaped over-the-top compression strap, and the side straps that clip to the roll-top for low volume. A single center ice axe loop is useful.

The Windrider features a large internal mesh pocket to hold your hydration bladder and a sewn loop up top for securing it upright. A single port through the pack lets you route the drinking hose to your right shoulder. All told, the Windrider's design is relatively simple. Most of the other competitors in this review have more features than the Windrider.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 ultralight backpack - the side pockets accept a one-liter nalgene or a jetboil stove and...
The side pockets accept a one-liter Nalgene or a Jetboil stove and the hip belt pockets are a little larger than average.
Credit: Brandon Lampley


This bag earned a top score for adaptability, largely due to the extendable top of the main pack. It's also the only pack that would reach the waist if you put your legs inside to bivy. However, this large volume doesn't translate to increased load-carrying comfort, and there are no load lifters for the high top. That said, not everyone has the same comfort demands, and this pack has the most internal storage of any we tested. While the compression straps perform poorly for reducing the girth of the main bag, straps on the sides that can be used with the roll-top buckles can also easily be used to reduce the main compartment's height vertically.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 ultralight backpack - you can secure the roll top on the sides of the back for low volume...
You can secure the roll top on the sides of the back for low volume loads. Unfortunately, the compression strap design provides no utility for compressing the bottom of the pack if you want to use the side pockets. We are tempted to just cut the mesh and route the straps inside.
Credit: Brandon Lampley


It seems that Hyperlite Mountain Gear focused on durability when designing the Windrider. Indeed, several of the material choices focus on durability rather than comfort and ease of use. An example of this is the non-stretch mesh used for the exterior pockets. While a stretchy mesh would be more functional, HMG's mesh is much more durable. The same case could be made for the aluminum frame stays. They don't do as good a job transferring weight for load carrying, but they're virtually indestructible. As a result, the Windrider 3400 earned one of highest durability scores in our review.


This product is one of the most expensive ultralight packs we reviewed. While the hybrid Cuben fabric is expensive, we don't know if the performance delivered is worth the high price.


"Waterproof" and durable, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 is impressively light relative to its large volume. While many thru-hikers have been happy with their Windriders, our testing showed that there are packs that offer both better performance and value.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 ultralight backpack - the windrider is one of the only backpacks we tested that is...
The Windrider is one of the only backpacks we tested that is essentially waterproof.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Sizing, Accessories, & Other Versions

The Windrider is made in four torso sizes: small, medium, large, and tall, with permanently attached waist belts. We tested a white 50D fabric model, but heavier black 150D is available as well. Smaller and larger Windriders: 2400 and 4400 cubic inches are also options. The Hyperlight Mountain Gear Southwest is also available in these three volumes. It is the same pack with solid Dyneema Hardline fabric exterior pockets.

Brandon Lampley
You Might Also Like

Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.

GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

Learn More