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Hyperlite Prism Review

This impressive pack is one of the best all-around mountaineering packs we've ever tested
Hyperlite Prism
Photo: Hyperlite
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $395 List | $395.00 at Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Pros:  Comfortable, durable, water resistant, versatile, removable lid
Cons:  Back panel is not breathable, pricey
Manufacturer:   Hyperlite Mountain Gear
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 13, 2021
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 10
  • Versatility - 30% 6
  • Weight to Volume Ratio - 20% 9
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Features - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Prism is an excellent all-around mountaineering backpack. It hauls heavy loads to basecamp with ease, then trims down and carries your summit gear, allowing excellent range of motion as if it's not even there. The features are simple and streamlined without missing any key functions. And this is a remarkably durable pack that will last a long time — it just might look dirty. In our opinion, this pack is worth the price, but it certainly is an investment. This, among other packs from Hyperlite, has been a top pick among industry professionals for reliability and carrying comfort.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Hyperlite Prism
This Product
Hyperlite Prism
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $395.00 at Hyperlite Mountain Gear$170 List
Check Price at REI
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$99.95 at Amazon$200.00 at Amazon
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Pros Comfortable, durable, water resistant, versatile, removable lidComfortable, affordable, durable, fully featuredVersatile, simple, durable, well-pricedLightweight, simple, excellent pack for steep, technical terrainDurable, versatile, fully featured for all mountain pursuits
Cons Back panel is not breathable, priceyNot as lightweight as some packsLess features, some wonky strap designsLess durable, less versatile, no side strapsClosure system limits ability to overstuff, larger size less ideal for more technical routes
Bottom Line This impressive pack is one of the best all-around mountaineering packs we've ever testedThis is an excellent pack for most mountaineering uses, excelling in comfort and versatility in all alpine terrainThis is a pack-of-all-trades well suited to a variety of mountaineering pursuitsThis is an excellent on-route climbing pack for challenging steep terrain in the mountainsThe Mutant series has been a favorite, and the 52 liter version fills an excellent niche for colder and longer climbs
Rating Categories Hyperlite Prism Osprey Mutant 38 Black Diamond Speed 40 Black Diamond Blitz 28L Osprey Mutant 52L
Versatility (30%)
6
9
7
5
6
Weight To Volume Ratio (20%)
9
4
6
10
3
Comfort (20%)
8
9
7
6
8
Durability (15%)
6
8
7
5
7
Features (15%)
6
9
5
5
7
Specs Hyperlite Prism Osprey Mutant 38 Black Diamond... Black Diamond... Osprey Mutant 52L
Measured Volume (liters) 50 37 45 29 47
Measured Weight (pounds) 2.25 2.84 (without lid), 3.25 (with lid) 2.93 1.09 4.19
Measured Weight (grams) 1020 1288.2 1330 496.1 1899.4
Weight to Volume Ratio (grams per liter) 20.40 34.82 29.56 17.11 40.41
Frame Type Sewn-in foam backpanel with single removable stay Inner framesheet with aluminum stays Removable foam and plastic framesheet with 3 stays Foam pad Removable framesheet and dual stays
Fabric DCH150 + DCHW 210D nylon with 420HD nylon packcloth on bottom 210d ripstop main, 420d abrasion Dynex ripstop 210D High Tenacity Nylon
Pockets 1 main, 1 lid, 2 side wand pockets 1 zippered lid 1 main, 2 zippered lid, 1 internal hydration 1 main compartment, 1 waterproof top lid, 1 internal zippered 2 zippered lid
Hip Belt? Yes - removable Yes - reverse wrap hybrid EVA foam w/ gear loops and ice clipper holsters Yes - padding removable, not belt Yes - removable webbing belt Yes- removable
Removable Suspension Padding? No Removable framesheet and/or dual stays Yes Yes Yes
Lid? Yes - removable Yes - removable with stowable FlapJacket for lidless use Yes - removable Yes - removable Yes
Hydration System Compatible? No Yes - internal pouch with buckled hanging loop Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Hyperlite Prism is a stark white backpack in a colorful range of products. It stands out for its simplicity, durability, and excellent carrying comfort.

Performance Comparison


The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Prism pack excelled in all terrain and...
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Prism pack excelled in all terrain and all mountain activities.
Photo: Caitlin Ames

Versatility


The Prism is certainly an alpine specialist. The main drawback to this pack is that the back panel is NOT breathable. The waterproof fabric ensures that your back will get sweaty 1) if it's hot out and 2) if you're a sweaty person. This can be a major drawback for some people, so consider this carefully. The saving grace, in our opinion, is that the design of this pack steers its usage to alpine environments, which tend to be, well, cold. Even in the summer. But you may consider bringing an extra base layer to sweat all over on the approach up.


The Prism offers impressive versatility with minimal extras, which we love. HMG thought everything through, and this pack just makes sense. This is an excellent all-rounder for mountaineering, alpine climbing, ice climbing, lightweight expeditions, and will even serve you on cragging days and same-day missions as well (it really is that lightweight).

The HMG Prism has thoughtful and useful features. We even loved the...
The HMG Prism has thoughtful and useful features. We even loved the very svelt side pocket (not designed for water bottles, which we like, because on snow those things can pop out and rocket downhill and be lost forever or dangerous to parties below).
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Weight to Volume Ratio


The Hyperlite Prism has an impressively low weight, especially for a backpack worthy of both overnight trips and fast-and-light day missions. For packs of similar volume (around 50 liters), this bag has a more cylindrical look and narrower profile. This keeps packing relatively simple and allows it to extend upward at the collar without impacting how it carries. The Prism carries nicely with 40 liters of gear capacity, keeping it relevant for fast-and-light alpine day missions, and extends upwards with the collar to accommodate 50 liters for the haul to basecamp.


The Prism shines bright for its thoughtful use of features and materials, ensuring excellent utility without becoming heavy and cumbersome. For this review, we report the capacity of the main backpack and not any pockets, but the external crampon pouch, as well as the lid, do provide extra carrying capacity, upwards of 10L. This became more relevant to us in the memorable year of 2020 when restocking sanitation supplies on guided climbs during the Covid epidemic — the crampon pouch, when not used for its namesake, was also perfectly sized for a large package of disinfecting wipes. What a weird year…

The Prism carried all of our official Test Load with ease and grace.
The Prism carried all of our official Test Load with ease and grace.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Comfort


Hyperlite Mountain Gear continues to set the new standard in technical climbing packs and carrying comfort. We have seen so many body types discover HMG packs and instantly resolve years of drama in finding a comfortable pack, and this one in particular covers a range of activities from fast-and-light alpine to expedition hauls.


The back panel is made of integrated foam and a plastic stiffener which is not removable. It has a single stay in the frame, which is removable. We typically don't like the single-stay design as much, as it tends to bend easier and get out-of-whack. This pack did not suffer from this problem, however.

The single stay is inside the pack and easy to remove.
The single stay is inside the pack and easy to remove.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

The Prism also has a very simple and comfortable removable hip belt and nicely padded shoulder straps. The peculiar thing about the pack is its lack of load lifter straps. The brain connects to the top of the shoulder straps, hooking into a daisy chain that runs the length of the straps. The design and balance of the pack are so well thought out that, in fact, we never felt we needed load lifter straps to prevent the pack from pulling back and out on our shoulders. Phenomenal.

The foam back panel is sewn in place and not removable. Sometimes we...
The foam back panel is sewn in place and not removable. Sometimes we like to remove the foam to use as a sleeping pad, but this pack lays nice and flat when empty so that we could just put the whole pack underneath us as part of our sleeping surface when traveling truly fast and light.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Durability


Hyperlite makes their backpacks out of Dyneema Composite Hybrid fabrics. Dyneema (formerly cuben fiber), HMG reports, is lighter than silnylon and stronger than Kevlar. What makes it so unique and valuable for the outdoor industry, however, is its strength and the way it can flex without losing strength at stress points. The fiber is additionally waterproof (prior to stitching) and UV resistant.


Dyneema Composite Fabrics were originally used in high-end sail making, but the utility has reached far beyond maritime sports. The hybrid fabric is specially crafted to withstand abrasion and cutting, which is a high risk in the mountain environment. The Prism pack features this hybrid material, which includes lightweight Polyester (50 or 150-denier rating), or Woven-Dyneema (375-denier), which is laminated with Dyneema Composite Fabric backings. This creates strong, rip-stop, abrasion-resistant, and water-resistant (no longer waterproof due to holes from stitching) backpacks, duffels, and shelters. Wow.

Ok, so it's all fancy technology and stuff. What about its performance in the field? As you would expect, up to snuff. HMG places its most durable fabrics in areas of high wear or serious threat of sharps: in the crampon pouch as well as on the sides so you can stash your 'pons or slide your skis for an A-frame carry with ease and no stress. Nice work, Hyperlite!

Durability on display! All the rugged materials and robust...
Durability on display! All the rugged materials and robust manufacturing ensure a high quality product that will last for years.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Features


The HMG Prism really steals the show with its thoughtful application of features. It does not have a lot, but we appreciated all of them. The crampon pouch is awesome — we always want to shun these very specific-use pockets, but we just love them anyway. The side straps are simple — just two of them, and they're long enough for a full-length foam pad without being too long. The very slender wand/picket pocket on either side is also excellent and adds peace of mind that these items won't fall out in transit.


The rope securing strap is great, of course. And the removable brain is something we actually really like and which is not offered on all HMG packs in order to make them more waterproof (with a roll-top closure). For our higher alpine uses, this is totally fine; we prefer the durability of the sewn Dyneema composite hybrid fabric to pure waterproofness. Otherwise… well, that's it! It's just that simple, and we love it.

The Prism is optimized for ice climbing but HMG didn't forget about...
The Prism is optimized for ice climbing but HMG didn't forget about those times you may want to carry a traditional ice axe. The straight shaft and head design won't tuck into the ice tool sleeve but don't worry, there's a traditional axe loop for that.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Value


Ok, so here's the major drawback with Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs. They're expensive. Like double the price of other similar-use packs. If you're in it for the long haul, you value lightweight and high quality, and you also want durability, then these packs are worth the price tag, hands down. This is not likely a great pack to buy if you're just dabbling in alpine climbing as it is fairly specific-use, but if you're an avid alpinist, the Prism is well worth the price.

Conclusion


The Hyperlite Prism is a pack that brings us back to what really matters in an alpine climbing pack. It is as if other packs are a mere refraction of the purity and simplicity of this product. Needless to say, if you can afford it, we recommend it highly.

At least our gear stays dry on wet days in the mountains with the...
At least our gear stays dry on wet days in the mountains with the water-resistant Prism.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Lyra Pierotti