Hyperlite Mountain Gear - Summit Pack 30l
This review is a "long-term" one. I bought the HMG Summit pack precisely four years ago, and I've been using it for all-purposes, from rock climbing to winter mountaineering, as daily commute or travel weekend bag.
First of all, I think it's useless to introduce the brand. If you are reading this review, I assume you already know Maine's backpacking gear manufacturer. HMG is the handcraft gear brand that made DCF Dyneema globally famous, from PCT hiking hipsters to the most opinionated traditional alpinists.
The summit pack is a mighty and minimalist 30L Dyneema pack. From the name "Summit," it's evident that this pack is designed with a specific intent in mind, summit pushes.
In alpinism, "summit pushes" are those moments when you climb aiming for the top without any long stop that requires a bivouac. It's a situation that happens in those single day-climbs when you go up in one push from the trailhead to the summit or a multi-day climbing situation when you leave most of your camping gear at camp.
But HMG Summit packs goes way beyond alpine usage.
After four years of intense use, I realized this is the backpack I've been using the most. I also believe I've been able to push the boundaries of this pack. I used it as an everyday commuter bag, travel weekender, international flight hand luggage, rock climbing rucksack, summer ultralight backpack, ice climbing rucksack, climbing gym bag, sawanobori sac (climbing waterfalls), beach bag, groceries bag. So far, I feel it was worth the money I paid for, even though after four years I star seeing some usage marks and definitely the fading of black Dyneema.
This is a simple minimalist rolltop bag. No compartments, no pockets, no padding. It's designed to be compressed to the size of a Nalgene bottle. The Dynema is an ultra-tough DCF 150 dernier (5.0 oz/yd2 // 170 g/m2), if you are interested in "nerding" around HMG Dyneema technology there is a dedicated page on their website, worth to have a look.
The only features you'll find are four external daisy chains to attach additional gear or the dedicated HMG Stuff Pocket, shock cord lacing for additional gear storage, ice axe loops, sternum strap with whistle and ultralight webbing for a minimalistic hip belt (I never used it though).
Storage & Comfort
30L backpack gives enough capacity to be very versatile in multiple situations, also being a simple rolltop with no compartments or pockets push to the limits your organizational skills when loading gear inside.
I've been able to carry ultralight camping gear for a multiday trek (but I attached the external 5L Dyneema pocket that HMG sells on his website). After all, even when heavily loaded, I've felt it very comfortable on the back, although
I noticed that since the shoulder straps are non-padded Dyneema, I try to avoid carrying more than 7-9kg in it.
Maybe the same backpack with slightly more padded shoulder straps would be perfect, but I guess the weight would be higher. So far this backpack weighs only 15.45 oz (438g) in the black version! (Even lighter in the white version).
When filling to capacity is more comfortable than half empty. The summit pack requires to be loaded properly to be enjoyed at max.
Even if HMG claims the Summit to be 30L I believe it's a 28-ish liter, and definitely need the Stuff Pocket when I wanna bring more stuff with me.
The fading of the black Dyneema is evident when looking at the backside, compared with the top and the straps of the backpack.
Look and feel when new
In his black Dyneema version, this pack is pure STEALTH.
In addition to the multiple outdoor usages, this pack can transit smoothly in day-to-day circumstances like daily commute or meetings.
I used it to carry my laptop at business presentations while wearing the jacket of a suit. I didn't remark a massive mismatch with my total-black look since the simplicity of the construction, the humbleness of the logo patch, and the spartan roll-top closure make it a classy piece of gear.
Long term use and Dyneema fading
After four years the Summit is still one of my favorite backpacks, although I discerned few issues with long term usage.
Dyneema is a unique material that ages in unpredictable ways. I have an HMG Southwest, made in White Dyneema that today looks better than 3 years ago.
Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing for black Dyneema, or at least for the DCF 150 used in the Summit pack.
The beautiful black is now fading, gradually viring towards a "rusty-black/purple-ish" color. I'm one of those weird people that love gear so much that it feels pleasure just by looking at it, so the fading doesn't bother me and believes that the patina made it even sexier.
This is probably a normal reaction of Dyneema to long UV exposure, so I'm curious to know if people using this backpack in the deserts, or in "very sunny" cities (Tokyo is not one of those) would have discoloring starting earlier than mine.
In terms of damages, the pack is still perfect, and probably, it should be the only thing that Summit's owners should care about. This pack is bombproof and never rips.
So far I didn't notice other problem and honestly, I think I'll keep this backpack for a few more years.
Fair to mention the internal patch, the one glued to the back panel in order to cover the shoulder straps attachment points is coming off, but I guess would be enough to glue it back in place, although I wonder if could be an issue for waterproof ability.
For 195 US dollars is not a cheap 30L backpack, but you are buying a premium backpack. A premium, versatile multisport bag. For pretty much the same money, you can buy a variety of packs (non-Dyneema probably) on the same range of liters. An attractive alternative could be the Exped Whiteout 30L or the MHW Alpine Light 28L and the Millet Trilogy Dyneema. However, the price will increase gradually from 195 US dollars of the HMG Summit to the over 300 US dollars of the MIllet.
Who does it suit
This backpack is for people who need an ultralight, tough, versatile, very minimalistic type of backpack.
It is for people that enjoy owning the quintessential of backpack craftmanship in Dyneema fabrics.
It is also for people who want something stealth, rugged and reliable.
For those looking for a more conventional, well-padded, backpack with internal organizers, pockets, and zips, well don't buy this backpack because you probably are gonna hate it.
I wish this backpack was perfect. I was so in love with it when I got it that I believed it was going to be the last backpack I will ever buy (famous last words).
The HMG Summit is not perfect.
I wish the Dyneema wasn't fading this much, probably I would buy a white version nowadays.
I wished it has a hydration bladder's tube opening on the back, like his big brother the Porter (and all the others).
I wished the shoulder straps were slightly more padded. Maybe HMG will improve it in the future, who knows, in that case, I would love to replace it with an updated version.
Until that moment I will keep loving it like the very first time.