I wanted to get a taste of the hype and see how these packs shape up next to other simple one-compartment packs I’ve used for ski touring and mountaineering.
Simplicity. That’s the name of the game here. When you get a 70L pack in the mail, and you pick it up and it feels too light to be true, it’s cause for further investigation.
First off, the versatility of the Porter Pack is appealing. On a recent ski mountaineering trip to the Monarch Icefield we opted to do the unassisted option, which led us to carrying in 15 days of food and gear in one load. This necessitated a pack that could expand to fit everything, while also being able to compress down to carry a day trip’s worth of gear from camp. At first look, the HMG 4400 Porter looks to be a good contender for this style of trip. Similarly, a hut trip where you want to make one big hoof into your temporary backcountry home, while also being able to day ski or splitboard with a lightweight kit can be a difficult balance to strike. The single compartment top load style packs are ideal for these situations.
So far the HMG 4400 Porter pack stacks up in the following ways:
The 4400 Porter is the largest capacity rucksack that Hyperlite Mountain Gear makes. They also sell a similar pack called the IcePack 4400, which is more or less the same bag with an added crampon and ice axe carry feature on the front. In my opinion the 4400 Porter should include a simple ice axe carry option but admittedly it’s easy enough to rig something up (like a snowboard carry) on the daisy chain features on the front of the Porter Pack.
I am looking forward to putting the 4400 Porter Pack to the test throughout this winter and spring.
Note: The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Porter reviewed above was customized with Hyperlite’s Ski Modification package. The Ski Mod adds the reinforced fully-woven Dyneema® side panels, bottom, and ski holsters. Allow three weeks for delivery and additional charge of $100. Full retail price for the 4400 Porter with Ski Mod is $465.
Jonathan Cooper (“Coop”) grew up in the Pacific Northwest and has been playing in the mountains since he was a teen. This was about the same time he made the fateful decision to strap a snowboard to his feet, which has led to a lifelong pursuit of powdery turns. Professionally speaking, he has been working as a ski guide, avalanche educator, and in emergency medicine for over a decade. During the winter months he can be found chasing snow, and passing on his passion for education and the backcountry through teaching avalanche courses for numerous providers in southwest Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest. Similarly, his passion for wilderness medicine has led him to teach for Desert Mountain Medicine all over the West. If you’re interested, you can find a course through Mountain Trip and Mountain West Rescue. In the end, all of this experience has merely been training for his contributions to the almighty WildSnow.com.