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Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Ice Pack 3400

Matt Zia reviews the Hyperlite Mountain Gear HMG Dyneema Ice Pack 3400 for Blister Gear Review

HMG Dyneema Ice Pack 3400

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Ice Pack 3400

Stated Weight: 2.16 lbs | 34.6 oz | 981 g

Load capacity: 25 – 40 lbs

Materials:

  • Body: Woven Dyneema
  • Crampon Patch: Dyneema® Hardline

Volume: 3400 cu. in. (55 L)

Dimensions:

  • Top Circumference: 40” (95.3 cm)
  • Bottom Circumference: 33.5” (85.1 cm)
  • Height (fully unrolled): 34” (72.6 cm)
  • Back Width: 10.5” (26.7 cm)

MSRP: $550

Reviewer:

  • Torso length: 18”
  • Waist: 29”

Locations tested: Sawatch Range & San Juan Mountains, CO; Teton Range, WY

Days tested: 30

Intro

Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) was one of the first companies to enter the ultralight backpacking market, and they have always constructed their packs with Cuben fiber (a material originally developed for world cup sailing) which is made by sandwiching Dyneema fibers between layers of polyester.

This year, however, HMG began making 100% Dyneema packs, which are purported to be even stronger and lighter than their Cuben versions, so we checked out their Dyneema Ice Pack 3400.

All of HMG’s Dyneema Ice Packs are made to order, and take about 2 to 3 weeks to build.

Fabric

A discussion of the intricacies of Dyneema, Cuben, and traditional nylon pack fabric probably deserves its own article, but the short of it is that Dyneema and Cuben Fiber both offer numerous advantages over nylon, albeit at a significantly higher price tag. Both fabrics are 100% waterproof, less than half the weight per area of nylon, and stronger than steel.

Matt Zia reviews the Hyperlite Mountain Gear HMG Dyneema Ice Pack 3400 for Blister Gear Review

Matt Zia with the HMG Dyneema Ice Pack 3400 on the Grand Traverse. (photo by: Chris Dickson)

Dyneema is an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene—basically a super strong, super dense plastic. The material itself is very chemical resistant, UV-resistant, waterproof, and incredibly strong and abrasion resistant. The specific fabric in the Ice Pack uses a sheet of Dyneema laminated to a sheet of Cuben fiber to prevent any shifting of the Dyneema weave.

Some users may initially object to the pure white color of the pack, but Dyneema is so hydrophobic that it doesn’t absorb dye, so it only comes in one color: white (a black Dyneema has recently been developed, but HMG is not using it yet).

Fit

The Ice Pack 3400 comes in four torso sizes: Small (15”-17”), Medium (17”-19”), Large (19”-20”) and Extra Large / Tall (21”+). With my 18” torso, the Medium fit me excellently.

With no available torso length adjustment, getting the right length is key. That said, I was able to get the hipbelt to sit at the right height simply by adjusting the length of the shoulder straps, and without a torso length adjustment.

The hipbelt also fit my 30” waist nicely, with plenty of room to adjust to a larger or smaller waist size. Although HMG does not publish specs on the adjustment range on the hipbelt, my guess is it will probably fit about a 26″ to 38” waist.

Features

The Ice Pack has the bare minimum of features necessary for a good alpine pack. The pack does not have a brain or any pockets other than a small zip pouch inside the main body. There are no extraneous zippers on this thing.

Crampon and Ice Tool Attachments

The crampon attachment system is one of the more unique systems I’ve seen on a pack. Instead of a traditional crampon pouch or pair of straps that hold crampons on, the Ice Pack has a single piece of bungee cord threaded through a set of four eyelets in a figure-8 pattern.

Matt Zia reviews the Hyperlite Mountain Gear HMG Dyneema Ice Pack 3400 for Blister Gear Review

HMG Dyneema Ice Pack 3400 crampon attachment.

To attach crampons, unhook the bungee, place the crampons on the pack, and re-cross the bungees over your crampons to lock them in. The system works well when the pack is fully loaded, and the bungee system allows for easier adjustment over crampon points.

However, when the pack is not fully loaded, crampons tend to sag down, and often seem to be in danger of sliding out entirely. Because the bungee system relies on tension on all sides of the crampon to secure it in place, if the pack is not loaded fully there is not as much tension on the pack side of the bungee, and the whole system is less secure.

The ice tool attachments are somewhat finicky as well. A pair of plastic buckles clip around the head of an ice axe to secure the pick and a small bungee cord wraps around the handle at the top of the pack. The system is fantastic for a traditional piolet, and actually allows you to take your axe off the pack without taking the pack off. But it’s less well-suited for some modern technical tools.

Since testing the pack carrying different pairs of modern tools (DMM Apex, Petzl Nomics, and CAMP X-All Mountains) the pick-pockets and plastic buckles are not universally well oriented in relation to each other to allow for easy attachment of tools. While carrying my DMM Apex’s, I found the pick pocket to be slightly too small and too close to the buckle to allow for all aggressive tools to slide in easily and at an angle where the handle fits around crampons on the pack. Other tools, though, such as Nomics and X-All Mountains, fit around a pair of crampons with plenty of space to spare.

Although the system on the Ice Pack is similar to the system on Cilo Gear packs, the Cilo packs actually have two individual smaller pick pockets, allowing for easy angle adjustment of tools. I would recommend that users test the fit of their ice tools prior to purchasing the pack, as some tools fit better than others.

Compression Straps

Unlike on Cilo Gear packs (a standard-bearer), the compression straps on the Ice Pack cannot be removed. To be honest, I’ve never been totally enamoured with the removeable straps on Cilo packs, so I don’t consider this a drawback on the Ice Pack, and the four straps (two on each side) did their job well to compress the pack down when not at full capacity.

More interesting than the side compression straps, though, is the top strap which doubles as a rope-holder strap. The top strap is designed as a tripod strap, with one piece running between the shoulder straps and a buckle that connects to a third strap running from the front of the strap.

Matt Zia reviews the Hyperlite Mountain Gear HMG Dyneema Ice Pack 3400 for Blister Gear Review

HMG Dyneema Ice Pack 3400, back

In the absence of a pair of load-lifter straps on the shoulders, the three-way top compression strap did an adequate job as a pseudo-load-lifter, as well as providing nice compression over the top of the pack.

Ski Carry

HMG offers an optional set of ski carry loops on the Ice Pack. You need to order them specifically and add an additional fee ($25) to the cost. I found the ski loops a bit oversized for a pair of small ski-mountaineering skis, or a pair of skis mounted with a lower-profile tech binding. But they worked well for larger skis and for skis with traditional alpine bindings.

The side compression straps were nicely placed to complement the ski loops to securely attach skis to the pack in an A-frame carry. There is no option for a diagonal carry.

As a ski pack, the Ice Pack is not as well suited to daily use as a dedicated winter pack, and should not be considered a viable alternative. It does not have a separate compartment for avalanche safety gear, potentially leading to slower rescue time, and is significantly larger (though not heavier) than a dedicated ski pack. That said, if you were going out for a multi-day tour and needed a larger pack, the waterproof nature of the Ice Pack makes it an excellent option if touring through less avalanche-prone terrain.

NEXT: Comfort, In the Field, Etc.

2 Comments

  1. jon February 22, 2016 Reply

    Dyneema laminates come in many colors, the dyneema scrim can be dyed fairly successfully but the mylar or face fabric used can be any color. HMG currently black packs.

    • Author
      Matt Zia February 23, 2016 Reply

      Thanks Jon. You’re completely right on both accounts. At the moment HMG does only offer the full Dyneema packs in white, but that will likely change in the future as HMG already makes the Cuben/Dyneema blend packs in black as well as their tarp shelters in green, not to mention that full Dyneema fabric has recently been manufactured in black.

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