When I first saw a Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider Pack, I was blown away, to say the least. They looked badass, felt badass, and by association, made everyone carrying them seem like a badass. It was during my 2018 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, and while I didn’t carry one on that particular hike, I asked for one that Christmas (thanks Nana!), after getting sized at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel in Maine.
I am 6’3”, 180 lbs, and bought a ‘Tall’ Windrider. The pack rides comfortably and streamlines hiking flow. Having just completed the Pacific Crest Trail, using the Windrider the entire time, I have lots of nuanced thoughts about why this is an amazing pack for thru-hiking; I also cover its drawbacks. Read on.
- Roll-Top closure system
- Three external mesh pockets
- Zippered pockets on hip belt
- Adjustable sternum strap with self-tensioning elastic
- Daisy chains on shoulder straps
- Internal mesh sleeve for hydration bladder
- Integrated 1/4” foam back panel pad
- Two removable, contoured aluminum stays
- Top Y-strap compression
- Side compression straps for horizontal compression
- Four exterior triglide buckles for optional pack accessory straps
- Proprietary seam sealing on all side seams and behind all sewn-on pack features
- Volume: 40L (2400 cu. in.) main body
- External: 9.8L
- Dimensions: 30" (height fully unrolled)
- Back width: 10.5"
- Load Capacity: Up to 40 lbs
- Weight: 30oz (may vary slightly by torso size)
Pros of the 2400 Hyperlite Windrider Pack
Durability: These things are durable AF, I often prefer just using my backpack as a chair, and since I took out the frame stays, it forms a nice cushy seat for me to plop my bottom on. I did this on the desert floor, rocky mountainside, dirt roads, and even concrete, while waiting for shuttles or hitches, with no real wear and tear to be found. A lot of that is attributed to the polyester outer material that Hyperlite uses, which will be explained more below. There was a lot of overgrown brush on the PCT with lots of pokey stuff and my external pockets came away unscathed.
Reliability: As an extension of durability, this thing is reliable; which if you’re on a 5-month trek across the Great West, feeling that way about the thing that holds literally every possession you’ll need to be successful on that tromp, is reassuring.
I’d like to also mention that the construction of these packs is world-class and I haven’t had any problems with stitching coming undone or things giving out, which has happened with other packs I’ve used on previous thru-hikes. I didn’t have to perform any field repairs or endure hundreds of miles of stress with a failing hip-belt buckle.
Style: As we all know … if you’re gonna step away from societal norms, gotta look good doing it! These packs are very stylish with a streamlined design — no eyesores or poorly placed detail lines. Even the logo is well done and looks cool. For me, less is more when it comes to packs, and the minimal design of the Windrider 2400 is one of the things that attracted me to it in the first place.
Water Resistance: These packs don’t really let water in and, by proxy, that means they don’t hold onto a lot of water either. Even though you can use a bag liner to keep your things dry in other packs made out of Robic or Cordura, those materials still saturate and hold onto water making packs heavier in a downpour. The fact that Dyneema, which the body of the Windrider is made out of, is also used as a tent material says a lot about its proven performance.
Cons of the Windrider Pack
Price: $320 dollars is pretty steep for a backpack, I know; but a lot of that cost comes down to the materials. Dyneema is an expensive fabric. If we compare the Windrider 2400 to other packs also built out of Dyneema (of similar size and features), the price is on par and even, in some cases, a little less, so we’ll let this one slide.
Pockets: The outer mesh pockets aren’t very stretchy; the mesh is made out of a woven Hardline DCF material that doesn’t allow for a lot of movement. There is some elastic on the rim of these pockets, which helps a little bit, but still leaves much to be desired. It’s easy to max them out.
I get that when you’re getting into the UL pack realm you should have your kit dialed, and it’s hard to resist some extra town goodies, like fresh fruit and family size bags of chips. Having a little extra give can sure come in handy. This is one of the few changes I’d make to the pack, as I feel the stretchy mesh outer pocket is a great industry trend that should just become the norm at this point.
Shoulder straps: These straps are made of high-density closed cell foam, but aren’t very wide, nor very shaped, especially compared to other J- and S-shaped straps found on many lightweight cottage packs. After a while the foam finds a fold where it meets with the shoulder, which can make it less comfortable. Having said that, I am confident I could take the pack I used on the PCT on another thru-hike and deal just fine. I personally didn’t find a lot of use for the daisy chains situated on the straps, although many people do in the form of phone cases, water bottle holders, camera mounts, etc.
Weight: Most other packs that are made out of Dyneema with aluminum frame stays are 10 ounces or so lighter than the Windrider. However, the reason for this is that Hyperlite uses two different materials in their packs: Dyneema is one of the materials and the other is a highly abrasion resistant Polyester material (DCH50 for the white packs and a DCH150 for the black packs). From there the two fabrics are bonded together to create the final product.
Although there is a weight penalty, as stated before, these packs are very durable and highly water resistant. It’s easy to compare the Windrider to the weight of other packs made strictly Dyneema, but at a certain point it is no longer an apples to apples comparison, due to the additional layer of protection the polyester offers.
Good to Know
Waterproof: There is a large misconception among all types of hikers that the Hyperlite line of packs are waterproof. I even got a dm on Instagram the other day asking this very question. Although it is made of water-resistant materials, the reality is Dyneema with lots of wear and tear, the PU coating starts to degrade and will reach a saturation point that allows water to seep in; I’m not talking about a water spigot, but still enough to saturate some down feathers.
Another fail point is the seam lines used to put all of the components together. Hyperlite does go to great lengths to make sure they seam tape everything, but these small puncture wounds can still allow some water in.
Using a bag liner in any pack you take through adverse conditions is a good idea, and this wisdom applies to Hyperlite packs as well. We had a friend on the Appalachian Trail who mistakenly took his new Hyperlite pack out with no liner in it and paid the consequences; don’t let this be you. Another alternative to the bag liner is the Hyperlite Pod system which is essentially DCF packing pods.
And now a hard-hitting question … Will It Thru?
The answer is an astounding yes! These packs are popular on our long trails for a reason and I know of multiple people who have taken them on more than one thru-hike in the lifetime of the backpack. It’s really easy to get caught up in the glitz and glam of shiny new ultralight gear, but sometimes companies can jump the gun on the durability and reliability of their design and materials, causing anxiety in the backcountry. If you’re looking at a one-time purchase to last you multiple trips, you will not go wrong betting your hard-earned wages on a Hyperlite product.
How I shaved off a whopping 5 ounces from my Windrider, and ...
Why I wouldn’t recommend it!
Ultra-light, Ultralite, UL, with each rendition more and more is left off so as to not weigh us down in the backcountry. But at what point do we attain S-L status? Or stupid light?
Probably at the point that you start chopping off functional components on a $300+ pack … to save as much weight as just taking a smaller battery bank would net you. 20,000 mAh users where you at?
So how did I do this?
I removed the frame stays. I cut off some of the daisy chain on the left shoulder strap. I cut off all of the inner webbing where a water bladder would usually sit. I cut off some of the tension straps on the outside that make securing your load more practical. I cut off the tie down straps that create a more water resistant seal on the roll top portion of the pack. I cut off the daisy chain loops on the outer pocket. I cut off the side pocket straps, which by the end of my hike made securing my water bottles more difficult. I also removed the sternum strap and … thank god my wife talked me out of cutting down the hip belt!
So yeah, if you’re looking for a pack that’s a little lighter with similar-to-same functionality, I would recommend starting with that, instead of buying something just to cut it down later on. Had I not already bought the pack and if I was in the market, I’d probably check out a Dandee Standard with added hip-belt.