Hyperlite Mountain Gear - 3400 Windrider
I've been reading about ultralight backpacks for a while now and finally took the plunge. The HMG 3400 Windrider weighs in at a mere 2 lbs and also boasts a waterproof design thanks to the Dyneema® construction. It surely is an "only what you need" type of pack as there are no extra zippered pockets to access other areas of the pack, and the padding is reduced by comparison to many other packs in order to reduce overall weight among other weight-saving measures. For the most part the simplicity of the design appeals to me. Fewer zippers and pockets assists in being mindful about what you take with you. If you have the pockets, chances are you'll find something to put in them...adding unnecessary weight. Additionally, the roll-top dry bag design keeps things easy and reduces possible entry points for water to creep in. I have opted to add some masking tape to the velcro seal as I don't find it useful, and if I'm trying to get something out of my pack at night when others are asleep, the velcro closure is quite loud.
My first outing with this the Windrider was a two-day, 16 mile trip in the Santa Cruz mountains. My initial thoughts about the padding prior to purchasing this pack were confirmed right off the bat. I felt the weight a bit more on my shoulders than with
previous packs and the hip belt feels a bit tighter due to the reduced padding. While it took some time to get used to how the pack felt on my shoulders and back, eventually I got used to it. It's still not as comfortable as some of the other more padded packs out there, but when milage is the game, weight is something to be considered. As I'm a fan of making things the way I want them, I may either add padding to the shoulder straps, or replace them altogether despite the weight penalty. It may seem like a lot to go through while I could just use another pack, but my goal here is to have a lightweight pack that is also waterproof and doesn't suffer from the thin shoulder straps that this pack (as well as the Z-packs model) have. I also take into consideration the fact that I enjoy hiking in the rain so the waterproof construction was high on my list of must-haves.