The author, Abigail, wearing the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack on a hike in winter

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 SW Backpack Review (2023)

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👉 Jump toReview Summary | Video Review | Features Review | Specs Chart | Alternatives | FAQs

If you’re looking for the most detailed, brutally honest Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest backpack review, this is it. 

Some background first: we recently purchased and tested out 8 of 2023’s best backpacking packs in Southern Utah. I knew we had to include the Hyperlite Southwest in this project because this ultralight pack has received so much hype. 

To find out if the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 3400 backpack is worth it, I took it and the other bags on a 5-day backpacking trip through the region it’s named after. 

In this article, I share my thoughts on every one of Hyperlite’s details, from utility and materials to comfort and organization. 

And I’ll answer your burning question: is the Hyperlite Southwest the right pack for your needs? 

If not, take a look at the alternatives at the end. Ultimately, my job is to help you make the right choice for your next backpacking trip. 

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Review Quick Summary

Quick Summary
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest

Abigail's Take: One of the best ultralight packs on the market, great for multi-day backpacking trips. It’s built for tough adventures with highly durable, water-resistant materials and an incredible load transfer ability.

Click for Best Price


  • Lightweight, durable, and eco-conscious materials
  • Nearly waterproof with a unique roll-top closure
  • Impressive internal and external volume
  • Technical features accommodate extra gear
  • Hip belt takes on the brunt of the load


  • More costly than competing products
  • Does not well accommodate heavy, bulky gear
  • Tricky to access items at the base of your pack
The author, Abigail, testing the Hyperlite 3400 Southwest in the heavy snow in Southern Utah
Me testing the Hyperlite 3400 Southwest in southern Utah

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest is best for:

  • Ultralight backpackers 
  • Multi-day trips, including thru-hikes
  • Dry, rocky terrain — but it does well in the snow, too!

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest might not be a fit for:

  • Backpackers who haven’t invested in an ultralight tent
  • Budget-conscious consumers  

Overall, I’ve rated the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 4.6 out of 5 stars. It’s a highly durable pack that’s incredibly lightweight. Despite its thin padding, it’s reasonably comfortable, and I’m amazed by its load transfer ability. Nearly all your pack weight falls on your hips, great for hikers given their lower body strength. 

The Southwest’s materials are near-waterproof and very resistant to abrasion. Its hardware is quality-made, and I’m a fan of the pack’s aesthetic, as well as the brand’s persona. You feel like a true mountain athlete with a high-performance pack like this. 

The author, Abigail, testing the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest with Skycie using the Mountainsmith Apex 60
I tested the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest, while Skycie carried the Mountainsmith Apex 60

However, this backpacking pack costs a pretty penny! Pricing for the Hyperlite 3400 Southwest ranges from $349 to $425, depending on size. Don’t get me wrong, you often get what you pay for! But to determine value, I reviewed the Southwest with a higher level of scrutiny.

Here are some of the things I didn’t love about the Hyperlite 3400 Southwest: given its height (which is over half my height), it can be tricky to access gear toward the bottom of your pack. In that same vein, the Southwest lacks base straps, limiting those who may not have the most ultra-light gear. 

The author, Abigail, walking on the snow covered landscape while using the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
This durable, water-resistant pack held up great in the heavy snow

In addition, the company’s warranty is fair, but not particularly generous. In case you notice any defects, buy the product for yourself and make sure to hold onto the receipt. 

But hopefully, you don’t notice any issues and you love the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest as much as I do. Those into ultralight backpacking will find a few products made with the same level of durability and detail. 

If you decide that the Southwest doesn’t fit your needs, jump to the Alternatives section. I share two worthy contenders that I’ve also personally tested.

Video Review Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest

You can keep scrolling for my detailed Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest review.

Or click play on my video review rounding up the 8 top backpacking backpacks I compared on our trip in Utah.

(Note: the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest section starts at 02:26 in the video).

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Features Review

The author, Abigail, walking under the heavy snow while carrying the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
Not all the Southwest’s features are as black and white as this shot

That’s the quick summary of my Hyperlite Southwest review. Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. I’ll cover every detail of the pack below, sharing the pros and cons so you know exactly what to expect. I also geek out over the Southwest’s materials (spoiler: in my opinion, it’s largely what makes this pack worth the high price tag). 

In this section, I’ll review the following Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest features and aspects:


⭐ STAR RATING: 4.5 / 5 stars

The author, Abigail, demonstrates the roll-top closure of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
Me demonstrating the roll-top closure in our “Best Backpacking Packs” YouTube video

Fully unrolled, the 3400 Southwest is 34 in (86.4 cm) tall — which is more than half my height. The reason for this depth is that the pack features a unique roll-top closure system, similar to a dry bag. 

What I love about the roll-top design is that it helps to create a near-waterproof pack. It also allows you to pack a variety of load sizes, and you can compress the bag accordingly. 

Here’s what I don’t love: even though the pack has aluminum stays to prevent collapsing, they only come up around 19 in (48.3 cm) from the base. The roll-top portion is unstructured, which makes accessing gear at the bottom of the pack quite difficult. 

Also, all models of the Southwest pack can only be top-loaded. I think it would have been beneficial for Hyperlite to have included a front opening, as seen on the Mountainsmith Apex and Backpacker by Salkan

But, in fairness, additional zippers would add weight, and being ultralight is this pack’s key differentiator. Given its weight, a 55L internal volume and 9.8L external volume are hugely impressive. 

View of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack full of plastic balls inside
I was amazed that 170 golf balls fit in this spacious front pocket

Want a breakdown of its external volume? I used golf balls to determine the following measurements, similar to the ASTM International standard for backpack capacity. These estimates are based on 12 golf balls roughly equating to a liter: 

  • Hip belt pockets (2x) – 15 golf balls / 1.25L per 
  • Side pockets (2x) – 32 golf balls / 2.67L per
  • Front pocket – 170 golf balls / 14.17L 
  • Shoulder pocket (internal) – 8 golf balls / 0.67L
  • Shoulder pocket (external) – 3 golf balls / 0.25L 

Perhaps you noticed that the above doesn’t total 9.8L. To clarify, these measurements were taken with the main compartment empty. Obviously, if this were full, the front and side pockets would be more constricted.

While this may not be a perfect science, it demonstrates a couple of things. First, the external pocket on the front face is significantly larger than the two side pockets. 

Second, the hip belt pockets are incredibly spacious. In fact, these are the second-most spacious of any other pack I tested. For more comparative data, see the table on our “Best Backpacking Packs” round-up


⭐ STAR RATING: 5 / 5 stars

View of the weight of Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
My pack weighed 18.3 lbs (8.3 kg) during testing

The black 3400 Southwest, which I tested for this review, weighs 2.2 lbs (0.979 kg). This series’ lightest option (the white 2400) weighs 1.9 lbs (0.872 kg), while the heaviest (the black 4400) weighs 2.4 lbs (1.100 kg). 

In general, the white version of the Southwest weighs slightly less than the black color. This applies regardless of size. See the Technical Specifications section for weights associated with all models. 

In addition, the 2400 and 3400 Southwest backpacks both have a load capacity of 40 lbs (18.1 kg). The 4400 model can hold up to 60 lbs (27.2 kg) — which is a maximum you don’t often see advertised. It’s a great feature for experienced backpackers who can manage such a load on long thru-hikes.  

👉 Pro Tip: Fully loaded, your backpacking pack should not weigh more than ~20% of your body weight. [Source- REI] For someone like me (100 lbs / 45.4 kg), I like that the lightweight Southwest only accounts for about 2 lbs of the 20 lbs I can carry (1 kg of the 9.1 kg). 


⭐ STAR RATING: 4 / 5 stars

View of the shoulder straps of Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
The Southwest 3400 shoulder straps are super thin, yet comfortable

Lightweight is great, but here’s the important question: is the Hyperlite Southwest comfortable?

The shoulder straps are incredibly thin, featuring a 3/8-inch (just under 1 cm) closed-cell foam and spacer mesh. They’re made of the brand’s Hardline with Dyneema® fabric. It’s a proprietary blend with incredible tensile strength. For more information, see the Materials section below.

View of the hip belt of Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
I especially love this hip belt and the way it transfers weight

The hip belt is equally as thin and is also made of Hardline with Dyneema®. Its padding features a 1/8-inch (0.32-cm) closed cell rigid foam, 1/4-inch (0.64-cm) closed cell foam, and spacer mesh. 

With added rigidity and its tightening straps, I was amazed by the hip belt’s load transfer ability. It felt that a large majority of my weight was riding at my hips — perfect for a hiker like me, with more lower body strength than upper.

The author, Abigail, posing under the heavy snow in Utah
Heavy layers and repositioning gear improved back comfort, but this is an issue to note

However, here’s where the Hyperlite Southwest loses points: the thicker lumbar panel padding only comes about 5.5 inches (14 cm) up from the base of the pack. The rest of the back panel features a 1/4-inch (0.64-cm) integrated foam back and two removable stays. But in my opinion, this isn’t comfortable enough, as it greatly limits what you can pack higher up.  

See, the backpack’s width is 10.5 inches (26.7 cm). But many backpacking tents are wider than this. For example, Skycie’s Big Agnes backpacking tent is similar to this one, which is 19.5 inches (49.5 cm) wide when packed. 

Because the Hyperlite Southwest lacks straps at its base, you may have to stack your tent vertically within the pack. The top compression straps can’t serve this purpose, as you’d be too top-heavy. 

Point being, if you don’t have the ultralight gear to complement the Hyperlite Southwest, you may find this back panel to be an issue. 

👉 Heads Up: Though I have my qualms about the back panel, I appreciate that the Southwest is available in a variety of sizes. Watch this video to understand the length of your torso and opt for the proper size when purchasing. This will add to the comfort of the product.

Internal Organization

⭐ STAR RATING: 5 / 5 stars

View of the hydration bladder inside the backpack
Place a hydration bladder in the interior mesh pocket
View of the hydration port on the side of Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
The hydration port is found on the left side of the back panel

Like most backpacking packs, the internal organization of the Hyperlite Southwest is simple. Inside, there’s an 8-inch x 14-inch (20.3-cm x 35.6-cm) mesh sleeve. This is intended for a hydration bladder. 

To hold the bladder in place, affix a carabiner to the loop directly above the sleeve. Then, you can pull the hose through the hydration port on the left side of the back panel. This opening features a hook-and-loop fastener, protecting your gear from the elements. 

I won’t knock off points twice, but as noted in the Size section above, accessing your gear can be tricky. This is because of how deep the pack is, and because it’s only top-loaded.

External Organization

⭐ STAR RATING: 4.5 / 5 stars

Front view of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest Backpack while being used
The front face of the pack has a large pocket, plus four triglide buckles
View of the side compression straps of Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
Side compression straps accommodate bulky items

The Hyperlite Southwest has several external pockets. There’s a large, deep pocket that spans the front face of the pack. Elastic helps hold items in place, and does the same for the two side pockets. These are further secured with compression straps. 

Two triglide buckles are also found on both sides of the large front-face pocket. You can use these to add accessory straps, and then attach additional gear. You’ll notice that there’s also an ice tool loop at the base of the pack. 

View of the hip belt strapped on the waist
Most hip belts can’t compete with these Dyneema Hardline pockets’ volume

There are two zippered pockets on the hip belt. I especially like the depth and wide opening of these hip belt pockets, and could fit my chunky, Otterbox-protected iPhone in one of them! 

Note that the shoulder straps also feature daisy chains. With a carabiner, these allow you to attach a variety of items, as well as Hyperlite backpack accessories. Personally, I like to store a personal locator beacon here for easy access. 

View of the top Y-shaped compression strap of Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
The top Y-shaped compression strap is one of this pack’s unique features

The Hyperlite Southwest also features side compression straps. These allow you to latch on trekking poles, a sleeping pad, a camera tripod, clothing layers, and so forth. The unique Y-shaped compression strap at the top of the pack serves the same purpose, though it can support more bulky items. 

In the brand’s product walk-through video, its Director of R&D mentions that the Y-strap could accommodate a large bear can. But I’m hesitant to agree with this for the same reason I wouldn’t strap my tent here. 

Of course, how you pack your bag is a personal preference. But most backpackers would agree that it’s more comfortable to have heavier items towards the middle of your pack, not the top. I think straps at the bottom of this pack would have been a real game-changer. 

In addition, I wish that the three external pockets were more secure. Zippers or a top flap, as seen on the Hyperlite Headwall model, would have made the pack even more water-resistant. Granted, the Southwest is meant for dry, rocky environments — not the heavy snow I experienced when testing it in southern Utah. But it would have been a nice inclusion.  

Shoulder Pocket (Sold Separately)

⭐ STAR RATING: 5 / 5 stars

View of the shoulder pocket attached to the strap of the backpack
The pocket affixes to the shoulder straps’ daisy chains
View of the shoulder pocket from the front
It’s made with water-resistant materials

The Hyperlite shoulder pocket is sold separately, retailing for $49. It features a mesh external pocket, great for small items you’ll want easy access to, such as sunscreen and chapstick. 

Like the hip belt pockets, my bulky iPhone fits inside comfortably — but note there’s no room to spare. It’s made with waterproof DCH50 and a water-resistant YKK zipper, meant to keep your electronics safe. 

Is it necessary? In my opinion, not really, given the spaciousness of the hip belt pockets. But is it a nice, high-quality feature? Absolutely. 


⭐ STAR RATING: 5 / 5 stars

Closeup view of the material of Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
I may have geeked out over Hyperlite’s materials… but you don’t see a pack like this often

Proprietary materials are one of the Hyperlite Southwest’s key differentiators. The black version of the pack solely features DCH150. “DCH” refers to Dyneema® Composite Hybrids. Stay with me here — things are about to get technical.

TL;DR: DCH150 is super lightweight, extremely durable, and water-resistant.  

So, this fabric features Dyneema fibers, which fall under the category of UHMWPE materials. Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene is, essentially, an extremely tough plastic. Hyperlite’s version of this material is one-thousandth of an inch thick. Yet, it’s 15 times stronger than steel, and few materials can compete with its strength-to-weight ratio.  

Then, to create Dyneema Composite Fabric, the company layers the fibers in an opposing grid, giving the fabric a ripstop quality. Polyester film is also melded with the Dyneema® fibers, acting as the outermost layers. This polyester has a denier, or thickness, of 150. The higher this number, the thicker the material. 

Closeup view on the interior of Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
Notice the seam tape protecting the pack interior

Now, Hyperlite takes this composite fabric and stitches it into the Southwest and other backpack models. At this stage, it’s referred to as a Dyneema® Composite Hybrid. Reason being, the stitching process pokes small holes into the waterproof fabric. The company then uses seam tape to seal 90+% of openings that could allow moisture to seep in.

But, this is why Dyneema® Composite Hybrids (i.e. the Southwest backpack) are considered water-resistant, not waterproof. For full water protection, the brand suggests pairing its packs with its waterproof stuff sacks and pods

Two additional notes: first, the white version of the 2400 and 3400 Hyperlite Southwest is made a little different. Their bottom fabric is DCH150, but their main body is DCH50. Meaning, the main body’s polyester layers have a denier of 50 and are a bit thinner. This is why the white version is 0.1-0.2 lbs (45.4-90.7 g) lighter than the black backpack. 

Lastly, the hip belt, shoulder straps, and exterior pockets are made of Hardline with Dyneema® fabric. This material also features Dyneema® fibers, which Hyperlite weaves into the pack’s nylon fabric base. Doing so adds tensile strength, allowing for heavier loads with less risk of tearing. Hardline with Dyneema® is also water-resistant.

👉 Going Canyoneering? The Southwest is intended for the “roughest, toughest climates” and for the most part, I highly agree. But this is not a backpack you’d want to take into a technical slot canyon, namely due to its less durable external pockets.    


⭐ STAR RATING: 5 / 5 stars

View of the buckle surrounded by ice
All of the Southwest’s buckles are built to last

The Southwest pack’s side release, triglide, and adjustable strap buckles are made with quality. Though plastic, they feel secure and durable. The same applies to the YKK zippers on the hip belt pockets. 

Inside the pack, you’ll notice two vertical strips adjacent to the hydration bladder sleeve. If you pull back their hook-and-loop fasteners (think Velco), you’ll find two removable, contoured stays. These are made of aluminum. 

While thin and lightweight, they do an incredible job of load transfer — I would say, better than most competing backpacks. These stays also help the torso length maintain itself, allowing you to place your backpacking gear inside more easily. 


⭐ STAR RATING: 5 / 5 stars

The author, Abigail, walking under the heavy snow while carrying the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
Most would agree that Hyperlite creates a stylish product

In my opinion, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest looks and feels super cool. And I don’t mean the texture of the fabric. To me, this pack makes you feel like a true mountain athlete, like those on Hyperlite’s Instagram

But stellar branding and marketing aside, I’m a genuine fan of the pack’s appearance. Its black and white-checkered pockets add style, while the compression straps create a “put together” look. 

Note that I’m giving the black pack I tested 5/5 stars for aesthetic. If I had tested the white version, maybe this would be a different story. 

In general, it’s a lot of work to keep the white fabric looking sharp  — much less when you lug it through rugged environments. I’m not sure if I’d be on board with spot-cleaning a white pack by hand, which is the brand’s recommended method.


⭐ STAR RATING: 4 / 5 stars

The author, Abigail, posing while carrying the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack in winter
If you’re amazed by these views, see McKenna’s list of the best Utah hikes!

Overall, Hyperlite Mountain Gear has a fair warranty. It will repair, replace, or provide a refund of the original price you paid within one year of purchase. However, there are some caveats.

First, this warranty is provided at the company’s discretion. Second, you must have the receipt — which is easy enough if you bought online and have a receipt stored in your email inbox. But if you buy a Hyperlite pack in-store at REI and get handed a paper receipt? Personally, I lose those before I even get home from the store. 

The last pitfall is that the warranty only applies if you’re the original purchaser. Travel Lemming bought me this pack for testing purposes. If I notice a defect later in the year, I wouldn’t be able to amend the issue myself, which is unfortunate. 

I still give Hyperlite 4/5 stars for its warranty, because at the end of the day, it’s fair. Maybe it’s not as generous as Osprey and Gregory’s lifetime guarantees. But the proof of purchase and a year’s coverage is quite standard. 


⭐ STAR RATING: 4 / 5 stars

Closeup view of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack being used on a snowy day
Materials are what largely justify this pack’s value

The Hyperlite Southwest is far more costly than the other packs I tested this year. The Osprey Aura AG LT 65 is the second-most expensive at $290. And even compared to it, the $379 Southwest is almost 25% more in price. 

However, its ultralight quality and Dyneema Composite Fabric largely justify this. Overall, I think the pack comes at a good value given its long-lasting construction. Though, for the cost, I wish its warranty were more compelling. Other factors, such as its limitations to accommodate bulky gear, also influence its value. 

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Technical Specifications Chart

Use the below table to easily compare each model of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest. You’ll notice that measurements vary by size and color, as the white and black versions of the pack are made slightly differently.  

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 SouthwestHyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 SouthwestHyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Southwest
Load CapacityUp to 40 lbs (18.1 kg)Up to 40 lbs (18.1 kg)Up to 60 lbs (27.2 kg)
Trip Length1-4 days5-7 days7+ days
Internal Volume2400 in3 / 40 L3400 in3 / 55 L4400 in3 / 70 L
External Volume600 in3 / 9.8 L600 in3 / 9.8 L600 in3 / 9.8 L
Weight (White) 1.9 lbs (0.872 kg)2.0 lbs (0.896 kg)2.4 lbs (1.100 kg)
Weight (Black)2.0 lbs (0.904 kg)2.2 lbs (0.979 kg)2.4 lbs (1.100 kg)
Back Width10.5 in (26.7 cm)10.5 in (26.7 cm)10.5 in (26.7 cm)
Height (Fully Unrolled)30.0 in (76.2 cm)34.0 in (86.4 cm)38.5 in (97.8 cm)
Top Circumference37.5 in (95.3 cm)40.0 in (101.6 cm)45.0 in (114.3 cm)
Bottom Circumference33.5 in (85.1 cm)33.5 in (85.1 cm)37.5 in (95.3 cm)
Materials (White)DCH50 (Main Body) & DCH150 (Bottom)DCH50 (Main Body) & DCH150 (Bottom)DCH150 (Main Body & Bottom)
Materials (Black)DCH150 (Main Body & Bottom)DCH150 (Main Body & Bottom)DCH150 (Main Body & Bottom)
Table Data Source: data reported by Hyperlite Mountain Gear. Travel Lemming has tested and confirmed these dimensions for the 3400 Southwest. However, we have not manually confirmed this data for all other models. 

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Alternatives

Not sure that the Hyperlite Southwest is right for you? Consider these alternative backpacking packs: 

Mountainsmith Apex

Best Budget Alternative
Mountainsmith Apex

Abigail's Take: Though not as lightweight, this spacious pack grants significant savings. Those with the right build will appreciate its load capacity and water resistance. Its organizational features are also more inclusive. 

Click for Best Price My Mountainsmith Apex Review

Do you love many of this Hyperlite pack’s features, but not its price? Consider the Mountainsmith Apex, a great budget alternative. Its 60L version costs $219.95, which is 42% less than the 3400 Southwest.

The Mountainsmith Apex is also available in an 80L version, and both models can carry up to 60 lbs (27.2 kg). Along with spaciousness, this pack mirrors the Southwest’s water-resistant quality. 

Comparatively, the Apex has more organizational features, including a lid and compression straps at its base. However, unlike the Southwest, it’s only available in a singular size. Note that the Apex is also more than double the weight at 4.63 lbs (2.1 kg). 

But if you’re not an ultralight enthusiast, this budget pick could be a great solution. See my Mountainsmith Apex backpack review for more insights. 

REI Co-Op Flash 55

Best Lightweight Alternative
REI Co-Op Flash 55

Abigail's Take: This highly affordable, lightweight pack isn’t as durable or suitable for long thru-hikes. But its size, comfort, and various features meet the needs of many other types of adventures. 

Click for Best Price My REI Co-Op Flash 55 Review

If you want a lightweight pack but find the Southwest to be unnecessarily technical, check out the REI Co-Op Flash 55. It may not have as impressive durability, nor as reliable water-resistance. It also doesn’t accommodate nearly as heavy of loads, having a 30-lb (13.6-kg) capacity. 

But the extra small/small REI Flash 55 clocks in at just 2.625 lbs (1.191 kg). It’s available in various sizes, as well as gender-specific models for a highly comfortable fit. In addition, it has several more organizational and customizable features. And, it costs just $199 — which is almost half the price of the Southwest. 

As I note in my REI Co-Op Flash 55 review, it may not be ideal for long, rugged thru-hikes. But it suits many other types of trips and preferences. 

FINAL VERDICT – Is The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Worth It? 

Quick Summary
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest

Abigail's Take: One of the best ultralight packs on the market, great for multi-day backpacking trips. It’s built for tough adventures with highly durable, water-resistant materials and an incredible load transfer ability.

Click for Best Price

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest is absolutely worth it — for a certain type of backpacker. In my opinion, this pack is best suited for the experienced or aspiring ultralight enthusiast. 

It also complements a variety of trip lengths and adventures. From thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to trudging through Utah snow, this pack is built to last. Its water-resistant, durable, and lightweight qualities, and its ultra-cool aesthetic, largely justify its high price tag.  

The author, Abigail, walking at the top of the hill while carrying the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Backpack
Hands down, this pack will thrill the ultralight backpacker

I wish that the pack were more versatile in accommodating gear, namely the width of many backpacking tents. And, I think that front access would have made accessing gear less cumbersome.  Lastly, a more compelling warranty would give some consumers greater peace of mind.

But hey, it’s asking a lot for an independent company to match the guarantee of larger competitors. And Hyperlite’s team should be incredibly proud of what it creates. I look forward to exploring the Southwest and beyond with this innovative, ultralight product.     

FAQs About the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest

What is the difference between the 2400 and 3400 Southwest?

The difference between the 2400 and 3400 Southwest is their size. The 2400 Southwest weighs 1.9 – 2.0 lbs (0.872 – 0.904 kg) and has an internal volume of 40L. Whereas, the 3400 Southwest weighs 2.0 – 2.2 lbs (0.896 – 0.979 kg) and has an internal volume of 55L.

See our full Hyperlite comparison chart for more details.

The backpacks’ price is another key difference. The 2400 Southwest cost $349, while the 3400 model costs $379. 

Is the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest backpack waterproof?

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest backpack is not waterproof. Rather, the pack is water-resistant. Hyperlite recommends using its waterproof stuff sacks and pods to create a fully-waterproof kit.


Thanks for reading my honest Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest backpack review! 

Have you tested this ultralight pack? If so, let me know what you think of it in the comments.

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3400 Southwest

One of the best ultralight packs on the market, great for multi-day backpacking trips. It’s built for tough adventures with highly durable, water-resistant materials and an incredible load transfer ability.

Product Brand: Hyperlite

Editor's Rating:


  • Lightweight, durable, and eco-conscious materials
  • Nearly waterproof with a unique roll-top closure
  • Impressive internal and external volume
  • Technical features accommodate extra gear
  • Hip belt takes on the brunt of the load


  • More costly than competing products
  • Does not well accommodate heavy, bulky gear
  • Tricky to access items at the base of your pack


  1. Sorry, but I don´t get how HMG get´s all the top ratings – seems hypocritical. How can pack where you complain about something or where you state “it only has one simple mesh pocket” give 5 / 5 stars for internal organization when there is none? How can comfortable be 5/5 when it absolutel lacks any back ventilation and any comforting pads or structure are nonexistent?

    1. Thank you for sharing this feedback, Jan. To explain, the Hyperlite Southwest received a 5/5 for internal organization due to its spaciousness and versatility. It’s very common for backpacking packs’ main compartments to have minimalist organization, though a hydration sleeve is standard. The Southwest’s hydration sleeve is large enough to accommodate a variety of bladder styles, and the attachment point is versatile. Some packs make these attachment points brand-specific, which limits use.

      Arguably, this score could be lower due to the deep design of the pack, causing it to be difficult to access gear at its base. However, as noted in the review, I took points away for this in the size portion of the features section.

      The Southwest does have breathable foam lumbar padding, as well as padding on its shoulder straps and hip belt. Granted, this padding is thin, but I found the pack to be reasonably comfortable, namely due to its load transfer ability. This is made possible by two aluminum stays, which provide structure.

      Still, I gave comfort 4/5 stars — not a perfect score — due to the back panel only rising 5.5 in/14 cm from the pack’s base. As is, backpackers must be strategic when packing to avoid any pressure points on the middle and upper back. Hopefully, this overview is helpful!

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