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P1030390

HMG 2400 Ice Pack – Review

I bought a ski-compatible version of Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s 2400 Ice Pack for winter activities. The delivery was fast and I got my pack around Christmas 2014. Since then I have been doing some winter walking, winter mountaineering, ski touring, cross country skiing and downhill skiing with it. Here is my review of the pack after one winter season.
Me, bobble hat and 2400 Ice Pack at Na Gruagaichean, Scotland. Picture Claire Hopkins
Me, THE bobble hat and the 2400 Ice Pack at Na Gruagaichean, Scotland 2015. Read trip report. Picture Claire Hopkins

The pack

I requested HMG to make my rucksack with ski holsters but other than that it’s the default version. Normally the pack has 50D Cuben Fiber/Polyester hybrid in the body and 150D version on the bottom to increase durability. HMG’s Cuben Fiber / Polyester hybrid is 100% waterproof and, according to HMG’s website, can withstand over twice the strain over pure Cuben Fiber. Most of the seams are sealed which makes the pack very resistant against water and sleet. I remember reading from somewhere that there are a couple of seams on that cannot be seam-sealed (this means that the bag isn’t 100% waterproof itself so don’t expect it to stay 100% dry if you submerge it). When you order the version with ski holsters, they add reinforced Dyneema® to the bottom and side panels. The ski holsters are also made from Dyneema®. My pack is the 2400 version which means that the volume is 2400 cubic inches (i.e. 40 litres for those of us that operate in litres). I find that the size is good for a day out in Scottish winter and hut-to-hut type ski touring in the Alps.

 

My back length is 16.3-16.4 inches and the small size frame is good for me.

Specs

2400 Ice Pack
2400 Ice Pack
  • Made in December 2014
  • Materials :
    • Body : Cuben Fibre / Polyester hybrid
    • Side / Bottom : Dyneema®
    • Ski holsters : Dyneema®
  • Size 40 litres / 2400 cubic inces
  • Total weight : 981 g / 34.6 oz
    • Including hip belt
    • Aluminium stays x 2
    • Shock cord in crampon attachments
  • Rucksack 728 g / 25.6 oz
    • Including shock cord crampon attachments
  • Aluminium stays 78 g / 2.75 oz
    • single : 39g / 1.37 oz
  • Hip belt with pockets 175 g / 6.17 oz

I normally use the rucksack with a hip belt but I leave the aluminium stays behind which totals 903 g / 31.8 oz.

Values are measured without shortening any of the straps or doing any other customisations. You can cut a couple of grams by shortening them but so far I have been cautious to avoid cutting them too short.  Measurements are also taken using my kitchen scales so there might be small errors in the numbers but should be close enough.

Features

The pack has a roll-top closure method which took me a bit of time to get used to. It is good at keeping water and snow out but if you need to access the pack often un-rolling and re-rolling might get a bit irritating. This irritation is common to all roll-top packs and it does mean you need to plan and pack your bag correctly in order to reduce the number of times you need to get into your pack. Because the 2400 Ice Pack doesn’t have any exterior pockets, pretty much everything goes inside. There is one internal zip pocket to store things like a wallet etc. Before I started to use my pack, I was a bit worried that the pocket would make it harder to get stuff from the pack since it is attached only from the top to the pack but I can get small and big items from the pack without any problems.

 

Zip pocket inside the pack
Zip pocket inside the pack

There are also 2 removable contoured aluminium stays that act as a frame. If you are carrying heavier loads, those might come in handy but I hardly ever use them. I feel that the pack is very comfy to carry even without them but that means that you have to be a bit more careful how you pack it. If you leave the stays at home you can save about 80 grams.

Removing / inserting the stay is easy
Removing / inserting the stays is easy

A v-shaped strapping system on top of the pack is designed to secure gear on top of the pack such as a rope or sleeping pad. It’s also used for vertical compression. I have found this system very functional and often use it to strap my jacket onto the pack.

When talking about compressions system, there are four horizontal compression straps and the top closure can be used to provide a vertical one. I can compress the pack down to 20 – 25 l-ish and it still feels very comfy and solid. I have to say that it’s one of the things that I have learned to value and it makes the pack more suitable for all-around use. If you need to carry stuff that you take out later – lets say your climbing rack – you can just compress the pack and have a small, compact and solid pack on your back when you are doing the climb.

The hip belt is removable and can be removed / added easily when needed. I usually keep mine attached but in some cases I take the belt off. It’s a very handy feature if you need to constantly take the pack off or if you want to save extra grams while attacking the climb. You can choose to have belt with gear loops or you can choose with small pockets. My choice was small pockets and I really like them. They give some external pockets that can be accessed without opening the pack and they are big enough for stuffing some snacks / electrics in. From climbing point of view, those might get into way a bit if you don’t remove the hip belt. Anyway, for my use, the hip belt pockets work very nicely.

 

Belt removed
Belt removed

Attaching the toys

The 2400 Ice Pack has an external ice axe and crampon attachment system. The ice axe attachments work as would be expected for a pack that is designed for winter activities. They are easy to use and very secure. I have been concerned a couple of times that the cuben fibre body may not be able to withstand the sharp notches you sometimes pick up on the ice axes  (to clarify, I never hit the rocks…oh wait, I’m living in Scotland) but so far I haven’t had any problems. It is possible of  course to use some kind of blade covers. Anyway, the system for carrying one or two axes works very well.

Crampons can be attached in between the ice axes and this feature can be used to attach other stuff too. If I’m not using this for my crampons (e.g. if I’ve put these inside the pack), I sometimes use this to attach my map case for fast accessibility. I have read that some people replace the default cord with lighter versions but I haven’t found any reason to do so.

Ice tool attachment system
Ice tool attachment system

Since my pack has ski holsters, you can easily attach skis to the sides. Usually I tie skies from the top together to create an ‘A’ shape which makes the whole pack and skis into a very solid unit which is comfy to carry. This way you don’t kick the bottom of the skis when you’re walking/climbing either. The ski holsters are attached solidly to the pack and you can use the side compression straps to secure your skis. I use Dynafit bindings on my skis and the holsters are a good size for those. Actually the holsters could be just a tiny bit smaller to make a snug fit for my skis; if you wanted to save extra gram or two, you could talk about the size with HMG when ordering the pack to make sure that you got the perfect size to fit your skis.

Ski holster
Ski holster

Conclusion

I have to say that I like my ‘potato sack‘ (as my friends in the mountaineering club call it). It’s light, weatherproof and does the job – and does it well. It’s a very solid pack for all winter activities no matter if you need to carry skis, ice climbing gear, you are tackling some alpine routes or bagging a munro or two. It also works very well in the Scottish environment where rain and sleet is more than common. If you need more volume then just pick the 3400 version.

White-coloured cuben fibre lets some light through so finding your gear in low light is much easier than the ones that doesn’t. This is often handy but it also means that there is more maintenance – cleaning – to keep your pack shiny.

I can think of only one improvement that could make this pack better. There could be an option to get shoulder straps that more S-shaped/contoured. If you have wide shoulders for your back length getting more shaped straps could improve the fit. This is a hypothesis as I don’t have a version to test. Anyway, even without one this pack is very comfy to carry when you load it correctly. The hip belt also works very well.

I can’t comment on long-term durability but I’ll come back to that if I see reason to do so.

I liked this pack so much that I bought a custom-made 2400 Windrider/Southwest combination pack for summer activities!

Pros

  • Very comfy to carry
  • Very functional
  • Lightweight – only 903 grams
  • Superb weather resistance
  • White (easy to see gear inside)

Cons

  • Expensive (grrr, stupid UK taxes…)
  • White (needs some cleaning and is susceptible to dirt)

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