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Climbing Packs

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Ice Pack

I used to pull out a certain rucksack for sport climbing, another for trad and a third for alpine. Last year I received a pack from Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) and all that changed.

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Hyperlite Mountain Gear 
Packs_HMG_3400IcePack_2.jpg

3400 Ice Pack

hyperlitemountaingear.com

| $295

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I used to pull out a certain rucksack for sport climbing, another for trad and a third for alpine. Last year I received a pack from Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) and all that changed.

The design is super simple and I own snazzier packs, but every time I geared up for an alpine route or long approach, I’d find myself reaching for the Ice Pack.

Why? Because it’s so light. At 2.13 pounds, the 3,400-cubic-inch Ice Pack is a pound or more lighter than most packs with similar capacities. It’s also really durable. The secret to this light but tough mix is a non-woven laminated fabric called Cuben Fiber. Originally designed for use in sailing, Cuben Fiber is made by sandwiching polyethylene fiber filaments .001 of an inch thick in various arrangements between thin outer layers of polyester film.

Cuben Fiber is 50 to 70 percent lighter than Kevlar. It’s also reportedly four times stronger than Kevlar, and allows flex without losing strength. Though Cuben Fiber has high tensile strength, it has relatively low abrasion/puncture resistance. As with all HMG packs, an additional layer of nylon is laminated to the Cuben Fiber to improve abrasion resistance.

The result is a superlight pack built to last. I’ve climbed with the Ice Pack for a couple of seasons now and it fits well and is holding up. Though the suspension system is rudimentary, the pack carries really well. My only design criticism is the position of the interior pocket. This mesh pouch is situated so that all your loose belongings ride against your back and can bulge through and poke you. Moving the pocket to the side of the pack would completely solve the problem. The other obvious drawback is the price. Cuben Fiber is expensive and you’ll be paying for that pound of weight savings—about $100 more for a similar capacity. That said, the Ice Pack is still my choice for any adventure where light is right.

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