Within alpine and ice climbing circles, CiloGear packs have historically been coveted as a lightweight alternative to the standard climbing packs available from top brands today. New entrant Hyperlite Mountain Gear now aims to take on CiloGear with their own line of lightweight packs designed for everything from expedition and technical climbing to thru-hiking the major trails.
Based in Maine, Hyperlite Moutain Gear (HMG) designs and locally manufactures a variety of durable, lightweight, and even ultralight outdoor gear including a number of shelters, packs, stuff sacks and other accessories. HMG made me one of the Ice Packs to test out during the current ice season.
I brought the HMG Ice Pack pack with me to Bozeman and was overall impressed with the performance. I am all about lightening my load on the approach to climbs, especially in Hyalite Canyon where some of the approaches are long and steep.
The ice climbing pack is constructed out of a durable and lightweight cuben fiber/nylon hybrid material. You will find no extra frills on this pack but you have everything you need for a day out in the mountains. With a 40 L or 2400 cu/in capacity, the pack easily held two full ropes and all my gear for the day.
The HMG Ice Pack weighs only 26.5 oz. or around 1.5 lbs. You can even remove the hipbelt to further cut down on weight. An exterior ultra durable patch with bungee cord holds your crampons in place, while a protective sheath hides the sharp picks of your ice tools.
Side compression straps help hold your ice tools in place as well as keep your pack load tidy. The top Y-shaped compression straps are useful for carrying a rope on top of your pack if you can't fit it inside. Four multi-purpose daisy chain straps line the length of pack for securing extra gear. The hipbelt features a couple of gear loops for racking some hardware when climbing with your pack.
The Ice Pack sounds a bit like opening and closing a loud sandwich bag when the material gets cold, but this is a small price to pay for the major reduction in weight. The velcro roll top closure makes the ice climbing pack super easy to get in and out of, as well as protecting the contents from dripping water or snow.
I am not sure about the long term durability of the cuben fiber/nylon material, as I already have one small hole in the side of the pack. Holes in an ice climbing pack are probably inevitable, however, after throwing your pack in and out of car trunks with sharp tools around and hiking through pointy edged trees on the approach.
With minimal structure, I have been impressed with how comfortable the ice climbing pack is to carry, even fully loaded. The weight is easy to adjust between your hips and shoulders, depending on your current activity.
Bottom Line: The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack is an easy way to cut out unnecessary weight without sacrificing on all the features and space you need for a fun day climbing in the mountains.
The HMG Ice Pack retails for $255 and is available from the company website.
Photo credit: Kate Higgins