HMG 4400 or Seek Outside?
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- This topic has 17 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 2 years, 6 months ago by Ryan Jordan.
Mar 27, 2017 at 10:29 am #3459781
Hi. Long time reader. New member.
I need a new pack for 2+ weeks unsupported. My base weight is 6 kg and food/fuel for one week is 6 kg so two weeks means 18 kg or more. Luckily we don’t need to carry water in the Scandes.
I am looking at HMG Porter 4400 and Seek Outside Divide 4500. I have read all the review and forum threads I can find but I find very little info from people who have used both. I live in Sweden so ordering/trying/returning the pack will not be an option.
I know they are very different feature wise. My primary concern is how well they carry the load.
I am looking for advice from someone who has used both HMG 4400 and a Seek Outside pack, preferably with 15+ kg.Mar 27, 2017 at 11:09 am #3459785
I have used both a HMG Porter 4400 and a Seek Outside Unaweep 4800 and found the Seek Outside to be the more comfortable of the two packs. I carred 14-15KG with the HMG and 14-20KG with the Seek Outside, which I used on a 11 day packrafting trip in Brooks Range Alaska and am planning on using for a 12 day backpacking trip in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska this summer with a 15KG load.
The SO water bottle pockets are better than the HMG water bottle holders, but the HMG’s are removable if you ever don’t need them.
The HMG hipbelt pockets aren’t a great design but the SO doesn’t have pockets so I rigged some Zimmerbuilt pockets up to my SO and that workedOK. SO does offer removesble hipbelt pockets now but I am not sure they are what you want for backpacking.
I had the HMG stuff pocket which was nice and well thought out. I don’t use a Talon with my SO so I can’t compare but the Divide has a rear pocket anyways.
The frame on the SO is much more substantial than the HMG. I get the impression that you could load it up with as much weight as I could put in it and it would carry it (I would physically break down before the pack frame would sag)
The other thing is the substance of the SO hipbelt and shoulder straps which are much beefier than the HMG. I imagine the limit for we would be around 18KG for the HMG for me. The hipbelt seems like it would sag by that weight.
The SO has load lifters and the HMG doesn’t
I also tried the Exped Lightning 60, and chose the SO as my load hauler prior to my 2015 trip.
The SO once I stripped it down weighs 1289G (with no hipbelt pockets) and the HMG in Tall was 1304G (with water bottle pockets) so fairly close.Mar 28, 2017 at 12:57 am #3459939
Thank you very much Brad for your detailed answer. I had read your 2015 Unaweep vs Lightning thread but I was lacking a comparison including HMG 4400. Again, thank you.
I think my intellectual side has been telling me a long time the SO is the better pack for me but my emotional side wants the HMG.
So now, Divide 4500 or Unaweep 4800? :)
Except from two weeks solo unsupported summer/autumn I also do winter trips and once or twice a year my three kids join me for multi day trips in mountains as well (20+ kg). If I add that to the equation do you think the Unaweep 4800 is better in terms of strapping a bulky Nallo 4 to the outside/frame, winter gear (WM Puma GWS is huge), etc? I have been using an Osprey Xenith or pulk (winter) on these trips until now.Mar 28, 2017 at 6:47 am #3459950
The Divide in its current form didn’t exist when I bought my Unaweep, but I would be quite tempted by it now.
I did quite a bit of cutting on the Unaweep after my initial trip with it to get rid of all the loose straps since I wasnt using a Talon. I cut the top two side compression straps and removed the top “V” compression strap. I left the bottom side compression straps to make my own “roll top” closure and provide vertical compression. I also cut the load shelf off the bottom. I like simple packs and there were too many straps I had to deal with on the Unaweep with no Talon.
The HMG is a very aesthetically pleasing pack and I really wanted to fall in love with it, but it just wasn’t as comfortable to me as the SO. Perhaps the perfect marriage would be the HMG pack bag with the SO frame and suspension.
I always use water bottle pockets and the HMG water bottle holders leave something to be desired so if I was going the HMG route, I would strongly consider the Zimmerbuilt water bottle pockets for the HMG.
The Talon (which I don’t have) seems like it would be perfect for strapping awkward or bulky items to your pack, however I would want to pack everything inside my pack if possible. If the 4800 or Divide isn’t big enough they always have the 6300.
The Unaweep is a straight cylinder, like the McHale LBP. The Divide is tapered like the HMG. I am not sure if one is a particular advantage over the other but it is a difference that should be noted.
Do you like a front stuff pocket? If so the Divide is the choice, but some people prefer a cleaner pack and thus no pocket. If you go the Unaweep route and do not want to use the Talon, then some trimming may be in order, though it isn’t necessary if you get creative with your straps. I eventually decided that I was never going to use a Talon and thus would be better served removing the straps and load shelf.
With all of the trimming I did, I lost most of the horizontal compression of the pack but that doesn’t bother me as not only did I remove the horizontal compression from my previous packs but also my big trips require bear canisters – usually a Bearikade Expedition – and thus my pack volume doesn’t change much between day 1 and day 12 of a trip. That may not be the case for you where canisters are probably not required.
I know lots of people love the HMG packs and I can see why, some things they have done very well. I think it would be a lot better pack for loads over 14KG if they added load lifters and beefed up their hipbelt. The SO packs are amazing in what they can do and as they continue to make refinements in their pack bags are only going to get better. You might call or email Kevin, Nathan, or Luke at SO and talk to them about your needs as unlike me, they can better compare the Divide with the current Unaweep.Mar 28, 2017 at 8:15 am #3459963Eric OsburnBPL Member
I have been eyeballing the SO packs for awhile now. I have three kids under 5y/o and will need a dedicated hauler sometime in the next couple years. It seems like SO keeps refining their packs so I haven’t been in a rush to pull the trigger.
Do the SO packs seem to be accurately listed when it comes to capacity? I’ve noticed a lot of manufactures overstate their capacity and am torn between the Divide, 4800 and potentially even the 6300 although it would look enormous on my 5’5″ frame.Mar 28, 2017 at 9:21 am #3459983Jeff PatrickBPL Member
I have the Divide and like it a lot. My previous backpack was a Ray Way and the Divide is essentially a beefed up Ray Way.
There is a lot of space in the backpack, even with a bear canister. The compression straps do a great job though. You could have 5 pounds in the bag and still have it carry tightly.Mar 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm #3460040Michael SirofchuckBPL Member
@mr_squishyLocale: Great Wet North
I have used both packs with heavy loads; the 4400 Porter for a ski/snowshoe trip on the Harding Ice Field (as well as other trips) and the Seek Outside for hunting here in Alaska. For me, one is as good as the other. Both handled heavy loads well and were comfortable. I have the Zimmerbuilt water bottle pockets and the Porter Stuff Pocket add-on on my 4400. I found the 4400 to be a bit less stable than the SO, but that may have something to do with rappelling down a glacier face with mountaineering skis, snowshoes, crampons, etc. strapped on the outside of a definitely overloaded pack. (see photo below) For me, it would come down to what pack features are most important to you. I like my 4400 with the one big compartment with the pockets for those few things I want to be easily accessible while traveling when I am backpacking or packrafting. I like the SO mainly because the talon allows me to stash my gear in the pack bag and strap game bags on the outside of the pack bag. I have both a Unaweep and a Paradox Evolution frame with pack bag and both handle heavy loads very well. The frame is probably a bit more stable in loads of 20+ kg.
a ParMar 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm #3460047James holdenBPL Member
Be aware that the SO is around 6-7″ at the shoulder strap apex gap ….
Most regular packs are 4-5″
So for folks with narrower shoulders it may not be the best fit
;)Mar 28, 2017 at 1:56 pm #3460057
Michael- that is a serious load! What did that end up weighing?
I appreciate you chiming in as someone who has used both as I realize that packs are personal and not everyone may come to the same conclusion I did. Another quality perspective for the OP.
Eric- I have seen that complaint, and realize it may be a problem for some though it hasn’t for me and I am a size 40 jacket and 6′ 160lbs so not super wide shoulders. That just goes to show how personal pack fit can be. Next to shoes, packs are probably the most variable about fit from one person to another.
One more ore thing a fellow SO user reminded me of- the Divide is set up for the 24″ frame and while it works with the 26″ frame it is not ideal so if you are a longer torso like me, that might tip the scales to a Unaweep over a Divide.Mar 28, 2017 at 2:38 pm #3460072
The 4800 is a larger pack than the Porter 4400 or the Exped Lightning 60. I would fill them both up and snap a photo but my Dad, who is using my Porter is on an 8 day trip. Perhaps when he gets back I can put them side by side and get a pic.
The Unaweep is a wider pack all the way through the pack and is lower height wise. The HMG is a narrower taller pack The Divide is shaped more like the Porter with the narrower base but I don’t have a direct comparison
In my opinion the 4800 is just about right for a two week trip with a Bearikade Expedition though I have used it for week long trips as well.Mar 28, 2017 at 4:52 pm #3460101Michael SirofchuckBPL Member
@mr_squishyLocale: Great Wet North
Remember that Seek Outside packs began as a quest to create a lightweight pack to use for hunting and the heavy loads associated with hunting. They are definitely designed to carry heavier loads than the HMG 4400; for example, I packed a deer out by myself last fall and my pack weighed 100 pounds. I was using my Paradox Evolution. It handled the load very well and was exceptionally stable as I bushwhacked and hiked down steep hills; and it was as comfortable as any pack can be at that weight. Once the game bags are strapped on, the Talon is essential because it’s a major deal to get into the pack bag.
I have also carried heavy loads in the Unaweep and it performed admirably. I think that once you approach anything over 20 kg, you’d want the Seek Outside pack. I, too, rigged waistbelt pockets on my SO – I like the Luke’s Ultralight pockets. I did do one mod on my SE packbags which was to sew straps on the side for buckling the roll down top straps (the 4400 has these straps). I also modified my SO so that the top straps from the frame to the buckle in the middle of the pack bag were identical to the HMG design which has two adjustment points.Mar 31, 2017 at 1:15 am #3460708
Thanks for all the comments. I ordered an SO Unaweep 4800 since this was going to be my heavy load pack.Mar 31, 2017 at 5:24 am #3460719
Sven please report back with your impressions. It’s always good to see more data points.Mar 31, 2017 at 5:51 am #3460722
Will do. A week from now I will go on a one week trip with skis and pulk in the Swedish mountains. Hopefully the new pack has arrived when I’m back :)Mar 31, 2017 at 6:33 am #3460726Logan KBPL Member
Re: The Unaweep
SvenThe Unaweep will not disappoint! I have owned one for over a year and I have found it to be the perfect pack. Even when going very light, I like the ability to completely unweight my shoulders from time to time – so the stripped pack weight is not overkill for an 8 pound summer base weight. As mentioned above, it compresses to almost nothing. Also I find the talon system to be very advantageous. I own both the standard talon (zippered panel) and the mesh (like is fixed on the Divide), and I honestly think my medium to xl pack search is over for the quite some time.
You didn’t mention which of the talon panel options you went with (or if you went with one at all), but you can always add later and I think you will be very happy with the fit, function, and versatility.
LoganMar 31, 2017 at 6:57 am #3460729
Logan: the mesh talon. I like to keep rain gear and tent on the outside.Nov 25, 2020 at 12:37 am #3685652Pete M.BPL Member
Sven, Any follow up on your experience with the Unaweep? I too am shopping for a heavy haul pack and I’m looking at the Unaweep. This has all been very helpful!Nov 25, 2020 at 1:11 am #3685655Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
SO – how can we make a load hauler as light as possible?
HMG: how can we make an ultralight pack as comfortable as possible with a heavy load?
Starting weight of 50 lb or less, mostly food, I’m using an HMG Porter.
Big base weight > 30 lb, I’m using an SO…
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