- Sep 24, 2018 at 11:27 pm #3557154Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
Companion forum thread to: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 5400 Backpack Review
Light and large: our Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 5400 Backpack review – a lightweight pack with the chops for carrying large loads.Sep 24, 2018 at 11:50 pm #3557157Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Perhaps my view is skewed since I have a long torso (21.5″) and many size “large” packs are barely enough for for my torso height, but for a 85L pack that is designed for weights of 65# (or even 35-40#) should have load lifters. HMG’s fit ans suspension system never worked for me at 30# or above.Sep 25, 2018 at 1:20 am #3557166James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
I can pretty much agree with the suspension points mentioned. My gear is generally small and dense. I fit it into a 35L pack easily for two weeks. If I am in the middle of summer, my go-to is a small 12oz Murmur. In shoulder seasons, I add a lot more bulk. My clothing doesn’t weigh a lot, but it doesn’t fit at all in the Murmur. The Southwest 2400 just fits the bill for a week out. I bring my pretty much standard UL gear, and add a heavy weight sweater, a fleece overshirt, an extra set of midweight longjohns (sized up one from my summer base layer) and an extra pair of socks…a lot of bulk for only a small amount of weight. In overall weight terms that is right around 25-27 pounds.
The pack itself doesn’t need load lifters at less than 30pounds. But, I would complain that the shoulder straps are a bit narrow. The Murmur has about an inch wider shoulder straps. The hip belt on the Murmur is too light and was replaced a while ago with a sewn on 1″ wide one. This sounds heavier, but it eliminates the need for the multiple mount points and the “Siamese” clips, so it is actually a hair lighter. Anyway, the packs are all mediums though I am at the borderline between a medium and a large.Sep 25, 2018 at 2:33 am #3557194Craig BBPL Member
Hmm, that’s an interesting philosophy that “all weight is ultimately transferred to the body’s energy systems and how it’s carried is irrelevant”. It sounds simple and reasonable enough, but it’s also the kind of reasoning I would expect from a non-technical person who does not understand physics very well. I definitely disagree with it. To illustrate the differences in load carrying capacities of different parts of the body, just remember the old axiom of ‘bend at the knees when picking up heavy objects’. Society as a whole has figured out that the legs are much better at bearing large weights than the upper portions of the body. Of course carrying a pack on the shoulders vs the hips is not quite the same thing as using your lower back vs legs for lifting something off the ground, but it definitely is DIFFERENT. Certainly a lot more muscle groups get used when only carrying from your shoulders vs hips, so total energy output is most likely higher. I certainly want a pack that transfers everything to my hips for all day comfort as I advance in age and notice the weight more.Sep 25, 2018 at 2:54 am #3557197Kevin BBPL Member
@newmexikevLocale: Western New Mexico, USA
I also agree with Brad and James comments above regarding load lifters. I love the volume to weight ratio of my porter 4400 but it’s comfort with any load above, say 25 lbs, pales in comparison to my Mystery Ranch pintler with lifters and more substantial hip belt. I know, apples to oranges comparison with a 3 lbs. vs. 5 lbs. pack, but it’s surprising HMG hasn’t innovated a bit with a load lifter system as their expedition size packs have grown in volume.
My HMG windrider 2400 seems tiny and svelte compared to both of my above mentioned packs and I still think back with pleasure at how she carried a whitewater decked packraft, pfd, and a weeks worth of supplies on a trip before I was tempted by larger volume packs and the inevitable weight of gear that fills that available space.Sep 25, 2018 at 12:28 pm #3557227James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Greg, The typical formula I look for when packing is around 70%/30%, hips and shoulders. I don’t always hit those numbers, but that’s what I shoot for. I have an old cervical spine injury (about 35 years old, as close to “healed” as it gets) and really build up a lot of pain with more than 5-10pounds on my shoulders after a week or so. Anyway, with the majority of the weight on my hips, it does indeed help. Balance is better, load capacity is better, and ergonomically my legs/hips feel much better at the end of a 20mi day. Tired, but no real pain. Am I saving energy? I believe so, as you say, your spinal column, chest, and abdomen are less involved…the muscles are simply used to support the skeleton, not carry the majority of a packs weight. Perhaps more telling, I forget the pack is on. I sometimes start clearing a tarp area, or, pulling firewood over to a campsite then realize I didn’t take the pack off.
As far as Go-Lite’s/Gossamer Gears philosophy, they don’t plan on heavy loads. Glen Van Peski, for example recommends smaller 15-20 pound loads in all his packs. Glen and Grant sell them with minimal hip belts, too. Typically, I load up a 2012 Murmur with about 35pounds as a training pack over winter. It is still in use for that with minor repairs on the Asian sewing. At 15-20 pounds, they don’t *need* anything else. a couple rolled up items (tarp, cloths, etc) upright in the pack is really all the structure that is necessary. The hip-belt (as supplied) only holds up about 50% of the weight and tugs the bottom third of the pack into the small of your back. It conforms to your back nicely and carries beautifully. But, you have to be UL or less to use these as designed. The overall philosophy “all weight is ultimately transferred to the body’s energy systems and how it’s carried is irrelevant” works pretty well with UL loads. The old Jam and other packs following this are about the same. (As far as GG goes, the Mariposa and Gorilla are just standard packs with an internal frame, they have really succumbed to “weight creep.”)
Anyway, the larger packs lets you carry more gear, but not necessarily heavier gear. You have to maintain a lightweight mindset. This is where Ryan was saying the Porter 5400 seems deficit in. It is in a narrow niche being large but still being only capable of lighter weights…a very correct statement. To me, it is just too large. The 2400 fits all my gear in Spring and Fall (down to around 10F,) comfortably. Again, I pack a lot denser than average.Sep 25, 2018 at 6:40 pm #3557282Steven SchaftleinBPL Member
@sschaftleiLocale: Mid West
I’ve carried 9 days of food in my Zpack back packs on a number of occasions – If you can do 25+ miles per day this is more than sufficient for just about any hike you can devise in the lower 48. So a lot depends on your personal preferences in terms of what you take along, how much you eat, and how many miles you are hiking per day. The great thing is that there is a lot of good quality options in lighter weight and ultra light weight equipment these days. Steve SchaftleinSep 26, 2018 at 12:30 am #3557331Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
The Seek Outside Divide carries weight considerably better, IMO, than the Porter 4400 (I haven’t tried the 5400), and at not much more weight.Sep 27, 2018 at 2:54 am #3557496Tim CheekBPL Member
I have a McHale and Porter 5400 and have the same comments Ryan has made in this review.
Having used the McHale for several years I was concerned the lack of load lifters would be a problem. It only makes sense you would have problems if your torso is too long for a pack with no load lifters. I’m 5’8″ but use the large Porter. I don’t feel like i was being pulled backwards on the flat stretches, although I’ll concede I don’t seem to go where there are many flat stretches, at least that are windless.
Why did I buy the Porter? I have spent more time packrafting around the Fitzpatrick Wilderness and wanted a pack that offered more water resistance (i’m using a small Alpacka Scout with low sidewalls). Adding a packraft doesn’t weigh much but it is quite bulky with paddles, my zero chair, and a week or more of food in a bear can. The 5400 was the only HMG pack that could carry all of that inside and allow me to go off trail without the fear stuff strapped to the pack would be snagging on rocks, etc. and throwing me off balance.
Still quite happy to go back to the McHale when I’m not crossing so much water, though. It may weigh more than the grocery sack packs, but i’m very happy with it on trips that last more than a few days. Sometimes you have to carry water…not just paddle over it.Sep 28, 2018 at 12:34 am #3557602Patrick O’NeilBPL Member
Hi Tim, I have a McHale sarc-chasm and couldn’t agree more. I tend to use a bv500 because I can’t be bothered to hang food. The thing is heavy because it’s made of beefy dyneema and has those stays but it’s great when I play sherpa with my girlfriend.
Just curious, what model you have and how much weifht you typically carry? With the 5 pound pack included in the weight, the most I’ve carried is 45 pounds, but on training hikes I can fit over 60 pounds of books in there and while my legs suffer the pack is “comfortable”.Oct 5, 2018 at 12:10 pm #3558497pgreenxBPL Member
I would think the lack of load lifter straps on pack this size would be a negative. I can see the design working on the 2400 and 3400 but a larger pack will probably pull back on the shoulders. Curious your and others thoughts?Oct 6, 2018 at 4:05 pm #3558689David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
Good discussion Ryan. At the very least I think everyone can agree it’s nice to have packs like this available. Many more/better options available for the folks who fall between the poles of UL single season hiking and “traditional” ~10 mpd on-trail hiking.
It is possible to get a heavy (>30 lb) load to transfer well to your hips by upsizing the stays and torso length on a pack without load lifters. After lots of experimentation I’ve rejected this approach for a couple reasons.
As James and a few other folks have mentioned, shifting the percentage of weight between the shoulders and hips throughout the day makes sustainable comfort a lot more achievable. A shorter torso length (really, longer shoulder straps designed to wrap over and attach partway down the scapula) and load lifters makes for a vastly greater range of adjustment here. I’ve also found that putting some weight on this broader part of the shoulder muscles is helpful.
Heavy loads also tend to be larger volume, and given that there are fairly firm limits in how wide (due to human anatomy) and deep (due to physics) a pack ought to be, height is the best way to make volume. A 33″ tall pack loaded up, with only 22-23″ tall stays (for a proper large) tends to get a bit bobble-headed. Another ~4″ of stay makes things a lot more manageable, so why not add some load lifters.
Lastly, in the last 4 years of carrying occasionally very heavy loads (60+ lbs) on hunting and family trips I’ve found that my torso length temporarily compresses a bit. Having extra strap length and/or the ability to shrink the torso a bit helps maintain load carry in these situations.Oct 9, 2018 at 3:13 am #3559055Tim CheekBPL Member
I have a twelve year old S-SARC+1 and use a Wild Ideas expedition canister if an Ursack isn’t enough. Don’t tell Ryan Jordan this, as he would most assuredly rescind my lifetime membership if he knew!
I don’t weigh my pack.
I’ve been backpacking as light as I can for 45+ years now, but I take what i need to be safe for the terrain, weather and duration of the trip. That can vary even during the trip. For example, on my last 7-day trip my pack weighed many pounds more on the fourth day than the first day. How could that happen? On the fourth day i was starting two and a half days of dry camping/hiking (on the Continental Divide) and had to carry water for that time.
Also, pun intended, it is too depressing.
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