To the uninitiated, ultralight backpacking might appear to be a game of constraints and ounce counting. You have to hit a pack base weight of 10 to 15 pounds, you must ditch all your creature comforts. But in reality, there’s freedom in minimalism—or as leading ultralight outfitter Hyperlite Mountain Gear calls it, essentialism. Because in the end, the ultimate goal of UL hiking is to literally relieve oneself of burdens to explore further, faster, and more comfortably, without the limits of an unwieldy load.
Today, Hyperlite Mountain Gear builds on their legacy of helping both hardcore and beurgeoning UL hikers achieve this goal one white Dyneema pack at a time with the release of another white Dyneema pack—and a new two person tent, too.
Dubbed Unbound, the new collection consists of a 40-liter backpack and a 1.5lb two-person tent that, along with a new 20-degree version of Hyperlite's new down quilt, make up the brand’s take on the "Big Three" backcountry system. All three take aim at long-term livability and comfort on the trail via intelligent and innovative features. Yes, that’s right, UL gear with “features.”
The Unbound 40L Pack, like the bags that Hyperlite built its brand on, uses ultralight and ultra-durable Dyneema Composite Fabrics to achieve a low weight of roughly 30 ounces (varies slightly depending on pack size). That’s less than the weight of a full Nalgene—a stat even more remarkable given that the pack is loaded with innovative extras. Primary among them is a large rear pocket made of Dyneema Stretch Mesh that has two points of entry, one up high and one lower down, allowing you to access items without unpacking every time. There are also two side pockets large enough to carry two water bottles each, or even your sleeping pad.
The list continues with a removable hip belt that also has waterproof zippered pockets and supportive foam padding. Within the pack, a single contoured aluminum stay helps distribute weight, and removable top-side compression straps work in tandem with daisy chains throughout to give the bag an extra degree of modularity. And if you thought that was it, there's one more pocket: a durable and stretchy Dyneema mesh sleeve on the bottom that utilizes dead space to make a unique spot to stash an extra layer or snacks.
The 24-ounce Unbound 2P Tent is equally kitted out with functions and features more commonly associated with heavier shelters. For one, the tent has a heavy-duty yet lightweight six-inch-tall Dyneema Composite bathtub floor that, combined with three-dimensional sidewall panels, creates extra interior living space, especially at the head and feet, solving the issue of soggy sleeping bags. The design also prevents any wind-blown rain spray from getting in under the fly.
Pitched with two trekking poles and tie-outs at the corners, peak, vestibule, and mid-side panels, the Unbound 2P is also equipped with 15 square feet of vestibule space for stashing gear. The doors roll away and secure with magnetic fasteners when the weather's nice, revealing no-see-um mesh doors and an interior that has pockets for stashing small items. Even when it is stormy, the completely seam-sealed shelter dispels wind and maintains ventilation to help you and your gear stay dry.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear designed both pieces to live up to and exceed the rigors of thru-hiking, and to facilitate backcountry living for half a year or more (you'll need to pack a few more things to do that, of course). The idea is to pack lighter and pack smarter. In this sense, "unbound" might be understood in more than one way—unbound by the limitations of unadorned equipment, and also unbound by the confines of civilization, since the system is so adept at helping you get out and stay out for as long as possible.