Now that’s a pack

Last year I wrote this, a rather grumpy paean on a favorite per peeve, backpack capacity.  In the 15 months since the world has taken no visible notice, with perhaps one exception, and continued to undervalue the worth of a big ole pack bag, and overstated the capacity of said bag, often radically.


The one exception is the 5400 Porter, which was finally made public this year, after over half a decade of sending one-of “Expedition” packs out into the world.  The side view above is from their website, and makes me smile just to look at.  The specs tell the same story: 10.5 inch constant back width, which is skinny, and the same across their pack line (manufacturing simplified).  40.5 inch base circumference, which if we assume identical front and back panel widths makes for a 9.75 inch depth, which is pretty generous.  Things get fun with the 48.5 (!!) inch upper circumference, making the depth above the shoulders (of the user) nearly 14 inches, an impressive figure on it’s own, and downright outrageous when you consider it being quite a bit bigger than the width.  Normally putting a compression strap anchor well above structural elements (stays, framesheet) is a invitation to spectacular barreling, but with so much depth to manage here HMG had no choice.

Compare the above dimensions, and the nearly 41 inch unrolled height, to the Seek Outside Unaweep 6300, with a 44 inch circ top and bottom, and 39 inch unrolled height, or the Kifaru Crater (at 8000 cubic inches, their largest bag) at 39 inches tall with a 47 inch upper circ, and it is easy to appreciate how accurate or conservative (your pick) HMG is with their sizing.  85 liters indeed.

Now I just wish HMG would beef up the suspension to match.  I’ve been spoiled with too many miles with good suspension to want to carry 40 or more pounds without load lifters and a sub-par hipbelt.  I haven’t used the 5400, but among other things, I trust Max’s opinion.  I’d like to see at least the option of a few more features as well, but I can understand the user need and especially aesthetic and economic appeal of making such a simple bag.

If I had a spare $400 I’d get one in a second.  Still, 9+ inches of space makes it hard to not make a good set of side pockets, and maybe in another 4 years we’ll see a revision there, just like the recent HMG hip pocket update.  Like any studious outdoor dilettante HMG takes ABD very far indeed.

5 responses to “Now that’s a pack”

  1. Assuming a constant circumference of 40.5 gives a cylinder volume of almost 5400 alone (5275 approx), so dang, they are pretty spot on. That’s nice.

    Having used a 2400, I can’t imagine using that same suspension for over double the volume (and I presume at least 50% more weight). I just can’t imagine it being that comfortable. However, the clean (from the white to the simple shape to the minimal additions) aesthetic sure is appealing.

    1. I believe the stays are a bit thicker, the belt altered, and a framesheet added (which won’t help with weight transfer, just keep things from being too wiggly), but yes, there’s a certain extent to which ideology has overtaken function.

  2. Perhaps a no issue, but the profile of the back is completely straight, can’t tell from the picture how beefy the lumbar pad is. I’ve made my packs with a curve (SMC aluminum stay), doesn’t even add much complexity to the sewing.

    1. The seam is straight. I’ve never found extensive side panel shaping to matter that much in packs the shaped frames.

  3. If that’s the case, it kind of reminds me of the HPG Qui-Ya, although that has load lifters, and people seem pleased with how it carries. Although, I don’t know how the Qui-Ya volume compares to this…it says on their website it’s 6000cu in / 100L, but treating it like a rectangle shape, and the 12″ width x 10″ depth x 29.5″ height doesn’t give that.

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