Hyperlite Mountain Gear Metro Pack Review
My first thought when testing out Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Metro Pack was that a strong gust of wind is going to blow this bag away. At 8.6 oz the Metro Pack isn’t just light, it’s insanely light. It’s also Hyperlite’s first real foray out of the mountains and into the city.
With the Metro Pack, Hyperlite has taken their recognizable white/black Dyneema Composites and built an even more stripped-down version of their dedicated outdoor bags. The result is an ultralight pack fit for urban ramblings.
After carrying the Metro Pack for a few months commuting by bike, around town, and up to trailheads on the weekends, I’m a big fan of what Hyperlite has done with this bag. However, I’ve also learned that the Metro Pack really only makes sense for a specific range of carry. Keep inside this scope and the bag is incredible, but carry too far outside of what it’s designed for and the weight and looks of the Metro Pack will be moot points.
Who It Suits
With ultralight hiking in its DNA, the Metro Pack makes the most sense for someone who has a very streamlined and slimmed-down EDC. And given the material and looks of this bag it also appeals to the Techwear side of things.
Who It Doesn’t
Given its ultralight material and shoulder straps, the Metro Pack is not suited for someone looking to carry heavy or oddly-shaped loads. Carrying a computer without the bag sufficiently full to pack in the computer is also very difficult. Thus for someone who works at coffee shops, this might not be the best bag.
If I was to distil the essence of the Hyperlite Metro Pack it would be something to the tune of “Simplicity is beautiful and beautifully light.” This bag is gorgeous to look at and incredible to hold. It’s stupidly light. I expect it to float away while I’m holding it. And the thought (perhaps less the practice) of carrying so little so efficiently is intoxicating.
At 8.6 oz for the black version of the bag (the white version weighs even less at 7 oz but is constructed with 50 denier Dyneema Composite Hybrid (DCH) whereas the black version uses 150 denier DCH), this bag weighs an ounce or two more than my cell phone. This is so light that when empty I forget I’m even carrying the bag.
Being so light I find myself always packing the Metro Pack when I’m traveling. When backpacking it makes an excellent summit bag. When carrying heavy luggage, I’ll stow the bag for use as a daypack. In many ways the Metro Pack is like the omnipresent plastic grocery bag that I’ve always got on hand because it takes up no space, weighs nothing, but is incredibly handy. Except this bag costs $165.
With the Metro Pack on my back, I immediately noticed how much higher it rides compared to most other bags I own (a lot). While I find this to be more comfortable as the weight is closer to my body (instead of dangling by the curve of my spine or bouncing off the top of my hips), psychologically it feels very different. This is because while wearing higher on my back, the pack itself is also 27″ tall (fully unrolled). For reference, most daypacks are 18-21″ tall. While I’ve definitely adjusted the height of the Metro Pack it can be a bit disorientating at first.
Looking in the Metro Pack there’s really, well, not a whole lot of anything. The entire 30L of volume is within the single compartment. The bottom is folded, sewn, and seam sealed. The top is sewn with a buckle to make it a roll-top closure. The roll-top closure works great because I can adjust the volume of the bag depending on what I’m carrying. While I would have appreciated roll-top buckles that can buckle to a set of bottom straps like other Hyperlite bags have, the single buckle on top does keep the bag much more streamlined.
Beyond the single compartment there are the shoulder straps themselves and a loop sewn above them. That’s it. No additional suspension system or padding aside from what the DCH provides.
Despite being only a 30L bag I can easily carry a day’s worth of stuff, and everything for a weekend. With the entire volume of the bag concentrated in one pocket instead of spread out across a couple of smaller pockets, the Metro Pack can easily swallow most everything I throw at it.
That said, there’s definitely a learning curve in how to pack this bag. As I mentioned above, I’ve often found that packing and carrying an unstructured bag is better in theory. And that is an excellent segway into the not so good aspects of this bag.
The Not So Good
The crux of the packing problem I have with the Metro Pack is this: if I’m carrying anything other than clothes, packing and carrying this bag kind of sucks. With no padding on the back of the bag, I need to be very intentional to pack some clothing that provides this cushion. Not a huge problem in the winter, but during the summer I’m not carrying much extra clothing.
While 30L is a good amount of space, I’ve found it to be somewhat limiting because the width of the Metro Pack is only 10″. This is most acutely noticed when trying to pack a pair of shoes flat in the bag which, spoiler alert, is impossible.
My final gripe with packing the 30L of the Metro Pack is really the Achilles Heel of the bag. 30L of anything is a lot to carry in a bag that weighs 8.6 oz. Hyperlite says that the Metro Pack can carry up to 20 lbs. In my experience carrying much of anything other than a jacket starts to degrade the experience of using the Metro Pack because there’s simply no padding on the shoulder straps, or suspension on the back of the bag.
So after a few months of using the Hyperlite Metro Pack do I keep playing the delicate packing game in order to have such a novel bag on my back? Yes.
When comparing the Metro Pack to other daypacks, its ability to comfortably and easily carry is glaring. However, and to give credit to the designers at Hyperlite, they never set out to create a run-of-the-mill daypack. The Metro Pack is the result of an ultralight thru-hiking backpack reimagined for minimal carry in the city.
Yes this bag is very niche but it’s also very liberating and enjoyable to use, especially when you figure out how to carry it. At the risk of going too deep on the theory of carry, the Metro Pack forces me to rethink what I’m carrying and why I’m carrying it (again, there’s that ultralight thru-hiking DNA). And for the most part, after experimenting with this bag, it’s a fun process.
Now, do I recommend paying $165 for this experience? That’s a personal choice. However, I would be much more inclined to pay $165 if the Metro Pack was closer to Hyperlite’s dedicated outdoor packs. For instance, a 2400 Southwest bag with the hip belt and sternum straps removed. A bag with these characteristics would provide more carry flexibility for this niche bag.