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Hyperlite Backpack Junction Review – One Tough Pack! | Average Hiker

Hyperlite Junction Backpack

Hyperlite Ultralite Junction – Review

The Hyperlite Junction is a backpacking or day hiking pack that I’ve wanted to try for a long time, but first, I had to get past its high price point. Hyperlite is arguably the King of the Ultralite long-distance backpacking category and was at the top of my gear list to purchase for 2020.

With its Hardline Dyneema material, sealed seams, and three outside pockets, this is one of the most durable, well-made, Ultralite backpacks I have used. If you want a pack that will handle the rigors of long-distance hiking, is lightweight, and will last you for years, this backpack will probably be near the top of the list.

Hyperlite Junction – Spec Summary

  • Size: Medium
  • Total Weight: 32 ounces
  • Internal Volume: 3400 cu. in. (55L)
  • External Volume: 600 cu. in. (9.8L)
  • Center Pocket Volume: 300 cu. in.
  • Side Pockets Volume: Center Pocket: 300 cu. in.
  • Material: Body – DCH150, Bottom – DCH150, External Center Pocket – Mesh, External Side Pockets – Hardline with Dyneema
  • Top Circumference: 40″ | 101.6cm
  • Bottom Circumference: 33.5″ | 85.1cm
  • Height (fully unrolled): 34” | 86.4cm
  • Back Width: 10.5” | 26.7cm
  • Max Carry Capacity: 40 Pounds
  • Add-Ons: Shoulder Pocket, Pods – 2 large, 3 small
Black Hyperlite Junction

This is the most durable backpack I have used. This ultralight, weather-resistant, well-made pack will last for years

Backpack Requirements

Below are my requirements when purchasing a backpack.

  • Light Weight – I keep my backpack’s weight around 2 pounds or less to combat fatigue and injury on long hikes.
  • Durability – A tough pack is critical. My pack has been run over, fallen down mountains, stepped on by horses, and is often used as a seat.
  • Size – The backpacks I use are 55L-65L. I sleep cold, so I carry a warmer sleeping bag or quilt. I also cook, so I have fuel and a stove.
  • Water Resistant – I use a compactor bag and not a pack cover. I like water-resistant fabrics and taped seams in my backpacks.
  • Mesh Pouch – A large mesh pocket on the rear of my backpack is a “must-have.” I use it for my tarp/tent and put wet items in it to dry.
  • Frame – I don’t need a frame pack in the summer, but I use one for three Season hiking where my pack weight is 20-25 pounds.
  • Water Bottle Pockets – I need water bottle pockets since I don’t use hydration sleeves.

Hyperlite Competitors

BrandWtSz$FabricFrameLoadClosure
ULA Ohm 2.036 oz63L225400 Robic NylonCarb30 lbs.Cinch
Gossamer Gear Mariposa31 oz60L270200 Robic NylonAlum.35 lbsOver Top
Hyperlite Junction 340032 oz55L345Dyneema (DCF)None40 lbsRoll Top
Zpack Arc Haul23 oz62L2994.85 GridstopCarb40 lbsRoll Top
Osprey Lumina 6031 oz60L27030 Cordura NylonAlum25 lbsFix Top
Granite Gear Crown2 6034 oz60 L200210 NylonPoly35 lbsRoll Top
Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus18 oz58L235DX 210 RipstopNo25 lbsRoll Top

Junction – First Glance

When I pulled the Junction out of the box, I was struck by the material’s thickness. I immediately saw it was highly water-resistant Dyneema and tough as nails as I turned it around in my hands and muttered, “Damn.”

I may have just found a competitor for my ULA Ohm 2.0

The pack was well made with its sealed seams and tacked reinforcement points. I also admired its simplicity. There were only three pockets and not many extra straps hanging all over the place. At first glance, this was an impressive backpack.

The hydration port had a reinforced Velcro closure with a tiny hanging loop.

Hyperlite Junction – Fit

Frame

Some think the Hyperlite backpacks are frameless, but the Hyperlite Junction is not a frameless backpack. Instead, the Junction provides a 1/4″ back foam panel pad with two curved aluminum stays that slide easily into small sleeves in the back of the pack. If you don’t like the shape, you can bend the stays to your preference.

The Hyperlite is often worn as a frameless pack, and I prefer it with no stays for loads under 25 pounds. I ordered Hyperlite Pods with my pack; if these are full, they offer all the rigidity I need for the backpack.

I’ll discuss the Pods later, but I packed my pack with one large and two small Pods. Because the Pods served as my frame, I ensured they were full, keeping them firm against my back.

I used the pack with and without the Aluminum Stays and found the backpack with only the pods that began to compress and pull back on my shoulders at about 30 pounds. When I added the aluminum stays, the stays kept the backpack comfortable up to 35 pounds. But, of course, anything over 35 pounds makes me whine, so the lack of comfort over 35 pounds is not the backpack’s fault.

Junction Aluminum Stays

Shoulder Straps & Hipbelt

The Junction has wide Dyneema shoulder straps with 3/8 foam padding and mesh covering. The straps are comfortable from a padding perspective, but I prefer an “S” shaped shoulder strap. The straps on this backpack have a classic “J” shape, so over long hikes, they are a little less comfortable than my packs with “S” shaped straps. There are ample daisy chains on the straps for attaching gear.

The hipbelt is Hardline with Dyneema® 1/8″ closed cell rigid foam, 1/4″ closed cell foam, and spacer mesh. It does not have as much padding as other belts I have worn, but I found it very comfortable.

Many other Ultralite backpacks have an adjustable hipbelt, but the Junction hipbelt is fixed to the pack. The hipbelt fit me better than any backpack hip belt I wear due to having just the right amount of padding, and I was glad to see the single large, durable buckle. I find double buckles unnecessary. The hipbelts never fit any better.

Backpack straps and sternum strap

Additional Pack Straps

Like all of the Hyperlite Junction Backpack straps, the sternum strap is a full-size strap with elastic and a bright orange buckle. On the side of the buckle is a small whistle. I did not find the whistle very loud but have seen other reviews commenting on the whistle’s loudness.

The Hyperlite Junction does not have load lifters. I think load lifters are more suitable for larger, heavier backpacks where I like to shift the weight off my shoulders towards my center of gravity if I am climbing. In the case of the Junction, I don’t need them. The pack is small and fits close to my body. I don’t typically carry over 3-5 days of food and gear.

There are four full-size compression straps on the side of the Junction backpack. Two of them go over the side pockets and strap in anything you need to stay in those pockets, which I like to have when traveling off-trail or climbing.

Interestingly, the iceax loop on the bottom of the pack is in the middle, so if you have anything bulky like your tent in the large exterior mesh pocket, you can’t use the loop easily. So Hyperlite should reconsider the placement.

Junction Backpack Top View

Hyperlite Junction Review – Storage

The Junction interior is roomy, and the extended sleeve allows you to add significant capacity for long hikes, winter hikes, large food bags, etc.

How I Packed My Hyperlite Junction Backpack

  • Main Compartment (Lined with Compactor Bag): Large Pod holding 10 Degree Feathered Friends Lark, Two Small Pods with clothes, toiletries, first aid, a cooking kit, hydration, food bag, sleeping pad, rain gear
  • Two Side Pockets: Two Smart Water Bottles, Umbrella, Hiking Poles
  • Hydration Sleeve: Map, Keys
  • Back Mesh Pocket: Altaplex Tarp-tent
  • Hipbelt Pockets: Snacks, Chapstick
  • Shoulder Pocket Add-on: Phone, InReach Mini

The main storage compartment is large and has a large mesh hydration sleeve. I don’t use a hydration sleeve and ended up putting my map and keys in it. It would be nice to remove the sleeve, but it is sewn to the pack. I have a feeling it may not last long if I keep the Junction.

The large exterior mesh pocket on the outside is made of thick, durable mesh with large openings that promote better airflow than many exterior mesh pockets I have used. The pocket has plenty of capacity, and it easily held my Altaplex Shelter.

The substantial Hardline Dyneema side pockets are one of the reasons I purchased the Junction. When I go off-trail, I often snag the pockets, and the mesh is not durable. I don’t want to discover I have lost my water bottles three miles down the trail. The beefy solid side pockets have elastic and plenty of capacity across the top. The only frustration was that retrieving my water bottles without taking off the backpack was hard.

The Hip-belt pockets on the Junction have plenty of room and water-resistant zippers, which is a nice touch. I mostly use them for snacks and other small miscellaneous items like chapstick, sunblock, etc.

Hyperlite Junction Backpack Pockets
Hyperlite Junction Main Interior
Hyperlite Hipbelt Pocket

Hyperlite Junction Review – Materials

Materials and construction are what set the Hyperlite Junction apart from its competitors. The main body of the backpack I ordered is constructed of DCH150 since I have the black model. The White model is made of DCH50. The fabric is highly water-resistant, and the seals are seamed with reinforced tacking found throughout the pack.

The side pockets are made of Hardline with Dyneema, and the bottom of the backpack also has DCH150 fabric. This is the most bomb-proof Ultralite backpack I have used – very impressive. You can check Hyperlite’s materials page for more information on their fabrics.

Hyperlite Junction Backpack DCH150 Material

Hyperlite Junction – Add-Ons

Shoulder Strap Pockets

I purchased a large Shoulder Strap Pocket for this pack. It is similar to Gossamer Gear’s pocket in that it has a central zipper pocket and an outer mesh pocket. The difference is that the Hyperlite Pocket is much more water-resistant, using Dyneema Composite Fabric in its construction.

The pocket has a small inside pocket for credit cards, which is a nice feature, and the clips on the back of the pocket are easy to attach to the Hyperlite’s shoulder straps.

The two attachment clips will limit where you can place the pocket on your shoulder straps if you don’t have numerous attachment points. This is not an issue on the Junction, but it might be if you use another backpack brand. The one good thing about the GG attachment structure is that it is made of velcro straps that can wrap around various shoulder strap sections. I find the clips much more secure than Velcro.

Hyperlite Junction Shoulder Pocket

Packing PODS

I purchased large and small PODS for the backpack. The PODS are made of Dyneema fabric and have waterproof zippers. My large POD weighs 1.41 oz., and my small POD weighs 1.35 oz.

I have always put my sleeping bag in a compactor bag in the bottom of my pack, and for 20 years have NEVER had it get wet. This time I packed it in a POD. I was surprised my 10 Degree Lark fit in the POD, and it was a little tight, but it was a perfect fit in the Junction.

Everything else, except my food, sleeping pad, and rain gear, went in two small PODS. I may put my food in one or two small PODS on my next trip. The small PODS are not that much smaller than the large POD, and I like that I can zip open the whole POD instead of digging around for food in my food bag. The PODS also have sturdy loops on each end, so I can hang them if necessary.

The best thing about the PODS is they keep everything compressed and compact, making the backpack smaller. I had a couple of hikers tell me it looked like I was carrying a Daypack. We all want TINY PACKS! LOL, Now I know why Hyperlite is often near the top!

Hyperlite Junction Backpack Pods

Hyperlite Junction Backpack – Final Thoughts

Hyperlite currently offers the most durable quality backpack I have used. The DCH150 used in the pack’s construction makes it impressively resistant to abrasions and ensures it is highly water-resistant. In addition, the backpack provides plenty of capacity and stability without unnecessary pockets and straps.

If you decide to use Hyperlite’s PODS, you can almost be assured that water will be a non-issue with your Hyperlite backpack. Hyperlite Backpacks are about as close to a waterproof backpack as you will find in an UltraLite backpack. The PODS also ensure you use your pack’s capacity and that your gear is compressed for a more compact load.

Pros:

  • Comfort: A good fit rests easily against my back and offers the proper padding.
  • Durability – No backpack in the Ultraliteweight category is as durable as the Hyperlite Junction with its DCH150 material.
  • Weather Resistance – Other than a dry bag, this is the most weather-resistant backpack I have used. It is as waterproof as you can without lining your pack or using a Dry Bag Backpack.
  • Capacity – Provides plenty of capacity, especially with its extended neck sleeve.
  • Shoulder Pocket – Highly weather resistant with an inside pocket and easy-to-attach clips. The best shoulder pocket I have yet to use.

Cons:

  • Ice-ax Loop: Located at the backpack’s bottom center, making it difficult to attach if using the exterior mesh pocket.
  • Breathability: This is a warm backpack. It does not use breathable material or mesh on the back and rests snugly against your body.
  • Shoulder Straps: I prefer a more “S” shaped shoulder strap.
  • Side Pockets: Difficult to remove water bottles when wearing the backpack.
  • Hydration Sleeve – The hydration sleeve cannot be removed.
Black Hyperlite Junction

This is the most durable backpack I have used. This ultralight, weather-resistant, well-made pack will last for years

Q&A

Are Hyperlite Backpacks Waterproof?

Besides an actual Dry Bag (used mainly by boaters), Hyperlite makes the most highly water-resistant backpack I have used. They use proprietary seam sealing, and the fabric itself is waterproof. Like any sewn garment, there can occasionally be seeping around the stitched points, so combing a Hyperlite Backpack with their PODS makes them pretty much waterproof.

Does Hyperlite Ever Have Sales?

Yes, Hyperlite does have sales around the holidays.

What is the best Ultralight Backpack?

There are MANY ultralight backpacks on the market, and Hyperlite is one of the lightest, most durable, and weather-resistant.

Hi. Average Hiker purchased this product and does not write sponsored posts or receive compensation for reviews. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means that when you click on one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Also, as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If this review has been helpful, I appreciate you considering your purchase through one of the product links. Thank you.

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