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One of the biggest things that stands in the way of wannabe ultralighters is finding gear that works in tandem. An ultralight backpack, for example, might not always play well with the wrong tent or sleeping bag. But Hyperlite’s new Unbound System aims to remove these barriers by providing thru-hikers with a new “big three” (or tent, backpack, and quilt) thru-hiking system that is specifically designed to work together. So, instead of counting ounces and looking for the most innovative setups, thru-hikers can adopt this ready-made system from one of ultralight backpacking’s best-loved brands, knowing that it’ll last for thousands of rugged miles. Here’s a quick first look at the kit; tune in later for a full review on Backpacker.
The Unbound 40 Pack takes many fan-favorite thru-hiking features and wraps them into one product. This 40-liter packbag is made out of DCH50, a reliable and widely-used Dyneema composite that combines light weight with waterproof protection. The bottom of the pack is made out of a slightly more durable version of the material, DCH150, since this area of the pack tends to see faster wear.
In addition to the internal capacity, this pack also features 9 liters of storage on the outside, thanks to two oversized side pockets and a stretch stuff pocket on the front on the outside of the pack, due to its oversized pockets. Despite its light weight, Hyperlite claims the pack can handle up to 40 pounds, a useful feature to have for water carries and long stretches without resupply. Want to go even lighter? The Unbound 40 features a removable hipbelt, so the most committed ultralighters can shave grams.
The medium version of this pack weighs 30 ounces, and costs $369, which doesn’t make it the most affordable pack option on the market. But it’s comparable to other packs Hyperlite makes, and thanks to the company’s following and reputation for reliability, hikers likely won’t have a problem paying it.
The Unbound 2P may be new, but most ultralighters will have slept in (or at least seen) some version of this before. The double-pole, single-wall tent with mesh interior side panels is reminiscent of tried-and-true designs like the Zpacks Duplex. (One new twist: The side panels are made from three pieces of fabric that meet in a guy-out point in the middle, meant to provide some extra stability when weather rolls in.) Historically, most Hyperlite tents adopted a pyramid style, which increases headspace for backpackers. Like the pack, the tent is made out of Dyneema composite fabric, specifically DCF5, DCF8, and DCF11, plus no-see-um mesh.
Its 28.1 square feet of floor space and two vestibules should comfortably accommodate 2 people and their gear. At $699, it’s about $125 cheaper than Hyperlite’s Ultamid 2, and while it’s about 6 ounces heavier, the built-in mesh means its bug-proof; to get that same protection from the Ultamid, you’ll have to spend an additional 22 ounces and $499. When packed, backpackers can expect this tent to measure 8.5 by 6 by 5.5 inches, easily fitting inside of the Unbound 40 Pack.
Perhaps one of Hyperlite’s most surprising releases, the 20-Degree Quilt combines some of the industry’s highest-quality materials to optimize the weight to warmth ratio of your sleep system. Made with 7D Ripstop Nylon with a DWR finish, this quilt is resistant to moisture and made to accommodate varying environments. The filling is primo: 1,000-fill power down, which should make this one of the loftiest options on the market. (Downside: no draft collar.)
The Hyperlite 20-Degree Quilt also utilizes a blend of horizontal baffles on the footbox and vertical baffles everywhere else, which Hyperlite says will optimize warmth. For an extra $50, buyers can even opt to receive Hyperlite’s iconic side entry for a more unique variation of this quilt.
At $599, this is definitely one of the most expensive quilt options on the market. But, when everything is said and done, this quilt weighs in at just 20.10 ounces, which could make it a worthwhile purchase for weight-conscious backpackers.
A Thru-Hiker’s Take on the Hyperlite Unbound Kit
Hikers who are looking to make the jump into an ultralight setup may find the Unbound kit alluring for a number of reasons. First, it’s extremely lightweight. In fact, a small-sized Unbound pack, tent, and regular-sized quilt weigh in at just 72.07 ounces or about 4.5 pounds, which is entire pounds lighter than many other popular ultralight combos. The pack utilizes waterproof materials, a handy feature to have on rainy backcountry slogs. Finally, unlike a lot of other lightweight gear, many of Hyperlite’s products are consistently durable. We’ll only be able to confirm after testing it ourselves, but if the Unbound kit holds up to the company’s usual standards, thru-hikers can reasonably expect it to last for many thousands of miles.