WINDRIDER + SOUTHWEST PACKS
"YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE" IS A PHRASE AS OLD AS THE TREES HERE IN MAINE. THIS WAS TAKEN AS A CHALLENGE WHEN HYPERLITE MOUNTAIN GEAR FOUNDER MIKE ST. PIERRE SET OUT TO DESIGN THE PACKS THAT WOULD BECOME THE WINDRIDER AND SOUTHWEST.
Choosing to build these ultralight and minimalist backpacking packs with durable Dyneema® Composite Fabrics (formerly Cuben Fiber) was his way of saying, "Wherever your 'here' is, you can count on this pack to efficiently get you 'there.'" The Windrider and Southwest are as much an expression of who Hyperlite Mountain Gear is as they are a validation of what can be achieved with an ultralight, simple, and solid design. Ask the thousands of backpackers that have accomplished adventure goals with theirs. Constructed with 100% waterproof Dyneema® Composite Fabrics and devoid of any unnecessary gadgetry, they’re equipped with everything you need for action-packed weekends to ambitious months-long thru hikes.
There are a lot of reasons why the Windrider and Southwest are our best-selling packs, but perhaps the greatest one comes from their refinement. Once the core design was agreed upon, prototypes were rigorously tested by colleagues and friends, and fabric thicknesses and hardware were settled on, there hasn’t been much to change from the Windrider and Southwest (aside from the hip belt pockets – thanks again for your feedback) – a testament to the combined backgrounds and experiences that helped make these packs ready for legend-status hikes right off the sewing table.
“A GREAT PIECE OF GEAR DOESN’T DEMAND EXTRA ATTENTION – IT JUST BECOMES SOMETHING YOU CAN CONFIDENTLY RELY ON.”
MIKE ST. PIERRE // CEO + CO-FOUNDER
MIKE SAYS “YOU CAN.”
When Mike put pencil to paper to design the all-conditions packs that became the Windrider and Southwest, he had a few objectives in mind. “I started looking at designing a backpack for ultralight (UL) backpacking or thru hiking that was as water-resistant as possible and would allow me to keep the majority of the things I need throughout the day on the exterior of the pack. Packs at the time were built with materials that would absorb water which meant if you wanted to keep your gear dry, you had to use a rain cover. I hated pack covers and found they didn't work all that well anyways. But really, the main crux of the matter was that I couldn't accept having a pack that would weigh twice as much wet as it would dry.” Enter Dyneema® Composite Fabrics (formerly known as Cuben Fiber). “The non-woven characteristics of the DCF laminates eliminated this issue.” Thus, the beginning of Mike’s relationship with Dyneema®.
The other primary goal was achieving a final weight that was as light as possible – within reason. “It still had to be capable of comfortably carrying roughly 30 lb. Many of the packs I was trying were already half the weight of my target base weight.” Mike was no stranger to heading out on trips with a 5-6 lb pack. He recalls, “It wasn't long before I was looking into little kid book bags or what was marketed as large day packs for my overnight adventures. Even those fell short of my expectations.”
Knowing what he wanted, Mike approached backpack and hiking industry design and sewing veteran Rich Page with his thoughts. After a few rounds of ebullient debate and knowledge shares, Mike had a working concept and greenlighted some prototyping.
The Windrider and Southwest are the manifestations of everything Mike was looking for. “The minimalist features of these packs are all that's needed for UL backpacking or thru hiking. You can keep all the things you need for the day on the exterior. I leave all my water related stuff in the outside pockets along with my headlamp, my food for the day, my spork and knife, Chapstick, and an extra layer or rain gear. I can leave an extra pair of socks on the exterior to either dry after washing or just to have a clean pair I can change into during lunch or a break. Access to all the things you need throughout the day makes for very efficient traveling in the backcountry.”
For a product designer, it might sound odd to say that the best result was the ability to ignore what you made, but that’s exactly what Mike and so many other adventurers have come to enjoy about these packs. “Nowadays when I'm on a trip, that last thing I'm thinking about is my Windrider or Southwest. They’re never on my mind unless I'm in a conversation on the trail talking about them. They just do their job and do it well. A great piece of gear doesn’t demand extra attention – it just becomes something you can confidently rely on.”
ARE YOU MORE WINDRIDER, OR MORE SOUTHWEST?
We’re often asked for our input when choosing between the Windrider and the Southwest. While the main compartment is the same proven vessel for both packs, the external pockets are what set them apart. The Windrider’s mesh pockets make it a excellent choice for quickly finding gear you’ll want to access throughout the day or to dry wet gear as you hike. Choose the Southwest for added abrasion protection in rockier environments where scrambling, bouldering, or navigating narrow crevasses are likely, or you just want to keep pocket contents hidden.
OTHER STAND OUT FEATURES INCLUDE:
- Proprietary seam sealing on all side seams and behind all sewn-on pack features
- Removable, contoured aluminum stays
- Shoulder straps with 3/8” closed cell foam and spacer mesh
- Hip belt with 1/8” closed cell rigid foam and spacer mesh
- Zippered pockets on hip belt with #5 YKK zipper
- Adjustable sternum strap with self-tensioning elastic
- 1/4” foam back panel pad
- Roll-Top closure system with side straps for vertical compression
- Side straps for horizontal compression
- Top Y-strap compression that’s designed to secure gear
- Hydro port and internal mesh hydro sleeve
- Four exterior triglide buckles for optional pack accessory straps
- Ice Axe loop
Windrider and Southwest packs are available in 2400 cu. in. (40L), 3400 cu. in. (55L), and 4400 cu. in. (70L) volumes and both are now available in white and black.
CHANCES ARE HIGH YOU’LL BE HIKING BY THE WEEKEND.
Unlike the lead times and inventory levels of some smaller operations, which let’s be honest, is understandable in some cases, we’ve almost always got your Windrider or Southwest on the shelf and ready to ship. We take pride in the efficiency of our production operations, the super consistent construction methods our skilled craftspeople have perfected, and the quality control measurements we have to keep the whole organism running with precision. Don’t hesitate to swing by if you’re in the Biddeford, Maine – we’d be stoked to show you how it’s done.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PACK (TORSO) SIZE
We offer the Windrider and Southwest in four sizes; not to be confused with volumes. Where your pack sits on your torso is the key to a great riding pack, and critical to achieving the “forgettability” that makes traveling with these packs a great experience.