hyperlite mountain gear elevate 22 daypack

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Elevate 22 Review

An exceptional daypack for long hikes

September 11, 2023 – The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Elevate 22 (shop now) is an ultralight, high performance daypack that is basically a slimmed down version of their full-size Unbound backpacking pack design. This includes its Dyneema construction, roll top closure, and full suite of external side and front pockets. We love this minimalist design and find it be extremely functional and well-thought out.

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  • Weight: 17.9 oz
  • Price: $249
  • Materials: Dyneema
  • Back Panel: 1/4″ foam back panel
  • Main Compartment Volume: 22L
  • External Volume: 4L*
  • Pros: Ultralight. Waterproof fabric. Durable. Top-of-the-line materials. Full external pockets. Backpacking pack style. Padded removable hip belt. Cinchable side pockets.
  • Cons: Expensive. Front mesh pocket is smaller than it looks. No hip belt pockets. Difficult to access bottom of main compartment when full.

Compare this to more great options in our guide to ultralight daypacks.

front side of hyperlite mountain gear elevate 22

Construction & Materials

No Hyperlite Mountain Gear Elevate 22 review can begin without immediately calling out the use of top-of-the-line Dyneema DCH 150 fabric. This waterproof fabric is practically indestructible, and it is the same material used in their world famous backpacking packs like Southwest, Windrider, Junction, and Unbound. Adorning the exterior are Dyneema hardline fabric water bottle pockets, and a Dyneema Stretch Mesh front Pocket. It’s ultra premium and what makes this pack so much more expensive, and so much lighter weight than other similar options.

over shoulder view of pack

And speaking of backpacking packs, you probably notice that Elevate 22 looks almost exactly like a downsized backpacking pack, complete with roll top closure and three primary external pockets. No zippers, clamshells, sub-compartments, or other unnecessary bells and whistles. We like this build because it easily allows backpackers to transition between backpacking pack and daypack without rearranging much about their kit. Notably, a majority of the downsizing is via narrowness, rather than through less height.

inside view of roll top closure and into main compartment

The 22L size is more than enough room for just about any day hike, even with a full size puffy jacket stored in the main compartment. Notably, the body of the pack is less voluminous at the bottom and roomier at the top. This helps carry weight higher up the torso which centers the load, helps with balance, and prevents the subtle pull-back effect of carrying weight on the low back.

While we overall love the Elevate 22’s build, we found two minor irritations. First is that the pack is narrow and tall enough that reaching down into to access items in the middle or the bottom is virtually impossible without first removing contents from the top. This can be annoying in rain. Secondly, the scooped/scalloped bottom side does not sit upright on its own, and must be leaned against something while loading. Definitely both minor downsides and not deal breakers, but worth calling out.

Compare this to more great options in our guide to ultralight daypacks.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Elevate 22 backside

Hip Belt & Shoulder Straps

First thing to know about the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Elevate 22 hip belt is that it’s removable. Our editorial team has split preferences on whether or not to use a hip belt with a daypack. But HMG has given its customers the opportunity to decide here whether or not they want it, which is always welcome.

close up on hip belt

Next is that it’s lightly padded and mid-size. The padded portion is smaller and shorter than you see on their full size backpacks, but still quite comfortable, and it never rubs or chafes. It features a reverse pull with nylon webbing and nice buckling hardware.

close up on inside of hip belt

But if they’re billing this as a technical backpack, we would have preferred hip belt pockets for easy access to snacking. Just because you’re on a day trip doesn’t mean hip belt pockets are suddenly less useful than they are on a multi-day. That said, virtually no daypacks have hip belts pockets, so this seems to be industry-standard, if not a bit disappointing.

close up on shoulder strap

The shoulder straps are full width and full padding as found on Hyperlite’s backpacking packs. Totally premium, comfortable, long lasting, and indestructible. What’s more, a series of daisy chains wind their along the length, offering additional ways to add storage, such as a water bottle holster, bear spray, or SatComm device. An adjustable height sternum strap with emergency whistle connects the two sides. Upon receiving ours, we immediately had to move it down a few notches, so don’t hesitate to test what works best for your torso.

Compare this to more great options in our guide to ultralight daypacks.

picking up the hmg elevate 22 daypack

Pockets & Storage Straps

Let’s start with the pockets. The Elevate 22 side pockets are roomy enough to store anything from a Smartwater bottle to a Nalgene, and we consider them to be fairly universal in terms of volume and depth. The upper-side compression strap does double duty as a way to secure a Sawyer Squeeze filter protruding off of the top. They even have cinchable shock closures to fully secure your bottle and create a secure hold on whatever else you put in there. Great side pockets!

side view of hmg elevate 22 daypack

The front pocket, made with Dyneema Stretch Mesh is fine, if not a bit disappointing due to the fact that it’s functionally smaller than it looks in pictures, and much smaller than we’ve come to expect from front mesh pockets on backpacking packs. Obviously, that’s because its a narrow daypack chassis with less room for big wide pockets. But still.

opening the hyperlite mountain gear elevate 22 front mesh pocket

Because nearly all of its volume is derived from stretching the material, rather than slack space to fill up with your items. The fuller your main compartment, the less room there is in the front pocket, and the more you have to stretch the material. All said and done, it’s still adequately large enough to store a rain jacket and a snack, but don’t expect to keep all of your handy items in it while on the trail.

The Dyneema stretch mesh has proven functionally quite durable, much more so than traditional mesh. What’s more, it creates a mega friction hold on the content, which are unlikely to ever spill out.

close up on dyneema stretch mesh

On the outside of the front stretch mesh pocket are two parallel rows of daisy chain for strapping excess gear, as well as crisscrossing shock cord. We found the shock cord perfect for storing a foam sit pad, but it could also work for a fleece or extra layer.

A top storage straps rounds out the suite, and is good for securing a fleece or rain jacket. The only irritating part about this feature is the way it’s tucked into the front external pocket and can interfere with access there. We also note the use of a hook attachment point, rather than a buckle. More time is needed to decide how we like that.

If we’re allowed to make two changes to this pack, it would be to add slack and a bit of extra width to the front mesh pocket, and add snack pockets to the hip belt. But otherwise, it’s nearly perfect!

Compare this to more great options in our guide to ultralight daypacks.

bottom side of pack with ice axe loop

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Elevate 22 vs Daybreak Ultralight Daypack

If you’re shopping Hyperlite Mountain Gear for daypacks, you may be deciding between the Elevate 22 and the Daybreak Ultralight Daypack. In general, we now recommend the Elevate 22 over the Daybreak for most hiking purposes, as it is lighter weight, larger volume, and more durable.

Both Elevate and Daybreak’s have decent front pockets, and we’d actually give it to Daybreak here, as it’s made of static Dyneema with slack for storage space (rather than stretch) with elasticized opening trim to secure the load. The clam shell opening on the Daybreak is quicker and easier to use than Elevate’s roll top, but zippers have a shorter lifespan and it means you don’t get the top strap either. In short, Elevate is better than Daybreak for serious backcountry use, Daybreak is better than Elevate for casual use and mixed use.

Testing for hyperlite mountain gear Elevate 22 review

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Elevate 22 Review Verdict

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Elevate 22 is an exceptional ultralight daypack with the chassis of a downsized backpack. It is comfortable, durable, nearly waterproof, and has adequate external storage. Backpackers will feel at home day hiking in the HMG Elevate 22. This is the pack we grab most frequently for serious day hikes, and highly recommend picking one up.

Compare this to more great options in our guide to ultralight daypacks.

using the hyperlite mountain gear elevate 22 daypack