Hyperlite Mountain Gear Junction 40 Review

We tested the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Junction 40 and this is our verdict.

January 18, 2024
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The Junction is a versatile, durable, water-resistant ultralight pack designed for long-distance hikes where resupply points are frequent. It has a roll-top closure with a top Y-strap, two side straps to tighten the load and secure gear, an ice axe loop, and various additional attachment points. There is a large front mesh pocket for storing gear and two side pockets made of durable Dyneema® fabric.

Product Overview

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Junction 40

hyperlite mountain gear junction 40
Pros

✅ Ultralight

✅ Very water-resistant

✅ Large hip pockets

✅ Snug, durable side pockets

✅ Large front mesh pocket

✅ Narrow straps fit smaller people well

✅ White color makes it easy to find items in the pack

Cons

❌ Lack of airflow

❌ Small capacity for casual or non-ultralight backpackers

❌ Not comfortable for long food and water carries

❌ White shows dirt easily

❌ Fabric is loud at first

❌ Expensive

KEY SPECS

  • Internal volume: 40L
  • External volume: 9.8L
  • Load capacity: Up to 40 lbs
  • Weight: 1.9 lbs / 31.0 oz / 878 g (White); 2.0 lbs / 32 oz / 914 g (Black)
  • Back width: 10.5" / 26.7 cm
  • Height when fully unrolled: 30.0” / 76.2 cm
  • Top circumference: 37.5" / 95.3 cm
  • Bottom circumference: 33.5" / 85.1 cm
  • Materials: Dyneema® Composite Hybrid Fabric; 50-denier DCH fabric (White pack) / 150-denier DCH fabric (Black pack)

I love this pack. Between the overall design, color, water resistance, volume, and load capacity, it’s the perfect pack for my needs. Sure, it makes my back sweat. Sure, there are lighter packs out there, and heavier packs that are better for longer resupply carries. But for an all-around workhorse of an ultralight long-distance pack, I can’t imagine a better option than the Hyperlite Junction 40.

For other ultralight backpack reviews, read our post on the best ultralight backpacks.


Performance Test Results

How We Tested:

I used a similar pack, the Windrider 40, on the Camino del Norte in Spain in 2018, the Appalachian Trail in 2019, and the Pacific Crest Trail in 2022. After that pack finally started to give out after over 5,300 miles of hiking, I replaced it with the Junction. I like the slight upgrade to this model because of the tighter, sturdier, and more durable water bottle side pockets, but otherwise, it feels and functions the same as the Windrider.

So far, my Junction has been on the 96-mile West Highland Way in Scotland, an eight-day cross-country hike in the Brooks Range in Alaska, and two overnight hikes, one in Ohio and the other in Virginia along the Appalachian Trail. I’ve had rain, heat, light and heavy loads, and varied terrain including hills, bog, and brush. My trusty Junction has seen me through it all.

hiker using hyperlite mountain gear junction 40

Overall Design

Hop on any long-distance trail right now and you’ll see some version of the Junction. It’s an extremely popular pack, and in my opinion, it’s not hard to see why. Despite the growing popularity of ultralight hiking, there are still a lot of packs out there that have unnecessary accessories for long-distance hikers.

The Junction strikes a balance between useful features and frivolous bells and whistles—there are plenty of straps to use as you need, but nothing extra dangling down in your way. There’s a small mesh pocket on the inside of the pack, but other than that, it’s just a big, open cavern: perfect for organizing your gear the way you want to.

Another feature of this pack that I love is the narrower-than-usual shoulder straps. I’ve tried on some other ultralight packs with thicker straps that didn’t sit right on my shoulders or chest and rubbed the insides of my arms. Not so with the Junction. The straps are unobtrusive, especially as a boob-haver, and the fabric is smooth and doesn’t rub.

hyperlite mountain gear junction 40 load capacity

The Junction 40, formerly known as 2400, retails at $349.

Pockets

I also love the hip pockets, especially compared to the earlier Hyperlite models. One of the most frequent complaints about HMG packs back in the early days was the size of the hip pockets. They were tiny; even before phones were as large as they are now, it was impossible to fit one into these pockets. The company listened to their customer’s feedback, and now the pockets are roomy as can be.

The side pockets are also great. The Windrider’s pockets are all mesh, but the Junction has a mesh front and two Dyneema® side pockets. Hyperlite’s mesh is some of the sturdiest out there, but it’s still not as durable as Dyneema® fabric. The durability of the Junction’s side pockets is especially useful for terrain where you might find yourself doing some bushwhacking.

side pockets of windrider vs junction

Side pockets of Windrider (left) vs. Junction (right).

Color

The color of Hyperlite packs is striking. Whether you go for the white or the black, the look is so sleek. I prefer the white for three reasons. First, it makes it easier to see things inside the pack when I’m riffling around trying to find that one piece of gear. Second, it’s slightly lighter than the black—not much at just an ounce, but still, every little bit helps, right? Third, I like to use white fabric as a canvas.

On the AT in 2019, I covered my Windrider with quotes, doodles, and other things I was thinking about. After my Brooks Range hike this past summer, the three people I hiked with signed my pack. Now I have a portable scrapbook to remember my hike by! The only downside of the white is that it shows dirt easily.

For the first few hundred miles it’s pristine, but it goes downhill quickly after that. The fabric is also pretty loud at first—not as bad as rolling over on a crinkly sleeping pad at night, but still loud enough to cause a jolt if your campmates aren’t expecting it.

hyperlite mountain gear junction 40 close up

Fit and Ventilation

There is one more very salient con of the Junction to me: it generates back sweat like nothing you’ve ever seen. The pack fits my torso perfectly and fits snugly against my spine, but there is zero airflow. It gets seriously swampy back there even in mild weather.

This translates to stinky straps and stained fabric on the back of the pack. I don’t know how this compares to other packs because it’s never bothered me badly enough to make me want to switch to a different company, but it’s worth noting in case back airflow is one of your deal-breakers.

Durability

My Junction is still fairly new, but if it performs anything like my Windrider did, I will be thrilled. I took my original pack on three different long-distance trails and several shorter hikes, all of which came to a total of over 5,300 miles, and it was only at the end of the PCT in 2022 that I started to notice it breaking down.

hiker using hyperlite mountain gear junction 40

Carrying my Junction on an overnight hike in Virginia along AT.

Water Resistance

The Junction is not marketed as “waterproof,” because no pack is truly and completely waterproof, but it’s pretty dang close. I still use a pack liner inside the pack as well as a stuff sack for my sleeping bag and clothes just to be safe, especially when I know it’s going to rain, but that’s probably overkill.

On shorter hikes, I often don’t take a pack liner, and even in rainy weather, nothing gets wet inside the Junction. This changes as the pack ages, though; by the end of the PCT, I noticed that the top of my trash compactor bag inside the pack was wet when it had rained. All gear breaks down eventually, and even the most “waterproof” packs, tents, and clothing will eventually let the water in. But while the Junction’s water resistance works, it really works.

old windrider left and current junction right
Side by side: my old Windrider (left) and current Junction (right).

Volume

The Junction has a 40L internal volume with 9.8 extra liters on the outside between all the pockets. To me, this is the Goldilocks of kit volume. Much of that 40L is the roll-top closure. When I’m on a shorter trip or a hot summer overnight when I don’t have much gear, I can just roll down that top portion and secure it snugly for a tighter and smaller pack. And when I’m on a longer trip with a hefty resupply, as was the case with my Brooks Range hike this summer, I can open it all the way up and still have enough space.

hiker using hyperlite mountain gear junction 40

Load Capacity

That being said, this pack is not ideal for long resupplies or hikes when heavier gear is required. At the beginning of my Brooks Range hike this summer I was pushing the 40-pound load capacity and I was not comfortable. My shoulders and lower back ached, and I wished that I had a heftier pack better suited to larger loads. The Junction does not have load-lifter straps, and while this has never been a problem for the most part on any of my thru-hikes, I felt it in the Brooks.

I had a similar issue with my Windrider in the Sierras while on the PCT in 2022. All the other sections of the trail were perfectly fine in terms of weight and comfort, but that 7-day carry with a bear canister was rough. Hyperlite packs are just not suited to heavy food and water carries, which is mentioned in the product description.

I plan to purchase a different pack when I hike the CDT because of infrequent resupply points and long water carries. But for the AT, PCT, and other hikes with frequent resupplies, the Junction 40 is an excellent choice.

interior capacity of hyperlite mountain gear junction 40
Pushing a 40-load capacity on this pack made it uncomfortable for me to carry.

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Sarahmarie Specht-Bird photo

About Sarahmarie Specht-Bird


Sarahmarie Specht-Bird (aka Passport) is a thru-hiker, teacher, and writer. When not in the classroom or on a trail somewhere, you can probably find her crafting. @srirachamarie

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