Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Review
After 4 months of near daily use, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Fanny Pack has become a staple piece of kit for our photography and EDC needs. Hands-down, it’s the most versatile sling bag on the market and we’ve been incredibly happy with its multi-use performance.
Weight: 116 g
Main Material: DCH50 3.5 oz/yd2
Strap Style: 1″ Webbing
Dimensions: 5.7 x 15 x 23 cm
Manufacturing Country: USA
Length of Test: 4 months
Acquisition: Self Purchase
Climate(s): Tropical Savanna
Weather: Hot and Humid (highest temp 34 C), Cold and Dry (lowest temp 8 C), and Light Rain.
The HMG Versa is designed for:
The HMG Versa is not designed for:
Main Material: the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Fanny Pack is constructed with a space-age laminate called Dyneema Composite Hybrid (DCH), which is 15x stronger than steel on a weight-to-weight basis. Simply put, DCH is the most advanced high-performance material on earth. It’s heavy-duty, ultralight, and 100% waterproof.
Despite the Versa Fanny Pack’s featherweight status, the DCH50 has brushed off the rugged demands of hiking and day-to-day use with no signs visible of wear. Trust us, the Versa is much tougher than it looks.
That said, DCH50 isn’t as abrasion resistant as standard high-tenacity nylons. While it punches above its weight class in every other marker, DCH50’s Achilles’ heel is high-contact friction with hard surfaces. So as long as your mindful and don’t drag the Versa on the ground for 10 meters, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Hardware: featuring #3 YKK Aquaguard Zippers, the Versa Fanny Pack stays true to its weatherproof ethos as the zippers have a polyurethane coating (shiny outer surface) that’s highly water-resistant. In practical terms, the zippers have done a great job at minimizing water ingress, even during the heavy downpours of Thailand’s unforgiving monsoon season.
For added grip and contrast, the zippers themselves have blue nylon pull tabs attached.
As for the carry strap, it’s a soft and pliable 25 mm nylon webbing that’s intuitively easy to adjust. And for all you dangle haters out there, it comes with a sewn-in strap keeper that’ll manage any excess webbing – which we appreciate.
Last but certainly not least, the carry strap features a good ol’ YKK side-release plastic buckle. Nothing fancy or high-tech here, but it’ll damn sure do the job.
Capacity: the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Fanny Pack’s advertised 2.25L of storage seems to be a bit underestimated. The top-loading clamshell combined with the pack’s clever patterning, allows for you to cram it full with a surprising amount of gear. Just be aware, the Dyneema fabric doesn’t have as much “give and stretch” as a traditional nylon would.
As a capacity reference, we usually pack the photography gear listed below, with additional room to spare:
Organization: as an ultralight bag, the Versa Fanny Pack takes an essentialist approach to organization… long story short, its pretty spartan.
The main compartment only features two things: a mesh divider and a keyring clip – that’s it folks. And in all honesty, you shouldn’t expect anything more than this… most of the time, simplicity is truly better – especially when it comes to packing real estate inside of a small bag.
Ultralight philosophy + pocket for every dongle = zero compatibility
In addition to the main compartment, there’s a zippered front pocket with a relatively shallow depth. In real terms, it’s a great place to store slim items like a pen, your passport, a minimalist wallet, or even your phone for quick on-the-go access.
Tuckable Straps: rounding out the features, we saved the best for last. When not in use, the carrying strap and wings can be completely tucked out of the way. In-between the Dyneema fabric and the foam padding, there’s a hidden slot with empty space that’ll house the strap and wings.
Side note: when the straps aren’t tucked in or when they’re removed, the empty space can be used as a shove-it pocket.
Comfort: in all honesty, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Fanny Pack is most comfortable sling bag we’ve ever used – period. We know that’s a bold statement, but we firmly stand by it.
During 4 months of testing in the city and on the trail, we’ve had absolutely zero complaints. The amount of padding this little pack has in combination with its ultralight weight, makes it a true game changer. For us, comfort = 10 out of 10.
In terms of fit, the Versa Fanny Pack conforms to the contours of your back or waist and rides close to your body without any unnecessary flop. In essence, it’s an agile lil’ pack that excels in fast and light adventures or all day carry.
Versatility: there are a few different ways to use the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Fanny Pack and all of its functionality: the standard crossbody carry or as a waist pack… as well as the multiple backpack attachment options. You can easily attach the Versa onto your sternum strap or hip belt, for efficient on-body access to anything you’d want at a moments notice.
To see a short video on how to attach the Versa Fanny Pack to a larger pack, click here…
Alternatively, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Fanny Pack can be seamlessly used as a lightweight organizer inside of a multi-day backpack or daypack. As an organizer, it works well for both urban and outdoor use cases – whether commuting to the office or spending nights on trail.
(Pro Tip: the streamlined packability of the Versa Fanny Pack, is a great feature for travel and adventure photography – camera accessories on-body when you need them, yet safely stored away when you don’t)
Thanks to its Dyneema construction, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Fanny Pack has a futuristic (sort of Blade Runner-ish) appeal. We get that some people may not like its raisin-esque appearance or slight “crinkly” sound, but we dig it.
In hand, this pack looks like it was designed for a T-1000 – it’s a unique, next-generation looking piece of kit. We love it and all of its wrinkled glory…
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Fanny Pack is arguably the most versatile sling bag available, bar none. Between the different carry styles, potential use as an organizer, and its ultralight weight… no other sling bag on the market can directly compete with it – nada, zilch, niente….
With that being said, there are more traditional “crossover slings” that we can highly recommend: our top-rated Fjallraven Ulvo Hip Pack as well as the Mystery Ranch Big Bop.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a larger capacity bag, then we recommend the Mystery Ranch Hip Honkey or the more “wallet-friendly” Osprey Daylite Sling.
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If you’ve been reading the content throughout our site, it’s clear that we’re big on essentialist values and travelling light. So anytime we come across a product and brand that echoes similar values to our own, we have to take note.
Overall, we’ve absolutely enjoyed using the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Fanny Pack and sing its praises. We highly recommend it for anyone that needs a multi-purpose sling bag / waist pack / organizer / modular backpack pocket. Normally we’d label gear with this many functions as a jack of all trades, master of none… but nope, not the Versa. While it’s by no means perfect, the Versa Fanny Pack is truly a dialed-in piece of kit.
There’s not much we disliked about the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Versa Fanny Pack, but we would like to see a MKII version that:
The Dyneema construction is impeccable – it’s a USA-made build and is definitely “burly” for an ultralight product.
Hiking, EDC, and general photography – this lil’ pack excels at all three. Durability wise, it still looks great, although the wrinkles have gotten more pronounced.
The HMG Versa is still going strong and we expect it to last a few more years of frequent use. The Dyneema has developed a slight “patina” but there’s no damage to report.
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