versa body.jpg
REVIEW

Hyperlite Versa Hip Bag

Words Trevor Hansen
Photos Deniz Merdano unless noted
Date May 12, 2021
Reading time

Since abandoning my Camelbaks in favour of stashing gear on my bike and in pockets, I have finally settled on fanny packs - er, hip bags - for carrying gear. I am lucky that my Specialized Enduro has a SWAT box for my tube, CO2, pump, tools and first aid, so the amount of additional storage needed is minimal. The only items I need stowed are a jacket, car key, phone and riding glasses. Before I tested Race Face's hip bags I used a small $20 hip bag from MEC that did the job. When I received the Hyperlite Versa hip bag to test, I noticed how similar its design was to the MEC bag, however the material quality, additional features, better belt and water resistance make the Versa a much better option by a long shot.

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Water resistance that Hyperlite resists claiming to be waterproof - but the proof from my test is that no water made it inside.

I am assuming 'Versa' is short for versatile and that is definitely what this pack is. One of the main features of this bag is its ability to convert so you can wear it as part of a back pack across the sternum, waist belt, or attached to any number of places on the pack. This video details the how-tos for the feature. Something I might use when the world is used to travelling again. For now, it stays on my fanny - I mean hips.

The bag is made from Dyneema Composite Fabrics DCH50 (all caps and some numbers means it's good, eh) which is a tough, water resistant material. My gear has stayed dry all winter and spring so far. The zippers are YKK #3 which DuckDuckGo (me no Google no mo) says means about 3mm wide. The zipper lining material is thick, strong and designed to keep water out - which it has done successfully throughout the test. The belt is easily adjustable and made from one inch webbing. It is not as comfortable as the Race Face bags’ elasticized belts but I did not notice any discomfort, so that’s that then. The lite in Hyperlite comes out as 83 grams which is super - I mean hyper - light.

The Versa has three pockets and a claimed volume of 2.25 litres which could be considered small, but it packs a fair amount of gear in all those pockets. In the small front-facing one I put my key, even though the inner key clip is in the main pocket. I think the front is for easy access: tools, glasses wipes, chakra crystals to rub before big drops.

The main compartment has an elasticized mesh pocket in which I like to keep my phone. In addition, the main pocket is of a size that fits a packable jacket and riding glasses and that’s about it. Hyperlite even provides a waterproof bag for glasses that I use to stash my Smith lens cloth on wet days until I realized that the bag was so water resistant enough that I didn't need the additional waterproof bag. The inner key clip was attached to this main pocket but my clip and string ripped out and is lost in the wild. The third pocket is designed for easy access so it has no zipper. This seems more useful when the bag is attached to the chest or hip straps of a backpack and you need easy access to phones or other items. I do not trust the opening enough to put anything of value in this cache while riding. I think the Versa would be more versatile if this pocket had a couple of Velcro closures so it could still be used for easy access but offer some safety for keeping contents from sliding out. The open pouch is slightly padded for some comfort on the low back/upper glute areas.

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Where's Versa? The bag is hardly noticeable when my jacket and glasses are out and only the phone, key and Clif bar are in. Photo: Mike Wallace.

I prefer to ride with nothing on my back and hips but the Hyperlite Versa hip pack is the compromise I am willing to make when I need to pack some stuff for the ride or a short hike. The bag’s quality is excellent, the water-resistance is excellent even in North Shore winter conditions, and the comfort level is good. The bag’s price reflects the aforementioned goodness and I think it’s well worth it at $70 USD.

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Comments

monsieurgage
+1 Pete Roggeman
Gage Wright  - May 12, 2021, 10:43 p.m.

Looking at the design I think I can sew one of these bad boys with an additional set of two rows of daisy chains made from 1/4 inch webbing for looping a bungie cord through.  You know, for those Britannia Beach August epics when you need to stuff the pack full of food and water (or water filter) and stash a layer on the outside.  I'll take a closer look at the hip belt to see if that can be reasonably beefed up next time we ride.  

The unwritten benefit of the fantastical fanny pack is that when you land hip first on a rock you don't break your pelvis.  Speaking from experience.

Reply

denomerdano
+2 Pete Roggeman Gage Wright
Deniz Merdano  - May 12, 2021, 11:06 p.m.

Please do make me one too!!

Just big enough for a camera and food and some tools.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 Gage Wright
Pete Roggeman  - May 13, 2021, 7:32 a.m.

Sounds like a new side hustle, Gage!

Reply

Vikb
+1 Pete Roggeman
Vik Banerjee  - May 13, 2021, 6:21 a.m.

HMG makes some nice products. They are spendy, but at least you know that money is giving somebody a job in North America. I've given up on fanny packs for biking as there are so many frame bag options I can carry everything on my frames now. But, I do use a Dakine Hot Laps 2 for other outdoors activities and it's a useful size with convenient features.

I was rocking a 20 year old MEC fanny on my bike rides for a while before I leveled up my frame bag game. Eventually the fabric's coating peeled leaving bag dandruff on anything I put inside so it got retired in favour of the Dakine fanny. If I was feeling frugal the $20 MEC fanny sounds like a winner.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - May 13, 2021, 7:33 a.m.

This bag stood out amongst the rest of Hyperlite's gear because the pricing seems spot on vs the competition. Their stuff is terrific but also too expensive for a lot of the market.

Reply

HitechTurtleneck
0 Vik Banerjee DarioD
HitechTurtleneck  - May 13, 2021, 11:16 a.m.

I’ve been using a 3 Bedrock handlebar bags to carry the phone/card/key, jacket, and a dji mini 2 drone. Gear and snacks in Swat, no pack.  I’m never wearing a pack again.

Reply

Tbone
0
Trevor Hansen  - May 13, 2021, 8:32 p.m.

I just rode with my old Camelbak for a ride build and for the first 5 minutes I was carping about paks (I dropped the c like the Camel promo team) but after that I didn't even notice it. That said, I will always try for no pak, then the Versa and if building something that carries my needs.

Reply

kos
0
Kos  - May 15, 2021, 6:01 a.m.

Same. Dakine Shuttle pack. I profess to hate packs, but just used one a bunch in Moab. Like you said, five minutes in and never noticed it again.  I definitely DO hate cleaning bladders, hoses and bite valves though!

For fanny use, my Bonty Rapid Pack works well, especially for carrying a second bottle.

Reply

Stoke
0
Rob Stokes  - May 15, 2021, 2:57 p.m.

I noticed this pack a little while ago but write it off due to the relatively thin waist strap. Does it flop around on the 1" webbing or is it pretty stable?

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