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Hyperlite Mountain Gear Shoulder Pocket Review

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Shoulder Pocket Review

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Shoulder Pocket is the best pocket I’ve found for carrying a smartphone, camera, or a Garmin inReach Explorer+ strapped to my backpack shoulder pads, where I can easily access them during a hike. This accessory pocket is easy to attach to any backpack with a vertical daisy chain running down the shoulder strap, with a clever buckle system that can span a sternum strap without interfering with it. That is an awesome feature that sets this pocket apart from all the others I’ve used in the past.

Specs at a Glance

The shoulder pocket is sized to hold your favorite electronics
The shoulder pocket is sized to hold your favorite electronics

Made with waterproof Dyneema (formerly cuben fiber), the HMG Shoulder Pocket has a waterproof zipper and is large enough that you can carry two devices with it, one inside and one in the outer mesh pocket. For instance, a smartphone and a point-and-shoot camera, or a smartphone and an inReach Explorer+, can be carried with the same pocket at the same time without over taxing the pocket. Plus, there’s a hidden sleeve on the inside that’s sized to carry an ID card, a credit card or cash.

The HMG Shoulder pocket connects to a vertical daisy chain in two places and does not interfere with sternum strap use.
The HMG Shoulder pocket connects to a vertical daisy chain in two places and does not interfere with sternum strap use.

The pocket has an outer mesh sleeve that is well-sized to carry a camera or a smartphone. If I’m on a navigation intensive route, I’ll carry my new waterproof iPhone XR there, so it’s easily accessible when I want to consult the Gaia GPS or navigation apps. On more scenic hikes, I carry my camera in the exterior mesh sleeve so I can take lots of pictures and keep my phone in the inside pocket. (Yeah, I still prefer a real camera over a smartphone camera. Better sensor. More pixels.)

The HMG Shoulder Pocket is compatible with packs from other manufacturers, as long as they have vertical daisy chains on the shoulder straps.
The HMG Shoulder Pocket is compatible with packs from other manufacturers, as long as they have vertical daisy chains on the shoulder straps.

It’s also easy to remove this pocket, for those times when you need to leave your pack in an unsupervised location like the front porch of a store during a resupply, or in the luggage rack on a train. Each buckle has a small metal gate that pops open when you squeeze it, and locks back when closed. A number of other pack manufacturers use these buckles and they’re quite durable.

To open the buckle, you squeeze it lightly. This makes it very easy to take off or switch between packs.
To open the buckle, you squeeze it lightly. This makes it very easy to take off the pocket or switch it between packs.

The backpacking world is divided into people who like to attach gear to their pack shoulder straps and those that don’t. You can guess which camp I fit into. If you also like to attach gear to your shoulder straps, get yourself a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Shoulder Pocket. You’ll quickly understand why this is such a great accessory pocket.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Shoulder Pocket

Disclosure: The author received a sample pocket from Hyperlite Mountain Gear for this review. He liked the pocket so much he bought two more. Awesome kit.

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24 comments

  1. How can people stay organized without one of these? Been rocking an “office on the yoke” for a long time now – thanks Colin Fletcher. Sacrificed my Kodak Instamatic 124 soft vinyl camera case to make that first one. Holds my tubular monocular microscope, pencil, note/sketch book, hard candy, chap stick, more candy, and gizmo of the moment (iPhone, GPS, radio). An essential to the walk!

  2. I keep looking at these but at 7 inches it’s just too needlessly big for an ipod touch.

    My hip pouch is still a better solution.

  3. For us winter wanderers, does this pocket help insulate a smartphone so cold temperatures don’t rapidly drain the battery? Thanks!

    • No. Check to make sure your smartphone has a lithium battery (most do now). Lithium batteries do not contain water, so they don’t freeze. They are also far more cold tolerant. Next turn your phone off to save power. Those two things usually help preserve your power indefinitely.

      • This is incorrect, lithium batteries GREATLY increase drain during moderate to extreme lows. Even the newest ones.

      • Basic chemistry; all chemical reactions occur more slowly as temperature drops. The internal media solutions in Lithium-ion batteries may not freeze and crack the case as with other chemistry types, but performance still drops. And attempting to charge a very cold Li-ion battery can cause permanent damage to the battery.

        Why Does Cold Weather Drain Your Phone Battery?

        Discharging at High and Low Temperatures
        Explore the limitations when operating a battery at adverse temperatures and learn how to minimize the effects.

      • Ok – but that’s kind of obvious. What’s that say about battery drain when the device is off?

      • Good question. Those references don’t seem to address self- (non-use) discharge. My understanding is that all batteries, regardless of chemistry, self discharge when not in use. Theoretically, self discharge also slows as temperature drops, but in the Live Science article, the writer reported the battery charge dropped from 100% to 94% after the battery had warmed back to “room” temperature a short time later, but that’s just anecdotal. I put my fully charged iphone 5s in the freezer (~11ºF) for an hour and a half, and it’s still reading 100%. Of course, that’s anecdotal, too.

        I’ve searched around a bit, and can’t find anything definitive on how cold affects lithium-ion battery self discharge. Will come back and post if i find something later.

      • Thanks. Wish that guy had educated us. I can tell you that alkaline batteries freeze because they have water in them. That’s why they show up as dead.

      • I use small USB chargeable hand warmers to keep my camera and phone during winter weather hiking. They are lightweight, last hours and can even charge your phone plus the camera and/or phone work much better when not frozen.

      • You were told wrong… There is no water in batteries. Nearly every battery has a liquid electrolyte in them, but not water (apart from some specialised thermal batteries used by the military). Li-Ion rechargeables are no exception. They do work better than alkaline, but every battery chemistry (rechargeable or not) works better than alkaline… If you

  4. This looks great, would you be able to check to see if a SmartWater bottle fits?
    Thanks for the review!

  5. I’ve been casting around for shoulder-strap pouches, but hadn’t seen this HMG one yet, so i appreciate the post. Nice that it’s waterproof.

    Seems like i’m moving toward hanging more and more stuff on the front of my body. Mirrorless camera and extra lens ride in a holster-style pouch on my chest. And i’ve used a medium-sized waist pack for a while. I could downsize that a bit by putting an item or two in a shoulder-strap pouch. My straps only have one loop, though (no daisy chain), but might might be able to jerry-rig something. One strap is already taken with a smaller drink bottle with some kind of electrolyte mix, and a face-wiping bandana.

  6. Bought one for me and one for Monica after seeing Ken’s. Love them. To the insulation question – negative. In the coldest days I still had to tuck it inside my vest.

  7. The HMG shoulder strap pockets are great. One of the best I have used. So good in fact, I bought three. One for my pack, one for my wife and one that I use in my leather office backpack as a pencil case and to hold my ear buds and other stuff.

    Great case, highly recommend.

  8. Wow – excellent reviews on a product that I have needed forever.

    I always carry my Google Pixel 2 XL phone and Panasonic Lumix GX85 camera when I hike/ski/snowshoe. If I put the camera in my pack it almost always stays in there and never gets used.

    I’m going to buy 2 of them.

  9. Please compare/contrast this with the Gossamer Gear shoulder strap pocket.

    • The GG pocket doesn’t span a sternum strap and doesn’t have a waterproof zipper. It’s also not something I’d trust in all day rain to hold electronics and keep them dry like a cuben fiber pocket. It’s not a bad pocket, but it has long velcro strips in back (longer than you can believe) that can be annoying at times and make the pocket a bit of a pain to attach to a shoulder strap.

      • On the other hand, the GG pocket is the best I’ve found for glasses. The velcro strips Phil finds annoying make it easy (in my opinion) to attach and detach from a variety of packs, with or without daisy chains. Light padding protects the glasses. As Phil says, it isn’t waterproof, but I put my cell phone in a plastic ziplock bag, since nothing with a zipper and seams is truly waterproof, even if some pockets are more water resistant than others.

      • Learn the hard way to use a hard case for glasses, myself.
        The velcro is sometimes the only way to attach the pocket if you have a non-technical pack without proper daisy chains on the shoulder straps.

  10. Hmm. “Hard Case” might make a good trail name.

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