Space and Access
The main sack is roughly 22L. That’s more than enough for a daypack if your gear list is not too excessive. The top access and clean interior make loading/unloading super easy. There’s only a single webbing loop inside, so you can attach a pull-out pouch there to store your valuables. Also keep in mind there’s no side zipper or any other access to the main compartment so sometimes you need to dig inside a bit to find items in the bottom. It’s not a huge pack, so that shouldn’t be too painful, but it’s still something to consider. Well, as I said HPG stuff is made to last so don’t expect possible weak links like a side zipper – makes sense, right?
Pockets and Organizing
The oversized open side pockets are instantly apparent – they are just huge compared to the overall pack size and can easily carry a 1L water bottle and knife or small hatchet together… each! They’re not elastic per se, but HPG designed them in such a way that they don’t eat up too much of the main sack’s space even if filled up with gear. On the contrary, the back hydration/laptop pocket is rather flat and not designed to stuff it too heavily with gear. A tablet or small (thin) laptop would fit there, but I prefer to use it for a 2L Source hydration bladder. There’s no dedicated hose port on the Junction, so you just need to use a corner of the zipper as one.
The top lid pocket doesn’t have too much volume in it. It’s good for some small accessories, like a Swiss Army knife, headlamp, energy bar, compact folded map – and not much more. But it’s not without reason – thanks to the flat design you can strap a rolled jacket or a sleeping pad to the top of the pack with extra straps, especially if you use the optional Line Pocket attached to the Junction to expand the pack’s load capacity.
I mentioned the Line Pocket here – an accessory that is tailor-made for the Junction. It fits great, can be installed on G-hooks within a minute or so, and adds about 5L of volume with nice organization inside. But the Line Pocket also adds the possibility to attach a bedroll, dry bag, or other similar items under and over the pack. I truly enjoyed the Line Pocket on my Umlindi when using it last year, but on the Junction it’s just an exceptional accessory! So if you want your Junction to be a really multi-purpose scalable pack – simply buy the Line Pocket in a bundle.
The broad horseshoe-shaped harness doesn’t need too much of an introduction – or just search Carryology for my previous HPG pack reviews. It distributes the weight not just on the shoulder, but on the whole back and shoulders area. Combined with a removable frame sheet and padded back panel it’s one of the most comfortable carry systems of all daypacks, and it’s optimized for seriously heavy loads. The junction might be small, but it can surely carry big! Much more than any other 22L pack would. There’s no waist belt on a Junction, but you could attach a stabilizing waist strap via a pair of G-hooks if you’d like to.
Okay, back breathability is not as good as on packs with ventilated back panels – but during hot summer days you’d sweat anyway, and in colder seasons you don’t need mesh or bungee net on the back as your clothing should be your real wicking-sweat-out device. Also due to such construction, it stays close to the body for good balance and stability, even in dynamic situations – and that’s what you want in the real backcountry. Plus it’s tougher too.
The Cordura on the Junction is somewhat weatherproof, but stitchings are not. So if the weather gets really bad and you expect a downpour coming… I’d suggest either a rain cover or a decent dry bag (or simply a plastic trash bag) fitted inside the main compartment. Still, the HPG Junction will handle snow and occasional drizzle with ease.