The HPG Umlindi in Its Natural Environment

Hill People Gear Umlindi “Guardian” of Your Gear

Hill People Gear Umlindi Backpack, Two-tone Foliage/Stone, MSRP $220.00, www.hillpeoplegear.com

Author: Toby Asplin

Photos: Shelly Lynn

FTC Disclosure: The products reviewed were provided by the manufacturer/distributor.

“Umlindi” means “guardian”, “watchman” or “caretaker” in Zulu. Hill People Gear’s (HPG) Umlindi backpack will definitely take care of your gear.

The ‘Lindi is HPG’s answer to the largest pack that can be carried without lifter straps.

We received an Umlindi with a Prairie Belt (MSRP: $100.00) for testing. The ‘Lindi’s 500d Cordura construction is an excellent blend of durability and weight-saving construction. Very few people truly need 1000d fabric in their packs. The 500d in the ‘Lindi is certainly adequate for the average sportsman or “evil black” user. We hauled the ‘Lindi around through dense brush, thorns and trees with hardly a blemish.

The lightweight nature of the Umlindi is an excellent foundation for a small hunting pack or larger day pack. It would also make an excellent bug out bag or get home bag.

The Umlindi in its Natural Environment
The Umlindi in its Natural Environment

Organizationally, the Umlindi is simple with a unique external compression strap system intended to work with HPG’s compression panels and stuff sacks. The straps also work well for cinching down virtually any other bulky, lightweight item. We used them for tents, dry bags, shooting mats, sleeping mats and a rifle with good success. The tool loop at the bottom of the pack makes sure heavier loads don’t slip out of the compression straps.

The Umlindi's Compression Straps Work Well for Securing Loads Outside the Pack
The Umlindi’s Compression Straps Work Well for Securing Loads Outside the Pack
Handy Tool Loop
Handy Tool Loop

The Umlindi also has dual “wand” (side) pockets large enough for a one quart USGI canteen. They also work well with 1.5 liter thermoses as pictured in our feature photo.

The Umlindi’s interior is comprised of a single cargo area with a half-depth slot pocket on the back side of the pack. Organization is left almost entirely to the user. We used dry bags and stuff sacks to keep our gear stashed just the way we wanted.

It took a bit of work and some experimentation to get the Umlindi’s harness adjusted properly. It’s a great harness but the configuration is somewhat unique. Adjustment is done by shortening or lengthening the upper and lower straps. Other packs have simpler adjustment methods but once the harness is dialed in, there’s no muss or fuss.

The Umlindi's Harness with its Unique Size Adjustment System
The Umlindi’s Harness with its Unique Size Adjustment System

The shoulder straps are nice and flat. They work well for shouldering a rifle while wearing the pack but do not provide a great deal of padding. The width of the shoulder straps spreads the pack’s weight, however, making it relatively comfortable with heavy loads.

Wide Harness Straps Spread the Weight of Loads Nicely
Wide Harness Straps Spread the Weight of Loads Nicely

Due to the combination of the pack’s removable plastic framesheet and the wide straps, we found that loads as heavy as 50 lbs were fairly comfortable – even without the Prairie Belt.

One of the features that we really liked was the external pocket for the hydration bladder. So many packs hide the hydration bladder inside the main section of the pack. This makes removal and refilling a pain. The Umlindi’s hydration bladder pocket is separate from the main cargo compartment, right next to the wearer’s back. An Osprey bladder with a center structural support slid easily in and out of the Umlindi’s hydration pocket.

Easy Access to the Hydration Bladder Pocket
Easy Access to the Hydration Bladder Pocket

Overall, the Umlindi is a high-quality pack that’s easily configurable to meet multiple needs. One of our testers even used it as a carry on bag on a recent trip. The bag fits perfectly in even the smaller, regional jets’ overhead bins and can be stuffed under a seat if absolutely necessary.