Gear Review: The Hill People Gear Umlindi

After testing the Hill People Gear Umlindi, ISG gives it's opinion on the bag's suitability for the ISG mission.

December 30, 2019
Gino A.

Hill People Gear: Umlindi Pack

Duration of Testing: 6 Months

Utility – 5

Durability – 7

Comfort – 6

Weight – 5

Cost – 5

Overall – 6/10

Bottom Line: Well made pack that is in between a 3-day pack and an assault pack. Decent overall but not fitting for ISG standards.

Pack Specs (From HPG):

  • 500d Cordura Construction
  • Velcro opening lumbar pad for use with a Prairie Belt
  • Removable plastic frame-sheet in slot pocket with a single stay channel and 7075 stay
  • Ute style pulley compression system
  • Large dual wand pockets. Big enough for a USGI 1qt with canteen cup on it.
  • 3 reinforced hang tabs inside of pack on suspension side
  • Hose port
  • Half depth slot pocket inside of pack on back side
  • Bottom compression straps
  • Single top compression strap
  • Parachute cord tool loop in back center

After about two years, I started looking around for something to replace my 5.11 COVRT. Even though it was supposed to be "covert" like most nylon made by gear manufactures, it still came across very tactical. My mission was not for work but for exploration in the civilian world, I wanted this to be my go-to pack for exploration and overlanding.

I heard many good things about the Umlindi and after some research, it seemed it would fit the bill perfectly.

The Good

  1. External straps. Two on bottom, one on top, and two that go fully around the pack and double as compression straps. I really like all the external storage without having to use 550 to strap on more things.
  2. Material. 500D cordura is tough as nails yet not too heavy like some of the thicker military cordura packs... Especially when wet.
  3. Internal frame is EXCELLENT. Customization and light weight? Sign me up. Took 5 mins to fit to my back perfectly. Really helps with things not poking you in the back when you're on the move.
  4. Holds two full-size nalgene bottles, if you keep up with ISG you know we love our 32 oz nalgenes.
  5. Size. I really enjoy how low profile it is. Very helpful for moving around with it on and staying mobile.

The Bad

  1. Material. These days its not too hard to find a pack that uses a nice hybrid fabric that is light and repels or stops water. While Cordura is strong as all get out, it also doesn't wick any water away and gets considerably heavy when wet. This pack requires a nice application of never-wet and reapplication after hard use. Good Cordura is still Cordura.
  2. Main pack design. Not the best shape in my opinion. It's a tall and skinny pack thats only accessible from the top. Getting anything not directly on top is a hassle and certain items do not fit side by side since its so narrow. I am typically able to fit a few things in two columns side by side in my other bags that have the same storage size. The Umlindi can not fit my typical load without me externally mounting items, which I tend to avoid  just because its a larger profile and is exposed to the elements.
  3. Single inside pocket. Doesn't seem to hold items in it well. Has no zipper or flap or recessed design, if you jump over something...its emptying into the main pack area.
  4. No retention on water bottles. This isn't a huge deal as you can really clamp down on those straps but I have had Nalgenes fall out when vaulting walls. Not a fan.
  5. Harness system. I enjoyed the comfort of the straps and all the area I could attach things to. However, the area that disperses its load onto the shoulders never seemed to fit right. I have a wide neck and it rubbed and seemed to always be just slightly loose. (I could have missed something when I was reading the fitting guides but I doubt it.)

Final Thoughts

I do respect this bag as it has a purpose and countless years performing for many people. I just do not think it fits the ISG mission well or my needs specifically. I would recommend this pack for someone backpacking or maybe a light hunting trip. I do not recommend this pack for any type of tactical use or high mobility movement. It doesn't stick well to the body or hold things in and the harness system does poorly over armor or even  chest rig straps.


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