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Lightweight Hiking with Andrew Altepeter

My name is Andrew Altepeter and for the last five years I have been working as an instructor of hiking, lightweight hiking, climbing, mountaineering, canyoneering, and skiing courses in and around the American West for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).  The courses that I instruct range from one to four weeks in length with pack weights ranging from 30 – 65 lbs depending on the skill type, environment, and number of days between resupplies.  I have experimented with a variety of ultralight packs over the years and spent time modifying, stitch ripping, and chopping various bells and whistles to create simple, lightweight, and functional packs for work…and play!  I have also significantly downsized from the 90+ liter sized packs that are standard for our long expeditions by making deliberate gear choices appropriate for the given environment and gaining better understanding of how to plan and pack just what I need to have a successful backcountry experience.

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In Spring 2011, I discovered what HMG was making and my eyes lit up!  I saw that the 4400 Porter Pack could be the solution to all of the modifications and an answer to the desires that I was trying to satisfy by modifying other packs.  I was skeptical at first about whether the lightweight Porter pack would carry loads comfortably due to a lack of classically designed load lifters on the shoulder straps, as well as the minimalist design of the back panel and aluminum stays, but I took the plunge, bought one, and started taking the 4400 Porter Pack on my NOLS courses and personal outings.  I am happy to report how pleasantly surprised I was at how well the pack carries loads.  For instance, on some travel days in the desert we carry up to ten liters of water (on top of the 35-45 lb pack weight) knowing that our camping destination for the day is dry.  I found the pack to be just as comfortable, if not more so, than the complex, bulky, and heavy packs I had used in the past.  With a little care, the pack has been appropriately durable as well.  When lowering fully loaded packs down sandstone slabs in Southeast Utah the Porter Pack took some abuse but was not worse off than other thick nylon canvas packs I’ve used.  I believe HMG has hit the mark for me with their high-end minimalist design aesthetic that accomplishes a lot without extraneous features.  HMG has stripped away all that is unnecessary and incorporates exactly what is needed in a pack design to make sure it is functional and carries well.  For this I am grateful!

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It is going to be another busy summer in the mountains with a month long Wind River Mountaineering course starting soon followed by a lightweight hiking course in the Winds that is nearly as long.  I will be taking a 4400 Ice Pack for this mountaineering course as we’ll need personal and group technical gear like crampons, ice axes, climbing ropes, and snow protection, plus course paperwork, communication devices and educational tools/resources, which all add to the challenge of a sub 60 lb pack.  But I’m looking forward to meeting the group, getting geared up (as light as makes sense), and heading off into the mountains.  And I’m also eager to share the experience and what I learn about going even lighter on institutional expeditions when I get back in a month.

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Trail Days in Damascus, VA – May 15th to 18th, 2014

Once again, HMG will be traveling to Damascus, Va for the 28th annual Trail Days festival celebrating this year’s 4,000-5,000 Appalachian Trail thru-hikers.  In addition to the majority of thru-hikers that will be in attendance, the festival draws an additional 15,000-20,000 hiking enthusiasts and lovers of the Appalachian Trail from around the U.S., North America, and the entire world.

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Hyperlite Mountain Gear will be loading up a few cars and trucks on the morning of May 13th to make the 1,000 mile journey from Maine to southwestern Virginia for its fourth showing at the festival.  HMG will have a booth set-up demonstrating its ultralight mountain gear and will also have a large stock of inventory available for sale.

Stop Trail Days by to:

- Check us out
- Get a gear shakedown from HMG CEO, Mike St. Pierre
- Replace your old gear to finish faster and with more comfort
- Sign up for a pack giveaway raffle
- Or just say Hello

We might even choose you for a gear sponsorship!

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Ultralight_Pack

 

 

Skiing the Grand with HMG Ambassador Beau Fredlund

This week things aligned for some exceptionally good ski mountaineering in the Tetons.  A nice spring storm had come in warm, bonding well to the old snow surfaces, and finishing cold and dry.  Perfect for skiing and avalanche stability.  Our week included some excellent adventures with bicycle access in Grand Teton National Park (on a road closed to auto traffic), and was punctuated by a ski descent of the highly coveted Grand Teton .  Possibly the most iconic mountain in the lower 48, and a challenging ski mountaineering objective by any route.

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As with many things in life, timing is one of the more important aspects of a project like this.  Two days of letting the new snow settle, and we were off at 11:30pm.  Climbing through the night, our HMG Ice and Porter packs were carefully packed (two thin ropes, ice climbing gear, some rock pro, a stove, and lot’s of photo and video equipment, ect. ).  The plan being, to ski the Ford/ Stettner route on the Grand, capture some amazing video content, and then link up the Middle and South Tetons, for a Teton trifecta.  Above all though, we hoped to do it in good style.

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The weather ended up turning a bit too warm for the link-up, but skiing phenomenal untracked/ bottomless powder down the upper east face, and Ford Couloir was an experience we won’t soon forget.   :)

HMG is off to Everest!

We’re proud to share the news that cameramen and adventure videographers John Griber and Ed Wardle will be carrying HMG ultralight packs when they climb Mt. Everest to film Joby Ogwyn’s historic wing suit jump off the summit.

“I’ve been hired by NBC as a cameraman this spring for an event called Everest Jump Live,” said Griber.  He and Wardle will be following Ogwyn up the mountain filming his climb and running jump off Earth’s highest point.  No human has ever attempted this feat before and the Discovery Channel will be airing the 11,000 foot drop and five mile descent back to Base Camp during a two hour live broadcast in May.

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This is not the first summit attempt for Griber who has reached the top twice previously, but it is the first time he will be filming a live broadcast.

“As a cameraman, just to be asked to go to Everest is one thing, but to be breaking ground in broadcasting is entirely another level. This live event will be broadcast to 224 countries/territories and that’s very exciting.”

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While Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs have been all over the world including Everest Base Camp, this is the first time an HMG ultralight pack will summit the world’s tallest peak.  According to Griber, weight and gear are of the utmost importance while climbing at altitude.

“HMG makes sense on various levels.  The Cuben fiber based pack is obviously lightweight as well as incredibly strong and durable.  The basic design is perfect for Everest where you don’t need any extras, you simply need gear that you can rely on and that works.”

Wardle will be carrying the 4400 Ice Pack, a 70L technical climbing pack.  But Griber will be carrying Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s 4400 Windrider – a basic large volume hiking pack.  When asked if he realized this or had any thoughts on it, Griber humbly said, “Well after all it’s just one big hike…I just happen to be walking to the top of the world!”

Be sure to check out this epic event live in May on the Discovery Channel

4400 SW Three Quarter

4400 Ice Pack Three Quarter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why my parents adopted a lightweight mindset

 

By Amy Hatch

Large external frame backpacks protruded over their heads. Bungee cords lashed to them a frying pan, heavy foam sleeping pads and an extra daypack. A bulky backpacking shower, full books, and eggs, bacon and hash browns added to the unwieldy load.

This is how backpacking used to look for parents, Nancy and Cleve Schenck, back in the ’70s and early ’80s, before I was a twinkle in their eyes – and, for that matter, even once I became part of their outdoor adventures.

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“Packs used to not have sternum straps, so we’d jerry rig the sternum straps,” my mom reminisced.

Back then, my mom and dad managed to make it work, hiking into remote and breathtaking backcountry destinations, many of which in later decades would become “discovered.”

But now in their 60s, they’ve changed their approach, adopting a lightweight mindset, mostly out of necessity.

“It’s made the difference between being able to backpack or not, that’s the bottom line,” my mom said. Going lightweight prevents back, shoulder and neck injuries and also allows them to sleep comfortably when they arrive at their destination “because our bodies feel good,” my mom said.

“My days of carrying 60 pound packs are over,” my dad said. “Every year the pack gets heavier, even though there’s less weight in it.”

My mom’s pack weight is now down to 23 pounds and my dad carries between 30 and 35 pounds.

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Today my parents are cheerleaders for companies that make lightweight equipment, like Hyperlite Mountain Gear, but it’s been a transition that’s come with some resistance. My dad clung to his 11-pound, all-season, four-man tent for years, even after my brother and I had moved out of the house. It wasn’t until the tent fly was in threads from having been water proofed so many times that he finally upgraded to a technical 4-pound tent.

And when I first suggested to my dad that he try out my HMG Windrider backpack, he showed little interest. It took my mom’s raving about it, to get him to put it on. But only a few weeks after he tried it, he was buying his own for an upcoming trip to the Dolomites in Italy.

“The thing about the Hyperlite that struck me, it’s nice that it’s lightweight, but it’s really comfortable,” my dad said.

My mom echoed this with:

“It has everything you need and nothing more. I feel more secure on more challenging trails, especially when there is some exposure, because I feel like the pack is fitting so well that it’s not throwing my body weight around.”

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Amy Hatch is an ambassador for Hyperlite Mountain Gear. She’s also the founder of two companies: Jackson Hole Packraft & Packraft Rentals Anywhere (www.jhpackraft.com) and Garage Grown Gear (www.garagegrowngear.com).

HMG’s Newest Ambassador

Hyperlite Mountain Gear would like to welcome our newest ambassador.  Bad Ass for sure!

Angela VanWiemeersch

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Angela VanWiemeersch (or VanStein known for her epic stein pulls), lives a passion for the mountains. From the peaks of Alaska to her home crags of Zion where she works a climbing guide, Angela is constantly seeking to push herself to higher limits.  As an accomplished climber on rock, ice and mixed terrain Angela views her self as an explorer at heart.  In 2010 she completed a 1400 mile solo unsupported bike tour from Detroit, Michigan to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The lure of the unknown and the vast beauty of untouched landscapes then continued to drive her North. In 2011 Angela found herself again on a journey where the road ends and the tundra begins. She paddled 430 miles, unsupported on the Mackenzie river in the Northwest territories of Canada.  Her pursuit to find great adventures led her to the Alaska Range where she became (as far as the records go) the  first woman to free solo Ham and Eggs on the Moose’s Tooth.3000′ while using the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Ice Pack. Angela has made her life not only about getting to the top of summits around the world but about the reward of the journey and the adventure of each endeavor.

Climbing Resume – All routes below are climbed on lead
**with the exception of cali ice and stairway to heaven where i was swapping leads.

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ALPINE ASCENTS
First female free solo of Ham and Eggs (WI4+ M4- Jon Krakuauer / Nate Zissner) 3000′ . west side of mooses tooth, central alaska range

Almost A Free solo ascent of Mt. Francis (IV, 5.8,60′ snow) 3,600′. (I ran into some climbers and roped up for one exposed crux pillar pitch just to be safe) Kahiltina glacier, central alaska range.

**california ice (WI4-5)3,000′ in the Beartooth Range in Montana (1st pitch in photo)
**Stairway to heaven ( WI4-5) 7 pitches in jan 2013

WATER ICE ASCENTS
White Nightmare (WI4-5) 2 pitches,150′  provo canyon, utah
Bridal Veil Right (WI4-5) 2 pitches,200′ provo canyon, utah
Bridal Veil Left (Wi4-5) 2 pitches,200′ provo canyon, utah
The Matrix(WI 4, M4-5) 130′ hyalitet canyon, montana
Scepter(WI 4 +) 100′ hyalite canyon, Montana

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Basically i’m in love with wide open places and I strive to explore those places to the fullest. Climbing gets me exactly where i want to be. Connected to the landscape, In a zen i never thought was possible. Every time i’m climbing i think its the coolest thing i’ve ever done.
- Angela VanWiemeersch

What is new for 2014?

What is new in 2014?

We get asked that question from the media, friends, and customers all the time. So we thought we would take a moment to give an update on what we’ve been doing at Hyperlite Mountain Gear to make our products even better!

We have rolled out NEW features across our entire pack range in the 2400(40L), 3400(55L) and 4400(70L) sizes. These include taping all of the packs critical seams for improved water resistance, a double-reinforced 150d pack bottom, re-designed hip-belt pockets for improved utility, and extended hip-belt length for better wrap around support allowing improved weight transfer capability from the shoulders to the hips.

Also on our large 4400(70L) sized packs we are building the entire pack from our Cuben/150d Poly hybrid material and we have added an additional back panel frame-sheet allowing an increased carrying capacity of up to 60 lbs.

Remember when ordering a pack to get a measurement of your torso size to ensure the best fit and best performance from your pack.
Take a look at our size chart to make sure you measure right.

All of our gear is designed and tested in the ‘worst conditions’  to ensure it is the best it can be.  Our CEO Mike St. Pierre was recently out on an R&D mission to Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park here in Maine. He and the crew he was with endured -30 degree weather to do some skiing and climbing to test new materials that we plan to launch a bit later this year!

Check out this picture from their trip – photo credit Max Neal

HMG in Action

HMG in Action

HMG is on Instagram! Are you?

Follow us @hyperlitemountaingear

Follow us @hyperlitemountaingear

HMG – Evolution

Evolution! - We love this illustration by HMG Ambassador Steve Graepel!

Evolution! – We love this illustration by HMG Ambassador Steve Graepel!

Neon, Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail – Segment 7, The Four State Challenge!

Every year Appalachian Trail thru hikers, gear heads and dreamers flock to Damascus, Virginia for the annual “Trail Days” festival.  This year, Trail Days was held from May 17-19 and attracted thousands of outdoor enthusiasts from all over the globe. Hyperlite Mountain Gear attends Trail Days every year to meet fellow enthusiasts and show off some of its innovative ultralight gear and accessories. One of the people HMG met at this year’s festival was a thru-hiker named Brenna (trail name “Neon”).  Unfortunately, Brenna had all of her gear stolen from her tent while she was exploring the festival.  When HMG founder Mike St. Pierre heard what had happened to Neon, he decided to hook her up with a free HMG Windrider 2400 pack as well as a some other free HMG products. Mike also spread her story among other equipment vendors at the festival.  By the end of the day, Neon had an entirely brand new setup of equipment free of charge.With the ultralight and rain-proof HMG Windrider 2400 HMG trimmed Neon’s pack weight significantly which should make the next 1,700 miles to Maine even more fun. As a way of saying “Thank You” to Mike and the rest of the HMG team, Neon has been keeping us all up to date with periodic posts and pictures from the AT. We hope that you’ll check in regularly to follow Neon along the trail!  Here’s Neon’s seventh post from the trail . . .

The Four State Challenge

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It was tough getting back on the trail after taking four days off. My body had realized it was time to relax and allow the aches and pains to come to the surface: my feet were swollen and I hobbled up and down the stairs because I couldn’t bend my knees. It was even tougher getting back on because the first day we did 44 miles.

When I first heard about the four state challenge, I thought it was something that everyone did; one of those rites of passage on the trail. I decided then, at the very beginning of the trail, when an 18 mile day was a bit of a push, that one day I would walk 43.1 miles. Once the end of Virginia came into sight, I realized the magnitude of what I had committed myself to: I had yet to even do a 30 mile day. Thanks to peer pressure and my own mental obstinacy, there was no turning back.

Buckeye, Atreyu, Promise, ET, Turbo, and I were dropped off at a road crossing 0.8 miles past the VA/WV border at about 5 AM and we doubled back in order to truly hit four states in one day.

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After walking for months on end, I was surprised to find how quickly I had forgotten how to do it in my time off. I was moving one foot in front of the other as usual, but everything felt strange. Is this how I usually hike? Is this the speed I usually go? What do I do with my arms? My steps felt wobbly and unsure- my body had literally forgotten how to walk. By the 10 mile mark I was back in the groove and by noon we had completed almost 20 miles. We took plenty of breaks and no one who saw us would have thought we were doing any sort of challenge.

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Until we hit about the 30 mile mark. My legs were stiffening and I felt completely sapped of all energy. I had also lost track of where we were and kept expecting the next shelter to be just around the corner. That’s the kiss of death on a long hike- expecting to be farther than you are. By this time anyone who saw us could see in our faces that we were no longer having a good time. A few other hikers, one of whom I knew, the others I had just met, started cheering us on as we walked. We were leap-frogging with them and every time we passed by, they tried to pump us up by whooping and hollering. It felt good and it worked each time, at least for a little while.

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We finally made it to the shelter at the 34 mile mark. 10 miles to go. It was about 6 PM by this time and we were all in pain. I think each one of us was truly considering just stopping there for the night, but no one was willing to say it out loud. We had a feast of granola bars, cereal, pop tarts, bagels, peanut butter, Twizzlers pull n peel (I might have been the only one feasting on these), Fritos Honey BBQ Twists (best trail food ever by the way- high calorie and delicious. So what if it has zero nutritional value), and everything else in our food bags. Ibuprofen made the rounds.

Suddenly we were new people; walking three miles an hour, chatting, and having a great time. Suddenly we were talking about going past the 44 mile mark and making it an even 50. And just as suddenly we were back to misery. At the 40 mile mark I thought I was done. It was long past twilight and I didn’t know if I would make it to 44. I was still moving, but just barely. “This is making me hate hiking,” ET said. We slowed down to about one mile per hour and walked mostly in silence, each of us dwelling on our own pain. Chafing, cramps, tight muscles, and sore feet plagued us. The chafing was out of control. I was the only one spared the butt crack variety and to this day I am thankful for that. I silently cried the last two miles and alternately hoped that no one would see and everyone would see. I wanted to be comforted, to be held, and most of all I just wanted it to end.

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0.3 miles before the finish there was a pavilion and we decided to walk down to the state line and then come back up to stay in the pavilion, thereby avoiding setting up shelters for the night. We walked down to the railroad tracks and figured that was it, this was the line. We made it at 11:30 PM, about 18.5 hours after we had started. No state-line sign? Kind of disappointing but not so unusual.

We took a few pictures: I preferred the pictures where I could sit down and loved the pictures where I was just laying down in the tracks. I didn’t take any of my own because I no longer cared. We made our way back to the pavilion and I lay down and went to bed. “You’re not going to eat any dinner?” Buckeye asked me. No, I was not. I was extremely hungry, but even more tired.

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We slept late the next day. 10? 11? I can’t be sure. I was exhausted and walking was painful. I don’t even know why we ever left that beautiful pavilion with its beds (our sleeping bags) and its bathrooms (actual bathrooms!). Most of all, staying there would mean that we wouldn’t have to hike and that would have been glorious. For some reason we ended up leaving, hiked passed the train tracks where we had stopped and taken pictures, and then pass the sign marking the Mason-Dixon Line. Wait there was a sign? It turns out we had come up short by about 50 yards and hadn’t seen the sign because it was dark. Once again I no longer cared.

We only hiked 7.5 miles that day and then stopped at another pavilion for the night. We had gone far enough and ordered pizza; everyone except for Ramon and me eating a large on their own. Then they went to Walmart and each got a half gallon of ice cream for dessert. Atreyu got a 2 liter bottle of root beer and had the world’s largest root beer float. I took a nap.

Neon
The  AT
Fall 2013