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Stripped Down Community Tips

    Go light. Hike in your socks :)

Comments moderated by Mike St. Pierre

Thanks so much to our community for providing so many good tips & tricks to lighten your load. We’ll be expanding some of these into blog posts in the upcoming weeks.

  • From Charles Greenhalgh via Instagram (@daily_maple): Use a very large poncho. It provides protection from rain, but breathes really well and covers your pack and your legs to the knees. It can also serve as an emergency shelter. Charles has waited out hailstorms on the trail and made lunch under his poncho.
  • Thanks to Chris (@snow_slog) who advised us via Instagram to take a smaller pack than normal because it forces you to pack less. This brings to mind something I often tell my customers; I recommend you buy your pack last. By purchasing all your necessities first, you can figure out the lightest, best options for you. And then buy a pack that reflects those purchases. Buy a big pack from the get-go, and you’re just going to fill it, often with unnecessary stuff. Read the rest of the community tips…

Stripped Down with Mike St. Pierre, #2

Trekking Poles are The Bomb

“Trekking poles are the difference between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive when you’re on the trail.”
-Max Neale, writer & adventurer (@nealemax on Twitter)

Text by Mike St. Pierre, Photo by Cody Cobb.

Photo by Cody Cobb.

Trekking poles prevent muscle damage and soreness. It’s true, and not just because I say so. The UK’s Northumbria University did a study in 2010 and found the test groups that used poles, “demonstrated a reduced loss of strength and a faster recovery immediately after the trek compared to the control group.” They drilled it down even more, finding the levels of the enzyme creatine kinase (indicating muscle damage) were significantly higher in the non-pole group, while “the trekking-pole group’s levels were close to the pre-trekking levels.” I.e. muscle damage was negligible when people used poles. Various studies have shown that using poles can reduce the impact on your knees from 25-40%. Cool, right?

Read the rest of the article…

New Marketing Manager: Lizzy Scully

Hyperlite Mountain Gear hires new marketing manager, Lizzy Scully.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear recently hired athlete ambassador and long-time communications expert Lizzy Scully as their new marketing manager.

“Her ties within the outdoor industry and her extensive skillset make her the perfect choice for our growing team,” says CEO and founder Mike St. Pierre. “But, equally important, Lizzy travels light and fast in the mountains. Hyperlite Mountain Gear believes efficiency and enjoyment in the outdoors results from stripping your pack of every inessential item. Lizzy embodies our ultralight philosophy on her adventures and in her life.”
Read the full article!

Stripped Down with Mike St. Pierre, #1

Mike Portrait-030365 items you can get rid of (even if you’re already on the trail)

Not all backpacking gear is created equal. As recent as last year’s Trail Days, people were still using their parents’ 30-year-old external frame packs on the Appalachian Trail. Even the newest style of these packs weighs five to seven pounds! Your pack should weigh three pounds or less. But, lightweight isn’t just about how little one single backpack weighs. Going ultra is about stripping your pack of every inessential item in order to be as efficient, and as comfortable, as possible. So leave that hatchet at home; you shouldn’t be bushwhacking on the Appalachian highway anyway.
Read the full article!

Hyperlite Mountain Gear backpacks @ Untamed New England 2014

HMG Customer Alex Provost reporting on the 2014 Untamed New England Adventure Race.

14283583929_ab28916be4_oWhat is Adventure racing? According to Wikipedia it is “a combination of two or more endurance disciplines.”

While planning our gear for Untamed New England 2014, we came to realize that we would be short on space with our actual packs as we would have to carry our two Alpacka packrafts with our four piece Epic paddles and standard AR gear like food, clothes and first aid for most of the four days. Not only would we have to carry about 40lbs of gear each, we would have to do it in the notoriously thick bush in Northern Maine. To put the icing on the cake, we were told that the middle race bushwack could take up to 48 hours. I needed a solution and fast. I did not wanted to hang our gear outside the packs and risk a hole in our boats, lose paddles and lose time by getting entangled in the bush. I immediately thought about those super slick white Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs that I had tried quickly at this same race two years ago. I remember they were ultralight but did not know how tough they really were. After some researching, I decided to reach out to Dan St. Pierre, co-owner. I was already very late and the only way to make this work would be for Hyperlite Mountain Gear to ship the packs directly to race HQ at Northern Outdoors. Read the rest of the article!

Himalaya Ice Climbing

Bud Martin slogging upslope in the Himalayas.

By Bud Martin

It started something like this: I was lounging on a rainy day in Yosemite about a year ago when I somewhat sarcastically said to my buddy Nick, “Hey, we should go ice climbing in Nepal someday.” His response took me off guard as he immediately responded with, “Sounds great! How about next January?” And that’s how it began. We saved some cash, bought two plane tickets and gathered up our gear.

We flew into Kathmandu and neither of us had any experience with the logistics or the planning pertaining to climbing in such a remote place for an extended period of time, but we figured we’d just wing it. We didn’t bring enough food. We got off the bus in the wrong city (along with our 330 pounds of equipment). And for the first week, nothing went as planned. But as is often the case when traveling in this part of the world, it wasn’t so bad as you remember to forget the expectations and just go with the flow. Next thing we knew we were in a Nepalese valley full of frozen waterfalls capped with big peaks. Yippie…we arrived and we were ready for some Himalaya ice climbing! Read the rest of the article.

Are Hyperlite Mountain Gear Packs 100% Waterproof?

HMG CFO Tries Packrafting and Discusses Waterproofness of HMG Packs

HMG PackraftsProcessed Low ResPeople ask us all the time if our Packs 100% waterproof. While Cuben fiber is 100% waterproof, we never say HMG Packs are 100% waterproof – although they are very highly waterproof.  Approximately 90% of seams are sealed, but there are two seams with technically different structures that cannot be sealed.  One is where the bottom of the pack meets the body of the pack and the other is where the shoulder straps are sewn into the top of the back panel.  After a hard rain or soaking a pack while packrafting, a user might experience a few tablespoons of water inside the pack.  I find that some users are not accustomed to seeing this because traditional packs will absorb water and not be noticeable inside the pack.  Since Cuben fiber does not absorb water, any small amount that does get inside the pack will noticeably remain at the bottom until the pack is emptied or the water drains. Read the rest of the article!

Lightweight Hiking with Andrew Altepeter #2

Beartooth Mountains TenkaraProcessedPhotos & text by Andrew Altepeter. Above photo of the Beartooth Mountains.

I had a blast this summer working with some skilled and wonderful co-instructors and some great student groups.  On our twenty-eight day mountaineering course in the Wind River Range we experienced a spectrum of weather catching wintery conditions early in the summer that eventually transitioned into some sunny days.  After working hard to push through snow and rain storms for most of the first half of the course we were blessed with a weather window and climbed Gannet Peak, Wyoming’s highest at just over 13,800’.  Then after a fun time in the Wind Rivers and just a few days in town it was off to the Beartooth Mountains in Montana to instruct a leadership training for midshipmen at the USNA.  On this course we experienced the opposite weather progression…clear skies trending to days of very early build-up and thunderstorms.  Our technical focus on this expedition was off trail travel and we managed to get many solid fishing days in as well. Read the rest of the article!

72 Hrs: Angela VanWiemeersch climbs Mt. Hayes


Mount Hayes is the highest mountain in the eastern Alaska Range. Despite not being a 14,000 footer, it is one of the largest peaks in the United States in terms of its rise above the local terrain. As an example, the Northeast Face rises 8,000 feet in approximately two miles.  Mount Hayes was first climbed in 1941 but it is not very frequently climbed due to its remoteness and the resulting difficulty of accessing the mountain.  Below is Part of HMG Ambassador Angela Van Wiemeersch’s trip report. She reports on how she and her two climbing partners summited the mountain in 72 hrs while also putting up first ascents. Read the rest of the article!

Lightweight Hiking with Andrew Altepeter

The author using our 4400 Ice Pack.

Photos & text by Andrew Altepeter

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. Read the rest of the article!