Pack Reviews: What is the consensus on our packs?

Our ultralight packs are meant to be used hard. Adventurers across the spectrum agree. Read the gear reviews…

The Southwest on the Appalachian Trail.
The Southwest on the Appalachian Trail.

We make gear that is meant to be used. Hard. And no one puts our gear through its paces like these top-tier reviewers. These guys and gals push our gear to the limit so they can provide you with a fair and accurate review of our packs. Check out some of the reviews we got this year from some of the best in the business.

SectionHiker and the 3400 Southwest Pack: Last year the 2400 Southwest Pack earned SectionHiker’s 2015 “Gear of the Year” Award, so it is no surprise that Philip Werner also loved the 3400 version. “The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest Backpack is a bomber multi-day backpack geared for tough adventures that will rip most other ultralight-style pack to shreds. It you’re rough on backpacks, but still want one that only weighs two pounds, the 3400 Southwest pack probably has your name on it.” Read the full review.

Check out the other reviews.

Long-Distance (Lightweight) Thru Hiking Gear List

Mike St. Pierre Details His Thru Hiking Gear List for Extreme, Lightweight & Extended Backcountry Adventures

Long-Distance (Lightweight) Thru Hiking Gear List

“I used this thru hiking gear list for my Grand Canyon section hike, but minus the technical climbing and canyoneering gear, it’s basically what I’d bring on any long-distance section, thru hike or weekend backpacking.” -Mike St. Pierre 

Photos & article by Mike St. Pierre

As an ultralight long-distance adventurer, I dial in my systems to conserve energy with every step I take. The lighter my gear, the further I can go; the less weight I carry, the less the strain on my body and the less food I need. Going light just makes sense. And it absolutely doesn’t mean I’m uncomfortable when in the backcountry. I’m always warm enough, well fed and hydrated, and I sleep well at night. In this blog post, I share my thru hiking gear list from my recent 200 mile off trail section hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon. This extreme adventure incorporates long-distance hiking, rock climbing, canyoneering and serious map and compass skills, and is one of the most difficult thru hikes in the world. Water is scarce, established trails nonexistent, and the terrain is steep and difficult to navigate. It’s a trip that fewer than three dozen people have done (consider that 40 people summited Mt. Everest in one day in May 2016!). However, despite the specialized nature of some of the technical gear I carried, the basic equipment I bring on any thru hike or long-distance backpacking is the same. And my pack base weight is typically 8-15lbs., depending on the discipline. Check out my full gear list below.

Read the first two articles in this series here: “Planning & Prep: The Thru Hiker’s Guide to Multi-Sport Expeditions” and “Thru Hike Expedition Gear Planning & Food Prep.” As well, I detail my food planning for my first trip to the Grand in, “Food Prep & Recipes for Ultralight Thru Hike Adventures.”
Check out St. Pierre’s Gear Checklist.

Drop Everything & Thru Hike the Pacific Crest Trail

Nick Click Riechard

The Appalachian Trail under his belt, photographer Nicholas Reichard is on round #2– thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

From the Appalachian Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail.

Nicholas “Click” Reichard didn’t grow up hiking or exploring in the woods. He had a passion filmmaking, and wanted to be one of the best. So he attended the Savannah College of Art and Design where he obtained a BFA in filmmaking. But despite his skill and talent, he found his options limited. So he sought a change–a new perspective on life. And what better way to do it than hike the “big three” long-distance trails in the United States. He planned to become a Triple Crowner, hiking the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail. It didn’t matter that he had little backpacking experience, he would photograph his adventure with a film camera. So in 2015 he got some gear together and began thru hiking the AT. Six months and 150 rolls of film later he completed the first leg of his journey, and he was hungry for more. Currently Click is partway through the PCT. We caught up with him on a day he had phone reception and asked him a few questions about how he balances ultralight with photography.

How did you discover thru hiking?

So the funny thing is I never wanted to hike the AT, or even enjoyed going on day hikes. But I knew undertaking such an epic adventure would change who I am as a person and as an artist. Boy was I right. Now I sleep better outside than I do at home. I think the challenge of covering so much ground over the span of a few months is also really appealing to me.

How do you plan for a trip like the Pacific Crest Trail?

I’m not sure there is a right answer for this. I’d say it’s fun to plan the trip but I’m more of a figure it out as I go which seems to make things happen more naturally. Read the rest of the Q&A.

Ultralight Trail Kit Photo Contest Winner

Congratulations to Andrew “Reptar” Forestell for winning the Ultralight Trail Kit Photo Contest!

Ultralight Trail Kit Photo Contest, Andrew ForestellIt was difficult deciding on a winner for our Ultralight Trail Kit Photo Contest, as numerous pics rose to the top of the list for their composition, colors and story telling. We especially liked Winne Lam’s, “I’m wandering but never feel lost” entry, and she impressed us with her social media savvy. A special mention also to Chuck Thurston’s “Ramsey’s Cascades” and Noah Randall’s stunning black and white mountain shot, both of which received a plethora of votes and/or Instagram likes.

However, our favorite photo from the top ten most voted-on photos was definitely Forestell’s. All by itself, the photo told a story of trail, backcountry, thru hiking and the excitement of the day ahead. It also garnered a lot of likes via Instagram (375). We messaged him last night to ask for details on the photo. Read on…
Learn more about Andrew Forestell and check out a gallery of our favorite photos and Winnie Lam’s excellent shot.

Appalachian Trail Days Roundup

Good times in Damascus, Virginia

For the fifth year in a row, we attended Appalachian Trail Days down in Damascus, Va., aka “Trail Town USA.” Every year, up to 20,000 tourists make their way to this tiny town of fewer than 1,000 people around the middle of May. And every year more and more folks visit our booth. Nearly 400 people attended the Saturday raffle, along with 20 hikers who gathered round for our first “How to Set Up Your Tarp” clinic with our Chief Adventure Officer (aka CEO) Mike St. Pierre and Ambassador and professional thru hiker Ashley “Bloody Mary” Hill.

“It was rad,” Hill said of the event. “Appalachian Trail Days is the largest outdoor, long-distance hiking event in the country, so there are a lot of veteran hikers and new hikers. People feed off each other; the veterans let the new hikers know they can complete this monumental task. And the veterans and other tourists get to be around the energy of people starting a thru hike; you can feel the enthusiasm and excitement! There’s so much community, culture and love surrounding this event.” Read the rest of the article.

Thru Hike Expedition Gear Planning & Food Prep

Grand Canyon Gear List, Food & Cache Prep For Major Thru Hikes

Photos & text by Mike St. Pierre

Grand Canyon
Expedition Gear Planning & Food Prep for major thru hikes.

In the first post of this series, I discussed the logistical planning for serious thru hikes and backpacking trips, including gathering beta on and visualizing your route. Once you know where you’re going and how long you’ll be on your trip, you can determine the gear and food you need, plus plan out the caches you’ll have to prepare. For people doing the Appalachian Trail or Continental Divide Trail, your “caches” are your resupplies; for people hiking below the rim of the Grand Canyon, it’s a bit more involved. Read on…

Gear List:

Gear is the critical tool that can make the difference between a fantastic experience and a miserable experience, or a successful trip and an unsuccessful trip. On the other hand, the more skill you have the less gear you need. And, as we discussed in Part I, the more information you have the better prepared you’ll be. This extends to your gear. Know where you going and what you’re doing, and you’ll be able to choose exactly the right gear for the conditions (and leave behind what you don’t need). For example, if I’m going for an overnight trip in the fall and the weather is clear, there won’t likely be bugs. So I might not need to bring a shelter, or I might take something very minimalist like a 6′ by 8′ Flat Tarp. On the other hand, knowing that the temperatures are going to range wildly on my Grand Canyon thru hike means I have to have a puffy jacket, clothes and sleeping system that can handle anything from 15- to 90-degree weather.

Expedition Gear Planning & Food Prep for major thru hikes.

Subsequently, I carefully planned our gear list to address the climate, time of year and all the different types of terrain we would cover. I made an excel spreadsheet and listed out everything I thought I would need. I then calculated the weights of everything and the calories per day I would need to carry that weight (and to stay warm and energized for the long miles we were hiking). I knew I needed to carry eight to ten days of food to get the the next cache, plus at least 12lbs. of backpacking, my camera, plus 6lbs. of technical gear that Clay and I would share. That and the food would put us each at 30lbs. Throw the four to six liters of water required to carry on top of that, and our packs fluctuated between 25 and 50lbs.

The next thing I did was shake down my own list. Read the rest of the post and check out photos.

Tom Turiano’s *New* Teton Pass Backcountry Ski Guide

WEB-EDIT-IMG_6597-1

Thomas Turiano on his new comprehensive backcountry ski book, Teton Pass Backcountry Guide.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador and professional skier Thomas Turiano has been writing skiing guide books for 21 years, but his most recent is the first ever “guidebook for backcountry skiing on world-famous Teton Pass,” he says. Teton Pass Backcountry Guide boasts 130+ pages of maps, pictures and guides explaining how skiers can get the most out of their time in the Teton Pass backcountry. When not writing guidebooks, Turiano guides climbing and skiing trips in the Teton backcountry, and he plays guitar professionally. He also claims more than 400 ascents in the Greater Yellowstone mountains and packrafts throughout the area as a way to reach the most remote spots.

Turiano wants to help more people explore the backcountry, and he’s a big proponent of lightweight hiking. Carrying less weight, he says, allows him to suffer less and thus be able to focus more on helping his clients achieve their goals. Turiano transitioned early on in his guiding career to lightweight philosophies. While attempting to put up new routes in the Teton’s during the 90’s, he was forced to rappel down after a failed attempt. During the rappel, his heavy pack almost flipped him over backwards due to the sheer weight of it. It was at that moment that he realized that it was time to reduce the amount of gear he carried and streamline his kit.

In celebration of the release of his new book, we chatted with Turiano about what drives him to write and what it takes to write an comprehensive guidebook.

Click here for more.

Dyneema® Pack Wins “Best Active Backpack”

Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Dyneema® 2400 Ice Pack wins Carryology’s 2016 “Best Active Backpack” Award!

Our Dyneema 2400 Ice Pack won Carryology's Best Active Backpack Award

This has been a great year for our Dyneema® backpacks and Duffel bag. The Alpinist Magazine gave the Ice Pack it’s Mountain Standards Award, TrailSpace.com gave our Summit five stars in a January review, and BlisterGearReview.com gave both our Duffel Bag and Ice Pack excellent reviews. Of the things that come up again and again is the strength and durability of the fabric, plus the lightweight. Read more from Carryology.

“Weight is almost never an advantage in an active backpack. But to get durability and features in your pack design, a weight compromise is somewhat inevitable. Hyperlite [Mountain Gear] is one of the pioneering brands trying to break this paradigm, and their Dyneema 2400 Ice Pack is a cracking example. Utilizing high-tech Dyneema, a reductionist design approach and very considered construction, their 2400 is crazy light, super tough, and will resist almost any weather you can throw at it.” —Carryology.com

The Dyneema® 2400 Ice Pack is part of our line of ultra-durable, ultralight Dyneema® Backpacks and Duffel Bag.

Planning & Prep: The Thru Hiker’s Guide to Multi-Sport Expeditions

Grand Canyon Thru Hiker Beta, Logistics & Route Finding

Text: Mike St. Pierre | Photos: Mike St. Pierre & Clay Wadman

Grand Canyon Route Finding & Logistics

Planning and prepping for any major backcountry adventure, whether the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail or a section hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon, is logistically challenging. And unless you’re the first thru hiker, canyoneer or climber to map and explore the route, you must rely on information gathered from numerous sources, from Google Earth to the people who first explored the area. I prefer more remote trips as the lack of information makes them more adventurous. Plus, the fewer the resources you have to depend on, the more careful you have to be and the more you have to rely on your own experience to accomplish the feat (so you’d better have a lot of experience for bigger adventures). However, the popularity or the remoteness of your trip is relative; you’ll have a greater chance of success if you know what you’re getting into. You’ll also more likely succeed if you travel simply, use gear wisely and constantly refine and lighten your systems. This thru hiker approach is applicable whether you’re a long-distance backpacker or a climber, packrafter, skier, or passionate backcountry adventurer of any kind.

The Way of the Thru Hiker 

Experienced thru hikers have walking dialed. They know exactly what they need to be efficient and conserve energy because they walk all day long. I took a thru hiker’s approach in very carefully planning the second leg of my section hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon. I made sure to have exactly what I needed and nothing more. I dialed in my knowledge of the terrain, weather, water sources and resupply points by doing extensive research. And I reached out to more experienced Grand Canyon thru hikers, rangers and other experts.

Subsequently, when I embarked on my 200+-mile thru hike/canyoneering adventure this March, I felt ready to go bigger and further, increasing my mileage and distance. I had already done the first section over two weeks in the fall of 2015 with Rich Rudow, whose decades of experience make him one of the foremost experts of America’s biggest canyon. He spent a full year plotting his path, the gear and his caches for his 57-day, 700-mile thru hike below the rim (Read more). I joined him for his first two weeks. Despite the gnarliest terrain and harshest conditions I had every experienced (or maybe because of them), I caught the bug and immediately started planning the second leg of my journey. I also trusted my own 15 years of experience in ultralight backpacking techniques.

So how did I do it? Of course, I can’t download my life’s experience with ultralight backcountry travel and gear in one article, but here’s an overview of how I planned my trip. It’s not comprehensive, and you shouldn’t assume you can thru hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon based off what you learn from these articles. But in this three-part series of posts, I’ll share the most valuable things I’ve learned from my backcountry experiences. They culminated in this section hike, which was definitely the most difficult and challenging adventure I’ve embarked on to date. Read the rest of the article and check out photos.

It’s the 30th Annual Appalachian Trail Days!

Dragon's Tooth, Appalachian Trail
Dragon’s Tooth, Appalachian Trail

We’re here in Damascus, Virginia for the 30th Annual Trail Days 2016! Stop by our booth to say hi & enter our raffles.

Schedule of Hyperlite Mountain Gear booth events:

  • Thursday-Saturday, 5/12-5/14, All Day: Our CEO and ultralight thru hike expert Mike St. Pierre will be doing Shake Downs, first come, first served.
  • Friday, 5/13, 11a.m.: Join Mike St. Pierre and Ambassador Ashley Hill for a “Morning Ultralight Q&A.” Bring your questions, concerns and ideas.
  • Friday, 5/13, 4p.m.: Raffle. Enter your name into our free raffle for a chance to win our a Windrider or Southwest Pack, Tarps, Stuff Sacks, Stuff Pillows, plus tons of Merch.
  • Saturday, 5/14, 11a.m.: Join Mike St. Pierre and Ambassador Ashley Hill for a “Morning Ultralight Q&A.” Bring your questions, concerns and ideas.
  • Saturday, 5/14, 4p.m.: Raffle & Push Up Contest. Enter your name into our free raffle for a chance to win our a Windrider or Southwest Pack, Tarps, Stuff Sacks, Stuff Pillows, plus tons of Merch.

Check out our Facebook album from Trail Days 2015.

Trail Days

The Appalachian Trail: Hike Your Own Hike

Honey Buns, Packing & Other Appalachian Trail Thru Hike TipsTenderfoot & Lays

More than 600 miles in on the Appalachian Trail, and Lays, Ron-Jon, Scuba, Gadget, and I usually just talk about food these days. “You can tell a good hiker by the amount of calories in her honey bun,” or so they say. People stare enviously over their lumpy oatmeal and crushed Pop Tarts as we eat one of our Mrs. Freshley’s Grand Iced Honey Buns. At 680 calories per sugar bomb, the Freshley’s are the pinnacle of a thru hiker’s eye for maximum calorie to weight ratio. Not to say that you need to slay almost 700 calories of carbs ad sugar every morning to hike the Appalachian Trail, but it’s more the principle of the thing. Becoming savvy to the thru-hiker lifestyle takes time, a lot of mistakes, and many good friends to show you the all-star level tricks and tips. Here are a few of them:

  • Doritos are a good way to add cheese and a crunch to trail burritos.
  • Body wash found in a hiker box can be used to wash clothes in a sink.
  • Pilfer a hand full of Q-Tips from said hiker box.
  • Make friends with locals. They will drive you places and make you feel like a rock star.
  • You can, and probably should hike out pizza if you try hard and believe in yourself.

These are the things you see thru hikers doing that weekend warriors are most likely not. Thru hikers also wear Crocs with socks and all their rain gear while doing laundry. And they buy $17 worth of candy from Dollar General to eat while waiting for said laundry. We live a silly life, but it’s the life we were dying to live.

A Pack Not Packed is a Pack Not Worth Packing

When you slide the removable aluminum stays out of a Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack you immediately lose a couple ounces, and you also gain a little more freedom and wiggle room within your pack. That’s what Lays did a couple days before arriving at town. Realizing that her pack was very well balanced and sat well against her back, the stays served no more purpose and were removed to be place in a Appalachian Trail hiker box for the next Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack user. I pack my bag differently and prefer to use the stays; the contents of my bag contour with their shape and help support my load even more. Read the rest of the post.

The Rebirth of American Manufacturing

Making American Manufacturing Great Again

Happy Earth Day!

“…We will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last, an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.” — President Obama, January 2012 State of the Union

Earth Day: And The Rebirth of American Manufacturing I love walking into the shop every day, smelling the lacquer and hardwood of the 180-year-old floors of the Pepperell Mill and hearing the buzz of the sewing machines used by the few dozen stitchers and cutters who work for Hyperlite Mountain Gear. They sit in sun that pours through tall windows built before the days of consistent electricity—windows that used to offer the only light employees would have to work by.

When my brother, CFO Dan St. Pierre, and I started this company we decided to make all our packs, shelters and Stuff Sacks right here on Main Street, USA. As a young start-up, we didn’t really see any other way of running our business. And as we grew, we realized the numerous financial, environmental and social benefits to producing domestically.

We believe “Made in the USA” is a worthwhile endeavor that benefits our customers, our company, the community where we do business and, especially, our employees. Our employees come from all walks of life and are of all ages. Some are expert seamstresses who previously worked for the textile industry, while others are newly trained young folks just starting out their factory careers. All are highly skilled craftspeople who care deeply about the quality of their work. They’re from Maine, after all, a place known for its true grit and work ethic. Really, they are the reason we exist, and I appreciate them every day that I come to work. So, we offer them above-average wages and health benefits. Read the rest of the post.

Shifting Ice + Changing Tides: Kt Miller Fights Climate Change Thru Film

Ambassador Kt Miller discusses her new ski/climate change documentary, available for free release today (watch now!)

Kt Miller
Photo courtesy of Kt Miller.

For two years Kt Miller was a helicopter skiing guide helping clients use the fuel-hungry machines to reach the top of mountains. After learning more about climate change and seeing the effect it had on the mountains around her, she quickly lost her fondness for the business and the obscene amounts of fuel the helicopters consumed. Miller made a choice. She cut back on travel that hurt the environment and focused on sustainable living. She now resides in a single-room 14-by-12 foot cabin in Cooke City, Montana, population 76. She tries to travel using sustainable methods wherever possible and hasn’t been on a helicopter since she left her job. Now she focuses on making awesome ski videos while bringing the plight of the climate into the public’s eye.

On one of her more recent expedition, she and four women embarked on a human- and wind-powered trip to the western coast of Greenland to document the effect climate change has had on the ice sheet in the area. They also skied multiple first descents along the coast to help motivate snow sport enthusiasts to get up and do their part to conserve winter landscapes. Now that the trip has finished and her documentary about the adventure is being shown across the world, we took some time to ask Kt Miller a few questions about her new documentary, “Shifting Ice + Changing Tides,” and the experience she had during the filming process.
Click here for the full Q&A.

Ultralight Trail Kit Photo Contest

Enter our #UltralightTrailKit Photo Contest & Get The Chance To Win a Windrider, Echo II Shelter System, Stuff Sacks & more…

Boost your chances of winning by posting a photo on Instagram, our Facebook page or Twitter & hashtagging it with #UltralightTrailKit

Read the rules here.

America to America: Thru Hiking the Continent’s Longest “Trail”

Ambassador Bethany Hughes weighs in after 5 months of thru hiking the Americas

Bethany Hughes-2
Bethany “Fidgit” Hughes and Lauren “Neon” Reed thru hiking as far south as you can get in the Americas.

The scale at the international flight counter weighed each of our packs, full of everything except food and water, at 10 kilos (about 22 pounds). Planning to mostly thru hike the length of South America over the next three years, going lightweight is a must. Our route has taken us through National Parks and Preserves, and we have often marveled at the bulk of what many visitors carry. They shuffle and trudge, backs bowing under the weight of their packs as they frown at the dirt before their feet while giants such as the Torres del Paine, Fitz Roy and Cerro Norte tower above.

Bethany Hughes and Neon Reed are thru hiking from the south to the north tip of America.

Raised in a Scouting family, backpacking has long been a part of my narrative; lightweight, not so much. I’d never even heard of a baseweight until the night before starting the Pacific Crest Trail in 2010. Hanging my pack from a scale for the first time I thought 58 lbs. wasn’t bad. By the end of that trail my full weight was around 35 lbs.

But going lightweight has been natural and necessary development in the transition from backpacking to thru hiking. For Neon and myself, it has become essential, and being out of reach of easy replacement gear, durability is also an important component. It is a question of balance and simplicity, and it’s something we think about every day. We hike light for the practical reason of sustaining 20-40 kilometers a day over years to come.

Continue reading.

Paddlequest 1500: John Connelly’s 75-Day Canoe & Kayak Epic Adventure

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Partners With Maine-Based Whitewater Athlete 

John Connelly's 75-day trip will take him through two countries and four states and over 22 streams and 58 lakes.

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway. It’s remote, but also well managed with established sites that make camping very comfortable. My favorite spot is just on the river, where the water pools up above some rapids. I paddle in, accompanied only by the white noise of the river and of the bird songs. Temps are warm, even as evening approaches, and only the slightest breeze rustles the white pines. I pull my canoe on the shoreline, unload my gear and settle in where I can watch the water. I’m tired after a long, hard day of paddling, but I feel invigorated. I watch the brook trout sip mayflies from the surface of the river, and out of nowhere comes an Osprey. Taking a trout totally unawares, she makes a splash in the river and flies off just as quickly as she arrived. The sun sets, the colors of the rainbow playing over the surface of the Allagash. A rare and precious moment, I feel fully connected to nature. –John Connelly

Hyperlite Mountain Gear recently partnered with former US Canoe & Kayak team member and Maine resident John Connelly to support his 1500-mile solo river/sea odyssey. Connelly has numerous first descents under his belt, along with decades of experience on whitewater. His 75-day trip will take him through two countries and four states and over 22 streams and 58 lakes. The journey will be the first to link four major waterways: The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Saint John River, Bay of Fundy and Maine Island Trail. We are providing Connelly with a 5400 Porter Pack from our soon-to-be-released Expedition Series, along with an Echo II Shelter System and Stuff Sacks.

Read on.

Ultralight Daypack Makes Nat Geo “Gear Of The Year”

Daybreak Ultralight Daypack: National Geographic Adventure’s “Gear of the Year”

National Geographic Adventure includes Daybreak ultralight daypack in it's 2016 "Gear of the Year" list.

National Geographic Adventure magazine included our technologically-advanced Daybreak ultralight daypack in their 2016 “Gear of the Year” round up, saying: “Hyperlite Mountain Gear has built the Daybreak out of Dyneema cloth, which is known for its extremely light weight, durability, and natural water resistance. Although it holds 17 liters, enough for a full day on the trail, it weighs just 19 ounces. But it isn’t flimsy: The Dyneema has a structure that helps hold its shape, which lets it sit upright on its own and makes it easier to organize or find your gear. Like we said, sophisticated.” Read the full review.

Buy the Daybreak.
See more photos of the Daybreak in action.

From the AT to the PCT: The Journey to Ultralight

Fresh off the Appalachian Trail (AT), Grassroots Trail Ambassador Robin Standish Hits the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

Robin Standish hits the PCT fresh off the AT.“At the time I only had a vague notion of what ultralight meant, and that was based on a reddit post about using a Sawyer syringe as a bidet to cut out the weight of toilet paper.” -New PCT Trail Ambassador, Robin Standish

My parents raised me to have a fearless approach to life and unintentionally instilled a deep-rooted, unsatisfiable need for extremes and adventure. Thus, I spent my youth mushing dog teams, exploring the Alaskan wilderness, snowshoeing for miles while breaking trails after winter storms, and staying alive during months of 40-, 50-, and even 60-below temperatures. Consequentially, a youth of la vida loca set me up to have unrealistically high expectations for all my future endeavors. I now frolic through Death Valley for fun, hike for weeks in the Himalayas, explore malaria-filled, Southeast Asian jungles dotted with land mines, and, most recently, I walked from Maine to Georgia (the Appalachian Trail) because I had nothing else to do. And now I’m heading out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (aka the PCT).

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I DON’T PLAN, and slogging through the wealth of information via Whiteblaze.com, forums, books and blogs was more than enough to remind me of why. Despite being an outdoor enthusiast I felt dumb when it came to making choices. Silnylon vs Cuben Fiber? Aqua Mira vs Sawyer? Boots vs shoes? Tents vs hammock? And, of course, the endless arguments over the pounds, ounces and grams of every single item. At the time I only had a vague notion of what ultralight meant, and that was based on a reddit post about using a Sawyer syringe as a bidet to cut out the weight of toilet paper. I didn’t want this hike to be easy; I wanted to walk every step of the 2189.2 miles and feel like I earned it. I did just that, but I also earned countless infected blisters, missing toenails, a broken foot and the sour scent of ammonia seeping through my pores. I don’t know if by doing better research before the hike if I could have avoided any of that. I am a stubborn masochist that learns exceptionally through trial and a lot of error, and because of this, the first 700 miles hurt. Read the rest of the post.

Lightweight Appalachian Trail Gear: “Tenderfoot” Drops 9oz

It’s never too late to change your gear. Ambassador “Tenderfoot” alters his lightweight Appalachian Trail gear kit one month in.

“Aches & Pains? I thought it was just walking on the AT?!”

Photos & text by Tyson “Tenderfoot” Perkins

AT 2016
Lays at the summit of Max Patch Mountain outside of Hot Springs, NC.

Over 100 miles in, and I already feel like I have 100 years worth of stories. We’ve met more than 100 people, and we have over 100 aches and pains. The trail has taught me more in the last 10 days than I’ve learned in all my research of it over the last couple years. Sure you can figure out who the first person to hike it was, or how many steps it takes to the end. However, it’s almost impossible to learn something like this so in depth without actually being there and living it. A couple days ago when we took our zero day (on my 24th birthday), I answered a few questions for my co-workers at Hyperlite Mountain Gear about my lightweight Appalachian Trail gear kit, what I’ve changed, added and dropped. Here goes… Read More

Pods: The Better Way to Optimize Your Backpack

Pack Pods

Understanding what you need is the secret to knowing what you don’t. So when Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre decided to embark on 200 miles of one of the most difficult thru hikes in the country—the 600-mile traverse of the Grand Canyon below the rim—he refined his organizational tools by designing stackable, zippered Pods.

Because he needed to carry more food (and gear) than normal to go the eight or nine days from cache to cache, he had to optimize how he used the available volume of his pack. Fitted perfectly to the shape of his Southwest Pack, the new Pods left no space unfilled, no volume unused.

“I was looking for a better, more efficient way of storing ten days worth of food,” St. Pierre explains. “I love and have always used our CF8 and CF11 Stuff Sacks, but I found that putting ten days of food into them wasn’t working. When filled with my repackaged meals, they were like a bunch of footballs crammed in my pack. I was wasting 600 to 800 cubic inches. So it just made sense to design something that matched the internal shape of the pack. Once I figured that out, I was able to get what I put into a 55-liter pack into a 40-liter pack just by reorganizing how I laid out the food.” Read the rest of the post.

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