The Best GPS Device (You Already Own It!)

Posted on by HMG / Posted in Guest Post | Tagged , , , , , , ,
Max Neale GPS use

Aerial imagery is useful for avoiding cliffs and pour-overs in canyon country. Smartphones’ gigantic storage capacity allows you to download imagery and their large screens display imagery much better than traditional GPS units.

Photos & text by Max Neale

Three years ago I was sitting in a white plastic lawn chair in a small, budget-but-delicious Thai restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. A gaggle of young gearheads and I were talking shop—the best this, the worst that, materials, companies, trips, etc. Eventually, someone asked, “What’s your favorite piece of gear?” then added, “And you can’t say your smartphone!”

Why did he exclude the smartphone from my possible responses? Because the smartphone is obviously the single best piece of outdoor gear, especially as a GPS device (and/or as a camera)! Outdoor industry gurus knew this even three years ago. Today, phones and their apps are much better. The greatest improvements for backcountry adventurers are the camera and GPS apps. The latter has greatly enhanced the ease with which I move through a landscape. Read the rest of the article!

Gone Light, Part I: Thru-Hiking Pack Info For Women

Posted on by HMG / Posted in Guest Post, Stripped Down | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Annie Mac mugThis is the first of four posts from our Stripped Down series, authored by Guest Blogger Annie MacWilliams. This series targets female thru hikers and backpackers, but most of the information applies equally well to aspiring male hikers. A triple-crowner, Annie has nearly 10,000 miles of thru-hiking experience.

Over the course of my colorful career in the woods, I have experienced the sick satisfaction of hefting a pack nearly half my body weight for a wilderness therapy job filled with med kits, wilderness survival tools, radios and 10 liters of water. The mileage was never high, mostly due to the disgruntled participants, but there was a small sense of pride in carrying so much weight. I can almost understand why some people want to prove something by carrying big pack. It makes you stronger, tougher and more eager to get to camp.

On the flip side, when I’m not recreating for a paycheck, I prefer to keep my pack considerably smaller. As a long-distance hiker, I have tallied almost 10,000 miles hiking the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail, along with countless other shorter trails. The lighter the pack, the easier the miles, the more food I can carry, and the less stress I put on my joints and muscles. This seems logical enough; yet every year I see prospective thru-hikers start long trails with behemoth packs towering over their heads, dangles and doodads hanging off every attachment point, and inadequate gear for the environment. Some hikers are resistant to change, as are some non-hikers, but many more are eager to learn about the new technology, skills and hacks to make life easier.

As a female solo hiker, you are essentially carrying the exact same gear as a male hiker, but are more likely to have a smaller frame and less mass to carry that weight. For me, the correct fit on a backpack is critical to carrying weight comfortably. If I have to take these hips hiking with me; I might as well use them for the long term. You must find a pack that rests comfortably on the hips, is the correct length on the spine and has straps that rest comfortably around the chest and shoulders. I know plenty of male hikers who hike without a hip belt because their hips barely flare out enough to be an advantage, but their shoulders, back and neck take a beating. Additionally I have seen many females use a male-specific pack (myself included) that is misaligned with the spine. They subsequently struggle to find a comfortable fit. Load a pack with the weight you expect to carry, and wear it around. Let the weight settle on your hips. We’ve all carried heavy backpacks on our shoulders for a short while and felt fine, but anything longer than a walk home from the school bus is too long.

The Real Deal: Your Adventures

Posted on by HMG / Posted in Trail Tales | Tagged , , , , , , , ,
Greg Hanlon Alaska Packrafting trip

Greg Hanlon recently returned from an incredible adventure through wild Alaska. Check out a full gallery of his awesome packrafting, thru hiking and mountaineering photos below. Thanks Greg!

We love hearing about your big adventures. Please share your photos and stories with us by emailing info@hyperlitemountaingear.com. Also let us know your favorite piece of Hyperlite Mountain Gear. Right now we’ve got friends embarking on numerous backcountry trips, including:

  • David Weinstein and friends are heading to South Greenland to packraft and hike cross country later this summer. David is carrying our 4400 Southwest Pack;
  • British big wall free climber, Leo Houlding, and his climbing partners are packrafting and hiking through Renland in North East Greenland, with the objective of putting up a first ascent of a massive granite formation called the Mirror Wall. They’re using our UltaMid4 and UltaMid4 Insert, the Ultralight Stake Set II, a wide variety of CF8, CF11 and Roll Top Stuff Sacks;
  • Greg Hanlon just returned from a packrafting, mountaineering and thru hiking adventure through the remote Gates of The Arctic National Park and Preserve (see awesome photo gallery below; all pics courtesy of Hanlon). Greg used our 4400 Porter Pack; and
  • Author and adventurer Chris Brinlee Jr., Olivia Aguilar and Gilberto Gil are thru hiking the 210-mile Sierra High Route, which runs loosely parallel to the John Muir Trail, joining it for 28 miles. Chris is using our UltaMid 2, Gilberto is using our Echo II Shelter System, and the whole team has a full assortment of CF8 Stuff Sacks.

From Brinlee’s Instagram page:

“The Sierra High Route: 200+ miles of off-trail mountain trekking with 33 mountain passes— @gilbertogil_ @ilubbgatos and I are doing it in two weeks. Sounds fun, right?

Type 2 fun, maybe.

In reality it is brutal as hell.

But we’re making it! Last night we picked up our resupply from Vermilion Valley Resort, had a hot meal – and this morning we’re heading back out into the wilderness.

One week down; one to go!”

Kurt Ross: The French Route, Mount Hunter

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need caption

J.D. Merritt and Kurt Ross tagged the summit of Mt. Hunter after ~52 hours from base camp. “The clouds suddenly cleared, allowing us to descend the West Ridge instead of retracing our steps to rappel the North Buttress.” -Kurt Ross. Photo by J.D. Merritt.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Kurt Ross recently returned from a mega-successful climbing adventure to the Kahiltna Glacier, Denali National Park, Alaska. Please see Part I to read an overview of the five routes he climbed. Below is his personal report of climbing The French Route on Mount Hunter.

I rappelled to the end of our ropes, slammed in a couple of screws, and yelled, “I’m off!” to my climbing partner, J.D. Merritt. While I threaded our next rappel, the rope didn’t move. I screamed a few more times, pulled aggressively on the lines, then gave up. I slumped onto the slings attaching me to the face and dozed off, as I had done at every other moment where my wakefulness couldn’t help our progress. I was happy for the opportunity to take weight off my feet. Keeping them sealed in soggy boots for the past few days waterlogged my skin, making them feel blistered all over. After an indeterminate amount of time, J.D. buzzed down the rope and we continued.

Somehow, after three full days on the go with only a couple hours of rest, we didn’t feel out of control. Of course we were extremely tired, but we could still think clearly enough to problem solve our way through the terrain. It’s scary to think about how we would have dealt with a bad storm or messy fall, but pushing ourselves this far didn’t feel reckless in the situation as it was.

We were descending the West Ridge of Mt. Hunter after climbing the Garison-Tedeschi (A.K.A. French Route) on the North Buttress of the mountain, a route Mark Westman calls, “the proudest and most intimidating line on the wall.” We decided to try The French Route instead of any other one because we figured it might be more intact than any other line on the face after the long spell of warm temperatures that we’d had on the Kahiltna. The hard-man Slovenians, Luka Lindic and Ales Cesen, also encouraged us; they had climbed the route to the top of the buttress a couple weeks prior. The only real beta we had on route was the finger-point directions that duo had sprayed at us in base camp. Read the rest of the article!

Killing it on the Kahiltna Glacier: Kurt Ross’ Climbing Report

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"We watched another sunset on Mt. Hunter while nearing the top via some beautiful ridge climbing between the cornice bivi and the summit plateau." -Kurt Ross  Photo by J.D. Merritt.

“We watched another sunset on Mt. Hunter while nearing the top via some beautiful ridge climbing between the cornice bivi and the summit plateau.” -Kurt Ross Photo by J.D. Merritt.

This past May Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Kurt Ross climbed the Southwest Ridge of Mount Francis, the West Face of Kahiltna Queen, an unreported route on the South Face of Peak 12,200, Bacon & Eggs on the Micro-Moonflower, and the French Route on Mount Hunter with various partners. Accustomed to climbing steep technical terrain, Ross says he learned to move efficiently on the “moderate” low angle ice, cracked glaciers, snow ridges presented on all these routes.

“People have only been asking me about the North Buttress of Hunter, but I doubt I would have felt ready to attempt it if I hadn’t bailed off of it twice and climbed those other moderate routes earlier in the trip,” Ross explains. In an 80-hour push, he and J.D. Merritt tagged the summit of Hunter

“The French Route was by far the biggest, most wild and most memorable route that I’ve ever tried,” Ross says. “It was a huge step up for both J.D. and I, requiring every bit of experience and skill that we’ve gained by climbing less committing objectives.” Read the rest of Part I of Kurt Ross’ Alaska Adventure here!

Forrest McCarthy on Simple Living & Wild Adventures

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Forrest McCarthyExploration inspires Forrest McCarthy. A geographer by education, he seeks big adventures in remote, wild landscapes. At one point he learned to rock climb and even guided extensively for Exum Mountain Guides, all so he could fully explore the Teton Range. Then he decided he wanted to travel through the Colorado River Basin and Alaska, and so learning to packraft became a necessity.

“The sports I do are more of a means of traveling through an area than just doing the activity itself,” McCarthy says. In fact, he explains, a lot of adventure sports came into existence simply so that people could check out remote backcountry areas.

“People wanted to explore a landscape, and so utilized the technology that allowed them to do so,” he says. “But as sports matured, people got into the idea of being able to climb or paddle just for the sake of doing those things. Then they looked for places where they could just do those sports.” For example, many ski mountaineers are more focused on skiing couloirs and peaks. And, over the last decade, he says, more whitewater-worthy packrafts have led to boaters seeking out bigger, more technical rapids. Read the rest of the article here!

Love Paddling? Canoe & Kayak Review Wrap-Up

Posted on by HMG / Posted in News | Tagged , , , ,
Canoe & Kayak Mag

Canoe & Kayak mag

Canoe & Kayak magazine published various reviews on our products online and in their print publication late 2014. Stay tuned. More to come. But here’s a wrap-up of what they thought about our UltaMid 2, Echo II Tarp System and the 2400 Southwest Pack.

UltaMid 2

“My experience . . . I don’t always have much time to get shelter over my head. No time to unpack and pitch a tent. No time to find trees and string a tarp. Or no trees. Most of those moments are driven by the undercurrent of desperation as violent squall or windstorm is approaching. And it’s in those conditions that a ‘mid’ shelter is a godsend… The Ultamid is also sweet for shade on a hot desert afternoon (vents at the peak enhance the air flow) or as the tent on trips free of bugs. I’ve even pitched one over passengers in the front of a raft during a sleet storm. The price tag is the main drawback, but the benefits are clear: ease of setup, quality of design, and the ability to sleep two people under a one-pound shelter.”

Read more.

Echo II Tarp System

“The Echo II is made with high performance Cuben fiber fabric with an unmatched strength to weight ratio. They call the Echo series the most technically advanced professional tarps available and I believe it. A three piece modular: tarp, mesh tent and detachable vestibule, handy concept for some, not so much for others who might want it factory integrated, but target market is extreme light and modular provides the option to tailor needs perfectly. Construction is excellent, including military grade hardware. Cuben material is as light as spider spin and way tough: Seriously lightweight at 1.84 lbs complete! Covered space is more than the 4P Hoopla even, but of course, 4P under the Echo are all on their backs. Erects with a kayak paddle.”

Read more.

Southwest Pack

“There’s nothing worse than humping a one-size-fits-all drysack with a couple of questionable shoulder straps across a swampy, mile-long trail. Hyperlite’s pack series offers comfortable suspension systems in three frame sizes, and the lightweight Cuben sailcloth material adds remarkable durability.”

Read more.

Stuff Sacks for Thru Hikes & Backpacking Trips

Posted on by HMG / Posted in Gear: Tips & Tricks, Stripped Down | Tagged , , , , ,

Stripped Down with Mike St. Pierre

Mike St. Pierre camping in the White Mountains, New Hampshire

Mike St. Pierre camping in the White Mountains, New Hampshire

Most backpackers and thru hikers use stuff sacks. And more often than not, they aren’t as light as they could be or as water resistant as they should be. I always consider three key things when choosing my stuff sacks for thru hikes—Do they help me organize my pack? Do they protect my stuff? Are they lightening my load? If a stuff sack doesn’t answer all these questions, I won’t use it.

It’s easy to overuse stuff sacks. I’ve done it. All thru hikers have, especially when they’re just starting out. After all, most outdoor gear you purchase comes with a nice stuff sack. And it feels good to see all your stuff neatly lined up with its own little baggy. But is it necessary? Not likely. Read on…

Live With Less; Experience More

Posted on by HMG / Posted in Gear: Tips & Tricks, Our Team | Tagged , , , , , ,
KT Miller ski mountaineering in the Grand Tetons.

KT Miller ski mountaineering in the Grand Tetons.

Simplifying can be Scary, but the Rewards are Great, from our Stripped Down series.

Photos and text by KT Miller

It all started after I spent a week skiing with Beau Fredlund outside Cooke City. More literally I followed him around, unsuccessfully trying to keep up. I didn’t know it back then, but that was the beginning of my transformation—a transition from being a passionate backcountry skier to an athlete. At 23, I finally started settling into my body and honing my physical stamina. I also learned, finally, to use efficiency as a tool to compensate for being small.

I had a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack that I had been using for climbing and absolutely loved, but for some reason I hadn’t even considered using it for backcountry skiing. Instead I used an old go-to pack that had a rear entry zipper I used to access my camera, a separate pocket for my rescue gear (shovel, probe, snow saw), a goggle pocket, a helmet pocket and more. It seemed perfect, but it weighed just under 4 lbs empty. After a few weeks of skiing Beau noticed I had Ice Pack. He had been a Hyperlite Mountain Gear fan and user for years. He picked it up and then picked up my other ski pack. “Why aren’t you using this one?” He asked holding the Ice Pack a little higher. Read the rest of the article.

2015 Review Wrap-Up

Posted on by HMG / Posted in Gear: Tips & Tricks, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In case you want to check out what reputable outside sources are saying about Hyperlite Mountain Gear, here are a handful of reviews. Likewise, we would love to hear what you think about our gear. Your feedback is valuable. Please write your reviews on the product sections of our website.

Packs

Section Hiker.com review of the Southwest Pack.2400 Southwest
Excerpt by Philip Werner, SectionHiker.com

“While highly water resistant as a benefit of its hybrid cuben fiber construction, the value of the 2400 Southwest Pack lies in its unique combination of low weight and durability without skimping on functional features. If you need a backpack that can go through off-trail hell and high water, the 2400 Southwest Pack is your ticket.”

Read the entire review.

Read the rest of the reviews!