Hyperlite Mountain Gear Raises Bar in American Manufacturing

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John Schafer has 40+ years experience in manufacturing and management.

John Schafer has 40+ years experience in manufacturing and management.

John Schafer was ready to retire. At 64, he’s spent the last 30 years working in manufacturing, including the last few years running Shape Fabrication, a fabrication company for architectural and marine industries. At 6’4 and 280 pounds, he still lugs his Maine-made bleachers and steel staircases around with ease. But, he says, he was prepared to start spending more time smoking cigars and drinking cocktails on the 24-foot Grady-White power boat he docks at Biddeford Pool. Then he met Mike and Dan St. Pierre, owners of Hyperlite Mountain Gear. Their shop was just around the corner in the same 180-year-old textile mill where he ran his company. Schafer and the St. Pierres became friends, and then Schafer began to help them a bit with managing and organizing the production floor, where all the Cuben Fiber tarps, mids and packs are made. And then, before he knew it, the St. Pierres asked him to come on full-time as the Director of Operations. He agreed. Read the rest of the article.

On the Chetco River: A Packrafting Adventure

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On the Chetco River.

Photos & text by Mike Curiak (republished from 2013)

About a year ago I was introduced to the wonders of multi-day whitewater packrafting. When I returned, glowing, from my trip, I spent lots of waking moments searching out other rivers for future trips. Thanks to a writeup I found, Oregon’s Chetco River rose to the tip-top of that list.

Doom (aka Steve Fassbinder) and I had planned to run it last spring, but the bottom fell out of the flows a few days before we were able to get there.

I spent the next few months watching weather patterns and the gauge, hoping that the water would come up before the season was too far advanced to enjoy it. Jeny’s need to burn a heap of vacation time before October 1st also hastened the desire to head north. When I called Bearfoot Brad to arrange our vehicle shuttle he protested that there simply wasn’t any water. Unlike Brad, I’d been methodically checking the forecasts, and within hours of our arrival in Oregon the fall rains began, taking our target from 60cfs to over 800.


Highlights of the trip are many. Top of the list has to be the impossibly clear water, followed closely by the carved-through-bedrock gorges, both ensconced within the remotest feeling place I’ve yet experienced in the Lower 48. Both of us are lifelong mountain bikers and agreed that we’ve never been able to get anywhere close to this ‘out there’ by bike.

Jeny and I completed our trip in four days. That was a bit ambitious for a first time down, and given a choice I’d add an extra day next time. The hike is easy and takes half a day rain or shine–I’d want the extra time to savor and photograph the gorges and canyons once floating.

Read the rest of the article.

Seth Timpano & The Cotter-Bebie Route

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By Seth Timpano, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador

The Cotter-Bebie route on the North Face of Dragontail Peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness outside of Leavenworth, Wash.

The Cotter-Bebie route on the North Face of Dragontail Peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Leavenworth, Wash.

The weather in most of the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Intermountain Regions had been atypical this past winter and late spring. For many skiers and ice climbers the warm temperatures made for less than ideal conditions most of the season, but for some of us this abnormal weather patterns made incredible alpine climbing conditions. In March, several climbing partners along with myself were fortunate enough to establish three quality melt freeze mixed climbs in the remote backcountry of Montana and Wyoming. Not wanting to hang up my tools just yet for the season; I was fortunate to get a call from my friend Lee who lives in Bellingham, Wash. The alpine climbing conditions in the Cascades were shaping up nicely and the weather looked promising. We decided on the Cotter-Bebie route on the North Face of Dragontail Peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness outside of Leavenworth, Wash. The route is 2000 feet of beautiful alpine ice and mixed runnels through stellar granite rock.

The peak had seen quite a bit of action throughout the winter and early spring, but we found the north face empty the days we spent in the wilderness. We setup a quick camp on the frozen Colchuck Lake and tucked in early for the night, intending on pre-dawn start. Read the rest of the article!

Trail Days

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The ambassador team at Trail Days

The Trail Days Ambassadors: (L to R) Porter Laclair, Annie MacWilliams, Angela VanWiemeersch and Brian Threlkeld.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear recruited a variety of expert thru-hiker and/or multi-sport adventurers to work the Trail Days 2015 booth alongside our President and Founder Mike St. Pierre. Between them, they have hiked, climbed, rafted or otherwise traveled through the backcountry tens of thousands of miles. In this year’s wrap-up blog post these athletes reflect on the importance of events like Trail Days. Check out a full album of Trail Days photos on our Facebook page.

According to Mike St. Pierre, first and foremost, Trail Days offers outdoor adventurers and thru-hikers the opportunity to see the most groundbreaking gear in the industry.

“All innovation is coming out of small companies like Hyperlite Mountain Gear and many of the other brands represented at Trail Days,” he explained. “You can’t find these products at REI and other big box stores. People who are truly active are starting these businesses; they need cutting-edge gear for their adventures, and so they are making what they need.” Read the rest of the Trail Days wrap up.

Mids Make Going Light Easy

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Text by Roger Brown, guest blogger. Check out his website. He wrote a fine piece on pyramid tents (aka “mids”) that we recently discovered, and so we asked him to write one for our blog. Thanks Roger.

I have spent the last five summers hiking in the open treeless plains and mountains of Lapland, Finland. Two experiences led me to the conclusion that mids are the right option for me. First, I used a GoLite SL2 on an 18-day trip along the Nordkalotteleden in 2011. One evening as the wind began to increase and rain rapidly approached, I found a spot to pitch the shelter. Quickly, I had it pegged down and I crawled inside, extending the poles as the rain increased in intensity. It was then that I realized the benefits of a mid compared to a framed (or hooped) shelter.

Read the rest of the article here!

Trail Magic: Tales of a Trail Weenie, Part II

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Lizzy first day out on her Appalachian Trail backpacking trip

Lizzy’s first day out on her AT backpacking trip

Photos & text by Lizzy Scully

Hyperlite Mountain Gear sent their marketing manager, Lizzy Scully, on a backpacking trip the week before Trail Days 2015. She met at least a 100 people and learned a bit about the thru-hiking culture. This is her wrap-up story from that trip. Read our Trail Days 2015 Wrap Up. Check out photos from the event on our Facebook page.

I hiked 75 miles in six days along the Appalachian Trail from US 19E to Damascus. And I’m psyched. I honestly never imagined I’d backpack that many miles. It’s just a small fraction of a hike compared to what most folks I met had done or were planning on doing. Though more than half weren’t actually hiking the entire AT, they still had already travelled 300 miles, 500 miles, 570 miles, or were planning on doing the full 2,189 (apparently that’s the official number this year, and it changes every year). Read the rest of the article here!

Why You Won’t Freeze or Starve Going Ultralight

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going Ultralight doesn't mean freezing your butt off or starving

Going ultralight doesn’t mean freezing your butt off or starving.

Stripped Down with By Mike St. Pierre

People new to thru hiking and backpacking often don’t realize they need far less than what they think or what their local big box outdoor store salesperson tells them they need. They base what they bring on their fears. Don’t fall into this trap. Understanding what you need is the secret to knowing what you don’t. You absolutely need something to sleep on, to sleep in and to sleep under. Plus you need insulating layers, waterproof layers, some kind of water treatment, a knife, a headlamp and the right kind of food at the right time. Anything else is gravy. I’m not saying you must leave your nonessential, favorite items behind; I simply recommend you strip down to the bare essentials, and then rebuild your list from there with your wants.

These are some common fears or questions we’ve heard over the years:

  • How warm is that tent?
  • I’d better bring 2 layers of fleece in case I get cold!
  • What if I don’t have enough food?
  • I need a stove to cook.

These fears are misplaced, and here’s why.
Read the rest of the article here.

Tales of a Trail Weenie

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By Lizzy Scully

Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s new Marketing Manager is heading out on her first, long (seven days) backpacking adventure the week before Trail Days 2015. A long-time rock climber, hiking long distances is totally new to her. Follow her adventures on Instagram or on our blog.

We used the UltaMid as our mess tent at basecamp, Torsukkatak Fjord, Greenland.

The UltaMid at basecamp.

I embarked on my very first backpacking adventure at 18, while volunteering at Grafton Notch State Park, Maine. I planned to trek four days on the Appalachian Trail, with a goal of hitting Mahoosuc Notch and hiking into Grafton. I don’t remember where I started or how many miles I hiked. All I remember is I wanted to hike the “toughest mile” of the AT. My first day in I could barely stand up (remember Cheryl Strayed in “Wild” trying to put her pack on in the hotel; that was me). My pack was so freakin’ heavy; weight just wasn’t something I had thought about. I packed for every possible variable. What if a glass jar of peanut butter wasn’t enough? I’d better bring two. Since I didn’t have a stove, I guessed I should bring cans of soup, right? And I needed at least a change of clothes per day so I wouldn’t stink so badly. Books, steel flashlight, big cotton sleeping bag… I had it all. I unloaded most of my food at the first shelter (two miles in), at which point I made a bunch of ragged, skinny, starved-looking hikers very happy. But, I had to carry the rest of the stuff the whole way back to Grafton Notch. Read the rest of the blog post.

Going Light: The Evolution of Lightweight Gear

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The Philosophy of Going Light, Part III, is part of our Stripped Down Series

Photo courtesy of HikingVentures.com. Sarek National Park, Sweden, Packrafting.

Photo courtesy of HikingVentures.com. Sarek National Park, Sweden, Packrafting.

By Max Neale

Though going light doesn’t mean just buying lightweight gear, this is still key to your safe and fun adventure. The two most important things to consider when buying high-quality gear are adaptability and durability. Maximize your return on investment by buying a few very good products that are multi-useful and sturdy.

Adaptability is the capacity of a product to adjust to a wide range of activities and/or environmental conditions. Gear that is adaptable is a good value because one single item can perform many different roles. Adaptability is a key component of Hyperlite Mountain Gear product design. For example, our Southwest ultralight backpack performs very well for all types of backpacking and also for high altitude mountaineering at very high altitudes, such as on K2 or Mount Everest. Another example is our UltaMid Cuben Fiber shelter, a four-season fortress for everything from summer backpacking to ski touring, to basecamp cook tent. Read the rest of the article here!

Bug Off! UltaMid Mesh Inserts

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We've got 'em: UltaMid Mesh Inserts :)

We’ve got ’em: UltaMid Mesh Inserts :)

In the end we regret only the mesh we didn’t take…

If you follow us on social media you probably already heard the news that we launched UltaMid Inserts for our 2- and 4-person mids. You can get them with a 100% waterproof Cuben Fiber bathtub floor or without. Either way, you’ll get that added bug protection that you didn’t have using the mid on its own. We used to advertise the mids as a three-season shelter—Fall, Winter, Spring. But it’s a bonafide four-season shelter now. No matter where you are—the Northeast during black fly season or the farthest southern reaches of mosquito-infested Greenland—you won’t have to worry about bugs. And, if the weather is super nice in the summer, you can use set up the Insert (with floor) on its own. Read the rest of the post here!