And just like that, 2016 is almost over. It’s been another great, busy year here at Hyperlite Mountain Gear–one for the record books.
The good news is that it seems like the idea of doing more with less is really getting some legs. Like, big, burly I-just-yo-yo’d-the-PCT-legs. We put that notion to the test every day in our production and manufacturing, while our staff, ambassadors, friends and customers do the same on trails, crags, hills, mountains, rivers and trails across the continent and throughout the world.
Bottom line: some crazy stuff got done in 2016. We figured out how to make even more ultralight backpacks, shelters, tents and tarps per day, all without compromising our commitment to quality or our other core values–like producing everything here in our factory in Maine (in the good-old US of A).
That’s not it though. Some serious business happened in the field, too. So much so that we figured we’d compile a Best of 2016 list of things from the Hyperlite Mountain Gear blog, in case you missed anything.
Grab some left over egg nog (or don’t, maybe–how old is that stuff?), cozy up on the couch and prepare to get really excited about the year to come. 2016 was great, but 2017 is going to epic.
In additions to endorsements from some of the most hardcore, mile-bagging, wilderness-dwelling customers out there, the Ultamid got some outstanding official recognition from a few exceptional media outlets as well.
Just in case you’re on the fence about joining the club, we thought we’d see if maybe this little nudge would help. We get it: our pyramid tents are a major investment. But without getting all sales-y, we wouldn’t make them if they didn’t represent the best damn balance of lightweight performance with exceptional durability out there. “Set it (up) and forget it” applies to things in the backcountry, too–and in the case of an Ultamid, you’ll be doing exactly that for years and years to come.
Our ultralight packs are meant to be used hard. Adventurers across the spectrum agree. Read the gear reviews…
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.
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.
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.
“…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
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.
Daybreak Ultralight Daypack: National Geographic Adventure’s “Gear of the Year”
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.
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.
Considered one of the most influential gear review sites by Outside Magazine,BlisterGearReview.com does comprehensive reviews of outdoor products. They recently published excellent reviews of Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Dyneema® Expedition Duffel Bag and our UltaMid 2 Pyramid Tent. What they said…
“If your objectives entail hauling a lot of gear far into the wilderness, and you put a premium on low weight and durability, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema® Duffel should be on your short list. It’s a high-performance bag designed for objectives where excess weight is anathema and durability and weatherproofing are vital. For those looking for top-tier performance, it’s a great option.”
“For years I’ve been searching for a superlight four-season shelter that I can use year round for human powered adventures, and now I seem to have found it. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 is the best performing, most versatile shelter I’ve ever used. There is little doubt in mind that it will continue to be my top choice for shelter any time I’m thinking of spending the night outside.”
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Partners with the Pacific Crest Trail Association & the Continental Divide Trail Coalition
This February, we partnered with the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC), key organizations that support two of the “Big Three” thru hiking/backpacking trails. Why? Because we are committed to getting you—the passionate outdoor adventurer—into the mountains and onto the trails where you can achieve your most optimal self. Our goal with these partnerships is to ensure these iconic and inspirational trails are preserved, protected and enjoyed by all types of hikers for decades to come.
With 11,000+ members and donors, the PCTA empowers more than 1800 volunteers to work 96,500 hours on hundreds of projects. A major partner of the US Forest Service, this nonprofit advocates for hikers, thru hikers and backpackers, responds to and manages wildfires and other closures, responds to threats on the trail (logging, illegal trespass and development proposals), and acquires land and easements to further enhance the trail. Discover the trail.
Though smaller and newer, the CDTC fills an important niche, empowering those who love the Continental Divide Trail through community engagement, stewardship and trail outreach and education. With a goal to build strong community of volunteers, enthusiasts and supporters who want to see the CDT completed and protected, they’ve constructed 9.3 miles of new trail and mobilized 194 volunteers to work nearly 15,000 hours. Join the CDTC.
Together, these two organizations successfully mobilize tens of thousands of donors, members and volunteers to protect and preserve two of America’s most iconic trail systems. But creating better, strong trail systems requires teamwork, partnerships and collaboration. We hope that by joining their communities that we can help raise awareness of the important work they do.
There’s been recent buzz on the Web regarding DSM Dyneema’s 2015 acquisition of Cubic Technologies, name changes to the material it produces, formerly known as Cuben Fiber, and the future of this technological advancement. As one of the leading outdoor gear manufacturers backing this technology, we thought it appropriate to weigh in, share some insight and better explain this technology.
DSM Dyneema acquired U.S. manufacturer, Cubic Technologies, May 2015. DSM is a large, global, Dutch company active in the health, nutrition and material sciences industries, and is also the inventor and manufacturer of the Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMwPE) fibers branded as Dyneema®. Read more…
The prestigious climbing and mountaineering publication, The Alpinist, has awarded the 2400 Dyneema® Ice Pack and Ultamid 4 their “Mountain Standards” Award, which highlights a high-quality piece of gear that earns five stars from reviewers. Check out the reviews below.
“This was the first time that I climbed with Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Dyneema 2400 Ice Pack. As I unpacked my dry tent and clothes, it was not the first time I was thankful to use the Ice Pack. Its 40L capacity carried camping and climbing gear for my three-day alpine trip through forest, over moraines and glaciers and in the high-elevation tempest.” — Andrew Councell
“The Ultamid 4 shelter proved to be a crucial piece of gear during a four-week climbing and pack-rafting expedition in Alaska’s Aleutian Range. The Ultamid 4 provided a spacious shelter where we could stand up and cook during the storm, and the pyramid-style tent is light enough that we carried it with us on multiday climbs.” — Drew Thayer
A silent revolution is changing the outdoor industry. Some call it “the Ultralight movement.” New, extremely light and durable backpacks, tents and tarps, sleeping bags and clothing have been available for a few years now. These products have been winning editors awards from outdoor blogs, as well as being raved about by early adopters. Ultralight gear is radically changing the hiking and climbing experience. This is the first in a series of videos by The Dyneema® Project. It focuses on entrepreneurs of the Ultralight movement, including Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre. The Ultralight movement is fueled by Dyneema® Flexible Composites, a revolutionary strong and lightweight fabric formerly known as Cuben Fiber. It’s also fueled by innovative companies such as Hyperlite Mountain Gear, that build durable, lightweight, minimalist, design-driven gear.
We took our blog in a new direction this year, adding more “how to” articles and posts on what going light or ultralight really means, among other things. We hear loud and clear that you want to learn how to lighten your load. These are the top ten most-read articles of 2015. They range from tips on how to pack or cook lightweight food in the backcountry to how living with less allows you to experience more. Enjoy these articles, plus some of the most popular photos we published this year!
The Top 5…
Stripped Down: Food Prep & Recipes for Ultralight Thru Hike Adventures
In order to get ready for a 16-day expedition below the rim of the Grand Canyon, Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre carefully planned out his meals. He needed light, compact, nutrient-rich food that would be easy to carry. He spent weeks prepping everything so that all he needed to do was add water to his dehydrated meals (which he dehydrated himself). Learn more about how to prepare food for an ultralight thru hike, and check out some of St. Pierre’s awesome recipes.
Stripped Down: Gear Check For Thru-Hiking & Backpacking:
“I believe embracing lightweight translates to going further, faster and suffering less in general,”says Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre. In terms of outdoor escapades, the first thing he did to lighten his load was address the “Big Three” (aka “The Three Heavies”)–pack, shelter and sleeping systems. This article outlines what St. Pierre takes with him on the trail during the warmer months. Plus, he offers some recommendations for stoves, clothes, filters, shoes and more.
Congrats to the winners of the Camino de Santiago contest: Lilian Bazan from the United States and runner up Frans Somers from the Netherlands.
The Camino Frances (or “French Way”) is one of many routes that comprise the Camino de Santiago, which is a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James the Great in Santiago de Compostela first completed around the 9th century. Hyperlite Mountain Gear partnered with tour company CaminoWays.com on November 1st to raffle off a week on the Camino de Santiago, plus two of our new Daybreak day backpacks and eight Stuff Sacks. The winner and a friend will walk the last 100km of the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela. The trip includes meals, lodging in family owned hotels and guest houses with up to a 3-star rating. The runner-up in this competition also will also receive a Summit Pack and a set of Stuff Sacks. CaminoWay.com Jeremy Perrin recently chatted with us about some of the biggest challenges of the trail. Jeremy has led hiking trips on various parts of the Camino as well as on trails in North and South Africa, Europe, USA and the Middle East.
Is it fair to say that one of the points of a pilgrimage is to learn how to grow through adversity? With that in mind, what are some of the biggest challenges people face on the Camino de Santiago?
In our experience there are multiple challenges that people face: the first is usually making the decision to walk the Camino and then for how long. The main physical challenges are the multiple days walking; even fit people will hit the ‘wall’ at some stage. The hardest day of the Camino is on the first day of the French Way, where you have to cross the great mountain range of the Pyrenees over the Napoleon Pass. You must hike 26km to get to the first stop, but you are awarded with a stay in the stunning monastery town of Roncesvalles and two days later Pamplona.
The other challenging routes are generally on the Coastal Ways, including the Northern Way from San Sebastain to Santander. This route continues onto Gijon finishing in Santiago de Compostela. The Portuguese Coastal Way and the Lighthouse Way offers remote coastal walking with the advantage of finishing in traditional villages in Portugal and Galicia. Read more and enter the raffle.
The Daybreak in action, Durango, Colo. Photo by Steve Fassbinder.
Thanks to the hundreds of Facebook fans who helped us name our new, technical daypack. Competition was fierce, and some great new names we didn’t think of were suggested, but the overwhelming favorite was the Daybreak.
Whether you’re peak bagging in the Rocky Mountains or navigating the Northeast’s thickly wooded 4000 footers, our minimalist Daybreak Pack offers the perfect mix of durability, comfort and weather-resistance for any 24-hour (or less) backcountry outing. We made this simple, but highly technical day backpack for adventurers at heart who can’t always get out for that thru hike or weeklong trip. As with all our gear, we’re not about bells and whistles or inessential extras: we utilize waterproof Dyneema® Cuben Fiber, the most cutting-edge fabric in the industry; we offer the pack in three torso sizes so you can optimize the fit; and we offer you just the features you need, and nothing more. We leave the designing of the latest trending colors and complicated pen organizer pockets in the capable hands of others. We’re about stripped down, high-performance gear that has been dialed in to meet the exacting requirements of the people who use it. Read more about the Daybreak, and check out the specs and features below. Read on…