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.
Ambassador Bethany Hughes Raises Awareness for Women’s Issues on major America-to-America Thru Hike
When the rainy/winter season came, the two-woman hiking team of Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Bethany Hughes (aka “Fidgit”) and Lauren Reed (aka “Neon”) completed the first stretch of a 20,000-mile hike from the tip of South America to the top of Alaska. They finished the hiking season in Bariloche, Argentina after walking an estimated 1553 miles from November 23, 2015 to April 19, 2016, covering 13 degrees of latitude since starting in Ushuaia, Argentina.
“Taking a break will give us a chance to structure the next leg of our journey, which will run longer as we should, by next winter, be far enough north to hike through the winter season,” Hughes says. “Plus, it means I can put more time and effort into writing.”
“We are particularly interested in highlighting the abilities and accomplishments of women we meet by featuring their stories,” Hughes explained. As well, she stated, with domestic violence recently becoming a more prominent topic of conversation in South America, their trek offers the opportunity for fostering discussion.
“Taboos are being broken just by having these conversations, especially with an outsider,” Hughes added.
Hughes began planning this trek, dubbed “Her Odyssey,” five years ago after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and subsequently learning that it formed part of the longest contiguous chain of mountains in the world. Reed, a “Triple Crowner,” is accompanying her on the South American portion of the journey.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear is proud to be an unofficial sponsor of the unofficial Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic.
Words by Luc Mehl
The Mountain Wilderness Classic is Alaska’s premier wilderness challenge, a grassroots event where participants push to their exertion and exhaustion limits. Ultralight is the name of the game, so it is no surprise that the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter is the pack of choice.
The 2016 course started at Galbraith Lake and ended in Wiseman, completing a north-south traverse of the Brooks Range, Alaska’s northernmost mountain range. The course was short by Classic standards, a minimum of 110 miles, half of which was floatable. This was a welcome change from the 2015 300-mile route in the Alaska Range, which was only finished by four of the thirty participants.
The short Brooks Range course and 24-hour daylight allowed participants to cut even more gear from their packs, with many participants expecting to go without sleep. Sleeping bags, shelter systems, and extra clothing were all left behind. One participant even opted to leave his packraft behind, starting with a 13 pound pack (this ended up being a bad decision). Read more about the Classic, and check out a sweet video.
3 Explorers Embark on a DIY Multisport Adventure to Alaska’s Mountains using Packrafts, Skis & Their Feet.
Not everyone can handle spending three weeks camped out on an Alaskan Glacier putting up first ascents of rock, ice and snow routes on unclimbed spires and peaks. Even fewer can then handle skiing out on handmade skis with 100-pound loads, over high mountain passes and across unknown terminal moraines to a river of unknown difficulty. But the trio of Craig Muderlak, Drew Thayer and David Fay did. Supported by the American Alpine Club through the Copp-Dash Inspire Award and various sponsors, including Hyperlite Mountain Gear, they climbed, skied, hiked and packrafted on the adventure of a lifetime. We recently chatted with Muderlak about their wild, multi-sport adventure and the reasons for their success.
What did you do exactly?
In the second week of May we flew into the North Fork of the Pitchfork Glacier in the Neacola subrange of the Aleutian Range in southwestern Alaska. We established a base camp and explored climbing routes on neighboring peaks, including two attempts on the NW Ridge of Citadel Peak, two new rock routes and an additional attempted route on Dogtooth Spire on Peak 7235, a new route up an unclimbed mountain adjacent to Peak 8909 that we call ‘Spearhead’ at the head of the North Fork of the Pitchfork, and a new route to the summit of a rock spire we call ‘The Wing’ on the W side of the Neacola Glacier across from Triangle Peak.
After spending 21 days climbing, we made a human-powered return to Cook Inlet via ski, foot, and pack-raft over six days. This part of the expedition proved to be very arduous and fraught with uncertainty. We descended the Pitchfork glacier with 100-pound loads on skis and reached the terminal moraine the second day, which we crossed by shuttling loads. The next day we descended the Glacier Fork of the Tlikakila River on pack-rafts; this eight-mile river was flowing strong with Class II and III whitewater and we ran all but one rapid. Read the rest of the article.
Day Hiking Is Important, too: Stay Ultralight, Even if You Aren’t Going Overnight.
At Hyperlite Mountain Gear, we usually just let our gear just speak for itself. But sometimes people have such nice things to say about our stuff that we feel we just have to share. Check out these daypack reviews from some of the biggest names in backcountry gear, plus the Seattle Times.
Seattle Timeson the Daybreak Pack: Washington’s finest publication recently included our Daybreak daypack in its “Great Father’s Day gifts for dads who love the outdoors” article. “The new high-tech Hyperlite Daybreak Backpack ($220) is a seamless ultralight pack — weighing 19 ounces — that will get you through any long hike or trek without weighing you down.”
National Geographic Adventure Magazineon the Daybreak Pack: “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.
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.
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.
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.
Fresh off hiking 850 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, Amy Kading brings a wealth of merchandising experience to her new position as ecommerce and sales manager at Hyperlite Mountain Gear.
Though Amy Kading grew up in small town Texas, she dreamed big. In fact, by 6th grade she already knew she would attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
“I’ve always known what I wanted to do, and I’ve never hesitated,” she says. Kading was so motivated to dive into the world of fashion merchandising management that she graduated from high school a year early and went straight to the Big Apple. Not only did she attend school full time, but she also worked managing two high-end stores on the upper East Side, followed by an internship with Dolce & Gabbana.
“Who gives a 19-year-old the keys to a store on Madison Avenue!?” she asks with a laugh. But her dedication was obvious. She absorbed knowledge, learning from coworkers and professors who had climbed the chain in the retail industry. Read the rest of the article.
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.