Matt Jenkins and Elyssa Shalla, backcountry rangers at Grand Canyon National Park, have been exploring the deserts of the southwest together since they met in 2008. The couple’s next adventure will combine many of the backcountry routes near their home on the Coconino Plateau into one, extended, mostly trail-less adventure. Their plan, a winter thru hike of the Grand Canyon from the Grand Wash Cliffs to Lees Ferry, will take place over the 2015-16 El Nino season.
As rangers, Matt and Elyssa constantly seek ways to share their passion and enthusiasm for traveling lightly and efficiently through wild places. In this article, the pair explore ideas that have made ultralight winter backpacking more fun and comfortable for them in the vast wilderness that is their backyard.
Sleep System Strategies for Ultralight Winter Backpacking
Wherever you’re headed, planning a trip during the winter requires couples and teams to re-evaluate every piece of gear in their standard ultralight set up. That means considering a given piece of equipment’s purpose in relation to efficiency and weight with extra scrutiny. Sometimes this results in more questions than answers for people who are new to winter backcountry travel: What are you bringing, should I bring one too and who gets to schlep this heavy thing around!?
In this post, we will briefly discuss some key tweaks we’ve made to one system of the “Big Three”– our winter sleep system. Our approach is the result of an evolution over time and many trips, and we hope you’ll find it useful as you head outside this winter. 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
The Ouray Ice Festival in Ouray, Colo, starts this week (January 14 to 17). The focus of the 21st annual festival will be women in ice climbing, with an all female lineup of presenters including Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Angela VanWiemeersch. During the day at the Ouray Ice Park there are comps, clinics and seminars hosted by top tier climbers, plus gear expos, slide shows, dancing, food and lots of beer drinking (after climbing, of course). This festival is the largest of it’s kind in North America, and we’re proud to be attending for our second year. Keep your eye out for our tent, and be sure to swing by to demo some of our gear (make sure you get your gear card). Also, sign up for clinics with our ambassadors: Jayson Simons-Jones, Ryan Vachon, Scott Adamson and Janette Heung. Click <a href=
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.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Beau Fredlund takes spectacular photos from his home turf, the backcountry around Cooke City, Mont. Beau ski tours extensively (often using his favorite backpack, the 4400 Porter Pack).
Photos by Beau Fredlund
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassadors are the team of elite athletes, guides and adventurers who help test and refine our gear. They also send us some spectacular pics and stories from their expeditions and adventures with our gear. And they remind us that outside it the place to be, and light and fast is the way to attack it!
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.
Hundreds of thousands of people hike the numerous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes each year. And they do it carrying various things. MaryAnn Healey decided to carry a lightweight pack with all that she needed for a six-week adventure from Roncesvalles to Santiago, both in Spain. Unlike thru hiking the Appalachian Trail, Camino pilgrims don’t need tents, stoves and sleeping bags because there are plenty of restaurants and albergues (hostels) along the way. Thus, many people completely forego carrying their personal gear and have it sent ahead via vehicle. But says Healey, she wouldn’t let anyone touch her bag.
“I got so I really loved having it on my back,” she explains. “It was my home. I didn’t feel right if I didn’t have it on.” She brought exactly what she needed and left all the unnecessary items behind. “Most people I hiked with didn’t notice, but the people I stayed with always asked, ‘Wow, is that all you’re carrying?’” I’d say, ‘yep.’ I’ve got everything I need and then some!” (See her gear list below). Read the rest of the article here.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador, biking enthusiast and founder of Lace Mine 29, a custom bike wheel company, Mike Curiak has pushed the sport of extreme cycling to new heights, and was nominated for a spot in the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame. He, Jesse Selwyn and Travis Anderson recently used packrafts, bikes and their legs to explore Cataract Canyon. This is a repost from Curiak’s blog.
A few years back I had the opportunity to complete a unique trip in Canyonlands National Park. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassadors Doom, Moe and I rode, walked, and floated for three days and roughly 75 miles through Beef Basin, the Needles, Cross Canyon, Cataract Canyon and Imperial Canyon, as well as the northern edge of the Abajos in completing our loop. A few months ago Jesse and I got to talking about that trip, and it wasn’t something that he could let go of once the seed had been planted.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear ambassador Luc Mehl is an Alaskan native who is no stranger to the snow and skiing. His infatuation with the backcountry started at a young age as he grew up in a remote Alaskan town surrounded by raw wilderness. Years later he was on track for a PhD at MIT, but ended up leaving with a masters in order to further pursue adventure back in Alaska. Mehl has completed month-long wilderness trips in America’s most northern state each year for five years, ranging from 150 to 370 miles, as well as six Alaska Mountain Wilderness Ski Classics, ranging from 120 to 200 miles. During these extreme events he has had many boots, skis, bindings and poles all fail. So in keeping with his ultralight philosophies, Mehl developed a system for creating a lightweight backcountry ski repair kit. In this post, he explains how he balances the weight and thoroughness of his kit.
At the end of an unsupported 180-mile ski traverse in Alaska’s rugged Brooks Range, Rob Kehrer showed me his repair kit. Rob and I worked from different ends of the spectrum, I cut too many corners to save weight (“Can we carry just share one crampon between us?”), and he carried too many extras (down booties, beer). Rob had a crooked grin on his face as he pulled out the repair kit… the standard stuff, duct tape, wire, but also spark plugs and wrenches. He’d brought the wrong repair kit, leftover from a snowmachine trip.
I’ve benefited from learning from Rob’s and my own mistakes, and have been especially fortunate to have mechanical engineers and a ski builder in my core group of partners. This guide is my effort to pass on repair kit strategies, tried and true, while keeping weight to a minimum. Read More
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Kurt Ross is a renowned climber and videographer. A self proclaimed “dirtbag,” Ross spends as much time as possible exploring icy wilderness areas. Last May he 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. We recently caught up with him and asked him for his go-to alpine climbing gear list for serious lightweight adventures.
The decision of what to wear on your person and in your pack for a big alpine objective can be as nerve wracking as deciding what to wear on a hot date with someone who’s way out of your league. Why did she agree to go out with you anyway? You’re an alpine climber; you have no social skills. She’s probably just doing a favor for your friend who set you up. Wait. Don’t be so hard on yourself. She wouldn’t have agreed to do it if she didn’t see anything that she liked in you. You may as well give it a chance. Like, cast a large net or whatever. What was I saying?
People sometimes make fun of weight-obsessed climbers, but it really is important to cut as much fat off of your gear as is reasonable before attempting hard objectives. I’m not sure that breaking your titanium spoon in half and cutting the pockets out of your jackets is going to make the difference between sending or not, but I do think that general weight consciousness is worthwhile for big adventures. After all, the physical consequence of carrying every extra ounce is correlated to the the amount of spacetime you’ll be hauling it through. The simple unfortunate truth is that spending a bit more money to get that 900 fill, carbon, Dyneema®, helium filled stuff will make you a better climber/hiker/whatever to an extent. C’est la vie. Read More
Lightweight Recipes: Breakfasts, Snacks and Dinners Developed by Two Expert Rangers who Recently Thru Hiked The Length of the Grand Below The Rim
Matt Jenkins and Elyssa Shalla, backcountry rangers at Grand Canyon, have been exploring the southwestern deserts together since they met in 2008. After living and traveling extensively abroad, the couple’s next adventure will combine many of the backcountry routes near their home on the Coconino Plateau into one, extended, mostly trail-less adventure. Their plan, a winter thru hike of ‘The Canyon’ from the Grand Wash Cliffs to Lees Ferry, will take place over the 2015-16 El Nino season. The raison de etre for their long walk centers around a quest to reduce their belongings, live a simpler lifestyle, and better know the vast wilderness that lies in their backyard. As rangers, they constantly seek ways to share their passion and enthusiasm for traveling lightly and efficiently through wild places. This series of articles Hyperlite Mountain Gear follows Matt and Elyssa as they outline winter travel tips and lightweight recipes for thru hikes and long backpacking adventures.
Big winter days need a large stockpile of food to fuel them. Here is a single day menu for one hungry ultralight backpacking enthusiast. We strive to eat nutrient rich and hearty meals by including ingredients with a high number of total calories, a mixed variety of food sources and a sufficient number of calories per ounce. Mix, match and shuffle to cater to your dietary needs and wants.
Weight (oz): 30
Fat (g): 163
Carbs (g): 490
Protein (g): 110 Read 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…
Imagine a desolate desert of snow and ice as far as you can see, devoid of all vegetation and with only a few living creatures–penguins, seals and seabirds. Antarctica still seems a vast white landscape untouched by humans. But while Antarctica may seem like some unreachable and unfathomable place, adventuring in the continent is becoming increasingly popular. More than 37,000 tourists visited Antarctica in 2009. Most people hire experienced guides. However, non-guided adventures and experiences are still possible, but extreme precautions need to be taken. We talked to Seth Timpano, a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador as well as an Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions Travel Safety Manager, to learn about how to prepare for an Antarctic adventure.
What are different sorts of things that people have to think about when they’re organizing expeditions to Antarctica compared to trips they might organize to Alaska or Pakistan?
Antarctica is the most remote continent on the planet and the costs are high and logistics of simply getting to Antarctica complicated. Thorough planning for an expedition to Antarctica is a must, and the most successful expeditions are the ones with the best planning and logistics.
Ambassador and Photographer Steve “Doom” Fassbinder works for Alpacka Rafts, but we don’t know where he finds the time for a 9 to 5. He’s constantly sending us stellar photos of his bikepacking, packrafting and climbing adventures. For his latest trip, he invited fellow ambassadors Scott Adamson and Angela VanWiemeersch to embark on a wild multi-sport adventure in the Utah desert backcountry. It involved numerous first ascents of sandstone towers and granite walls, plus packrafting the San Juan River and bikepacking. All photos in this essay are by Doom.
For 19 years, ice climbers at all levels and from all over the world have come together at the Bozeman Ice Festival to climb, eat and check out gear. This year’s festival runs from December 9th to 13th and will feature a myriad of climbing-related events and parties, including the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup. And we’ll be there for our fourth year, along with a few of our athlete ambassadors (see below in the “Clinics” section for details).
“This is one of my favorite ice climbing festivals anywhere,” says Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre. “The ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon and surrounding areas is excellent. And the event itself offers both newcomers to the sport and more advanced climbers some great opportunity to learn from the best ice climbers in the world and to see the most cutting-edge gear made in the industry.”
If you are at the festival, feel free to swing by our booth to visit with Mike or our ambassadors and check out our new gear or demo an 2400 Ice Pack. Below is a quick overview of the event schedule. To learn more about the festival check out the website. Read More
As part of our Stripped Down series, Ambassador Samuel Martin talks ultralight photography in the backcountry.
Samuel Martin maintains he’s an adventurer first, photographer second. His stunning landscapes and surreal trail photos bring the wilderness to life and show his love for the outdoors. However, photography is not something that truly meshes with the idea of lightweight backpacking. The heavy gear only serves one purpose; so lightweight photographers often find themselves facing the choice between sacrificing the quality of their photos or bringing along extra pounds. However, Martin has found a sweet balance between ultralight backpacking and the camera equipment he carries, producing photos while still being efficient and mobile. We caught him between adventures and asked him a few questions.
Do you leave other things behind so that you can bring more photo gear?
I definitely make sacrifices so that I can carry my camera gear. For example, on my recent thru hike of the John Muir Trail I ditched a second short sleeve shirt, a pair of pants, a pair of gloves, and many small miscellaneous items to make room for my gear. Personal preference and needs play a large part in what I leave behind. On some trips I don’t need a lot of warm clothes, so those get ditched. Other times I don’t need warm food, so the stove gets left behind. It’s important to evaluate the needs of each particular trip and go from there. Read the rest of the article.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre’s account of his Grand Canyon thru hike is coming to a close with this third and final installment. This week’s post will contain his journal entries from day 10 to 15, which feature a flash flood, extreme rain, a summit attempt and a sad goodbye.
Readers should absolutely not consider this a guide to hike the length of the Grand Canyon below the rim. Rich Rudow carefully planned this adventure over the course of a year, after spending decades exploring the Grand Canyon. There are no trails at all, anywhere, and water sources are extremely limited and difficult to find. To see more photos, please visit our Thru Hike Below the Rim of the Grand Canyon Facebook photo album. Read Days 1-4 and Days 5-9.
Day 10–Today was supposed to be a layover day, but we are skipping it due to getting behind while the other two gentlemen were with us. Instead, as a reward for the hard push to just get here, we are forgoing the 4:30a.m. wake up call and sleeping in. On the move by 9:00 a.m., we are all sore and tired but welcome the sleeping in.
We traversed saddle canyon, 49 Mile and 49.9 Mile canyons. Super hard, but exhilarating day traversing three huge canyons; these things are big and take hours to hike around. Came across some rock art that dated back to 800-1000 years old, cool to find and see. Downclimbed from the top of the Redwall to the Little Nankoweap drainage and then down to the Colorado River. I felt like I was in “Lord of the Rings” on the route down; it was jaw dropping, technical and steep. We got off the Redwall after four days and camped at Little Nankoweap on the river.
6:30 p.m. Washed clothes inside a Hyperlite Mountain Gear large roll top stuff sack in the river by adding a little gravel and soap and swishing it around. It worked really well. Sipped margaritas and inhaled 1500 calories for dinner. I’m too tired to write right now, but it was an amazing day.Read the rest of the article now.