Spruce Green is the new White

Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s ultralight, cuben fiber shelter systems, tarps and pyramid tents are now available in Spruce Green in addition to our classic white.

HMG UltaMid pyramid  tent on the coast of Maine
UltaMid pyramid tent on the coast of Maine

For the past four years Hyperlite Mountain Gear has been making some of the best lightweight shelters, tarps and mids available anywhere.  But we were only able to offer then in white.  We love the white, but we know that a lot of our customers would like a little more choice in the color department.  Well, we’ve finally done it.  We’re now able to offer our full line of shelter systems, tarps and pyramid tents in Spruce Green.  The material used is the same as the white — ripstop, waterproof and ultralight cuben fiber.  And unlike other manufacturers who have offered colored cuben fiber, our products are absolutely color-fast — no bleeding, no staining of your other gear.

HMG Flat Tarp in the Maine Woods
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Flat Tarp in the Maine Woods

Here’s Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s current line-up of Spruce Green shelters, tarps and mids:

The Echo Shelter System — a tarp based system featuring a removable bug mesh insert/tub and “beak” (vestibule).  The system is available one and two-man sizes and can be purchased as set or as separate pieces.

The UltaMid — two and four-man pyramid tents.

Tarps — a line of flat tarps, catenary tarps and a hammock tarp.

All of our shelters, tarps and mids feature taped seams.  With the taped seams and 100% waterproof cuben fiber, there’s no need to seam seal or coat these products, ever.

HMG Flat Tarp in a perfect spot to make camp
Flat Tarp in a perfect spot to make camp

Like all of our gear, our shelters, tarps and mids are proudly designed and manufactured in Maine, USA.

Check ’em out and get your green on!

Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Biddeford, Maine

 

 

Peter on the CDT – Grants to Cuba (Segment 6)

For 2013 Hyperlite Mountain Gear is sponsoring one thru-hiker on each of the Appalachian Trail (AT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and Pacific Coastal Trail (PCT).  Here’s the sixth update from the trail by Peter, Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s sponsored CDT hiker.  Peter (trail name, “CzechXpress”) will keep all of us up do date with periodic posts and pictures from his journey.  We hope you’ll check in regularly to follow Peter along the trail!

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Peter all smiles on his way from Grants to Cuba via the CDT

The zero day that I had in Grants, which involved moving as little as possible because of my aching foot that was tender to each step I took was rather uneventful.  The rest of the group had left that morning, but I knew that an extra day would give my foot the rest it needed to make it to Cuba, which was the next destination for my next segment.

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A well needed ‘zero day’ to recover before continuing on to Cuba

Grants is small town that once was a booming Uranium mining town, and was once home to the biggest and most productive Uranium mines in the country.  As I learned during the local shuttle drive, high school kids were dropping out of school to go work the mines for an average starting salary of $80,000 per year, creating a huge void in the school system.  Once the government stopped buying the Uranium, the mine laid off 4,000 people overnight, starting a mass exodus out of the town.  Grants has since recovered, but you can still see the boarded up shops downtown. Regardless, you can still feel the local pride in its banners and its people.

After resting in the hotel room, doing some shopping at Wal-Mart, and getting a resupply box ready to be shipped to Ghost Ranch, it was time to leave.  My foot was feeling a little better and I was ready to keep moving.  I’ve learned the longer I stay in town, the more comfortable I get and the more my head starts spinning with ideas. I was tired of always taking my pack off to drink water so wanted to try this new hydration system.  I caught the local shuttle to the post office and then to the Mumms who are local trail angels and were holding a new bladder system that I had ordered from REI.  The Mumms are great people who leave water caches out at the start of the Malapais, entering the final canyon towards Grants and a final one on the last stretch up Mt. Taylor for hikers to use.

I was very happy to meet them and did not hesitate to give them a much-needed donation.  I got to the trail head for the next segment and began the long hike to the base of Mt. Taylor, hiking about 10 miles that day to the water cache left by the Mumms.  I like staying next to caches as you can drink all you want and then ‘camel up’ in the morning for the next day.  This was my first section alone since the border and I was actually happy to be hiking alone for this part.  I was able to hike at my own pace, on my own schedule and have some time to think about the journey so far. I hiked up the 11,301 ft summit of Mt. Taylor, a leftover ridge from a volcano that had exploded many millions of years ago, currently making it the highest point of the CDT in New Mexico.  I summited Mt. Taylor in the morning with the sun rising over the huge horizon that lay before me.

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Nothing but clear skies and Hyperlite Mountain Gears’ sponsored CDT thru-hiker Peter atop Mt. Taylor

To the south were the mountains I had walked through to reach Grants and to the West were the open plains of the desert landscape that hid Arizona not far away.  To the East and North you could see the next ridges and plateaus that would be my home for the next couple of days as I hiked on top of expanding mesas.  I spent a little bit of time on top before making the descent down the mountain, following forest roads to my next water source; American Spring.  This was one of the nicest springs I had seen so far and was happy to get the water out of the pipe. The spring was surrounded by great meadow full of grass and glorious shade.  What a change from the low-lying desert areas that had been my home for so long before.  I ate a nice leisurely lunch there before continuing my trip down the mountain.  That day I hiked 27 miles, making camp in a patch of trees after getting a burst of energy from Skrillz on my newly downloaded Spotify app.  Yes, some say technology is wrong in the woods but music is a great companion after a long day…  Especially Bob Marley.

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The “road walk that seemed to never end”

The next day brought a boring road walk that seemed to never end.  It finally did at my next water source, Los Indios Spring.  This is the point where I made one of my most stupid mistakes of the hike so far. It taught me to read and then re-read my map notes 10 times before making my next move.  The sign read Los Indios spring .5 miles, so I thought that it was that far past and down the 200ft canyon as noted on the maps.  I walked the .5 miles past the gate but, still no turn off or canyon.  I still saw foot prints, so I kept walking, thinking the sign makers had made a mistake and I decided to keep on going. Stupidly, I ended up  walking about three miles before deciding to reread my maps. Taking the point of view of the southbound hiker, at the gate you would go .5 miles down the canyon to the spring.  So this meant I had to walk the 3 miles back, then go the .5 miles down the 200 ft canyon to get the water.  I don’t think I’ve ever hiked so pissed off before in my life!  I walked back, got to the spring and threw down my pack in anger.  I knew I had made a mistake and being out of water for the last hour made me even more mad.  Why did I make this mistake?  What was I thinking? All of these questions ran through my head. I wanted to learn from the mistake I had just made and avoid having to deal with a similar situation again.

After coming down off the high plateau and the breathtaking view it provided, it was back down to the desert floor where the fear of rattlesnakes, heat and water shortages resurfaced.  It was miserable.  That section of trail was miserable for me.  It was hot, the landscape was Mars-like, and it had no appeal for me.  It was only about 20 miles long, but it put me in such a bad mood that I found myself walking faster and harder then ever before.  After finally being in the trees and seeing beautiful green grass, it was hard to switch back to the desert hiking I had been enduring for weeks.

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A beautiful Mars-like landscape in the desert

The last 20 miles before Cuba were a gorgeous change from the previous miles in the ugly desert. I spent so much time high on the plateaus that surround the area with wonderful rock formations, beautiful expanding views and a cairned trail that was easy to follow.  It reminded me of hiking Utah which is one of my most sacred places to hike in the world.  I happily followed the cairned route up and down the mesa skirting the edge and then back to the middle again, my shoes filled with sand.  My shoes were dying. I couldn’t wait to get my nice new pair once I got to Cuba, and say good bye to these after 530 miles of hard walking.

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Almost to Cuba!

I walked into Cuba at 9pm that night on Memorial Day. I road walked the last four miles in the dimming light of the day as people drove home from parties and celebrations.  I was happy to get to town and plop down on the bed knowing that another section was done and a good rest was coming my way.  I lay in the tub with the water hitting my tired and bruised body knowing that this section was now done and that I was nearing the eventual end of New Mexico.

 

 

 

 

Peter on the CDT – Pie Town to Grants (Segment 5)

For 2013 Hyperlite Mountain Gear is sponsoring one thru-hiker on each of the Appalachian Trail (AT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and Pacific Coastal Trail (PCT).  Here’s the fifth update from the trail by Peter, Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s sponsored CDT hiker.  Peter (trail name, “CzechXpress”) will keep all of us up do date with periodic posts and pictures from his journey.  We hope you’ll check in regularly to follow Peter along the trail!

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Peter and his Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 resting in the shade on the CDT

After stuffing myself with pie while in Pie Town and loving the Toaster House, it was unfortunately time to start the hike to Grants.  We left late in the afternoon after seeing two other CDT hikers, Trip and Michigan Wolverine come into the cafe where we were having a late lunch. We chatted with them for a while and shared stories of the past section which is customary to do with other hikers. They are both great guys and I even bumped into Michigan Wolverine later on the trail.  We left the Toaster House with a few new hiker friends named Virgo and Nicotine. We completed a 10 mile road walk until we called it a night near the road out of town.

The next morning, we started our full day of road walking before we hit Amejo Canyon, which would be our camp for the night.We got water half way through the day by stopping at the Thomas Ranch. The Thomas Ranch is run by some of the sweetest people I have ever met.  John and his wife  live on the ranch and have for many years. They purchased the property from a flyer they happened to receive in the mail many years before.  They ranched the property and lived in a large open shed that they converted into their living space.  Everything was beautiful, compartmentalized, and decorated with antique, family pictures as well as an old west looking ‘outhouse’ inside.  It was truly a wonderful place.  We sat and talked with them for about two hours. We chatted about all the hikers that had come through the property since they started hosting visitors in the late 90’s.  They had nothing but good things to say about hikers and the visitors they have had over the years.  John told us stories about his time being a medic in Korea, expressing how proud he was of his service and his continued mission work around the world.  John and his wife had so much love for each other, which glowed from their faces and their bodies, it was truly a wonderful place to rest our weary bodies.  After the two hours of great conversation, we continued on our road walk until dark when we reached the Canyon and setup camp for the night.

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John and his wife with Peter at the Thomas Ranch

The next day, we headed up and over the ridge to Sand Canyon. Sand Canyon as you can expect was lots of walking on road and sand that just sapped the energy out of you.  Virgo was a faster hiker than me, so he took off and we didn’t see him again until we arrived at Grants.  Everyone has their own hiking style, so it was fine with me.  We continued down the canyon and eventually started our road walk to the Rim Trail which gives a great overlook of the Ventana Arch and the expansive volcanic area called El Malpais National Monument.  The black basalt terrain was created over the past million years from volcanic forces that created this vast landscape of cones, trenches and caves. The black volcanic rock was tough to walk on and proved to be too much for my shoes. Walking on the jagged surface cut up the bottom of my shoes which welcomed sand to enter them at any time.  The going was slow, but the beauty of the landscape and its tough terrain was a great change of pace.  After the four hours of walking across the El Malpais, we entered our final canyon which would take us to Grants the next day.

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Ventana Arch is New Mexico’s second-largest natural arch

We camped that night off to the side of the forest road with Michigan Wolverine who had caught up to us towards the end of our hike in the Malpais. The next day, we continued on the forest road but not before spotting my second snake of the trip. It was sunning itself on the road and didn’t seem to mind that we were near it until we stood and stared at it.  It was still a young snake, so its rattle wasn’t loud and it didn’t seem too afraid of us.

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Peter with a pile of volcanic rocks at El Malpais National Monument

Walking into Grants, I was happy to back in a town that provided me with the opportunity to rest and relax before the next section of the trail.  We stayed at the Travel Inn which was a good cheap place where we were able to do laundry. Our laundry needed lots of pre-soaking before we could actually wash our clothes because washing machines are designed for normal humans, not thru hikers.

 

 

 

 

Peter on the CDT – Doc Campbells to Pie Town (Segment 4)

For 2013 Hyperlite Mountain Gear is sponsoring one thru-hiker on each of the Appalachian Trail (AT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and Pacific Coastal Trail (PCT).  Here’s the fourth update from the trail by Peter, Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s sponsored CDT hiker.  Peter (trail name, “CzechXpress”) will keep all of us up do date with periodic posts and pictures from his journey.  We hope you’ll check in regularly to follow Peter along the trail!

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Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s sponsored CDT hiker Peter (trail name “CzechXpress”)

Being at Doc Campbell’s was a great milestone of my trip. I knew that if I made it there then I was making good progress to make it across New Mexico and to my eventual goal of Canada. At Docs, I picked up my resupply box that my sister had prepared for me with little surprises of good chocolates and notes from home that were welcomed motivation to keep going.  Knowing that people back home are supportive of my hike really keeps me going and the positive encouragement helps you stay connected to home.

After staying the night in the campgrounds and soaking in the local hot springs to loosen my aching muscles, we did the road walk up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings Visitor Center. Walking this far and passing up such an incredible piece of local history that is only an extra two miles walk away was not an option.

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Doc Campbell’s Post Vacation Center

The dwellings were a spectacular sight, snuggled up on the rock facing south with the light hitting the interior of the caves.  Over 700 years ago, the Mogollon’s (ancient ancestors of the Puebloen people) inhabited this site. The caves at Gila are considered to be everything from ceremonial sites, permanent dwellings, to only seasonal residence.  While inside the caves with the petroglyphs, the dark ceilings from the fires and the intricate construction of the homes that once stood there offer a visually stunning experience as well as a unique look into the area’s history.

Following my visit to the dwellings, I took an alternate route towards the Middle Fork of the Gila River, coming out of a slot canyon to its wonderful high walls and its beautiful flowing river.  The river was breath-taking and I couldn’t wait to start getting my feet wet with the upcoming endless river crossings.

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Gila Cave Dwellings- Over 700 years old!

After repacking my backpack (just in case I fell in while making a crossing), I put my sleeping bag, clothes, and electronics in protective cases, then secured them in a plain old garbage bag. I started the winding trail through the Gila, crossing from dry trail to dry trail. The water depths of the rivers varied from ankle height all the way to waist height. Having my feet and legs constantly wet was a nice change from the hot and sandy desert.  Unfortunately, dealing with wet feet all day brought along new challenges. Loose skin on my feet and more rocks in my shoes slowed me down a tad, the best course of action was to dry my socks and feet at night to prevent blisters. With high cliff walls, a winding river, fresh water, and remarkably cool temperatures, the rest of the Gila was phenomenal. In total, I completed 147 river crossings before hitting the end of the trail and getting back into the open valley’s ahead.

 

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Peter gets his feet wet while sporting his ultralight Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider

After the Gila’s we entered into the open plains again and towards higher mountains that rises above the valley floor, following new CDT trails and forest roads towards the highway that takes you to Reserve.  Passing through burn area that had used blazes like you see on the AT for trail markers made it very difficult to navigate through.  The blazes were chopped into the tree, but of course this was burned as well and blended with the rest of the tree.  Losing the trail here was easy to do and took me extra time to make it through the section down to the highway.

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Peter gives the CDT two thumbs up!

Once down at the highway, I made a failed attempt to hitch to Reserve to surrender to my craving for town food.  After three hours of attempting to get a ride, I gave up and slept in the trees eating my sad rice and tuna dinner versus the big steak I had been envisioning for days. The next morning, I got up and headed into the Apache Forest on my way to Pie town and the famed Toaster house I had heard so much about.  I had been following the Ley route the entire way but, heard the official route was new and nice so I decided to go that way.  After about 3 hours of constant winding around the hills, I got frustrated and bushwacked back to Ley’s route and continued from there.

The official route is nice, don’t get me wrong but thru hikers don’t want to take the scenic route, we just want to get there already.  So after climbing Mangas Mountain and coming back down the other side, I made a push to make it into Pie Town before the Cafe would close.  That morning, I decided to hike the 30.5 miles to the Toaster House, which would be my longest day of hiking ever.  The trail was good and the roads were easy to follow but the road just kept going on and on and on with no end in sight.  With only  five more miles to go, I made the final push in the dark to reach the Toaster house at 9:30 pm.  I was greeted by two CDT bikers and a fridge full of Tostinos pizzas which I ate two of, drank about a gallon of water and  then crashed in one of the beds.  The Toaster house is an neat place to visit. The owner Nita is a wonderful woman who leaves the house open for all weary travelers to enjoy. The people are colorful and very welcoming, while the pie was just flat out amazing.  The Toaster house is truly like a CDT hall of fame and I only wished the walls could talk….

 

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Pie Town, New Mexico

 

Peter on the CDT – Emory Pass to Doc Campbells (Segment 3)

For 2013 Hyperlite Mountain Gear is sponsoring one thru-hiker on each of the Appalachian Trail (AT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and Pacific Coastal Trail (PCT).  Here’s the third update from the trail by Peter, Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s sponsored CDT hiker.  Peter (trail name, “CzechXpress”) will keep all of us up do date with periodic posts and pictures from his journey.  We hope you’ll check in regularly to follow Peter along the trail!

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The CzechXpress on the trail!

After a well deserved zero day (no miles logged) in Silver City, it was time to leave the comforts of the city and get back on the trail. We packed up our gear which was scattered around the hotel room and grabbed our freshly made sign “Hikers to Emory Pass” to hitch out of town.  I stood right outside of the Motel 6 after seeing other hikers getting hitches from that same spot the day before.  After about 2 hours in the morning sun a nice lady in a pickup stopped and said she could take us the 15 miles to the intersection with the highway that leads to the pass.  We hoped into the back of the truck, trying to hide our bodies from the passing cars not knowing if it was legal to ride in the back of pickups in New Mexico.

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Hunkered down in the bed of a pick-up.

After getting dropped off, another car that had seen us hitching earlier gave us a ride a further 15 miles to the final intersection of the road.  At this point any passing car would have to go by the pass.  It was another 2 1/2 hours of standing now in the beating afternoon sun to get our final ride to the pass, ending our 5 hr hitch back to where we’d gotten off the trail.

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Into the Gila Nat’l Forest after a well deserved zero day.
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The local wildlife seemed happy to see me back and making progress along the CDT.

After a quick snack I hiked 5 miles up to the summit of Hillsboro Peak which stands at 10,011 feet and has a fire lookout tower and an open cabin that anyone can stay in.

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The 10,011 foot summit of Hillsboro Peak complete with fire tower and hikers cabin.
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View from the Hillsboro Peak fire tower at sunset.
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At over 10,000 feet there’s snow left in the shady spots on Hillsboro Peak, even this far south!

Its cabin at the summit of Hillsboro Peak is great, with a wood stove, two chairs, bunk beds and a front porch that invites you to sit and stay for awhile.

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“Nicotine” checking out the luxurious digs at the summit cabin on Hillsboro Peak.

The night on Hillsboro was my best night of the CDT so far. A hiker known by the trail name Nicotine and I hung out and made dinner, then played poker under the beam of my headlamp using rocks as poker chips. The wind howled outside as we sat comfortably inside snacking on our newest resupply and wishing we had a six-pack to go with this game.

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All you need for a few hands of hiker’s poker.

In the morning we headed down the mountain.  It was tough going. The trails were indistinct and and hard to follow because of many merging trails and seemingly misplaced cairns that made things even more confusing.

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We continued regardless just checking our maps frequently to make sure our eyes matched what the map & compass was saying. Taking an alternate trail that we could tell was newer then the rest, saving us what we thought would be 4 miles, ended up taking us up and over more peaks then we thought it would.

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After a couple of hours and a lot more elevation logged than we originally planned, we popped out at the road that we had to reach to make it down into Mimbres.  We walked the ridge road until about 5 miles from Mimbres.

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While walking the road into Mimbres and a pickup stopped close by.  The driver introduced himself as Steve, told us he’d hosted hikers in the past, offered a shower at his place and clean water — I couldn’t turn that down!

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Posing on the porch with Steve, another “trail angel” who provided a much needed shower.

After a quick shower I continued on my way stopping by the Elk X-ing Café, where I destroyed a burger.

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The Elk X-Ing Cafe, purveyors of fine burgers.
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Burger inhaled, now back to the trail.

Continuing the hike up Allie Canyon and then connecting with Sheeps Coral Canyon, and then finally hooking up with the official route we headed towards the the lower Gila.  The lower Gila was like entering the garden of Eden with its flowing clear water that was the most abundant source of water on the trail.

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The area around the river was such a welcomed change from the scarcity I’d been facing since the start. The lower Gila was gorgeous with its beautiful water,  tall trees and canyon walls that change colors depending on the time of day.

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There are numerous spots where a river crossing is necessary, a refreshing change from the sand and heat that had been attacking my feet. Hiking the next 2 days along the Gila on the way to Doc Campbells recharged my batteries and brought me back to hiking and away from just the daily grind of making miles.

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Aahhhhhhhh!

Getting to Docs was another step in this long process but I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the next section.

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Peter on the CDT – Deming to Emory Pass (Segment 2)

For 2013 Hyperlite Mountain Gear is sponsoring one thru-hiker on each of the Appalachian Trail (AT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and Pacific Coastal Trail (PCT).  Here’s the second update from the trail by Peter, Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s sponsored CDT hiker.   Peter will keep all of us up do date with periodic posts and pictures from his journey.  We hope you’ll check in regularly to follow Peter along the trail!

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Thru hiking is demanding on the body.  I learned that on section 1 of my hike and continue to learn that as I keep progressing on this trail.  I left Deming after taking a “Zero Day” (no hiking — zero miles covered) and got my knee to feel a little better before leaving town.  The knee brace I bought at Walmart didn’t exactly do the trick for me as I left Deming, and started the next section of my hike leading to Emory Pass.  I left in good spirits hiking the highway out of town to the residential section north of Deming following my map to the first landmark, an old broken down windmill.  From here I have to admit I got a little lost, trudging cross country in the brush and heat to a point that was not there when I thought it should be.

P1000261After about 3 hrs of hiking I finally realized I was walking in the wrong direction.  I was far off my intended mark.  Frustrated, I threw my pack down on the hard sand that constantly surrounded me and took my bearings as best as I could read my map.  I climbed a high fence looking for some my next landmark on the horizon.

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I was looking for a gate and a broken cow tank which I thought would be easy to spot.  After a long look an object shinned in the distance and I took that as a sign that I should head in that direction.  I got my pack back on, climbed under the barbed wired fence that wanted a piece of my flesh and walked 3 miles cross country to what turned out to be (!) the fence and old cow tank I had been looking for.  Getting lost is a once a day thing on the trail and that was my one for the day.

Odd things seen in the desert:  insect nicotine fiends.
Odd things seen in the desert: insect nicotine fiends.

About 2 hours after reaching my shiny beacon in the desert, I was greeted by other CDT hikers who were going my way and they happily invited me to join them.  I was happy for the company and excited to have some other hikers to talk with.  Its great to think you can go at it alone but, having others to suffer (or have fun) with out there is a great feeling.  They were a couple from Seattle who had been talked into doing the trail by some friends and a guy from Austria who had flipped a coin to either do the CDT or PCT — tails it was.

New friends.
New friends.

We spent the next 4 days hiking together, sharing our stories and experiencing the trail.  We passed through ranches, scrubby dark black hills and open desert.  We went from water source to water source looking for windmills in the distance which are your lifeline out there.  The wind is your companion as you hike.  Its a relentless partner, blowing the sand, debris and cow funk into your face all day, every day with no let up.  I camped several timed behind the cow water tanks just to get a break.  The downside to these campsites is that you’re surrounded by cow poo — which is not appealing at all, but surprisingly you get use to it quickly.  Purell also becomes my best friend….

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My gear and body has been tested on this trip and everything has held up well so far.  My right ankle is twice as big as my left and my knee hurts but, Tylenol takes care of that.  My gear such as my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider pack is taking the beating with the thorns, brush and sand constantly trying to break it ever minute.  Every plant out here is like its own fortress, protecting what it has, not wanting anyone to get anything for free, so its covered in long, sharp and pointy thorns that seem to be reaching out to scratch you.  The cuben fiber construction of my Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack has held up great with no tears or fractures and the hip belt is in a place that just perfectly wraps my hips so no adjustment is needed.  My clothes become filthy quickly but hey, its my funk so I can live with it.

HMG's Windrider Pack -- getting it done for me on the CDT.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Windrider Pack — getting it done for me on the CDT.

After two days we finally reached the hills with trees — actual living trees(!) to give you much need shade from the blazing sun in the afternoon.

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I’ve created a little afternoon mandatory siesta to get out of the mid-day sun for a little while and recharge the batteries.  Its great to rest a bit, nap and take off my shoes and socks to prevent any more blisters from getting created.

Wear and tear.
Wear and tear.

We found an old abandoned house that had stacks of old National Enquirers from 1986-1992 which were interesting.  I read an article about how O.J’s wife is worried he’s cheating on her… I wonder how that worked out???

Time capsule.
Time capsule.

The hills brought a great change of scenery from the constant sand but brought some navigational challenges as well.  At only a day and a half away from Emory Pass I was excited to finally get to town.  Making the final push I we walked faster then normal but then lack of water slowed us down to a screeching stop.  The two water sources we were counting on were either broken or the spring was not running because of a 3-year long drought that has crippled this area of the country.  With no water I made the last 7 miles dreaming of water.

Parched and heading into town.
Parched and heading into town.

Its amazing how thirsty you can become after physically exerting yourself on only the last 2 oz of water you had left.  I finally made it to Emory Pass early in the morning and got a hitch from a nice couple from Arizona.  After slamming a gallon of water I rested, getting ready for the next leg of the hike, the Gila Wilderness.  I can’t wait for the change of scenery and more water… or at least I hope there will be more water.

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An Intro to Peter – Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s 2013 Sponsored Continental Divide Trail Hiker

For 2013 Hyperlite Mountain Gear is sponsoring one thru-hiker on each of the Appalachian Trail (AT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  Hyperlite Mountain Gear chose its sponsored hikers for the CDT and PCT from hundreds of written applications and we’re excited to follow along with each of them as they hike their chosen trail.  Later in the year we’ll select our AT hiker while we’re at the Trail Days Show in Damascus, VA.  Learn more about Peter, our CDT hiker below.  After this initial blog post, Peter will keep all of us up do date with periodic posts and pictures from his journey.  We hope you’ll check in regularly to follow Peter along the trail!

 

My name is Peter, I’m 34 years old and I am doing my first thru hike in 2013 when I begin a five-month trek north bound on the CDT starting April 20th. I’ve been dreaming about doing the CDT for over 10 years and have put my life in order this year to make my dream a reality.  I’m tired of dreaming, I’m ready to start doing.  Over the past year I’ve forced my big butt off the couch and set a goal to get in good physical & mental shape for the challenge. I’ve lost 60 + pounds since starting my training for the trail, all while struggling with my life long battle with Crohn’s disease.

I’m very excited to be a part of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear team and I hope that you will follow me as I make my way along the Divide.  I’ll be posting frequently about whats  happening during the different sections of my hike.  It won’t be all rainbow’s and butterfly’s I’m sure but, I promise to give you the real details on what its like out there. So follow me here or on Twitter and Facebook at Couch2CDT or my other blog at couchtocdt.wordpress.com.

Before I headed out to Capitol Reef National Park last week, I got in the mail my new backpack by Hyperlite Mountain Gear.  They are based out of Biddeford, ME and they specialize in Cuben Fiber equipment, including backpacks, tarps/shelters and stuff sacks.  They’ve won several awards for their equipment including for the pack that I now have, 3400 Windrider.

Windrider 3400 Smaller

This pack is beautiful.  If you haven’t seen or handled Cuben fiber before, it feels like paper and you wonder how durable it really is.  Once you start looking more closely at it, you know that this thing is built to last.  The pack is waterproof, with its roll top, weatherproof storm closure system that keeps everything nice and dry on the inside.  At 3400 cubic inches it will be able to hold every piece of gear that I will need for my thru hike, plus some.  When I don’t need all that room, the pack’s cinch straps bring everything down to a more manageable size.  The weight difference between the 2400 and 3400 is only 1.7 oz, which I feel is negligible.  If I had the 2400 and needed more room I’d run the risk of having to put too many things in the 3 mesh pouches on the outside. That could put off the balance of the pack, which would likely cause pain and discomfort.  The pack comes with comfortably thick shoulder pads that were nicely spaced for my shoulders and hip pads that wrapped around very comfortably with my 35 lb test load.  The hip belt has two water resistant hip pockets that are great for snacks and your camera.   The durable body of the pack comes with two removable aluminum stays that add comfort and shape to the pack.  I’m going to be trying out this pack with and without the stays, as I’ve only used frameless packs for the past 8 years.

Full loaded with 35lbs of gear
Full loaded with 35lbs of gear

During the Capitol Reef trip, I stuffed the pack with more gear then I needed to.  When I get a new pack I don’t like to treat it gently because that’s just not how I treat packs.  I toss it around, throw it on the ground, scrape it against canyon walls and have virtually no respect for it whatsoever.  During this 3 day trip and the initial abuse it got, it did great.  No scuffs, no tears and no problems so far.  I’m headed back out to Utah next weekend for my birthday and to test out what I think will be my final gear set for the CDT.  So far this pack has impressed me tremendously, which is great, since it will be like my home for the next 5 months – always on my back and holding everything I need to make it.  I’m already starting to feel confident with this pack and look forward to many long days with it on my back.

Testing out hanging my Nomad 7 Solar Charger from the back of the pack
Testing out hanging my Nomad 7 Solar Charger from the back of the pack

Why and how to get light?

A trail report from Yellowstone and thoughts on “going light” from two of Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s favorite customers, WK and DK.

Hiking light with the Porter Pack at Mystic Falls, Yellowstone.

Our initial outing with the Porter Packs was a familiar three day two night trip.  Yellowstone offers amazing scenery and terrain best enjoyed by the freedoms provided with a light pack.

Several years ago, after sustaining a knee strain on day one of a seven day hike from Yellowstone’s south entrance station with the goal of reaching the park border east of the Thoroughfare region of Yellowstone on the other side of the Absaroka Mountains we decided to change our hiking techniques.  By day four, the 60+ pound load had taken it’s toll on my knee, forcing an abandonment of the trip deep in the Thoroughfare region of Yellowstone.  Instead of proceeding East to our planned exit, we had to detour directly north along the east shore of Yellowstone Lake.  Miles from assistance with an injury that rendered flexion of the knee almost impossible, we made the decision to lighten our load for the emergency hike out by jettisoning as much weight as possible.  That night, having arrived at the southern tip of the Southeast arm of Yellowstone Lake, we built a campfire and burned all our excess food and supplies.  Only the M&M’s were rescued from the Gorp.  Carefully calculating the exact rations we’d need to reach the trail head, we burned any and all fully combustible items to eradicate weight.  The following morning we successfully completed our emergency evacuation.  Rehabilitation of the knee took several months.  We realized at that point, that a lighter load meant increased enjoyment, safety and ability to mobilize in event of an emergency.  We began our journey to never carry more than twenty five pounds again.
Read the rest of the article!

Katahdin – Northern End of the Appalachian Trail

Another through hike update from our friend “Patches” — End-to-end on the Appalachian Trail (AT) with Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider . . .

Well, they say that all good things must come to an end.   Unfortunately for this thru-hiker, that also goes for my thru hike.  4.5 months after leaving Springer Mountain in Georgia, I walked up to the large wooden sign on top of Katahdin and ended my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  It is insane to me that it’s over.  I summited last Friday, July 13th at 4:37 am.  I’ve hiked Katahdin many times in the past so I decided that getting up there for sunrise would be a nifty way to change it up for my thru-hike.  Best decision ever.  It was absolutely stunning and allowed me to take it all in by myself for a few hours before the rest of my crew arrived.  It was a gorgeous day, as had been the entire week leading up to it.  Let me tell you about that.

After leaving Monson, ME on July 7th we entered the 100-mile wilderness.  I’ve never hiked in the 100-mile before and all I’ve heard is that it’s all bog board, mud and roots. I would strongly disagree with that.  I’d call it beautiful.  Simply beautiful.  From sunrise at Barren Ledges to the first great view of Katahdin from Whitecap and swimming in ponds and streams in between, the first two days rocked.  The last 2.5 days were also great.  The trail mellowed out a bit, which was a nice break for my legs.  We camped at some great camp sites and continued to get amazing views of Katahdin.  The group I’ve been hiking with since MA/VT was still together and we picked up another hiker for the last week.  We hiked together throughout the 100-mile and into Baxter.

Upon exiting the 100-mile Wilderness, we camped at Abol Bridge Campground and then enjoyed an EASY 10 mile day on Thursday over to Katahdin Stream Campground.  That was it.  That was our last night together on the trail.  I wanted to keep hiking with these guys for a long while, but everyone else was ready to be done.  I wasn’t ready.  A huge part of me was thinking of turning around and hiking back to the Whites (then I remembered how tough southern Maine was).  I decided I’d be done, too.  I’d say bye to my friends.  Friends who had become my family, my support system, my cheerleaders.  It is difficult to adequately explain the community and bonds that form on the Appalachian Trail.  For many of us, it is a dream, an experience of a lifetime.  A journey that is difficult to convey to those who are not on it.  I hope that my words and pictures have done justice to my journey.  I hope you  have a taste of what it is like to hike the AT and perhaps you are inspired to get out there and do a little more hiking yourself.

Climbing Katahdin in the middle of the night

Summiting! –> Definitely check out this video.  This is DEF not the reaction I thought I’d have upon reaching the end.  I’m normally an icy gal when it comes to emotions.  Who would’ve thought?!?!

Thanks for sharing in the journey!!  And a HUGE thank you to Mike and the fine folks at Hyperlite Mountain Gear for hooking me up with the Windrider pack and cheering me on in my journey!

Much love,

Patches

…The Way Life Should Be

Another update from our friend “Patches” — End-to-end on the Appalachian Trail with Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider . . .

Wow.  I’m not only in Maine, I’m about to enter the 100-mile Wilderness.  I couldn’t really tell you where the last 10 days have gone, but they have flown by and I suddenly find myself at an amazing hostel on the shore of Lake Hebron in Monson, ME.

Maine has been difficult and beautiful and rainy and my favorite state.  I think it’s my favorite for all of the above reasons and the fact that it has really pushed me to my limits.  It has rained 10 of the last 14 days at some point. No worries, my Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack keeps all of my gear dry sans pack cover.  Just saying.  Of course, in typical “Patches’ style, I have been keeping up with the boys, doing big miles and the like.  The climbs in Maine have been tough.  Rock climbing and scrambling, butt sliding down sheer granite in the rain.  Cowboy camping at some beautiful locations, amazing sunsets and sunrises.  Swimming multiple times a day, every day.  Fording rivers.  Yes, Maine is wonderful and is most definitely the way life should  be.

I’m not sure how I feel about being so close to the end.  I’m not an emotional person and it often takes a while for stuff to sink in/for me to realize the magnitude of certain situations.  I’m going to just keep on trekking for now…

Peace and Love.

Patches

I guess I’m having a kinda ok time…

Another Appalachian Trail update from our friend “Patches” — putting miles of the trail behind her and carrying Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider . . .

I LOVE New Hampshire. It’s the place I now consider home and it’s where I feel most at home. And it feels so friggin good to be back. Even with my feet shredded and the skin under my toes and on the balls of my feet raw, I have a smile on my face..BECAUSE I’M IN THE WHITES!!!

The hike from Hanover to Moosilauke was good. Climbed up Smarts Mt. at dusk to sleep in the cabin at the summit, got great views from Cube Mt and called Big Norm on Father’s day. Spent a long time in a lake on the north side of Cube, ate pizza in Warren. You know, the usual. We managed to find a deli/general store most days until the Whites. Awesome. I’m still hiking with Tetris, Squatch and Metro. They are great and hilarious and my majority level has fallen to match theirs, so I’m currently like a 23 year old dude. We drop “that’s what she said” like it’s our job. So it goes.

We got to Moosilauke on Monday. When I got to the summit, I saw a guy in a cowboy hat sitting with my crew. It took me a second to realize it was my friend Jeff. He had mentioned meeting up with me a few times on the trail, but never followed through, so when he asked me when I’d be up on Moosilauke, I doubted he’d meet up, but BAM, he was there, and it was SO good to see him. I ran and gave him a big hug and he hiked down with us, brought us to Lincoln, and camped out with us that night. Wonderful.

From Moosilauke, it was up and over the Kinsmans to Lonesome Lake. We weren’t planning on staying at Lonesome, but we got there and I ran into my friend James, my boss/friend from the Huts. It was pretty nifty to enter the hut and see him there. We ended up doing some work for food/short stay. We slept a few hours at Lonesome and left at midnight to hike down to Franconia Notch and up to the ridge to catch sunrise on the solstice. We did. It was great. We then hiked Franconia ridge super early and celebrated the solstice in style. By the time I got to Lafayette (10 miles by 8 am), I decided to find shelter from the wind behind a rock and passed out for an hour an a half. I only woke up and moved on because I ended up shivering and decided it may be wiser to move below treeline…where the temperature was in the 80s and HOT. I slogged through the miles to get to Galehead Hut and passed out on a bench there for a bit (after eating some awesome leftover lasagna). We did work for stay and got a second dinner, hung out with the crew a little bit and hit the hay. I awoke early the next day because I was SOOOOOO excited to cover the miles between Galehead and route 302 and get to Bartlett. Here I am. Hiding from the 90+ degree heat at my family’s house, with Metro, Squatch and Tetris, loving life. Tomorrow: THE PRESIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wahooooooooooo.

How much stuff can a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack stuff?

Max Neale, a Review Editor for Outdoor Gear Lab, shares how he uses Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack. 

I’ve been living traveling with and living out of Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack for the past six months. This started in late December when a gear swap with Hyperlite Mountain Gear Co-Founder Mike St. Pierre landed me four cuben fiber Stuff Packs. Two made of  CF 11 and two from the cuben fiber/ nylon blend. I gave one away as a gift and have been loaning the others out to friends, and using them myself… nearly everyday. Throughout this time, and in hopes of answering the “how much stuff can a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack stuff?” I’ve put the versatile devices to use for just about everything.

Gear explosion. Note the white Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack and Windrider pack.

While traveling in Turkey for two months I used a CF 11 Stuff Pack as a daypack and to store clothes and my sleeping bag. Since returning stateside I’ve been living out my car, and out of Stuff Packs. They serve as exceptionally good stuff sacks; one houses my street clothes for looking decent in public and the other, a portion of my technical outerwear. Though not the most economical storage vessel, Stuff Packs have several advantages over duffel bags and large compression sacks: 1) they’re completely waterproof and can be set down in dirt, on wet ground, and left outside without spoiling the bag’s contents; 2) their shape (a square with rounded edges) and moderate size allows them to pack efficiently in a vehicle; 3) without any zippers or straps they slide easily over other things like backpacks, duffels, and other Stuff Packs; 4) their rolltop closure is waterproof, pickpocket-proof (someone would have to cut the bag in order to steal something), and the buckle provides an easy way to attach the bag to things like trees (for hanging food); and 5) their straps allow them to be used as a backpack, which has an infinite number of applications.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear bags: Tote Bag, three Stuff Packs, and the Windrider backpack.

My most recent trip with the Stuff Pack was a bicycle tour down the California coast. A friend and I rode 450 some miles from San Francisco to Ventura (just north of Los Angeles). We approached the trip from the usual perspective: carry as little as possible, but instead of going fast, our goal was to go slow and see the as much of the coast as possible. Critically, all of my stuff fit inside a Stuff Pack.

How much stuff? Answer- I stuffed all of this stuff into one Stuff Pack:

  • Shelter: Terra Nova Solar Photon 2 (lightest self-supporting tent in the world)
  • Sleep: 2 Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite pads, Katabatic Gear Palisade quilt, Feathered Friends Rock Wren bag
  • Cook: MSR Micro Rocket, MSR Titan 2.3L pot, Snow Peak Ti Sporks, bottled olive oil, salt, pepper, Aqua Mira, 4L MSR Dromedary
  • Wear: Arcteryx Alpha FL hardshell, Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer down jacket, Ibex Hooded Indie wool shirt, DeFeet Aireator socks, jeans, long sleeve button down.

This was my first bike tour. It was a blast!! Unlike extended trips in the mountains, you can go to a grocery store at the end of a long day, and biking is so much faster than walking. Here are some photos:

Departing San Francisco.
Big Sur Coast at the Bixby Bridge
Campsite at Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur. Note the Stuff Pack at right.
The Stuff Pack, with all of the items listed above, on the flight home from LA.

Six months after my initial gear swap the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Packs are still going strong. What I thought would be a good gift has turned into piece of gear I use almost everyday. Whether packing a large sleeping bag, storing food, clothing, or carrying gear on a bike trip, the Stuff Pack has turned into a go-to piece. It’s one of the most versatile items I own.

Go Ahead Feel the Earth Beneath Your Feet

Perhaps you’ve felt this way before. The world you live in is not the world you feel comfortable in. Cell phones, iPads, computers, and plasma TV’s begin to edge us away from our reality. Living in our world can be fast paced and often leaves us feeling disconnected. Take heart we can all step away from technology just by stepping outside. Whether you set off to hike a local trail or tackle the Appalachian Trail, we can all reconnect to the natural world and bring ourselves back to the present. Go ahead feel the earth beneath your feet, smell the spruce trees, hear the stream running, breathe some fresh mountain air.

Take the time, it will be worth it. Read the rest of the article here.

Post-PCT Echo I and II review

Hi, my name is Dave. In September 2010 I completed a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). For about 1,300 miles of the hike I used Hyperlite Mountain Gear shelters:  the Echo I Tarp and Insert for 650 miles (from Agua Dulce to South Lake Tahoe) and the Echo II Tarp and Beak for 650 miles (from South Lake Tahoe to Ashland). The Echo II was shared with another person for 450 miles.  The following is my review of both shelter systems.

Echo I Tarp and Insert

I used the Echo I tarp and insert in the southern California desert and the Sierra Nevada mountains from mid-May to late June (note that I did not have the beak, as the prototype version I was testing at the time was not compatible with a beak). Overall the weather was good for the duration of use, with only a few sporadic showers, one half-inch snowfall, and one night-long drizzle. The shelter did face a lot of wind in the desert and condensation/frost in the mountains.

The Echo I sets up quickly and easily with a minimum six stakes and two trekking poles (or sticks) and can be very easily tightened and adjusted. It is by far the easiest tarp I have pitched in the wind. The catenary cut is excellent and sheds wind beautifully, provided the tarp is pitched drum tight. If it is not pitched tight in breezy conditions, the tarp will make an interesting but rather obnoxious vibrating sound all night long. This was never an issue when pitched tightly. Staking out the guy lines in the center of each side helps prevent this as well, so if you’ll be camping in windy areas, do yourself a favor and carry the two extra stakes (meaning eight stakes in total). This tarp will pull very hard on the stakes, so use something strong, such as MSR Groundhogs or 9” Easton Aluminums. The tarp comes with linelocks for each guy line, which I really liked, as they make tarp adjustment incredibly easy. If linelocks are not your thing, they can be easily removed.

As far as coverage, the tarp by itself covers one person with gear well enough to stay dry in a light or moderate storm, especially if the beak is used, but plan to get damp in a wind-driven rain. The tarp by itself would work great with a bivy sack. Using the tarp with the insert provides much better weather protection, stops the wind almost completely if pitched right, and protects better against pooling water than many tents. The insert is designed to fit no more than one person, so bringing gear inside is pretty cramped but possible. Gear stuffed under the tarp outside the insert will probably get damp or wet, unless it is placed under the beak. If stormy weather is likely, I would highly recommend using the beak, which will protect the user from getting soaked if the wind changes direction (without it, I felt somewhat vulnerable, as the user’s head is not far back from the end of the tarp and the door at the head of the insert is mostly mesh). I never had condensation issues under the tarp with or without the insert, although air flow was noticeably better without it.

One minor issue I did have involved the foot of my sleeping bag getting wet due to a very light drizzle drifting in through the mesh at the foot end of the insert, despite my having pitched the foot end of the tarp low. While this was not a big deal in the SoCal desert, it would have been a bigger problem had it been in Washington, where I hiked through several consecutive days of 40 degree rain and drizzle and keeping my sleeping bag dry was critical. A couple simple solutions would have prevented this: 1) replace the first foot or two of mesh extending back along the sidewalls from the foot of the insert with cuben, or 2) offer a second beak for the foot of the tarp.

Predictably, what I liked best about the Echo I shelter system is its modularity, which makes it versatile to a range of conditions and personal preferences. I was able to use the two components I had (tarp and insert) in several different combinations to match a variety of conditions (note that the insert by itself can be used as an excellent and durable groundcloth or can be pitched independently as a bug tent or even used as a bivy sack for bug protection in a pinch). Using the beak would allow even more combinations and therefore more versatility. I’ll discuss this a bit more later.

Echo II Tarp and Beak

I switched to the Echo II Tarp in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains along the PCT and carried it until southern Oregon, a distance of about 650 miles, from late June to late July. I switched to the Echo II in part because my girlfriend would soon be joining me on the trail, necessitating a two-person shelter, and in part because I was interested in trying a slightly different style of shelter (larger tarp with a beak but no insert). Weather conditions were good most nights this tarp was used, with some wind and a few sporadic showers being the worst of it. Since the Echo II shelter system is simply a wider version of the Echo I, most of the comments I made for the Echo I also apply to the Echo II.

To date, the Echo II tarp with beak (and without the insert) is my favorite three-season shelter for one person, provided bugs are not a major issue. Before the bugs hit, it made the perfect PCT shelter, and a simple lightweight bug bivy would have made it useable in the worst of the mosquito swarms. The Echo II tarp weighs only 1.0 oz. more than the Echo I tarp, provides far more coverage, and sheds wind just as well. For one person there is plenty of room to spread out gear and cook, or to recede away from the edges of the tarp during a heavy storm and stay dry. This also means it has a large footprint, so be sure to have lots of room to pitch. Because of the wider coverage, the tarp can be pitched higher in a storm without fear of getting wet, allowing the user to sit fully upright. For a single person, I do not find the insert or a bivy necessary, and would prefer to use the Echo II tarp with beak and no insert over the full Echo I shelter system (again, provided bugs are not a concern).

For two people, I found the Echo II tarp with beak was adequate if very little severe weather was expected. At 14 oz. (including guy lines but not stakes), it is certainly the lightest two person shelter I’ve carried. Space under the Echo II tarp for two people is about the same as it is under the Echo I tarp for one person, meaning in a wind-driven rain with changing wind direction some part of at least one person is likely to get damp (again, that’s without the insert). Bivy sacks would have been appropriate for this kind of use. Without them, and with the tarp pitched low my girlfriend and I were able to fit comfortably underneath, with gear under the beak, and be fairly confident we would stay dry in a moderate rainstorm with little wind or wind only in the direction of the beak. If I were to use the Echo II for two people in areas with high potential for rain, I would definitely want the insert. After 650 miles of use the Echo II still looks almost new, with no visible signs of wear or damage.

I found that when I pitched the tarp with the beak, it was far easier to enter and exit through the open foot end of the tarp rather than through the beak. This made the zipper on the beak pointless when used without the Echo II insert. To save weight, this zipper should be optional.

For the record, the reason we stopped using the Echo II tarp in southern Oregon was because we were being devoured for weeks by a massive cloud of mosquitos every night (sounds dramatic I know, but trust me, it’s an understatement). This was no fault of the tarp, it was simply time to switch to a shelter with full bug protection. Based on my experience with the Echo I, the Echo II insert would have been fine protection against this.

Why would I buy this shelter?

In my opinion, the major selling point of the Echo shelter system is its modularity, which allows the user varying degrees of protection from the elements depending on his/her preference on any particular night. This will be especially beneficial to tarp users, who tend to like a higher level of exposure to nature when it is safe and practical, but on occasion require a higher degree of protection. For instance, most nights that I pitched a shelter along the PCT (with the exception of Washington), the weather was very predictable and I only needed protection from condensation (pitch just the tarp), mosquitos (pitch just the insert), or a possible light shower (pitch just the tarp with beak). For me, a fully-enclosed tent would have been an unnecessary and unwanted barrier between myself and nature; as such, I really enjoyed the versatile nature of the shelter along the trail. Furthermore, switching between these degrees of protection is very quick and simple—the insert can be pinned up, tarp lowered, and beak attached in bad weather in the dark all in a minute or two.

This modularity also allows versatile use of the gear from one trip to another, which is great for people who don’t want to own lots of different shelters. In other words, the three components (tarp, insert, and beak) compose one complete shelter system, but not all three parts need to be used on every trip, depending on the expected conditions. So while a 22 oz. Tarptent Sublite Sil might be well-suited to rainy Washington, for me it is overkill for simple protection from condensation or a fairly unlikely rainstorm in northern California in July. With the Echo I shelter system, I could carry all three components (24 oz.) in Washington and just the 8 oz. tarp in NorCal, thus adapting a single shelter system to multiple conditions and allowing me to shed unnecessary weight. I think of this as a lot like dressing in layers rather than using a heavy parka while hiking in cool weather.

Other thoughts/suggestions

The following are some additional thoughts on the Echo shelter system:

I would recommend replacing the stock guy lines with something lighter and more reflective.

If I was going to make one suggestion to Hyperlite Mountain Gear, it would be this: offer an optional second beak for the foot end of the tarp. With only one beak, the head end of the tarp (and therefore the entrance) gets pitched into the wind. I don’t like sleeping headfirst into the wind, especially when I have to use the bathroom at night during a wind-driven rain. Having a second beak would eliminate the need to carry the insert in many cases and address concerns over changing wind conditions. Additionally, make the beak zipper optional. If using just one beak, it is generally easier to enter/exit through the open end of the tarp, making the zipper unnecessary weight.

If I was going to make one other suggestion to Hyperlite Mountain Gear, it would be to offer a lighter, cheaper bug bivy. The Echo Insert is a very sturdy and well-constructed piece of gear that is great for storm protection, but too heavy and expensive just for simple bug protection. It would be nice to see an additional insert offered that is fully mesh on the sides, has a lighter bottom, and is intended for bug protection only (which is not really worth the cost of more cuben). For me, a single person lightweight all-mesh bug bivy with a silnylon floor would work great with the Echo II tarp.

This was the first cuben fiber equipment of any kind that I have used. I have avoided cuben in the past because I assumed it had a poor cost to durability ratio, and because I failed to see significant benefits over fabrics like silnylon or spinnaker. However after 650 miles of use on two different cuben products I was sold on the durability (I felt the material was slightly more durable than my old silnylon tarp) and came to appreciate the full waterproofness (no misting), lack of sagging, lack of loud crinkling (compared to new spinnaker), and very taut pitch of the cuben fabric. Whether these factors are worth the high price tag is a personal choice of each individual consumer, so I cannot speak to that.

Echo 1 Review

Hendrick from Hiking in Finland product tests the HMG Echo 1 Shelter System while on a trip to Russia. Read the review here.

Hiking in Finland interviews Mike St. Pierre from Hyperlite Mountain Gear

Hyperlite Mountain Gear is a fairly young cottage manufacturer from the USA, with some very innovative cuben tarps and packs and a great looking and very user friendly website. I managed to get in touch with Mike, the founder of Hyperlite Mountain Gear, and he took the time to answer my questions in order for us to get to know Hyperlite Mountain Gear a bit better. It is a great interview and I enjoyed reading Mike’s answers and stories heaps, and I hope you do as well – Enjoy! Read the full interview here.