For just over two years I have been involved in product testing, feedback, and the design process at Hyperlite Mountain Gear in Biddeford, Maine. This has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience, as HMG is pioneering new ground and questioning the status quo in the outdoor industry. If you aren’t familiar, they are providers of lightweight, durable cuben fiber products for efficient movement in the outdoors. HMG is part of a small, but influential group of USA-based manufacturers that are pushing the envelope regarding how we think of gear.
I have now proudly been a HMG ambassador for the last year and thought it was the right time to summarize a year of mountain use with their products. Summer is coming to a close here in Montana, and it is a perfect time for reflection. HMG has been a pleasure to work with – kindly responding to feedback along the way and showing this in revised/often improved products. I wish them continuing success in all of their ventures!
This pictorial representation begins in August 2012 and continues with images from every month of the year, until Aug 2013. A huge thanks to Mike and Dan St. Pierre, along with the rest of the crew at HMG! I humbly present to you a full year of my backcountry use with their mighty-fine gear:
Twelve months and many hundreds of miles of use in the backcountry. Thus far, well done HMG. Thanks for pushing the envelope…and please do keep up the good work!
We are deep into the fifth season here in the Northern Rockies. Over the last 6ish weeks here in SW Montana I have been able to take recreational advantage of the varied spring conditions. Although June is just around the bend and its green in the valleys, there is still some winter to be had in the hills. Notable highlights have been knee deep powder skiing mid-April, Bridger spring corn laps, Hyalite ice climbing last week, and dry (enough) trails down low for running. I’ve been into Yellowstone a couple times recently and also the Tetons. The first green up has just occurred in the YNP and the landscape is looking stunning. Not to mention the ridiculous amount of wildlife seen both in the frontcountry and the backcountry. I hope that everyone is having a great fifth season and is able to get out to enjoy it. Here’s a bunch of pics highlighting my recent spring fun:
Here’s some additional thoughts on the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Pack (initially overviewed here nearly a year ago). The carry needed some help and to that, I gave it. A bit of seam ripping, resewing, and some Seam Grip – now the pack carries much better and is all the more practical as a sub-27 liter, do-it-most, all season pack. It’s great for everything from winter ice cragging to summer overnights, and ski tours to rock climbing. Before the modification, the pack carried ok for weights around 5 pounds. But for anything much more, the pack just didn’t distribute the weight sufficiently. So to the cutting board it went and out came a fairly decent modification.
This little cuben pack from HMG had nearly everything you could need in a sub 10oz package except for its carrying comfort. So I went at it – and came up with a fairly easy fix to a fairly large dilemma. The original design pulled at the one center point of shoulder attachment and thus, pulled inward one’s shoulders unnecessarily after extended use.
This caused an awkward carry at the least, and a sore upper neck/back at the worst. So with some ingenuity and some thread, the shoulder straps got chopped in the middle, reattached at horizontal with ~2.5″ of distance between them, and seam gripped with the addition of a haul loop. This mod now allows for an equal dispersion of pull/weight from the shoulders and therefore for a comfortable carry. I also added a hydration port with an exacto blade and some tenacious tape to complete the mod. Super simple, yet super functional and practical.
As I was revising this post today, I actually received a new version of the Summit Pack in the mail from HMG. No joke! It’s very similar to my modified version pictured above. This latest version has shoulder straps have been adjusted and they seem to be much more comfortable when compared to the initial pack. With a quick once-over, I’m very happy with the new iteration in terms of fit, a more comfortable carry, and a clean aesthetic finish. So, until I can get some miles with it, here’s a couple pics to show you the latest HMG Summit Pack prototype:
There was a party of four on my first objective of Crypt Orchid, so I traversed right and soloed around on Feeding the Cat. The upper portion is somewhat suspect, so I downclimbed without topping out – figuring it was a smart move given the state of the thin ice. It actually had some of the most ice out of all of the upper climbs above the Amphitheater and was well featured and fun.
As a gear related note, I managed to remember to take a photo of my somewhat typical winter upper layering system. The four-layer ensemble in this instance consisted of kit for the teens (°F) for steep hiking over ~four miles (high aerobic exertion) with intermittent climbing/faffing about (low exertion). I find these, and similar layers suitable for other winter pursuits, with mainly the thickness/fabric of said garments being adjusted for variable temps/conditions/applications. Slightly thinner and more breathable for warmer temps and/or higher exertion, and thicker for colder temps and/or lower exertion.
The rest of the day consisted of scoping out the conditions of other notable climbs both high and low. Mummy II is looking to be in, but thin, and The Scepter is broken into a couple of yet-to-be touching daggers.
Besides that, the lower Genesis area had a ton of climbers on it playing around on top-rope both on the newly formed, and still running ice, and also on the dry/mixed routes on the right of the crag. I also checked out Lower Greensleeves, which was not at all in. Up above, it looked like Genesis II was getting close to ready while to the left, Hangover was being climbed in thin conditions. Overall, things are looking up for Hyalite’s ice conditions and should hopefully continue to progress.