August 20, 2012

Factory Tour: Hyperlite Mountain Gear

Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) is a 2011 award recipient of Backpacker Magazine’s “Best Ultralight Backpack”. They are shipping packs, tarps and tents to adventurers in far-flung areas all over the world. I recently dropped in after receiving an e-mail invite for a tour. I was ecstatic to get a hands-on experience with their product lineup and a little behind-the-scenes peek of what's to come.

Mike St. Pierre, a once sound-operator for The Eagles and a New York City chef, turned the simple idea of lessening his hiking loads into a business. That business, HMG is in the process of moving into a new facility with twice the square footage - business is good and it's only year number two. Little did I know a Maine company, located in my backyard, was designing and producing innovative and extremely lightweight outdoor gear for the world market. First-adopters and ultra-light weight hikers caught on instantly to the superior products out of the gate.

Mike and his team of kind folks explained how they shape, cut and stitch the products from sheets of Cuben fiber (a non-woven, low-stretch, rip-stop, waterproof material that weighs 70% less than Kevlar. He lays out a large sheet of fiber and describes how software helps decide how to make best-use of each sheet without leftovers. The cut pieces are then stitched together by experienced hands and formed into gear that can handle almost anything you can put it through.

The cost of each machine throughout the process is enough to blow your mind. This operation is not cheap, nor is the material. For that matter, neither is American labor - but the end product is a work of art and well worth the few extra dollars you'll spend to have the best and lightest U.S.A. gear on the market. 

Please take a moment to visit the Hyperlite Mountain Gear website. I recommend the Echo II Tarp and a Windrider Pack to tote it in.

Hand-drawn patterns a pack that's made it's way up the Appalachian trail (signed by thru-hikers).

Mike explains the fabric as well as different pack models.
I love a tag that says "Made in Maine".

An employee stretches tent material over a vacuum table to hold it still while working.

American craftsmanship at it's best.

Product shots of select gear from the HMG website.


Marshall said...

I saw their backpack in this month's Outside magazine. Seems really nice.

Rhon Bell said...


I'll have to check out the magazine. I can attest that the packs are sturdy and definitely awesome.