Hyperlite Debuts Cuben Fiber Climbing Packs


Hyperlite Mountain Gear founder Mike St. Pierre, testing his products in the White Mountains.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) has just introduced two new backpacks for ice climbing and mountaineering called the Ice Pack and the Porter. They are made using an ultralight non-woven fabric called Cuben Fiber.

Originally developed to make World Cup racing boat sails, Cuban Fiber's durability and light weight make it a natural choice for ultralight backpacks and tarps.

"We're getting a lot of great feedback about these packs from sponsored climbers and expedition guides," said HMG's founder and CEO, Mike St. Pierre. "They also cost much less than other lightweight ice-climbing and mountaineering packs, which are two or three times as expensive."


The Ice Pack (left) and Porter.

The Ice Pack is designed for ice climbers. Weighing in at 26.5 ounces, it has a capacity of 2,400 cubic inches and features dual ice axe holders, an exterior crampon attachment system, and hip belt loops for racking climbing gear.

The higher-capacity Porter is a general purpose mountaineering pack, weighing 25.1 ounces, with a capacity of 3,400 cubic inches. The Porter features a double-reinforced bottom and a three-tier compression system that can be used to attach skis, snowshoes or a sleeping pad to the outside of the pack.

Made in the United States and priced at $255 and $275, the Ice Pack and Porter backpacks are available in four torso sizes, ranging from 15 inches to 21+ inches, and with three different hip belts, to accommodate waist sizes from petite to burly.

Both packs have external daisy chains, haul loops, numerous attachment points, and accessories for trip-specific customization.

St Pierre, an avid hiker, backpacker, and ice climber, founded Hyperlite Mountain Gear two and a half years ago. "Before we sold any products, we spent a year on product design and testing to make sure that our gear was extremely durable," he said. "In the process, we developed a proprietary ripstop Cuben Fiber/nylon hybrid that makes our backpacks much more abrasion resistant."

"If you look at the inside of an HMG pack, you'll see that the pack and its back panel are cut from one sheet of Cuben Fiber which is taped together, making it virtually waterproof," said St. Pierre. Some stitching is still required, but HMG's proprietary Cuben Fiber material helps facilitate that process, according to St. Pierre, making it much faster to manufacture the packs and keep up with customer demand.


Filed under: Gear News

Comments

GaryPalmer
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November 7, 2011 at 10:46 a.m. (EST)

 

That pack at 26 oz (1.10 lbs) sounds nice for its size. My Golite Infinity pack weighs about 1.4 lbs and is about the same cu. in. size.


thumbnail.jpg

The Golite Infinity pack

philipwerner
130 reviewer rep
130 forum posts
November 7, 2011 at 11:29 a.m. (EST)

While cuben is very lightweight, the big win with the HMG Ice Pack is it's toughness. Cuben is nearly impossible to rip and highly abrasion resistant. The larger pack, the Porter, provides a much bigger weight savings over other higher volume mountaineering packs that tend to weigh in at 4 to 8 pounds. Hyperlite will also be offering a larger sized 4500 cubic inch version of the Porter called the Porter Expedition which weighs around 28-29 ounces, well under 2 pounds.

Family Guy
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699 forum posts
November 7, 2011 at 11:40 a.m. (EST)

Gary - the difference is:

-the fabric used is a cuben / nylon hybrid that is 210d thread count and extremely abrasian resistant. This isn't 0.74 cuben.  It is also functionally waterproof.

-the pack has two vertical, adjustable aluminum stays for load transfer.

-the pack is intended to carry a much higher load - see the wide hip belt?

GaryPalmer
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November 7, 2011 at 1:10 p.m. (EST)

 

Yeah, my Golite pack does have pretty thin easy torn material!

So when climbing one wants the load higher?

philipwerner
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November 7, 2011 at 1:16 p.m. (EST)

For climbing (or anything else) you want the heavy items as close to your core as possible, pretty much in the middle of your back and below your shoulders. If that's not possible aim getting them in the same plane as your back and just above the hip belt. Too high, and you through off your lateral stability.

trouthunter
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November 7, 2011 at 1:22 p.m. (EST)

Thanks for the article Phillip!

It seems that outdoor gear changes almost as fast as electronics these days.

I'm still saving my money for a cuben tarp haha!

flembacca
20 reviewer rep
14 forum posts
November 7, 2011 at 1:35 p.m. (EST)

Have ya'll heard anything about the UV resistance the Cuben Hyperlite is using?

I know that it does have a faster tendency to degrade from UV than more conventional fabrics, and for the tarp set ups, I was wondering if that is a concern or just me mulling it over too much?

GaryPalmer
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4,346 forum posts
November 7, 2011 at 1:38 p.m. (EST)

 

Trouthunter said:

I'm still saving my money for a cuben tarp haha!

 

I used to have a Golite tarp, it was 10 x 15 feet and weighed less than a pound, but nowhere as strong as this Cuben stuff!

whomeworry
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November 7, 2011 at 7:34 p.m. (EST)

philipwerner said:

For climbing (or anything else) you want the heavy items as close to your core as possible, pretty much in the middle of your back and below your shoulders. If that's not possible aim getting them in the same plane as your back and just above the hip belt. Too high, and you through off your lateral stability.

How one approaches shouldering a pack load is more involved than that.  There are two basic approaches: loading a pack to minimize the effort to support the load; and loading a pack to control balance and mobility while carrying a loaded pack.  While certain practices are common to maximize load carrying efficiency and balance control, optimizing load bearing efficiency cannot be achieved without some sacrifice given to balance and mobility, and vice versa.  These trade offs can be illustrated attempting to carry a large child.  For example, carrying a child on your shoulders takes less effort to support the weight, but you are easily thrown off balance when that child moves about; whereas you can quickly adapt to a child’s movements by carrying them on you back while under way, but will require a more strenuous posture to establish your balance. 

If one is carrying a pack over a typical trail, it is fairly easy to retain balance, so you should load a heavy pack in a manner that optimizes weight carrying efficiency.  A pack intended for this purpose would ideally position the load directly above center of gravity (your center of gravity is a point located between your spine and navel).  This is accomplished by placing the load high on the back so only a minimal bend from the hip sockets shifts the load over the point described above.  Some refer to this as placing the load over your shoulders.  This concept partly explains some packs are designed skinny and tall, versus wide and squat.  The drawback to distributing a load in this manner is the mass of the load is relatively far away from your center of gravity; effectively creating a longer lever to tug you off balance whenever that mass is shifted relative to your center of gravity. 

If you are carrying a load cross country, over, snow, or a very rugged trail, balance and control is more important than load carrying efficiency.  A pack intended for this purpose would position the load closer to your center of gravity.  This is accomplished by positioning the load low on your back, shortening the effective lever the load has to pull you off balance when bending, reaching or otherwise shifting your weight around.  The drawback to this arrangement is it requires significant bending at the hip sockets and waist to position both a heavy pack and torso over your center of gravity.

Other factors affect the efficiency to carry heavy loads and effectively control the pack mass.  The ability to distribute the load onto your hips, via a hip belt, enhances both carrying efficiency and balance.  Packing heavier items closer to the spine also improves overall performance.  Lastly pack items such that they can’t suddenly shift and throw you off balance.

Ed

Family Guy
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November 8, 2011 at 10:09 a.m. (EST)

Or you can pack ultralight and then load transfer and load stability becomes less of an issue.  Consider Ueli Steck.

Louis-Alexis
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November 8, 2011 at 8:25 p.m. (EST)

How much do they cost?

Callahan
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November 10, 2011 at 12:18 a.m. (EST)

cuben is tuff but is $

whomeworry
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November 10, 2011 at 7:26 a.m. (EST)

CWF said:

Or you can pack ultralight and then load transfer and load stability becomes less of an issue.  Consider Ueli Steck.

I guess so, if your thing is adventure racing, and you are out for an afternoon.  But I wouldn't emulate Ueli, unless your goal is primarily to tick list a bunch of peaks, and hope you don't get caught out in unexpected weather.  Part of the reason Ueli's pack is light is because he is taking chances, carrying minimal gear and food.  For example when he did that directisimo on Eiger he was not equipped to survive an overnighter in bad weather.  Sure you can debate he was so fast that is irrelevant, but that is an ignorant assertion.  The Eiger generates its own weather, with it frequently changing almost instantly.  He took a gamble, a business risk if you will (he is a pro, after all), and won.  This time anyway...  But I think that is a poor role model to hold up as the poster child for most people to emulate, kind of like arguing if Evil Kevel can jump twenty buses on a motor cycle, so can we. 

Quite a few trips I have gone on have food allotments heavier than the packs Ueli alleges to carry.  Two weeks any where is over 25 pounds of food, unless you intend diet on your trip.  There is no UL trick to get around that.  Ultra light or not a load that size definitely has load transfer and stability issue, thus understanding how to pack according to the venue is a skill that both reduces risk of injury,as well as increases efficiency of motion.

Ed

gonzan
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November 10, 2011 at 9:02 a.m. (EST)

whomeworry said:

...understanding how to pack according to the venue is a skill that both reduces risk of injury,as well as increases efficiency of motion.

Ed

^ This ^

I would literally bet a large fortune that Ueli would agree in principle, and most likely application as well, with Ed here. 

Someone like Ueli packs for the intended purpose. For a mad dash, high risk - high return, carefully planned and practiced event like the Eiger record, he packs as light as he is willing to risk. For a climb or expedition that demands more pro, shelter, time, and food, there is no question he would pack differently and accordingly. 

philipwerner
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November 10, 2011 at 9:44 a.m. (EST)

No doubt having a helicopter nearby with a camera crew also emboldens one.

gonzan
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November 10, 2011 at 10:08 a.m. (EST)

Louis-Alexis said:

How much do they cost?

 From the original article:

"Made in the United States and priced at $255 and $275, the Ice Pack and Porter backpacks are available in four torso sizes, ranging from 15 inches to 21+ inches, and with three different hip belts, to accommodate waist sizes from petite to burly."

Family Guy
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699 forum posts
November 10, 2011 at 11:06 a.m. (EST)

whomeworry said:

CWF said:

Or you can pack ultralight and then load transfer and load stability becomes less of an issue.  Consider Ueli Steck.

I guess so, if your thing is adventure racing, and you are out for an afternoon.  But I wouldn't emulate Ueli, unless your goal is primarily to tick list a bunch of peaks, and hope you don't get caught out in unexpected weather.  Part of the reason Ueli's pack is light is because he is taking chances, carrying minimal gear and food.  For example when he did that directisimo on Eiger he was not equipped to survive an overnighter in bad weather.  Sure you can debate he was so fast that is irrelevant, but that is an ignorant assertion.  The Eiger generates its own weather, with it frequently changing almost instantly.  He took a gamble, a business risk if you will (he is a pro, after all), and won.  This time anyway...  But I think that is a poor role model to hold up as the poster child for most people to emulate, kind of like arguing if Evil Kevel can jump twenty buses on a motor cycle, so can we. 

Quite a few trips I have gone on have food allotments heavier than the packs Ueli alleges to carry.  Two weeks any where is over 25 pounds of food, unless you intend diet on your trip.  There is no UL trick to get around that.  Ultra light or not a load that size definitely has load transfer and stability issue, thus understanding how to pack according to the venue is a skill that both reduces risk of injury,as well as increases efficiency of motion.

Ed

 That was simply an example to get everyone's shorts in a knot.  It did.

But you are comparing backpacking for 2 weeks to climbing for total load.  Why?  We are speaking about climbing specific ULTRALIGHT packs.  Ultralight packs are not made for heavy loads.

But if it makes you feel better, you are right for backpacking but not for ultralight climbing.

gonzan
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November 10, 2011 at 11:46 a.m. (EST)

CWF said:

We are speaking about climbing specific ULTRALIGHT packs.  Ultralight packs are not made for heavy loads.

 An interesting thought, which raises the question of what then are they intended to carry? At 2,400, 3,400, and 4,500 cu. in., with built in attachment for ice axes, crampons, skis, pro, rope, etc., they appear designed to carry load weights that correspond to their volume. If that was not the case, such volume would be pointless and the pack would be completely useless.

But, to clear up the design, intended purpose, and capability, I called Mike. He informed me they are in fact designed with the intent and ability to carry heavy mountaineering loads required for multi-day or week trips and expeditions. He stated his own base pack weight for climbing with the Ice Pack is 25-35lbs, and the Porter is commonly used with loads of 50lbs. Their Goal was to produce climbing and mountaineering packs that are as light as possible, yet provide complete function, strength, and durability.

Family Guy
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699 forum posts
November 10, 2011 at 11:52 a.m. (EST)

Well, Mike is providing wishful thinking.  My Windrider has flexible stays and it will not carry over 25lbs in comfort.  This is the biggest criticism of the pack.

The Porter pack was designed with heavy input from Ryan Jordan and according to Ryan, designed for UL, high volume loads.  In fact, Ryan posted pictures of the Prototype Porter he was testing over 8 months ago.  Last time I checked, he was an UL trekker.

Regarding the volume comment.  In situations where there is a heavy insulative requirement, it is better to avoid compressing the insulation too much.  If you think that high volume and UL do not go hand in hand, I would defer you to the Golite Pinnacle pack which is designed just for that.

But I can tell you that these packs will need far more padding and far stiffer stays to meet Mike's desired performance.  I can bend the stays in half with one hand.

gonzan
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November 10, 2011 at 12:59 p.m. (EST)

I want to be make sure I don't give any impression that isn't acurate- I have no dog in this fight, so to speak. If their packs aren't suitable for the intended purpose that would be good to know, and I have no personal experience with these new packs to verify one way or the other. 

After talking to the founder and owner, it appears these packs are not the same animal, but have been designed for a different purpose.  Mike stated that the Windrider was, indeed, not intended or designed for weights over 25lbs or so. That is not the case with these packs in question. After asking him about the design changes, he sent me a couple photos to reveal one of the significant differences. The stays in the mountaineering packs are heavier, more rigid, and shaped. Here are those photos. 

Shaped-Stays.jpg


Stay-comparison.jpg

As with any product, its suitability for the intended design and function will be borne out by those who actually use it. Of course that determinations will also depend on personal opinions and desired performance. 

Family Guy
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699 forum posts
November 10, 2011 at 1:48 p.m. (EST)

That is really going to help here for sure.  Thanks for posting the picture.

What 'dog fight' were you referring to?  We all have opinions worth hearing.

 

gonzan
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November 10, 2011 at 2:07 p.m. (EST)

Oh, I was just using that colloquial expression regarding the debate. 

Family Guy
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November 10, 2011 at 2:12 p.m. (EST)

Okay - I usually lose Dog Fights so I was worried.

 

; )

whomeworry
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November 10, 2011 at 2:32 p.m. (EST)

In any case, light or heavy, weight distribution affects performance, especially when balance is a critical issue, such as mountaineering. 

BTW, the term UL is relative.  What passes as UL weights for climbing a major peak is heavier than most weekend packs.  When someone says its a mountaineering pack, I assume is designed to carry a snow and ice kit, appropriate clothing layers, a means to shelter, and maybe even some food.  Hard to meet the minimal requirements of this spec below 25 pounds.   Oh, I forgot the rope and rack, we are mountaineers, aren't we?  Hmm all that for under 25 pounds?  Or does the esthetics of UL rationalize some of these things are optional? 

Ed

apeman
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November 11, 2011 at 1:19 a.m. (EST)

"Or does the esthetics of UL rationalize some of these things are optional?"

 

heeh.....heeh 

 

Ed made a funny!!

Bill S
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November 11, 2011 at 1:47 p.m. (EST)

A question I have about Cuben for backpacks and tents - The fabric (can you call it fabric if it is "non-woven"?) will slowly elongate or creep when consistently loaded. Early sails tended to permanently deform. Will a pack made from Cuben deform when heavily loaded as well? I know that Cuben Tech says that the tendency to deform is much less with the current version. The light weight, toughness, abrasion resistance, and water-proofness are certainly desirable. But if it does deform during a long expedition, that is something to be considered.

OTOH, 3400 cu in is far less than a full expedition pack, which has to be closer to 5000-9000 cu in.

Family Guy
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November 14, 2011 at 12:19 p.m. (EST)

I am pretty sure that HMG has a larger expedition pack that will be available shortly.  The Porter is not necessarily intended to be an expedition pack unless one is carrying a lower volume UL load.  In other words, there are actually 3 new packs coming out.

Callahan
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November 15, 2011 at 1:43 p.m. (EST)

3 more oh no what do I choose

Porter
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November 17, 2011 at 9:52 p.m. (EST)

Had to join to comment.  Sorry to get in late.

 

I carried a Windrider on the A/T this year and it easily carried 20 to 30lb loads. Being able to leave it outside my Echo I HMG shelter put this pack in snow and rain with no problems. It held up to all the stress that a 2000 mile hike can give. Wish my other gear had done so good.

gonzan
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November 18, 2011 at 8:57 a.m. (EST)

Welcome to Trailspace, Porter!

Thanks for sharing your experience with the Windrider. It would be great if you did a gear review on it, detailed reviews about gear that has seen serious use are invaluable!

Porter
21 reviewer rep
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November 18, 2011 at 8:57 p.m. (EST)

thanks for the invite. I really like gear that lives up to the hype. I will happily do a gear review. As a New York guide I continue to hike with my Windrider that this still performing.

 

Porter
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November 30, 2011 at 6:18 p.m. (EST)

I posted a gear review for the Windrider pack and I will be doing one on the Echo I Tarp/shelter system.

Porter
21 reviewer rep
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December 1, 2011 at 6:03 p.m. (EST)

Wanted to make sure that you all know that I really like HMG and would consider myself a friend of theirs.

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