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Hyperlite Debuts Cuben Fiber Climbing Packs

by Philip Werner
November 7, 2011

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.