While I was in the field the abridged version of my Backcountry Boiler review was featured on the National Geographic Adventure Blog, check it out:
Category Archives: ultralight
When Mike St. Pierre from Hyperlite Mountain Gear was hanging out at my house this summer I was throwing out ideas for all kinds of things when he playfully mentioned that it’s not the ideas that are the hard part of gear design. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of business or marketing experience, which I think is what Mike was alluding to. Still, I threw out the idea of an ultralight ski pack, perhaps based on the Windrider pack they already make, and Mike seemed intrigued. After reading that I had been taking the Windrider out on some ski tours, Mike suggested that his new Porter pack might be a better fit for skiing. After a brief email exchange where I told Mike about some upcoming ski courses I would be working for NOLS, he sent me out the Hyperlite Expedition, the big brother to the Porter, and I agreed that I would prototype an Avy pouch that would attach to either the Porter or Expedition.
The Porter/Expedition packs are no frills ultralight packs in classic mountaineering style. The packs are constructed from the same Cuben Fiber hybrid as the Windrider, but features a beefier (but not bulkier) waist belt and shoulder straps. The packs can be closed in either drybag style – creating a loop at the top, or with the removable vertical straps for a clean top. Along each side of the pack runs a vertical daisy chain, to about halfway up the length of the pack. On the rear of the pack run another pair of daisy chains, framing the rear panel.
I spent an evening this week building a Prototype Avy tool pouch that should work well. Overall, I am happy with how this “first draft” turned out, though it wasn’t without its trials and a few ripped seams. I can’t seem figure out pattern making yet. I find it helpful for conceptualizing and laying stuff out, but my sizing keeps coming out a bit off. Easily fixed at the sewing machine though! It attaches securely with 3/4″ side release buckles and remains quickly removable. The pack has three compression straps on the sides which should allow ski carry in the A-Frame method, which isn’t my preferred way to haul skis around when they aren’t on my feet, so I’ll continue to look at ways to incorporate a diagonal carry method with the new pouch attached. After some testing this winter, I’ll send the pouch off to Mike and we’ll see if he can adapt my “train-of-consciousness” sewing job into a refined Cuben Fiber product worthy of his pack line.
I know Mike Clelland, he’s a friend, a mentor, and a pal. We’ve hiked together and collaborated quiet a bit on various lightweight projects over the last six or seven years. So here’s the deal. Mike sent me a copy of this book. Now, you might think that I would give him a swell review just because he hooked me up, but the truth is Mike’s got it right. You see, Mike see’s things differently than most folks.
This should be apparent from the awesome illustrations he draws that accurately depict technical details with humor and levity. It goes beyond that though. It goes beyond drawing a happy hiker with some neat trick of ultralight backpacking and some little boing marks. Mike gets it. He draws stuff he knows, whether climbing, skiing, mountaineering or ultralight backpacking. And he’s always trying to understand it all better. I have met few in the ultralight game who have put as much thought and trial into their system as Mike. When it comes to influencing the hiking world to go lighter, it is easily argued that Mike C! has had as large an impact as anyone. Mike has taken the admittedly geeky world of lightweight and made it accessible to the common (wo)man.
His lightweight illustrations, first in Lighten Up! and now in his own book Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips have been a gateway to lightweight backpacking for the masses, he also scouted, proposed and championed the lightweight backpacking program at NOLS and has taught lightweight courses for NOLS and Backpacking Light.
He has inspired me to go lighter, and along the way I have been able to help him in small ways, like our common interest in the coffee system (tip #129 – we spent a fun afternoon weighing various coffee devices and brew methods). My lightest trip ever has been with Mike, our packs both weighed in at 7.98 lbs for an overnight trip with stove, shelter, and two cooked meals. It is Mikes desire to share what he has learned that makes his book so effective. He uses his amazing talent for illustration to remind us that this backpacking stuff is supposed to be fun.
That’s the biggest selling point of this book. It’s downright fun to read. This makes the wackier of ideas (like #54 Make your own toothpaste dots, which work really well and are a great way to bring just enough paste.) easier to buy into and try out. You can laugh at the cute drawing, and ponder the wisdom behind the tip. With the tip format, Mike has allowed the reader to try different techniques on different trips with no need to do everything at once, fully engaging in my favorite tip, #6 Try something new every time you go camping. A great model for learning by doing.
Whether your a pro lightweight explorer or just getting into the game, this book is bound to give you some new ideas to get out and try on your next trip. It is a beautiful call to action to get out, travel lighter and learn by doing.