Kennebunk company recognized for backpack, shelter system

Posted March 16, 2011, at 6:22 p.m.
Last modified March 16, 2011, at 7:38 p.m.
The Windrider pack by Hyperlite Mountain Gear, a small business in Kennebunk, has been recognized by Backpacker Magazine's editors with the choice award for the best ultralight pack.
Jeff Strout
The Windrider pack by Hyperlite Mountain Gear, a small business in Kennebunk, has been recognized by Backpacker Magazine's editors with the choice award for the best ultralight pack.

Gear Box

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider

Hyperlite Mountain Gear, a small business in Kennebunk that is turning out backpacks and tarps of super-light, super-tough, space-age material, has just pulled down some heavyweight recognition.

The company, founded by two brothers, was recognized in Backpacker Magazine’s annual gear guide for the Windrider pack as well as their shelter system. The magazine’s editors choice award for the best ultralight pack went to the Windrider and their choice for lightest shelter went to Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Echo II tent that will set you back $620 for its 1 pound,12 ounces .

Several  weeks ago I solicited the company for a sample of the Windrider pack in order to get a feel for this new material they’re using called  Cuben fiber, “a high-performance, nonwoven, rip-stop, composite laminate developed in the 1990s by a nuclear weapons physicist and an aerospace composite engineer.”

“Originally designed for use in world-class sailing,” the company says, “it is ideal for certain applications in lightweight and ultralight outdoor gear due to its unmatched strength-to-weight ratio.”

Here’s how it describes Cuben fiber: It’s made by “sandwiching Spectra or Dyneema polyethylene fiber filaments a thousandth of an inch thick, in various arrangements between thin outer layers of polyester film. The sandwich is then melded together in a high-pressure autoclave.”

The Cuben fiber is “lightweight, highly durable, and is 50 percent to 70 percent lighter than Kevlar, four times stronger, and allows flex without losing strength.  It is also less than half the weight of silnylon, has low specific gravity (floats on water), high chemical resistance, excellent UV resistance and is 100 percent  waterproof” thereby not needing a pack cover for rain protection (the seams are not taped).

Hyperlite used this fabric in their Windrider Ultralight Pack and produced a 2,400-cubic-inch pack (plus 250-cubic-inch mesh outer pockets) that tips the scales at 25 ounces (1.6 pounds). It comes in four different sizes: small (15.0”-17.0” torso),  medium (17.0”-19.0” torso),  large (19.0”-20.0” torso) and large/tall (21.0″ + torso).

Other features include two waterproof hip pockets for snacks or electronics (zippers are not waterproof); roll-top storm closure with Velcro to keep closure aligned and easy to roll closed; top Y-strap compressor system — designed to also hold sleeping pad or other gear; side compression straps to tighten pack load and to stow trekking poles when not in use, removable straps to store snowshoes or other equipment; and an ice axe loop and keeper.

Suggested retail price: $255

For more information, visit www.hyperlitemountaingear.com/.

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