Stephenson's Warmlite of Gilford, N.H.

Part 14 in an ongoing series highlighting Northeast-based gear companies. Jack Stephenson was a pioneer in outdoor equipment. In the 1950s, he was one of the first to use lightweight nylon fabrics in tents and down sleeping bags, replacing the cotton and polyester materials in common use at the time. He developed some of the first tents that featured arched poles. He introduced the world's first padded waistbelt in the early 1960s, a full decade before it became commonplace in other styles. He also promoted the benefits of vapor barriers, creating an entire line of vapor barrier clothing.

Today the family-owned company is based in Gilford, N.H., and helmed by Jack's son, Bill. It continues to produce innovative, lightweight gear that hews close to some of Jack's original designs. Among its offerings are ultralight hoop-style tents in 2-, 3-, and 5-person designs (2.3 to 4.7 pounds) and Warmlite Triple Sleeping Bags, which use 800+ fill down and include several innovative and unique features, including an integrated vapor barrier liner and a wrap-around zipper that allows you to fully separate the top and bottom layers, or join them together to create a large down quilt.

Stephenson's Warmlite also continues to produce a complete line of vapor barrier clothing, including a pair of inexpensive vapor barrier liner socks ($8) that I would recommend to any winter hiker or backpacker. (The company's website offers extensive information about the benefits of vapor barriers.)

Support your Northeast gear companies! Here are the 13 others I've profiled to date:
Delorme (Yarmouth, Maine)
Ibex Outdoor Clothing (White River Junction, Vt.)
Jetboil (Manchester, N.H.)
New England Ropes (Fall River, Mass.)
Nemo Equipment (Manchester, N.H.)
Orion Signal and Survival Products (Easton, Md.)
Dermatone Sunscreen (Windsor, Ct.)
Darn Tough Socks (Northfield, Vt.)
STABILicers (Biddeford, Maine)
Noble Biomaterials (Scranton, Pa.)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear (Biddeford, Maine)
New Balance (Boston, Mass.)
Sterling Rope (Biddeford, Maine)

Have a suggestion for a Northeast-based gear company to profile? Please let me know!

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.