Hyperlite Mountain Gear of Biddeford, Maine: Ultralight Packs and Shelters

Part of an ongoing series on Northeast-based gear companies. I first profiled this fledgling company in 2011 and wanted to provide a quick update on their latest offerings, which continue to push the ultralight world of packs and shelters into hyperlight (and sometimes hyper-expensive) territory.

Case in point is the company's newest shelter: the UltaMid (pictured), a drool-worthy cuben fiber pyramid tent that weighs a mere 16.6 ounces (17.6 ounces with guylines) for the two-person version and 20.8 ounces (21.8 ounces with guylines) for the four-person style. (Like other floorless pyramid designs, you use a trekking pole for the center support.)

I'm a big fan of pyramid tents and am always excited to see new options come on the market. Now the UltaMid has set a new ultralight standard for this style of shelter, besting its nearest competitors (including the Mountain Hardwear Hoopla and Black Diamond Mega Light) by nearly a half pound or more.

How do they do it? Like all Hyperlite Mountain Gear shelters, the UltaMid is made from cuben fiber, a waterproof, ultralight, ultra-strong, and ultra-expensive fabric. How ultra-expensive? The UltaMid 2 retails for $650, the 4 sells for $800. That works out to roughly $40 per ounce of tent! Or, to put it another way, to gain the 6 ounces of weight savings over the Mountain Hardwear Hoopla (retail price: $350), you'll need to shell out an additional $300.

While it's unlikely that I'll fork over that kind of cash anytime soon, I am much more intrigued by the company's line of ultralight packs, which use a much less pricey cuben fiber/polyester hybrid material. The 28-ounce 2400 Windrider ($260) was awarded "Best Ultralight Pack" by Backpacker Magazine in 2011, but I'm more interested in the more recently released 30-ounce 3400 Windrider ($295, pictured), which offers substantially more capacity for minimal additional weight. 

Other packs of note include the featherweight, ultra-simple 5.7-ounce daypack-sized Metro Pack ($128) and 3.2-ounce Stuff Pack ($96), which is essentially an ultralight stuff sack with shoulder straps.

Now five years old, the company has set up shop in a turn-of-the-century textile mill in Biddeford, where it manufactures all of its products.

Learn more:
And support your Northeast gear companies! Here are the 23 other companies I've profiled to date:

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

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