Day 19 – A Visit to Hyperlite Mountain Gear

It’s still a bit cool and cloudy as we pack up the car and head for Acadia National Park, Maine. We’ve plotted a 5-hour route that takes us through Biddeford, Maine, the headquarters of Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG).

You can look at pictures of us on pretty much any hike for the past 6 years and we are carrying white HMG-logoed packs. Kilimanjaro. Salkantay Pass on the way to Macchu Picchu, Peru. Shenandoah National Park. The Mont Blanc loop. We love their products. Hyperlite Mountain Gear (https://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com) is the creation of Mike St. Pierre, an avid outdoorsman who just got tired of heavy, non-waterproof packs and tents and started his own company from scratch less than a decade ago.

My brother Matt met Mike while Matt was hiking the AT 6 years ago and became an instant convert. He converted me and then I converted Walt, who when I met him was carrying a four-pound pack. Our current packs weigh less than 2 pounds and don’t need a pack cover because they’re completely waterproof. They’re actually lighter than most people’s daypacks, which is why we use them no matter what type of hike we’re doing.

HMG is located in an old, huge, warehouse that has been re-purposed into incubator space for companies like HMG. We had seen Mike and his brother/co-founder, Dan, at Matt’s wedding after-party and Matt’s texted them that we’re stopping by. Mike gives us a tour of the shop. He has 50 employees, a first-class production facility and all sorts of lightweight, waterproof gear. It’s so impressive.

Of all the HMG products, I think my favorite is the stuff-sack pillow: it’s a waterproof, zippered sack that you can put gear into by day (I usually put in spare socks, a warm hat and gloves). At night you take the stuff out, turn the bag inside out and there’s a fuzzy side. Re-fill the stuff sack with a jacket or something else fairly soft, zip it up and you have a nice little pillow. It adds tons of comfort for just ounces of weight.

Our trip into Maine is otherwise fairly low-key. We’re not in any big rush but we don’t make any other stops after HMG.

We arrive at Seawall Campground, one of only two campgrounds actually in Acadia, with rain forecast for the coming night and morning. We set up camp. It’s actually very nice in that we are car camping, so there’s a paved road to our designated campsite, a picnic table, a metal-ringed fire pit and a scraped area for our tent. There are also flush toilets, dumpsters and taps for drinking water but, to our surprise, there are no showers. We just assumed that a campground like this would have showers. We’re not worried about tonight or tomorrow morning, but we are planning to hike tomorrow…

Anyway, we’re sort of odd for a car campground. We have a small car, a small tent. We’re set up for hiking into the woods with all of our gear on our backs (which we will do several times on this trip). No cooler, no big bags of food, no tub for doing dishes. Actually, we don’t have dishes, just our titanium teapot, drinking cup, French press and long-handled sporks (titanium is expensive but it’s the lightest metal for these implements).

We set up our tent and head to Bar Harbor for dinner; lobster, of course. We eat at a nice place on the waterfront, wander the town, buy a good hiking map of Acadia, sample the soft-serve blueberry ice cream and call it a day.

We’re in our tent by nightfall, reading by the light of a little lantern Walt has brought. I’m a little nervous about waking to rain our first morning in a tent but since there’s nothing to be done about it, we curl up shortly after dark and go to sleep.

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