Why and how to get light?

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A trail report from Yellowstone and thoughts on “going light” from two of Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s favorite customers, WK and DK.

Our initial outing with the Porter Packs was a familiar three day two night trip. Yellowstone offers amazing scenery and terrain best enjoyed by the freedoms provided with a light pack.

years ago, after sustaining a knee strain on day one of a seven day hike from Yellowstone’s south entrance station with the goal of reaching the park border east of the Thoroughfare region of Yellowstone on the other side of the Absaroka Mountains we decided to change our hiking techniques. By day four, the 60+ pound load had taken it’s toll on my knee, forcing an abandonment of the trip deep in the Thoroughfare region of Yellowstone. Instead of proceeding East to our planned exit, we had to detour directly north along the east shore of Yellowstone Lake. Miles from assistance with an injury that rendered flexion of the knee almost impossible, we made the decision to lighten our load for the emergency hike out by jettisoning as much weight as possible. That night, having arrived at the southern tip of the Southeast arm of Yellowstone Lake, we built a campfire and burned all our excess food and supplies. Only the M&M’s were rescued from the Gorp. Carefully calculating the exact rations we’d need to reach the trail head, we burned any and all fully combustible items to eradicate weight. The following morning we successfully completed our emergency evacuation. Rehabilitation of the knee took several months. We realized at that point, that a lighter load meant increased enjoyment, safety and ability to mobilize in event of an emergency. We began our journey to never carry more than twenty five pounds again.

We innovated by designing our own sleeping bag converter. Basically it’s a tear drop shaped microfiber cloth with matching zippers for our sleeping bag. It is zipped to the bottom with the single sleeping bag draping over both of us. One bag, two people. Great weight savings and reduced the size of our load by one complete sleeping bag! We switched to lighter packs.

We removed lots of ‘base gear’ from our load, carrying only the essentials that we actually use every trip. Our typical one or two night load is roughly fourteen to sixteen pounds, including the luxury of air mattresses and a small camera. Multi day trips up to seven days without resupply cap out at our goal of twenty five pounds. Initially we discovered Hyperlite Mountain Gear during our quest to find a rainproof backpack made with today’s lightest materials. We will hike several of New Zealand’s Great Walks during their rainy season and wanted to eliminate the cumbersome use of a pack fly which still allows the contents of a backpack to become wet through the back panel. We wanted to maintain an empty pack weight near two pounds. We needed simplicity and reasonable durability. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter Pack with the Porter Stuff Pocket is the perfect recipe for our needs. If I had designed a pack myself, it would have been like the Porter Pack. The more experience one gains in the backcountry, the more one realizes simplicity and reduction of extraneous features is the best way to achieve the best user experience.

Back to the initial outing with the Porter Packs… the journey took us along the beautiful Mystic Water Falls (see photo) behind Yellowstone’s Biscuit Basin followed by an overnight in the scenic Little Firehole Meadows. The next day we ventured through an old burn area from 1988 towards Sentinel Meadows. Dramatic sunsets and neat vistas of Yellowstone’s thermals await anyone who ventures into Yellowstone’s backcountry. We are grateful for all the great products produced by Hyperlite Mountain Gear. We think Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s balance of light weight with ultimate quality will enhance anyone’s time in the outdoors!

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