Hyperlite Mountain Gear Flat Tarp

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Flat Tarp 8’6 x 8’6 weighs just over half a pound and is practically the most versatile and durable shelter for purchase.

I have owned this tarp for about two years and while I was concerned at first about the quality and reliability of it, I no longer have any of those concerns. There are definitely lighter options, but for overall durability, cost, speed of production and shipment, and quality, this is the way to go.

The Build

This tarp is made of Dyneema Composite Fabric (cuben fiber). It has one main seam running down the middle of the tarp which is taped. This seam has never leaked or pulled up, however, there is some dirt that has accumulated along the edges. This happens on basically any seam tape, and is just a part of use—it does not affect the weather resistance.

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The fabric is not entirely transparent. Opaque is the word I would use. You can change under it and retain your privacy. If you want to. It’s your life. One thing I will say, sunsets and sunrises look beautiful through the white option.

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There are five tie-out points on each edge of the tarp, totaling sixteen with the corners included. All of the tie-out points are reenforced with a thicker DCF patch. Also, each corner tie-out and each end of the central seam tie-out points are reenforced with larger DCF patches. Between the tarp and the plastic toggles, there is thin webbing, which is looped.

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The toggles for these tie-out points are very simple and keep adequate friction in your line so it remains taught. These are made for 2.8mm line. HMG has mentioned that they have considered smaller diameter toggles, but as for now, 2.8mm seems to be the standard on their products. If you are really, really, really in need of smaller diameter toggles, ZPacks and a few other manufacturers offer them. I don’t think the few grams saved by swapping out the toggles is worth the effort (though minimal) or a potentially voided warranty, but that’s just me.

I did have a central point loosen during a windy thunderstorm last spring when it was tied to a tree trunk. I had to retighten it every few hours, which was bothersome, but partly my fault—the point was too high and the direction of the wind caused the tarp to flap up and down at that point, making it release tension on its own. Another instance of these coming loose was in a similar situation where I tied to a tree trunk, shaped the tarp like a three-walled pyramid, and it took some snow weight. In this case, I believe I tied the point too high and the other points too low, allowing for improper snow-shedding because of the lower angle. The dense, spring snow caused drooping and by morning, the line was more extended than when I originally tied it out. Both of those occasions were user-error, but still something to be aware of. If you are wise with your tie-outs, have an appropriate angle for your circumstances, and allow some flex in the line, you’ll be fine. Also, none of the plastic bits have broken, but I did have one of the reenforcement points peel up slightly when the tarp took on the heavy snow.

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There are four additional webbing tie-out points in the center quadrants of the tarp, two are on each side of the center seam. These are also reenforced, but they do not have plastic toggles to tighten with. This is not a downside; you can always use a tree hitch to tighten the line from these points. I’ve only used them once or twice to create additional volume inside the tarp.

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On the inside of the tarp (the side with the tag and without the webbing tie-outs), there are two reenforced points with tiny plastic D-Rings. These are great for fastening a clothes line or a spot to tie on a headlamp. I use them to hook the head of my ZPacks Splash Bivy to keep the mesh off my face as well as a point for my trekking pole in certain shelter set-ups. So far, it has been durable enough to lock in the point of my poles and not tear through, even being such a sharp, finite point. I don’t recommend doing this, though, I have my doubts in violent winds or heavy precipitation; or if you hit the pole or the shelter the wrong way. I don’t think it was designed for that. However, for attaching things, it does its job and it does it well.

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The tarp comes with 2.8mm UHMWPE (Spectra) line. This stuff is great. I put it on my Porter 3400, have it in my truck for who knows what, and use it with all of my shelters. This line dries out quickly, hasn’t been affected by tree sap, is very resistant to abrasion, and doesn’t kink unless you’re really trying. Adjusting length is easy and it slides through and grips the toggles well. This line is also easy to cut (with a little effort and scissors, not by sharp, natural abrasion) and burns nicely, making the ends malleable and narrow. Compared to the 1.4mm, it is also significantly easier when tying and untying knots, especially when wet and cold. When it comes down to the weight, it’s light and unless you’re putting it on a scale, you won’t notice the difference between the 1.4mm and the 2.8mm in your pack. For me, the ease of use is more important than the hard weight.

Packability and Storage

When packed, this thing is small, and with all the lines and extras, is right around the size of a one liter Nalgene. You can easily squeeze it into any area of your pack. You could probably fit it in a large jacket pocket; you wouldn’t be comfortable, but you could do it.

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I’ve found it best to fold it length-wise until it is about ten inches in width, then roll it up. I’ve also folded it like a blanket, but that takes up more volume in my pack than rolling, so I usually just refrain from the latter unless I’m in a hurry to go. That brings me to one really great aspect of this tarp—it can be packed wet. I’m not sure if HMG recommends this, but I have found no issues in two years of use. The material does not absorb water and doesn’t rot out or facilitate mildew growth like silnylon tarps. I’m not saying that you should leave this thing packed wet for extended periods of time or submerged, however. To give you an idea, I’ve left it in my pack after rain storms for a day or two in its DCF stuff sack and it dried out quickly (indoors) and did not have any noticeable odor. Basically, when I camp in the wet with my silnylon tents, it’s always in the back of my head that they are going to need to dry out at some point; I’m hoping for some sunlight or some decent breezes before the sun sets—with this tarp I do not have that worry. I know I will be able to unpack it, wipe off the moisture with a PackTowl and be fine.

Versatility

There are almost endless options for set up with this tarp. Your imagination really is the limit. I’ve set this tarp up in some pretty weird ways with lots of rookie mistakes when I first made my transition into the world of tarps and it has continues to hold up well. I’m talking sticking trekking pole tips in and around the D-Rings, having way too much tension in the lines, tying the lines through the webbing of the tie-outs rather than the toggles, etc.

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I’ve made pyramid shapes, the standard A-Frame and storm setups, as well as hung line from tree branches. You think it, this tarp can probably do it, within realistic limits. If you ever have a lack of ideas for a setup, there are a million tutorials and diagrams out there. If you need to get creative, this tarp allows a lot of freedom for you to adapt to your surroundings. It has a variable footprint size as well; when set up almost flat, two 6’0 people could sleep comfortably with a dog or two between, and still have space from the edges of the tarp. When pitched lower for nasty weather, things get a little more snug. For me, it’s still more comfortable than being crammed in a stuffy ultralight tent. It breathes much better, too.

Durability

HMG has gained a solid reputation for not producing crap. This tarp follows that trend. The seams are all intact, just a little dirty along the edges. Water and snow still slide right off of the fabric. Tie-outs have not broken. The stitching is still in place and is not fraying. It still rolls, folds, etc. just like it did on day one. This is a well-made product and as long as you take some kind of care of it, you will be fine in the long-term.

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There are three areas I would like to address, though. One of the glued/welded/laminated reinforcement patches I mentioned earlier peeled up a little; it’s not much, but it’s not nothing. I think this happened when I tightened the lines too much during a windy storm, gust-by-gust pulling the pieces a part.

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The other thing I want to address concerns the durability of the fabric. It’s strong, but you do have to be kind of careful with it. I’m not sure how I managed to scrape (not exactly a tear, but almost) the fabric or what it was on, but last summer I noticed a spot that looked like a soon-to-be rip. For the sake of not ruining my tarp, I won’t do the crampon test (mostly because I think a crampon is what caused it)—it’s just too thin and not exactly designed to resist impaling. If you walk on it or it grinds up agains some dirt and rocks and twigs, you should be fine as long as it’s minimal. If you’re grinding it on granite or setting rocks on top of the corners, it will resist some of the abrasion, but I would refrain from that as much as possible. It’s too light of a material to stand up to that kind of wear. The CF8 is thin; if it were the CF11 (found in grey HMG stuff sacks and packs and floors) it could take more of a beating. Be sure to check out the video at the bottom, I show a tear that happened while the tarp was pitched over a sharp rock as well as how to repair it.

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The same goes for the stuff sack it comes with. I’ve gotten a few small holes from stakes (those 6” Easton ultralight Full Metal Jacket ones). Even if you wear some holes or tears, they are ridiculously easy to repair with HMG’s repair kit, or for a better value, ZPacks’ cuben fiber tape. At the end of the day, this tarp is durable as long as you are reasonably mindful of caring for its placement and setup. Compared to most other tarps out there, even of the DCF variety, not much else feels or performs as solidly as this tarp.

Summary

Yep, it’s expensive. If you have the cash, or plan on investing in ultralight equipment this is a good direction to look. There are lighter tarps, but their fragility and thinness was a concern for me. Having used other HMG products, quality and longevity have not been issues and what issues have come in that area can generally be traced back to my rookie mistakes from early on. Has it been worth the money? Yeah, it’s like the Arc’teryx Alpha LT of tarps. It’s great for any condition, sheds moisture well, doesn’t weigh much or take up much space, and is just a smart purchase if you’re looking for a shelter to last you a decade plus. I’m firm in that, I think this tarp (and the rest of my HMG products) will hit the ten-year mark before retiring.

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It isn’t the absolute lightest, but it is incredibly versatile, spacious, packable, long-lasting, well-made, easy to use, and looks great wherever you take it. Be sure to check out the video below. I talk about it some more, show you some different angles, and it’s just the polite thing to do. Thanks for reading!

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Flat Tarp

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Giving It a Rest

I went up to Estes Park last weekend. I’ve always considered it my home.

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Sony A7II, FotoDiox MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm, f/5.6, ISO 1600, 1/5000, Yashica UV Filter.

I’ve been really distraught lately. I think I’ve got a case of the existentialism. It seems like I’m in this limbo of progress and regression and nothingness. Now isn’t a time for that, though, it’s just something that’s weighed on me as of late. I think a lot about life and purpose and all of those other insightful things, but sometimes it’s healthier not to. Every once in a while I like to take a break from looking inward to see what’s outside of my thoughts and troubles and worries. If I don’t, I’ll get stuck.

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Sony A7II, FotoDiox MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm, f/3.5, ISO 800, 1/2500, Yashica UV Filter.

When I’m in and around Estes, my soul breathes. It’s like that point when you can’t hold your breath any longer. Returning to that area is the first deep breath. That little city and its surrounds are my reset button. It’s such an extensive part of who I am.

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Sony A7II, FotoDiox MD to E Adapter, Minolta Celtic 135mm, f/3.5 ISO 1600, 1/5000.

At one point, a herd of big horn sheep crossed the road in front of me. I hadn’t seen a big horn in years, so there was much excitement. I pulled over and watched them for a bit, taking a couple pictures as they scurried up the snow-covered granite.

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Sony A7II, FotoDiox MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm, f/3.5, ISO 800, 1/500, Yashica UV Filter.

I love spending time in the Park. Especially at sunset. The gentle winds, the pastels, the dramatic skylines, the silence. There is something fulfilling about seeing clouds form and dissolve over a landscape.

Longs Peak is in the center of this frame. It’s obscured, but it’s there. I waited for the clouds to open up just enough for its silhouette to peek through. It was while I was waiting that I ran into another photographer; actually many passed through this lookout, but one in particular stood out.

He parked, propped his tripod and several thousand dollar Nikon rig, bundled himself up in his North Face, and stood silent for a minute or two. I looked over and told him about my hopes of the clouds opening up for us despite them taunting me for the last hour. It was just small talk, but he wasn’t amused.

In the few minutes his face was pressed to his viewfinder, he took one picture then began to disassemble, in a curt manner, with one remark.

“They’re not going to open. You’re just wasting your time.”

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Sony A7II, FotoDiox MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm, f/8, ISO 1600, 1/4000, Yashica UV Filter.

He was right, they didn’t open and I didn’t get a dramatic shot of Longs at sunset. But I didn’t waste my time. Maybe I’m wrong, but part of photography (and life for that matter) is making the most of what you have. There are times you have to be patient and wait for the light to hit just right. There are times when that won’t happen. You can hope, but you also have to accept that things won’t always work out how you want them to. You never quit. You do what you can. It’s more than getting that “perfect” image. It’s appreciating the land and pursuing a passion. As a photographer, you take thousands of images and if you’re lucky, you’re able to count the good ones on one hand. If you try to set an image up without just letting it happen, you’re often seeking the archetype.

I waited there until the sun descended and the land fell monochrome. I captured springtime in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Sony A7II, Sony FE 28-70mm, f/5.6, ISO 3200, 10″.

Good things come to those who wait. The high point on the right is Longs Peak.

I’m new to this. I’ve been taking pictures for years, but landscapes and night photography have always been my adversaries. Combining the two is such a challenge for me. I’ve read lessons on astrophotography and watched videos about how to do certain things. Even after all of that, I still have a hard time getting halfway-decent night photos. I look at all of these outstanding images on Instagram and Trekearth and I think, “why don’t mine come out like that?”

Then I realize I’m not them. Duh. My photos will come out how they come out. I have my own style. I’m just going to do my own thing. And I stop caring.

Mr. Nikon-North Face Photographer from earlier was going for the same shot every one else wanted. Yeah, there’s some good points to that argument. For one, they’re more profitable. But at the end of the day they’re all the same pictures. I don’t want to take the same picture everyone else takes. I don’t want my name on that. It’s vexing. Even if you’re not going to get the shot, enjoy the experience. I know all of this is just an inference, but I found that guy irksome.

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Sony A7II, FotoDiox MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm, f/3.5, ISO 3200, 6″, Yashica UV Filter.

Then I realized that I was just there. Some guy adjusting little dials on a camera and pressing a button. I just wanted to reset, relax, watch the sunset, and enjoy the night. The moon was so bright, I didn’t even need a headlamp. It was beautiful. Photos were just a bonus. They’re always just a bonus. And even then, who’s to say what makes a good image? I think the stories behind them and the way they’re interpreted are what make them great. Not their resale.

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Sony A7II, FotoDiox MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm, f/2.8, ISO 3200, 1/100, Yashica UV Filter.

 

With a canopy of starlight overhead, I drove around taking pictures here and there. I didn’t see another car in the Park past 10 p.m. It was a good break from the monotony of work. To me, this is the most meaningful image from my trip. It’s a reflection of my phone in my windshield. This song is incredibly pertinent to where I’m at right now in life. Sing For the Wind by Roo Panes.

For those I’m not as close to, I’ve been fervent in trying to relocate to Estes for the better part of a year. I had a job opportunity, but finding housing over the past few months has been a struggle. It’s not behind me, it’s just not my primary focus anymore. Sometimes you just have to wait for the sky to open up.

The time I spent up there put some things into perspective.

© Jordan Poole Photography

 

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 3400

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 3400 is a 55 liter weatherproof pack that weighs in around two pounds. At this point, I’ve had the pack for almost two years and in that time I’ve learned a fair amount about the Porter’s performance and build quality. I’ve taken it on day hikes, climbs, and backpacking trips throughout Colorado as well as on a three week trip through England and Kenya. This pack has seen both urban and wild environments. While it excels in both, it is meant for the backcountry.
The inside.

 

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Interior zippered pocket.

This pack is basically a giant tube. With this design, you’re not limited by different storage areas and it really allows you to customize your weight distribution and overall packing preferences. The only compartment on the inside is a small zippered pocket, which is perfect for a few maps, a compass, and maybe some bars. It’s sized well, not too small that it’s pointless, but not too big that it gets in the way. I prefer to leave it empty or fill it and use it as a divider when packing. The zipper doesn’t unzip on its own and, being made from the same material as the rest of the pack, it performs well with keeping contents dry on the inside. If you stuff a wet jacket in there and have a phone inside the pocket, there’s no need to worry about damaging the phone. This pocket isn’t seam sealed, but it’ll still do the job with wet contents.

 

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Removable aluminum stays.

Underneath the pocket is the frame. It’s made of foam, which is about a quarter inch thick (don’t quote me on that), and two aluminum stays. The cool thing about this is that the stays are removable and held in by simple velcro tabs. I like to leave mine in because I like the support and, to me, the weight saved by removing them isn’t enough to compromise on comfort. But if you’re someone who’s counting grams or if you need to make a splint, they come out easily. They are curved slightly, so if you do completely remove them and they don’t slide in effortlessly, that’s most likely why. The stays aren’t too thick, either, so you won’t feel them when hiking. The stays also don’t interfere with packing.

 

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Interior seam-taping.

This pack is also seam-taped. It’s basically a dry bag with suspension. The seams on the sides, the logo, and the daisy chains are all taped and the construction has held up. A few months ago I used this pack in Rocky Mountain National Park during a downpour that lasted about five hours and at the end of it, the contents of my pack were totally dry. I wouldn’t recommend submersing this pack, but it can definitely withstand nasty, wet storms. It’ll keep dry in melting snow as well. Anyway, back to the tape. A little bit of dirt will accumulate on the edges and they will peel ever-so-slightly over time, but that doesn’t compromise the weather-resistance, it’s just aesthetic.

 

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Velcro closure.

At the top of the bag is the Velcro closure. Lots of times Velcro starts to fray after extended use, but this ins’t one of those cases. This stuff is good. The stitching is solid and the hooks and loops stick together really well. Unless you thrash it open, it’s going to stay shut. And with just a few rolls, water won’t be getting in. Pet hair will get caught in the fibers and sometimes the “Made in Maine” tag will get in the way, but it’s such a small section that it hardly affects the pack’s closure.

 

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Open space beyond the closure.

The Velcro doesn’t extend across the full length of the opening. This is actually useful because it seems to allow you to squeeze all the air out of the pack to get a less inflatable-feel.

 

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Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 3400 in Colorado’s San Juans.

The outside.

 

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The pack filled completely next to a Thermarest Z-Lite Sol for size comparison.

There are two different ways this pack can be closed. I do both, depending on what I’m doing and carrying. The first way really compresses and streamlines the pack; it is the way HMG advertises it. The Porter has buckles on each side that connect to the buckles on the opening of the pack; once these are fastened, there is a final yoke closure that goes from the top of your shoulders to the front of the pack.

 

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The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 3400 with a Mammut SuperDry 8.3mm glacier line and Black Diamond Vector helmet attached externally.

This is really handy if you’re carrying something on top, like a rope. It’s surprisingly secure. I like to put my helmet through the yoke strap. Near the handle, the yoke strap has another buckle; it makes getting into the pack easier without undo-ing the whole system.

 

 

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The pack compressed next to a Thermarest Z-Lite Sol for size comparison.

The second way is how you close a dry bag, and mimics the Arc’teryx Naos series from a few years ago. I prefer closing the pack this way most of the time. For me, accessing the inside is easier.

 

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MSR Revo Ascent snowshoes attach to the sides of the pack easily with the compression straps.

The compression straps are multi-use. You can fasten snowshoes, ice tools, sleeping pads, and so much more in addition to compressing the pack. They’ve never loosened on me, the stitching is really tight, and the reinforcement points are solid, so you can put that extra attachment weight onto them without worrying. This is also a good time for me to commend the buckles. These are easy to open with minimal pressure, wet hands, and even with gloves and cold fingers. Combined with the simple closure, everything is very user-friendly for when your dexterity is limited.

 

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The compressed Porter in Colorado’s Sawatch Range.

Some might find the webbing excessive; I don’t. It’s handy when I need that extra length to pull on, weighs almost nothing, and makes me look pretty majestic in the wind. If I ever decide to shorten the straps, I can always cut them and burn the ends.

 

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The compression straps and daisychain-spectra combination make this pack incredibly versatile. In this picture, I’ve attached a pair of Petzl Quarks and Black Diamond Cyborg crampons.

The daisy chain is on both sides of the pack, extending from the bottom to about half way up, as well as on 3/4 of the front of the pack. This feature really boosts the pack’s versatility. I put some spectra on the front for when I want to stuff something on the outside or don’t want to stick my crampons inside my pack. It’s helpful with ice tools, too. Spectra doesn’t come with the pack and is like an extra 12ish bucks if you order it from HMG. It was worth it for me and you never know when you’re going to need the extra line. I purchased 50′ and after looping this through the daisy chain, still had 24′ left. HMG also makes accessories you can affix to the pack like mesh sacks and pockets. This does the job for me, but it’s good that HMG offers those alternatives. If you really want some external pockets, definitely checkout their Southwest, Windrider, and Ice Pack models—they may be a better fit for you, in comparison to the stripped-down Porter.

 

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The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 3400 at Kitchwa Tembo Airstrip outside of Narok, Kenya.

The suspension.

 

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For how thin the handle is, it holds the weight of the pack very well. Here, on the right, you can also see the buckle mentioned earlier on the yoke strap.

At the top of the suspension is a webbing handle. It’s great when I need to throw this thing into a truck or onto a carousel or something. Below the handle is the foam padding I was talking about earlier. You have to be conscious of your packing. Like if you put a fluke or something that juts out up against this, you’ll be uncomfortable; it won’t be miserable, just not a 10/10 on comfort, more like a 4. It’s kind of like sleeping on a pointy rock. However, for what it is, it’s comfortable and even with minimal effort in packing, it will feel fine as long as you pack softer or flatter items against the frame. When I pack my folded Big Agnes Q-Core SL against the frame, it feels like a dream. Below the padding, there is some lumbar support with mesh over foam.

 

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These pockets are spacious, but if they are filled completely or tightly near the apex of the zipper curve, they can be difficult to open. I can easily fit some bandaids, a SPOT, a personal towel, and lip balm in one pocket. For size, you can fit an iPhone 6S, but nothing larger.

Here is the hip belt. For some, this may be a downside of the pack because it’s not as customizable as some other packs out there. You don’t really have the adjustment features here that you have on some Osprey and Gregory packs. HMG doesn’t offer that, at least not at this point. I haven’t had any issues with this at all, though. For how simple this suspension system is, I’m impressed at how well it keeps the weight off my shoulders when fit correctly. I ordered mine with the hip belt pockets, their volume is weird, but you can still fit a decent amount of stuff in there.  The zippers are fairly water-resistant, but they’re finicky with closing all the way, staying completely shut when the pockets are full, and zipping and unzipping over the curve. Even then, I’ve never had water leak into them. The buckle is very secure and easy to fit, and just like the others, it’s super easy to buckle and unbuckle even with minimal dexterity.

 

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The straps are made of the same materials as the lower suspension, there’s not as much padding and they are a little narrow compared to some other straps out there, but they don’t really dig into your shoulders as much as you may think. You can’t customize the fit up top, but you can easily do so on the bottom. The sternum strap is good at bringing everything together and you can move it up and down the anchors. The whistle is loud, too. If you use it, you will be heard, even with harsh gusts.
Biggest issue with the suspension of this pack comes when there’s more than 30-35 pounds. HMG advertises that this model has a carrying capacity between 25-40 pounds. I’ve found that anything really over 32 pounds, you’re going to start feeling it on your shoulders more, even with proper fitting. Mostly because these straps are narrow and I don’t think this pack is really built for that. If you keep it under 30 pounds, you’ll definitely be fine. However, if you are considering putting that weight in there, it can hold it, just not as comfortably as it would with less. You may want to consider the 4400 model for heavier loads.

 

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So, in this picture, I’m pulling the strap from the body as hard as I can to expose the stitching. I did this to show that this pack is physically capable of supporting weight and the carrying capacity point I brought up is just a comfort issue. Who knows, maybe I’m just a wimp.

I’m 5’10, 155lbs. with an average build. HMG’s size medium fits me perfectly. It wobbles a little up top when completely full, but it fits to my back really well and does a fantastic job of keep all the weight off my shoulders. It sits just above my iliac crest. There’s definitely no pinching on my shoulders, arms, or hips. If you’re unsure of size, HMG is there to help.

The Porter is really great for weeklong trips, but also excels when compressed as a day pack for short hikes, climbs, peak bagging, all that. Honestly, if you plan well, this pack is more than you could ever need for a thru-hike.

 

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I love how this pack shows the colors of where it’s been. Many of HMG’s packs come in either white (above) or black.

The fabric.
Every single time I take this out and tell someone about it, they always say “it’s so thin, how do you not tear it?” and that’s a good question because I don’t know. I’m not careful with it. Like at all. I think HMG’s got some kind of magic formula or something. This material is very, very, very durable. I’ve slid it down scree slopes, it’s been rubbed against granite, fallen out of a moving truck, glissaded down snow fields. It’s bomber, really. I wouldn’t call it waterproof because it’s hard to put that label on things, but I’ve had it in a few downpours and set it in a few puddles and everything inside kept dry. If anything would leak through, it would be the seams, not the fabric itself. However, that’s never something I’ve had to really worry about. Nor ever will. While everyone else is fidgeting around with their rain covers, I’ve got a cheeky grin on my face.

So, the industry is in a transition phase with the name “Cuben Fiber.” When I purchased this pack in 2014, it was advertised as a nylon-cuben fiber blend. To keep things short, cuben fiber is transitioning to the name Dyneema Composite Fabric to give more credit to the manufacturers of the material. So look out for that in the future. Same material, different name. If you want to learn more about this, here’s a link.

Information about the “cuben fiber” name change

Also, as of February 1, 2016, HMG has also changed its logo from the images above to the image below. It’s just something to be aware of if you are purchasing these items used.

 

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HMG’s new logo on the small stuff sack pillow.

Most of the pack is made of a 50D fabric. The bottom and about 1/5 of the way up the front and sides is a 150D fabric. The bottom is a lot thicker and you can definitely feel it and hear it. Oh that’s another thing, when it gets cold, like 10°F and below, this stuff gets really crinkly and noticeably more stiff. It’s not hard to work with, but there is a little bit of a change in feel when the temperature drops. When you first get it, you’ll start to get crinkles. They’re normal and the fabric isn’t any weaker because of them. My pack also has a ton of scratches and none of them have gotten through. I’m talking stepping on it with crampons, poking it with ice tools, none of it has torn. And if it did, it’s an easy repair with cuben tape. HMG sells this and so does ZPacks. HMG’s is thicker, but you get more bang for your buck with ZPacks’ tape. I’ve used both and they do the job. This is the really important part. I understand that the durability/puncture/tearing concern is one of the main reasons people are hesitant to purchase these products. Check out the video at the end. In it, I take my Black Diamond Cyborg crampons to the pack. It’s a little exaggerated, but the possibility of stepping on your pack with crampons or encountering sharp objects with it is a realistic one. It’s 6:40 into the video.

 

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The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter 3400 in Colorado’s San Juans.

Overall, this is a great pack. It’s really durable, light, adaptable, and weatherproof. It’s also made in Maine by a company with outstanding customer service. They’re one of the few companies out there that has actually stayed true their mission. This pack is dynamic. It’s great for day hikes and climbs as well as week long trips and traveling through different cities and countries. Only thing I can bring up in this regard is that it did raise a few security flags in London. Its “appearance” was considered suspicious. The dude was rude and went out of his way to make a deal about it. You should be fine traveling internationally.

It’s so simple, yet exceptionally designed and built. I recommend this for anyone going ultralight or lightweight that wants a do-it-all weatherproof pack that will last them. This pack isn’t the most comfortable or the most customizable, but I wouldn’t dissuade you from purchasing it on that alone. It takes on the colors of where you take it over time, but that’s going to happen regardless. Using this pack made me think more critically about how and what I pack and has ultimately made me transition from a “bring everything” mindset to one more in line with bringing only what I need. I can say that if it weren’t for this pack, I might not have enjoyed some trips as much as I would have. I might not have had the motivation to go where I’ve gone had my pack been heavier. Do I recommend this? Hell yeah. There’s a good chance this will be the only pack I use for the next few years. That’s how much I trust it.
Don’t just take my word for it. Look into what other people are saying about the Porter before you make your purchase. Here’s a link that will take you to HMG’s website for all of the specs and a few reviews.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Packs

They’re a strong company, check them out. Look forward to more Hyperlite Mountain Gear tellabouts as well as some other products I’ve beaten up. Thanks for reading and I hope this was of some use to you!

Here’s the video I mentioned earlier. Watch me tell you about the Porter while trying my hardest not to say “um.”

 

Blame the Guy with the Cigarette

So I’ve been thinking again. Mostly about my age and people around my age. Prepare for this to take a turn. Not like a gradual turn, but like a hairpin turn.

The twenty-fifth was my twenty-second birthday and it was a different one. Nothing weird happened—it just wasn’t like others. I think back to the birthdays I had when I was younger. They were always so celebratory; running around, eating gluten-filled Scooby-Doo cakes, and jumping on trampolines. That progressed to friends staying the night, tossing a football around in the street, racing go-karts, and playing video games all night until our sugar intakes knocked us out. Eventually, I wouldn’t really celebrate at all. Last year’s was a special one, though—the big one. My actual birthday was spent at work with a pounding migraine, so that was eventful. Some friends of mine eased the pain by bringing me gifts and gluten-free cakes. It was incredibly thoughtful. The following week, when I felt better, I went to the bar with my friends from work, planning on only having a cider or two so I could wake up for my 8 a.m. midterm the next morning. I don’t remember that night too well and that Wednesday I was over an hour late to class—in great discomfort—to find that my instructor posted the exam online and extended its completion date. I got lucky.

 

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Sony A7II, FotodioX MD to E adapter, Minolta 50mm f/2.8 ISO 1600 1/60, Yashica UV Filter.

This year was mellow in contrast, but honestly, one of my favorites. It was so simple and enjoyable. After an amazing dinner, I was headed to Cripple Creek with some friends of mine. Not to gamble or drink, but to take pictures. Honestly, I would have gone alone, but it’s just not as fun getting eaten by a mountain lion without company.

I love Cripple Creek. Even though it’s designed for adults, the majority of my memories there are from my youth. I remember walking up and down the streets, hiking around the abandoned railcars and houses outside of Victor, writing rhetorical analyses in this little coffee shop that might not actually be there anymore. I need to check on that, I liked that place. I think it’s beautiful. I love the atmosphere.

Even when it seemed like there was nothing to do, there was so much to do.

 

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Sony A7II, Sony FE 28-70mm f/5.6 ISO 1600 15″

To my surprise, many of the sculptures from the previous weekend’s ice festival were still standing. I mean, some of the figures looked like they had laid eyes upon the Ark of the Covenant, but that’s to be expected with cloudless, abnormal February warmth. I was giddy, probably more excited than I should have been over ice, but hey, I thought I missed it. And I think I got some decent shots.

 

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Sony A7II, FotodioX MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm f/2.8 ISO 1600 1/60, Yashica UV Filter

The colors were phenomenal. They were so vibrant and did wonders reflecting through the different textures of ice. I’d never seen such beautiful iridescence and fracturing. The best part was the emptiness. We had the entire stretch to ourselves, minus the occasional geriatric towing his oxygen tank outside for a smoke break. Don’t believe me? Go to Cripple Creek sometime, you’ll see.

 

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Sony A7II, FotodioX MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm f/2.8 ISO 1600 1/60, Yashica UV Filter

 

I never understood that. Why would someone who has such trouble breathing smoke? Especially in such close proximity to a compressed oxygen tank? Have they smoked their whole lives? Does it take the edge off of the free drinks and money loss? Is it an anxiety thing? Why aren’t they vaping like all the cool kids? Is it a part of their identity? Was there some event in their life that lead them to smoke? Does it bring back memories of when they were younger?

 

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Sony A7II, FotodioX MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm f/2.8 ISO 1600 1/60, Yashica UV Filter

 

And there it is. The turn. I promise I won’t do this in every post. Mostly because I don’t think I have enough emotional fuel to burn long, drawn-out, deep paragraphs. But yeah, I got to thinking again. I’m twenty-two. When my grandparents were my age, they had children. Not just babies, but children. My friends are off traveling the world, getting married, moving up in their careers. What am I doing? What have I accomplished? Initially, not much came to mind. I mean, I graduated from college, but the two job opportunities I had in my degree field weren’t feasible. I’ve adopted two dogs and paid off my truck, but that doesn’t further my career. Lately, I’ve put so much thought into my accomplishments and failures. Imagine all of the books I could have read. Or all the paintings and drawings I could have completed.

 

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Sony A7II, FotodioX MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm f/2.8 ISO 3200 1.3″, Yashica UV Filter

Look at this house. I’m sure this thing was beautiful when it was first built. It was probably a real accomplishment for someone. They housed their family, their life, their belongings. But what if that wasn’t what the person who built that house wanted? What if that’s what everyone else was doing and they surrendered to that path? He could have been a writer, an explorer, anything, really. But instead he probably settled down, worked for the mine or a casino, and left all of those pages between the start of his book and the end unfulfilled; not blank, but incomplete. Look at this house again. It’s beautiful in it’s own way and it’s foundation has endured all of these years. I’m not saying that those who are on those paths are wrong. Everyone is entitled to live their lives how they want. I’m just saying that those paths are not for me. There are some gorgeous mansions in and around Cripple Creek. But for every one of those there is one of these. Ten, or twenty, or thirty years from now, I don’t want to be found boarded up where I started. Twenty-two is old in some areas of the world. Here, it is young.

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Sony A7II, Sony FE 28-70mm f/5.6 ISO 1600 4″

I’ve realized something. I am here, alive, doing whatever it is that I’m doing now because of all the things I did and didn’t end up doing in the past twenty-two years. I’m not in jail. I haven’t hurt anybody. I haven’t hurt myself. I don’t have any addictions. If I had an opportunity to move to the other side of the world right now, I could. I’ve made some wise choices. I’ve got it good. Sure, I know people who seem to have their lives figured out and I’m proud of them, it’s a rarity. They had the courage to pursue their interests. However, I also know others who are trapped. Some of them don’t have the foresight to see the corrosiveness of their actions.

I’m going to jump back to the house metaphor. I feel it needs elaboration.

I. There are those who build their house upon a strong foundation with diligence. They do it themselves or with the help of others. Keyword: diligence.

II. There are those who have their houses built for them by others. They realize their fortune or are corrupted by the ease. Keywords: built for them.

III. There are those who want to build a house but cannot. They lack the resources or are less fortunate. Keyword: cannot.

IV. There are those who do not want to build a house ever. Keyword: hipster. Not really, but you get my meaning.

V. There are those who build houses for others. They have a house of their own or do not have one at all. Keywords: build for others.

VI. There are those who never build a house of their own, but instead are transient in the houses of others. Keyword: transient.

VII. Then, there are those who like the idea of building a house, but aren’t prudent in their approach; leaving it to collapse or be taken from them. Keywords: aren’t prudent. These are those I reference.

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Sony A7II, FotodioX MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm f/2.8 ISO 1600 2.5″, Yashica UV Filter

I have no idea how my house is being built, at least not yet. I think I’m laying a foundation, but I won’t know its strength until a storm blows through. I wonder what that guy with the cigarette and oxygen tank’s house is like.

I’m twenty-two and I don’t know what I want to be doing ten, or twenty, or thirty years from now. I don’t know what I want to be doing now. I know it involves traveling, writing, and photography, but I don’t have my heart set on any particular end goals. I feel like I’m going to have to build a career for myself in order to do what I love. That is terrifying, but I’d be lying to myself if I dropped everything and committed to just one path. I think it would be limiting. I don’t know. For now, I’m just going to enjoy that I can look up at the stars, relaxed, in this moment. Some people don’t have that option.

I like the picture above this. The one of the road and all the blurriness. I took this in the middle of CO 67 looking towards the backside of Pikes Peak around 1 a.m. I relate to it. All that is in focus is the beat up road immediately in front of me, but even then I can still make out where it’s headed. It’s not clear by any means, but it’s beautiful. And there’s light on the horizon.

I’m going to leave a quote. Not John Muir, but another wise, old man. Gandalf. I’m going to quote Gandalf, or rather, J.R.R. Tolkien. These words have resonated with me for months now. Not a day has gone by that they haven’t passed through my thoughts.

“All you have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to you.”

© Jordan Poole Photography

Wildfire

I do this thing every once in a while. It’s kind of a therapeutic forget-about-what-is-bothering-me-type-thing. I’ll get to that.

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Sony A7II, FotodioX MD to E adapter, Minolta 50mm f/2.8 ISO 800 1/640, Yashica UV Filter

There’s something about solitude and isolation that is vital to who I am. As much as I enjoy being around people, I value my time alone more. I like to reflect on who I am. Or who I think I am. I don’t know. It’s not like I’m consciously thinking about that, it’s just a realization that comes when I look back on my time in seclusion. Being unattended, uninterrupted, and absent from the influence of others allows me to think on another level. Not like a “look at me on my high-horse” level, but like a “I’m thinking clearly and for myself” level. I see things more for what they are. I think my learning and personal advancement relies on this. All throughout school, elementary through college, my best work was done individually. It’s not that I can’t work in groups—I love working as part of a team, it’s part of being an adult. There is just a significant difference exhibited in the quality of work and the quality of thought produced when it is done on my own. I feel more attached, involved, and committed to projects and concepts. For me to reach my fullest potential in anything, I know that there has to be help along the way, but I have to have a sound understanding of self in order to achieve any kind of success—even in the trivial. Maybe I’m just more introspective than others. I find it hard to grow as a person when there is so much outside perspective. I don’t know how many times in my life my gut has told me to do one thing and those around me do or tell me to do another, so I concede, only for me to later wish I would have followed my gut to begin with. I appreciate the criticism and the advice I am given, it shows that people care, but there have been so many times I have come out on the losing end, at least personally, because I didn’t follow my gut. I hate that. I hate that for so many reasons. It’s such an internal conflict. It’s weakness; I see it as not being strong enough in my personal confidence to do what I want. But conversely, I don’t want to disenchant the people who choose to support me.

That took a turn I didn’t intend for it to take. I’ll cut it off before it burrows.

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Sony A7II, FotodioX MD to E adapter, Minolta 50mm f/2.8 ISO 800 1/640, Yashica UV Filter

Nature. Nature’s neat, right? Let’s talk about that. Nature is so essential to my well-being. I could never live in a big city; even where I live now gets to me sometimes. I love being in the remoteness of wilderness or on some high peak far from everything. However, life doesn’t always allow you the flexibility you want (at least not yet), so you have to compromise. I am fortunate enough to live in a state where beauty is around every corner. Mountains, valleys, canyons, dunes, plains; all for the taking and all so distinctive. My compromise is found in the nearby forests.

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Sony A7II, FotodioX MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm f/5.6 ISO 800 1/160, Yashica UV Filter

I often think about the forest. Not necessarily a particular forest, just what a forest is. I know it’s a patch of land with a dense population of trees. I know it’s a resource. I understand its ecological functions. What I’m beginning to understand are the messages the forest offers. Bear with me. John Muir once said “the clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” I relate to this guy. Not because he #livedauthentic, wore leather boots, and had a canvas backpack, but because he was a man who embraced the intrinsic qualities of the world around him, allowing it to shape his worldview and character. He saw what I am slowly beginning to see in regard to the forest.

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Sony A7II, FotodioX MD to E Adapter, Minolta 50mm f/2.8 ISO 800 1/160, Yashica UV Filter

A forest is a collective of trees, each similar but unique. Some are copies of an original, growing in close quarters, others are more sparse. They begin as saplings; some die off young, others grow tall and old. Some are torn down by their surroundings, either naturally or deliberately. Some are more resilient than others. Some provide shelter, others provide detriment. Re-reading this, it sounds like I am referring to the trees as people and the forest as a population. The metaphor I see is that not of people, but of opportunities. Recently, I’ve spent a great deal of time in retrospect. I have been wondering about my place in the universe and all of the different paths I could be on right now, had I chosen differently. But then I got to thinking about the forest. When forests are burned, they do not go away. Burning does not change the fact that a forest is still a forest. They remain, changed from before, but still present. With wildfire comes new growth as the years advance. That concept hit me and brought so much of my doubt and mistrust into focus.

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Sony A7II, FotodioX MD to E adapter, Minolta 50mm f/2.8 ISO 800 1/640, Yashica UV Filter

 

So back to the first sentence. I do this thing. I walk alone, somewhere secluded, and I just let my mind wander. I think about life, people, nothing. It’s so rare, but it’s so calming to have nothing on my mind. I hear and feel the breeze. I’ll stop and sit sometimes, too, and just look around. It’s such a simple, reviving thing, but sometimes it’s so hard to do. Sometimes I talk things out to myself. I probably look like a lunatic, but it’s what works. It’s repairing.

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Sony A7II, FotodioX MD to E Adpater, Minolta 50mm f/2.8 ISO 800 1/640, Yashica UV Filter

I don’t usually bring my camera with me when I do this because it distracts me from the experience, but on occasion I do. These are photos I took while in Black Forest the other day as all of this ran through my head.

© Jordan Poole Photography

Jordan

This is a leap. Or a step.

I don’t know what I’m saying. Let’s just call this a move in a direction more expressive and productive than whichever way I was previously heading. That said, I have no idea what to write in this first post, so I’m just going to wing it and let the words flow out and we’ll see how this goes.

I’m Jordan. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Colorado. While I’ve come close to leaving a few times, I have a hard time seeing myself living anywhere else.

I think I see the world differently than most people my age. It’s alway been that way and is a quality I noticed when I was younger. By that, I don’t mean that I “#livefolk” or whatever people “do” nowadays. I just try not to be a sheep.

Sometimes I do things.

I am happiest in the outdoors where I can bond with the chroma of nature’s frequencies on a plane we are yet to understand. Just kidding, I’m not one of those types, but I have found a large portion of myself in the outdoors. I’m not an adrenaline junkie or anything like that, just someone who appreciates the land for what it is.

Photography has been paramount to who I am. I love being behind a camera and recording a moment in time to share down the road. I’m not neurotic about photography, or one of those people who thinks they’re an expert, I just like taking pictures.

I also like music. Listening to it is great, but I also like songwriting. I’ve played the guitar for something like a decade now, in conjunction with writing lyrics. That is an area I’m more reserved, but easily one I am most emotionally invested in.

Also, I used to draw a lot. I kind of came to a halt on that over the last two years or so—I blame college’s boundless ability to suck all the fun and creativity out of me through pointless busywork, but that’s a rant for another day. Also, there’s always the chance that I’m just a little lazy. Perhaps I’ll get that going again, it was always fun.

So that’s pretty much what I like to do. When I’m not occupied by those things, I’m either sleeping, overthinking, or working. Yep, that’s that.

I can’t eat gluten. Not by choice, but because I have celiac. I’m not one of those. It’s a big part of how I’m remembered and identified by people. I hate talking about it. That’s all I have to say about that.

Well, I think this is a time for brevity. There’s a good chance I’ll open up more as this blog thing progresses. The main purpose of this is to be a creative outlet for me to share my stories and works, to hopefully sell some prints, talk about some equipment, and to ultimately make a more productive use of my time. I get lazy.

No clue when the next post will be, as I’m indecisive and struggle committing to things that I can’t get in trouble for not doing. So I guess the next post will be soon? If you’ve read all of this, then thank you. I’ll try not to disappoint.

© Jordan Poole Photography