Light Years Ahead

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When Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s founder Mike St. Pierre couldn’t find the outdoor equipment he wanted, he created it himself

By Joshua Bodwell
Photographed by Irvin Serrano

Mike St. Pierre is restless. He pulls a buzzing iPhone from his hip pocket and rapidly scans the screen. St. Pierre looks up, gazes across the 3,000-square-foot Biddeford headquarters of Hyperlite Mountain Gear. He’s processing something — his intent stare seems to look right through the broad cutting and assembly tables, past the heavy-duty sewing machines and racks of outdoor gear components. Then, as quickly as St. Pierre first read the message, the thirty-four-year-old taps out a brief reply, hits send, and re-pockets the smartphone.

And suddenly he’s back, ready to talk about evolving his once-cottage industry of designing and manufacturing durable ultralight outdoor gear into one of the industry’s most-watched small businesses. He talks about long-distance hikers and backpackers raving over Hyperlite’s gear. He notes climbers, pack-rafters, kayakers, and even cyclists are adopting the gear for their own outdoor adventures. He mentions two years of accolades from publications such as Backpacker, Climbing, GQ, Outside, and Wired. He is excited to have just been awarded one of only four coveted fellowships to the Telluride Venture Accelerator.

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Joshua Bodwell is the executive director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Bodwell’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Ambit, Poets & Writers, Threepenny Review, and Slice magazine.

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