WHO’S HAD A HAND IN YOUR GEAR? MEET OUR FOUNDER, MIKE ST. PIERRE

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MARK SIREK
MARK SIREK Administrator Posts: 313
edited February 6 in THE GEAR LAB

Name: Mike St.Pierre

Position at HMG: Founder / CEO

Years with HMG: 13

Products you've worked on: All of them in some way, shape, or form.

What's your background prior to working here? 

I was born in Pennsylvania and moved to NYC right after high school to continue my pipe dream of becoming a professional guitar player. I'm not exactly sure how or where I picked up the outdoor bug, but it's been with me since high school. I was only in NYC for one year and decided to move to Boulder, CO, to continue playing guitar. 

This is where my first real backpacking trips started, and I was very fortunate to connect with Bill, the son of my parent's friends who also lived in Boulder and was close to 20 years older than me. Bill was a guide and climber and really started teaching me the ropes when it came to backpacking and outdoor adventuring. I still have some very fond memories and learnings from our time together, as this is where I really started learning how to backpack over twenty-five years ago.

I entered into the outdoor industry after seeing an opportunity to backpack a "better way" than what was traditionally being taught and accepted. The catalyst was finding what was called Cuben Fiber back in 2008. Compared to the traditional fabrics used at the time, this material, now called Dyneema Composite Fabric, was, in my opinion, a game changer in terms of weight, waterproofness, and durability. There are always tradeoffs, but the DCF fabrics struck the right balance between these features. Finding Dyneema and being interested in outdoor products that were more stripped down was the reason Hyperlite Mountain Gear was born–nothing like what I wanted existed at the time. I still enjoy UL backpacking, canyoneering, packrafting, and ice climbing.

What's your primary role in R&D?

My role continues to be CEO, in addition to working heavily with the R&D team. I started in the early days of HMG doing every job required to take a product from concept to launch, in addition to all the other items needed for a startup–meaning conceptualizing, patterning, sourcing, sewing, testing, photography, and so on. 

Nowadays, and thanks to the great team we are so fortunate to have in the R&D dept., my responsibility is to oversee the ideation, creation, development, and launch of the products. I am continuously impressed with the R&D team and their ability to understand how to bring product ideas to life that ultimately make the lives of our customers easier when they travel in the backcountry.

What do you enjoy most about being in R&D?

What I enjoy most about being part of the R&D department is getting to collaborate and work with the amazing team of people we have here to develop products that make a real difference for our customers. In addition, it's incredibly satisfying to see our products solve real problems and allow our fellow adventurers to go to the farthest reaches of the earth.

What design/design solution are you most proud of thus far?

There is no one specific product Hyperlite created that I'm most proud of over another. We spend a lot of time vetting the products we decide to make, and by the time we're ready to commercialize them, they are part of the Hyperlite family–like a child is in any family.

Do you have a dream design, design challenge, or product that keeps you up at night? Something you hope to make or solve someday?

I have definitely had design challenges that have kept me up at night. I find that in those situations, I have to put the product down for a while and pick up a different project to continue working to create some separation from the original design challenge. Somewhere in this process for me, a solution to the original problem will become clear.

Where do you see ultralight backpacking and multisport heading in terms of gear?

I'd love to continue to see ultralight backpacking gear just become the norm. Ultralight backpacking, for some folks, has a negative connotation, which is unfortunate since using ultralight products is just better than carrying traditional heavy gear in the backcountry. At the end of the day, going ultralight is just a better way. It's the core of better backpacking.

What's your number one tip for getting the most out of a piece of gear?

Treat it with respect. Ultralight backpacking gear is durable, and with that said, if you don't needlessly beat it up, it will last you a long time. I've always been baffled as to why some people treat their gear so poorly. My stance is this equipment allows you to get deep into the backcountry, and it's also your lifeline while out there. With that in mind, why would you not treat it with the respect it deserves? If you treat the gear right, it will treat you right.

Favorite outdoors-related quote?

Two quotes come to mind, although not specifically outdoor-related. The first is something we talk about regularly in the R&D department–Fail Fast, Fail Cheap, and Fail Forward. We learn the most in the shortest amount of time from our failures. This quote helps us learn how to move on without spending too many hours or dollars in the process. We take what we tried that didn't work and learn from it in a way that helps continue to push the project forward. 

The second quote is from a great climbing friend, Clay Wadman, and has been used in many hard outdoor situations we've been in together. When the going gets tough or if something amazing happens to us in the backcountry, you can count on Clay to drop the line, "Bitch'n Camaro." I don't know what it is about this saying, but we always get a laugh no matter what the circumstances.

Comments

  • AustinHager
    AustinHager Member Posts: 35
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    I think one thing we are all thinking... How do I get my hands on an HMG down puffy like the one in picture 3?