Mike Curiak’s adoption of ultralight techniques and philosophies evolved slowly, he says, as garage gear and his own DIY stuff became increasingly available. “I'd be out on a multi-day ride, would think of some way to evolve my gear so that it was lighter but no less functional or durable, then I'd go home and either make it myself or get in touch with someone who could,” he says. But now, he simply lives light. It allows him to packraft or bikepack deep into the wilderness, where he experiences what a friend of his calls “white moments” from trail/situation-induced highs. Curiak owns and operates Lace Mine 29, a company that builds high-end, handbuilt wheelsets for 29-inch bikes, fat bikes and 650b bikes. However, no matter how busy he is, he gives himself plenty of time to embark on big adventures. We checked in with Curiak to get his take on lightweight philosophies, his most memorable moments and more.
What gets you up in the morning?
The need to pee, usually.
In what ways have you applied lightweight philosophies to the rest of your life?
I've been doing it this way for so long that I'm not sure if I can even differentiate anymore.
Can you describe one of your more notable experiences in the backcountry?
I wrote this after a memorable day on the Iditarod Trail, deep in the Alaska Range, in 2008: "A friend and fellow racer refers to trail/situation-induced highs as “white moments” and in the fleeting alpine light of the ensuing afternoon they flowed freely. These moments are, to me, so priceless and so rare that it's difficult to find words for them and photos do nothing to bring them back. They merely get enjoyed in situ and then you move on, glowing. Glowing is the most appropriate word I can think of, now, to describe the way I felt as I passed through Rohn, traversed the South Fork of the Kuskokwim, then worked out past the Post River and Egypt Mountain before bivying on one of the Farewell Lakes. I have no recollection of time passing, nor of energy expenditure or caloric intake, they all coalesce into one fluid moment that lasted for hours, the recollection of which brings out goosebumps and a certain detached/glazed expression punctuated by a vacuous grin. Just priceless."
On a given day, what absolute necessities are in your pack? What extras?
It's a rare trip that I don't have an UltaMid for shelter and a Windrider to carry it. I wouldn't leave home without a camera, but pretty much everything else is negotiable.
What issues are you passionate about and why?
It is inconceivable to me that health care in our country is still as f’d up as it is. The care has the potential to be much better; the costs could be fractional relative to what they are now. I cannot see where this conversation has even begun to progress.
What sports do you primarily partake in?
Travel and exploration via bicycle usually of the fat or fatter tire variety. Same with packrafts. Some of my most memorable trips have combined the two.
When and why did you join the Hyperlite Mountain Gear team?
In the fall of 2012 I joined a trip led by Forrest McCarthy where I saw Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs in action for the first time. I've been using them ever since.
What’s your favorite piece of Hyperlite Mountain Gear equipment and why?
My Windrider 3400, by far. I like the fit, the simplicity, and the durability, and the fact that it simply vanishes when worn.
You can also find Mike Curiak...