When elite ice/alpine climber Angela VanWiemeersch got her first 100% woven Dyneema®-reinforced Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack, she didn’t know what to expect. “The friend who gave it to me insisted that I take this pack for my expedition to Alaska,” she says. “I took the challenge, and that three-year-old pack that had already been across the world exceeded my expectations.” Not only did she put up the new route, “Thicker For Thieves,” on Alaska’s Mount Hayes, but she also “dragged it up walls” from Red Rocks to Zion National Park, followed by a season of climbing hard ice. Now one of the company’s ambassadors, she brings a Dyneema® pack on all adventures.
“Dyneema® is practically indestructible,” explains Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre. “While our existing line of ultralight Cuben Fiber packs are ideal for very active users, the Dyneema® line will better serve the most hardcore athletes who are toughest on their gear.” Dyneema® fibers are among the strongest in the world, and they are the fibers from which Cuben Fiber is made. It’s the foundational technology for all Hyperlite Mountain Gear products. But what exactly is woven Dyneema®?
Technically classified as ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), Dyneema® is manufactured by extruding a gel through a spinneret. These low-density fibers are resistant to most chemicals, UV resistant, fire resistant and self-extinguishing, and they can withstand extreme temperatures. Woven Dyneema® becomes more stable (no weave shift) when laminated to the non-woven Cuben Fiber Hyperlite Mountain Gear currently uses.
“While Dyneema® is super abrasion resistant and burly on its own, this lightweight fabric is more optimized for outdoor gear when laminated to Cuben Fiber because it provides the waterproof characteristics for which the company is known,” explains St. Pierre. “This fabric takes our product to the next level as far as durability; it’s for our most hardcore of our users. Think Himalayan alpinists, Alaskan packrafters and thru hikers who traverse the most extreme, lengthy trails.”
New England-based Ambassador and Climber Matt Ritter agrees that Dyneema® fabric is the obvious option for serious high-level mountain athletes. “Dyneema® is the smart choice for any adventurer who requires light and fast materials. A pack that is light, burly, waterproof and that can carry a bunch of stuff and then can compress to carry a smaller load, removes the need for multiple packs. It becomes an impromptu pillow, half or quarter sleeping bag, dry bag, etc. Less weight equals more freedom.”
“The fabric is truly supple,” adds Van Wiemeersch. “It really does a great job at keeping your pack the size it needs to be, whether it’s cinched down small or stuffed to maximum capacity.”
According to DSM Dyneema, the company that manufactures the product, Dyneema® offers maximum strength at minimum weight. On a weight-for-weight basis, Dyneema® is up to 15 times stronger than quality steel and up to 40% stronger than aramid fibers, such as Kevlar. Key applications for its use include: bullet-resistant vests, inserts, helmets and anti-ballistic protection for military and police vehicles. It’s also made into strong ropes for mooring and towing lines in the shipping industry, safety gloves in the metalworking industry, nets for fishing and even for surgical cables and orthopedic sutures in the medical field. Because of its extreme strength and lightweight, companies continually work with DSM Dyneema to find new ways to use the fiber.
“I’m always searching for that next, best high-tech product to use in our products,” says St. Pierre. “When I started this company, I wanted to solve a problem—a lack of really good minimalist, durable and lightweight outdoor gear. I learned about fabrics, technologies and production processes, and I started making my own gear. I discovered Cuben Fiber and figured out how to work with that. Then, I started building woven Dyneema® products for myself and some trusted ambassadors. We tested the hell out of these products packrafting, ice climbing and canyoneering. We found that coupled with our minimalist designs, this bombproof, waterproof and foolproof fabric takes our packs’ capabilities to the next level. It’s really exciting that we can now bring these products to our customers.”
As one of the early testers, Van Wiemeersch shares St. Pierre’s excitement. “Woven Dyneema® is waterproof, light and durable as hell. As an adventurer, once you go Dyneema® you can never go back. Seriously, need I say more?”
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