Hyperlite Mountain Gear

Mike St. Pierre, the CEO and founder of Hyperlite, sitting among the mountain climbing gear that Hyperlite produces at their Pepperell Mill Campus facility.

Mike St. Pierre, the CEO and founder of Hyperlite, sitting among the mountain climbing gear that Hyperlite produces at their Pepperell Mill Campus facility.

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear manufacturing facility

Hyperlite Mountain Gear transitioned from Mike St. Pierre’s garage straight to the Pepperell Mill Campus. They started in Maine, source all of their materials from the U.S., and are a Maine company committed to making local products that will be used throughout the world. We find it incredibly exciting to see small businesses like Hyperlite grow so quickly.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Building 13 Suite 120

Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Mike St. Pierre, CEO and founder of Hyperlite Mountain Gear. I’m originally from Pennsylvania, but have spent a significant amount of time in Maine over the years having worked as both a commercial fisherman and Portland chef. Following a few years in the high-end restaurant industry in New York City, I moved to Maine permanently in 2009 to start Hyperlite Mountain Gear in what I thought was an ideal East Coast location for an outdoor gear company.

Tell me a little about your business?

Hyperlite Mountain Gear designs and manufacturers ultralight backpacking gear-backpacks, tents and accessories-here in the Pepperell Mill. We utilize high-tech, space age materials, also made in the USA, to produce products that weigh a fraction of the amount of traditional backpacking gear. For our customers, that translates to more comfort and agility on the trail and in the mountains, which ultimately means more fun, greater safety, and the potential for longer, more ambitious trips.

What made you choose the mill for your business?

First and foremost, we love Maine–always have, always will–and it’s important for us that we produce our packs and shelters in a place where their intended use is close at hand. We also believe in the value of domestic, American manufacturing. It allows us to deliver a higher quality product while embracing a nimble, responsive approach to meeting the needs of our customers.

To be a part of the resurgence here in Biddeford and at the mill, and be able to offer good jobs in a place where they are needed is equally important to us. It feels great to be a part of the history here, bringing manufacturing back to Maine with a business that relates to the mill’s origins in textile manufacturing.

How long have you been doing this?

I started the business seven years ago with my brother, Dan. After spending the first year in a garage in Kennebunk working to commercialize our initial product line, we moved into the North Dam Mill in 2011 to start building our production facility.

What makes your business interesting to you?

Our goal is to be able to offer people an experience in the outdoors that is fundamentally different from what they’re used to. There’s no need be bent under a load of 40 or 50 pounds when you’re out on the trail. Ultimately, it’s amazing to watch people sort out what they really need from what they don’t, and then have more fun doing something they already love.

Materials technology is a huge part of our competitive advantage and we love being on the leading edge of a number of movements at once. The outdoor industry is changing very quickly right now; materials and design are advancing at a breakneck pace, the average consumer’s mindset is evolving simultaneously and the business model is shifting towards ecommerce. It’s exciting to be a part of, and to get to bring it into the fold here in the midst of the resurgence of the old textile mills of Biddeford .

What makes you stand out from others in the same industry?

For years, the status quo in the outdoor industry has been “buy more stuff, to buy more stuff.” We stand in direct opposition to that. People spend so much time buying and managing gear, and then suffering under the weight of it, that they’re actually less likely to get out there onto the trail.

We’ve stripped away all the bells and whistles to where our products offer utilitarian functionality and exceptional durability. We like to say we offer customers precisely what’s needed, nothing more. All of this is an effort to cut out the background noise and get back to where spending time outdoors is the focus, not the “stuff”.

The Mill Project

The Pepperell Mill Campus in Biddeford, Maine photographed by Portland Headshot, a brand of Peter Greeno Photography, for The Mill ProjectThe Mill Project is a joint partnership project between Portland Headshot, a brand of Peter Greeno Photography, and the Pepperell Mill Campus, redeveloping Biddeford’s historic mill campus.

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Pepperell Mill Campus