Jim Meyer reached the Canadian border on 10 August, 1994 after tramping (hiking) the 430 km Long Trail. Reflecting later about the challenges his clunky, rigid, external frame added during endless miles of blowdowns, mud, slippery roots and steep terrain, two words came to mind - never again. This ignited a lifelong passion of long-distance hiking and interest in simple, effective, lightweight equipment that wasn’t available in the major chain stores of the time, and still isn't today.
Jim started working with backpacks in 1994 at one of America's leading outdoor shops, learning how to fit packs and custom bend stays. He credits Roy Gehrig, Mike Audin and Lee Kafafian as critical early influences.
In 1996, an unlikely encounter with Wayne Gregory from Gregory Mountain Products started a product testing relationship, and three more long hikes would follow, all around the 800-900 km mark along the Appalachian Trail.
A constant thorn in the side of the emerging cottage companies of the early 2000’s, always asking for modifications and/or custom gear, Jim was encouraged by these builders to start sewing and creating his own designs.
After many years of contemplation, Jim finally started sewing in 2021 and testing his packs. Today, Helium Packs is the product of this passion, offering clean, simple, ultralight packs that are original designs, hand cut and built in Jim’s garage in Tauranga from 100% unionised labour.
"Our mission is to build clean, simple and ultralight packs in New Zealand for the serious user (including children) and encourage others to start building their own gear"
- Jim Meyer