|Ray Jardine, author: Trail Life, The Ray-Way Tarp Book Essential, Beyond Backpacking, Siku Kayak, The PCT Hiker's Handbook. This site features a collection of adventure stories and photo journals pertaining to long distance, lightweight hiking and backpacking, Baja and Arctic sea kayaking, Barrenlands canoeing, round-the-world sailing, skydiving, ocean rowing, bicycle and motorcycle touring, knifemaking, snowkiting, skiing to the South Pole, mountaineering and more.|
"Just finished reading Trail Life. Wow! Within 30 minutes my way of thinking about backpacking was changed. By the end the read I have a completely shifted view about gear and preparing for and enjoying the outdoors. Thinking for yourself about these things is actually more fun. I have taken my first step toward "commercial independence" by making my own a fleece hat and mittens on my wife's sewing machine. Next comes your tarp. Big Thanks for sharing your knowledge, experience and philosophy. It has made a difference." Dana N., CA
"Just finished the first two quilts, boy is that fun. My son had a few friends over while I was sewing and he was bragging about his dad sewing and about how lightweight his gear is. What fun to see the look on the boys faces when they saw a dad sitting at a sewing machine. The quilts are awesome and so much better than the pictures elude to. The construction is excellent (as with all your kits) and the instructions are easy to follow. I just ordered more thread because with one backpack, a tarp, 2 quilts, (so far) 3 quilt and stowbags, and other ditty bags and many other little repairs and projects, I finally need more." Geoff G.
"I just want to thank you for all the knowledge you've imparted for a great cause. Not only innovative and inspiring but also well written. You have changed my life. I sewed a Ray-way tarp and I'm hoping to use it on the AT this summer." Paul E., MN
"I love these projects." Nick R.
"The Quilt kit turned out great, only 1.25 lbs per person with the Gorget and Splitzip options. The Stowbags are the only way to go. I just ordered a Ray-Way backpack kit. Thanks so much for making such great kits that are beyond reasonably priced." Mark H.
"I just finished the JMT and finally put the tarp to the test. We had some intense storms at Lake Marjorie just north of Pinchot Pass. It was plain awesome! It was the windiest, rainiest and most lightening I've camped in and most intense storm I've seen. I remained completely dry inside the net-tent and under my quilt. I knew the tarp should hold up, but now I know viscerally how strong the shelter system is! Thanks again for producing such great products." - David C.
"I just made a second quilt, this one with extra insulation for winter camping, and had one of the coziest nights ever at bitingly cold Joshua Tree over the weekend. This was under a tarp, while wearing the insulated hat. A ray-way triumvirate!" Scott G.
"I am 68 years old and have been camping since the year before I was born, and found your "Trail Life" book extremely informative and very enjoyable! I am reading it again for the second time!" Bob T., TX
"I Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate tremendously what you do with your knowledge and products, which totally transformed my and my wife's backpacking methodology. The ideas we learned extend into the rest our lives far further than we'd ever have expected, as we apply much of Ray-Way philosophy to our every day lives. To date I've made 2 Quilts, a 2-person net tent (I added a zipper) for my Ray-Way tarp, 2 bat wings, 1 backpack, several storage/stow bags, not to mention countless repairs and modifications to existing gear, all from the kits/books/knowledge/philosophy garnered from Ray-Way products. I hope you continue to provide your guidance and kits-- much needed in our over-consumption driven society." Kerry R., Michigan
"Your kits are perfect. I have never sewed before but was able to follow the instructions and get a lot of praise from friends and family on the finished projects. My hiking buddy and I have been going every other day on hikes to train for our upcoming trip. We are having a blast together. Thank you again for making my life richer and fuller." Randall B.
"Our first Quilt (and also first ever sewing project) only took a weekend to complete--GREAT INSTRUCTIONS, thanks." Blue & Nika M.
"Thank you very much for these sewing kits--they're awesome!!!" Trent H.
"I am thru hiking the AT and now under my Ray-Way tarp and quilt in the middle of a thunderstorm 19 miles north of Harpers Ferry and am dry as toast. Lots of people have recognized the tarp as being a Ray-Way product so I must have done an ok job of sewing." James G.
"How many times do I need to keep telling you guys you really could be charging folks twice as much for your instructions and wealth of detailed design instructions!!! I can't even tell you how good a deal we all are getting for such great kits!! You guys are way too kind. I tried making my own packs and quilt when Beyond Backpacking first came out, and I must say my first go around of equipment was 100 times more functional than the clunker gear of commercial stores, but looked pretty cheezie. After your kits came out, my gear became A+ professional in function, looks, design, and strength!!! Not to mention lasting over 9 years of all year around heavy use!" James G., CA
"I want to thank you for providing the kits. I put faith in both your quilt and tarp and it paid off. Using it for the first time ever I was caught in an amazing thunderstorm. My buddies had their fancy ultralight tents, and my tarp seemed out of place. But I was to find out why the tarp is much more beneficial. During the amazing lighting and thunderstorm my friends only were able to witness the storm from inside/underneath their rainflys. I was able to witness the beauty of the storm as it lit the forest up. Also the combination of two eliminated the condensation that both my friends tents were doused in. Thanks." Vincent F., AZ
"This is our first sewing project, and we are having a lot of fun with it." Larissa G.
"Hey guys, Just wanted to say that I very much enjoy my Ray-Way Tarp. I've used a lot of products and have the ability to purchase most products at a discount. However, I'd rather use the tarp in most cases. Simplicity is elegance. Solid work on your product design. I want to put together a Net-Tent as well, so my wife and I will be sewing that up." John W., UT
"Your tips and experiences in your books "Tarp Book Essentials" and "Trail Life" allowed me - 6 years after having replaced my natural hips by artificial joints - to start again hiking with a minimum of package and an optimum of joy." Michael S., Germany
"I ordered your Tarp Essential, Trail Life, and a Tarp recently and have read the books cover to cover. They have been very thought provoking and have helped me look at things in a new way. One afternoon I slept in the tarp during a hard rain. I was nervous because I was in a bit of depression between two trees. I stayed completely dry without a drop of water inside the tarp. The water run-off just soaked into the ground. The next morning I made my breakfast inside the tarp on my alcohol stove. There was so much room and ventilation. I am having a paradigm shift and want to sew more gear." Ron S., VA
"I just finished up a thru-hike on the A.T. using your philosophy and sewing kits extensively. 2183.7 miles (includes the approach trail) in 88 days. Thank you two so much for sharing your thoughts, ideas, and sewing instructions with a backpacking novice like me." Paul W.
"Your sewing kits are the best! Plus, it is so much fun to make my own gear - I'm up late every night at the sewing machine, listening to books on tape and stitching away. The instructions are very good, obviously carefully written and reviewed, so they are quite clear and complete. Everything about these products is first class. The backpack and extra thick sleeping quilt passed their first test this month on a 24 mile winter backpacking hike. The Trail Life book is a treasure of experience and information. Thank you so much for everything." Stephen K., KY
"We are just back from cycling the north sea cycle way - 2768 miles in 61 days - used the quilt I made and it kept us snuggly warm in the cold weather we experienced. My husband was very sceptical but is now converted to the quilt idea. it saved on space and weight. THANKS." Brenda C., UK
"Thanks for offering the kits Ray. You have made my wife a garage widow with all the sewing I'm doing. We just spent 4 days in the Golden Trout Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada using your gear. I think we saved a hour a day just because we didn't have to mess with hipbelts." Rick R.
"I'm an Eagle Scout from Indiana, and I just got back from a 2 week trip to Philmont scout ranch in New Mexico. I took your tarp and net tent, and they worked great! We stayed nice and dry, and it's much lighter and roomier than a tent. I love your stuff, and I continue to use ideas from your Trail Life book whenever I camp. Thanks for all you do for the hiking/backpacking experience." Mark M., IN
"I've enjoyed making your kits: seven backpacks, four tarps, two bat wings, and three quilts, so far." - Craig H.
"Thanks again Ray and Jenny for the awesome products you have made available. I have read Beyond Backpacking several times and have given it away several times. I have thought about making my own quilt, tarp and pack but wanted more instruction and *hand holding*. Your kits are the answer. You guys are doing wonderful things. keep it up." Geoff G.
"Thanks for making the kits available--we were in the process of locating and pricing the materials ourselves, but yours are actually cheaper by far, and we live near a sizeable outdoor fabric retailer." Trent H.
"So far, i've made your tarp, sleeping quilt, knife, batwing, and now this will be my second backpack. You seriously provide the best products of anywhere out there - no competition! I don't think people realize what a huge value your kits are. I would pay double the price of these kits. Thanks for providing such incredible materials, books, and service!" Agnieszka G.
"I recently ordered your 2 person quilt kit, and found the instructions and materials to be of superior quality. The project took a little longer than expected, but the results have been well worth the time and effort. The quilt fits perfectly. As for performance, we hurried off the very next weekend to try it out. The weight savings was incredible, weighing less than one of our traditional bags. The trip was a bit blustery and got down into the 30's but we noticed no loss of comfort. Thank you for such an innovative idea." Jason M.
"We just completed the PCT using your tarp, quilt and backpack. This was the first time we had really camped with a tarp and found it to be so versatile and simple. We used it in all kinds of weather and situations and every time it was put to the test, it passed with flying colours. The aspects of its simplicity, effectiveness, versatility and weight have halted any desires I have to search for the perfect shelter, as I think it is pretty close. We were so happy with it. This was also the first time we had used the quilts. Like the tarp, it did not cease to impress. At one camp, near Forrester Pass, we endured a significant dumping of snow and, according to a gentleman we saw the next day, temperatures into the single digits (Fahrenheit). Aside from our solidly frozen shoes, we remained quite comfortably warm. The well thought out design for the backpack was excellent. The pockets were great, directions on packing it from the AT video were excellent. You would probably be disgusted by how much food weight your poor little bags had to endure but they definitely stood up to whatever challenge we could throw at them, although there were a few patched and unpatched holes by the end. We would both like to send you guys are heart felt thanks as the gear was amazing." Ben D. and Kate M., Australia
"Hi Jenny and Ray, just finished your backpack kit and tested it on Mallorca / GR221 a few days. It performed excellent without a hip belt. My next project is to sew a quilt." Andreas L., Germany
"I bought a Ray-Way pack last year and it was a joy to assemble. I never knew I could sew! My son and I are planning an extended packing trip this May for his HS graduation. I ordered another pack for him and we are both thrilled with our packs. Thanks Ray!" Taylor F.
"Your Trail Life book was a cornerstone in helping my family complete our first backpacking trip, the JMT. Also, the one-person quilt with 2 layers of alpine insulation was a sensation. We swapped quilts throughout the trip and found that the Ray-Way quilt was a great deal warmer than the 20 degree down quilt of equal loft." -Sam J, KY
"Thanks for all your impact on the ultralight hiking community, and for offering such great products. Best regards from Germany" Jan W.
"I am very grateful for the insight you provide in your writings, your encouragement that you provide in the kits, and guidance for folks like me who have never sewn in their life - as well as the incredible support you have provided when we go astray. It is obvious you take great pride in your products and truly care about your customers. Thanks again" Michael B., MD
I ordered the quilt kit last month. What a boost of confidence your clear instructions gave me! I felt like a sewing expert (once I remembered how to thread the machine). I'm looking forward to another fun sewing adventure with the tarp and net-tent kits. Thank you, and I hope you are having a lovely winter.
"Hey Ray and Jenny, Just got back from a great weekend hiking in the Buffalo River area with my scouts. Got into a freak windstorm with winds in excess of 50 mph. Lots of tents went down, but my Ray-Way Tarp pitched low didn't have any problems, and later with one side pitched high, comfortably sat 8 wet scouts and leaders along with one grumpy Ray-Way Tarp owner. I told them this could have been avoided if they would get there own tarps! Thanks again for a great design and materials." Curtis W., Missouri
"My son and I took our Ray-Way tarps to Philmont this year and they were awesome, rain, hail, wind, always dry and what views the entire trek. We use them all year here in MN and wherever we go. It is amazing to see how much better they work than tents, especially for eliminating condensation and we love the open view. Thanks for the awesome design, complete kits and quality materials!" - Ken D., MN
I have been hauling camping gear around in my 10+ year old Ray-Way backpack and have enjoyed it so much. Now I use it to carry groceries from the local farmers market on my bicycle. John G., TX
"Thanks for the great kits. I have completed the tarp, quilt, hat, backpack, and a knife kit and have ordered a net tent kit. I must say that the instructions in your kits are bombproof. They are extremely well written and make the process easy. You simply do one simple thing at a time. My son and I spent a week on the trail in Shenandoah National Park. The backpack and tarp performed exceptionally. We even weathered a couple of blistering thunderstorms and stayed completely dry. We used many principles and ideas from Trail Life to keep our packs light." Ron S., VA
"The careful explanations and innovative approach of your "Sharpening The Ray-Way Knife" are wonderful and much appreciated." - Karl K., NC
"Before ordering my kits from you I had never sewed anything, in fact I did not even own sewing machine. I just finished the first project. I love it! There is one slight problem though, my wife and my kids all want me to make them one too." Randy B.
"THANK YOU!!!! i love my pack- this one is for my husband (he said he'd even sew it!)" Elleyne B.
"We want to thank you ever so much for your fast and efficient service. We have received all our merchandise and are extremely satisfied with your service." Burt M.
"We just finished our tarp (and are just starting the quilt). I cannot imagine sleeping under anything else now. What a tremendous feeling having made my own equipment. Thank you so much sharing your designs and whole new way of looking at things. Or should I say old way of looking at things. Not many years ago our parents and grandparents made everything they used, now everyone buys the things they use and somehow are never satisfied, and thus are depressed and taking pills and the drug conglomerates are getting rich, people are getting more depressed and so it goes. I have never been more satisfied with a piece of equipment. Because, I made it myself and that is satisfying, which is the antithesis of depression. Thanks again." Bruce R.
"I gave away the last four Trail Life's I ordered a few weeks ago, now I'm ordering four more. Everyone appreciates the book." Mark F., WA
"Thanks for providing such awesome, and well-thought kits. My son (now 15) and I made one of your two person tarps last summer. He's a very active Eagle Scout and has been using it exclusively ever since, even in the winter. He says he'll never use a tent again. The tarp is 1/3 the weight of his "lightest" backpacking tent. He camped under it this winter in temperatures below 20F at night and he said he was warmer under the tarp than he's ever been in a tent in winter. He's also read your book Trail Life cover to cover several times and says he learns something new every time. He's one of your biggest fans. Keep up the good work." Scott M., IN
"Just completed a knife purchased from you. It turned out great. When I went to sharpen it more (it was already very sharp), I used the sharpening method from your video. I have never been able to get a knife as sharp as this one. I love the frosts blade, the sharpening system, and video sharpening instructions. Another great Ray-Way product." Ron S., VA
"I enjoyed making your tarp, batwing, nettent, stowbag, sleeping quilt and backpack very much! My fabulus 260 gram light backpack was pretty easy after making all the other stuff :-) I love it!!" Bianca H., Germany
"My wife likes my quilt so much that she doesn't want it finished (i. e. close the foot end). So, I'll let her have that one and I'll make another one (this one with alpine insulation). We'll get to try both." Michael B., MD
"I think your kits are fantastic." Jeanette E.
"I finished making my beautiful quilt a few weeks ago and I am 100% pleased with the results. I work with an outfitter here in Tennessee and I can honestly say that nothing on our wall matches the performance of the quilts simple design and modest price." Jeff D.
"I have built most of your kits over the past few years and find the finished products to be functionally superior to anything on the market today. The backpack is the first one to fit me perfectly. My wife and I will never use a tent on the trail again, as your tarp is vastly more enjoyable to sleep beneath, and the 2P quilt we've used happily for a year now. And the one kit that has given me the most down-right pleasure is the knife kit." - Tom C., AZ
"By sewing my own gear from the kits that you have meticulously designed and refined, I not only now have gear that is of the highest caliber but I also now have the skills to make this gear myself." David d.
"Now that my son has outgrown the pack I made for him almost 2 years ago, he's sewing a bigger one. I'm sewing a higher capacity one for myself at the same time, so we are going step by step together. This is his second sewing project, having started learning on a quilt stowbag. We're going slowly, and we're very thankful for the excellent instructions you guys have developed. Thanks Ray and Jenny." Mike W., CA