|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.|
"I ordered my first quilt kit with much trepidation, due to the fact that my only prior sewing experience was watching my wife make throw pillows! I did the whole thing in about 7 hours!!! Wow. Though there are definate signs this quilt was done by a first-timer, it looks really good. This was a most exciting project and I cannot wait to use it. Thank you Ray and Jenny for a most inspirational project." Wil A.
"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 bought "Trail Life" and instantly read it, many parts over and over. I was expecting a lot, yet still surprised at how much is in there!" Joseph D., Iowa
"The Ray-Way quilts are awesome; I haven't used a sleeping bag once since making my first quilt a year or so ago. This includes two trips in snow, and a few near-freezing temp trips in the desert. When people are worried about the feasibility of going ultralight, the Ray-Way quilts are exhibit number one in convincing them that ultralight is not about skimping on safety and comfort. Not only are the quilts lighter than conventional equipment, but they are better: every bit as warm, easier to adjust to comfort, less constricting, and more adaptable to multiple uses (e.g., as a blanket around camp). The kits were straightforward to put together with clear instructions taking you through the process step-by-step. I am an ultra-satisfied customer." Scott G.
"I'm sure you get this all of the time, but I just adore you guys. Not only because of the amazing things you do or the awesome advice you give, but because you do all of these adventures together. If I could pick any two people in the world to meet, it would be you. May you have many more adventures to come!" C. P.
"THANK YOU for all that you have done to make it possible for amateur beginners like myself to make our own quality pieces of gear. I have completed the Net tent, Tarp, insulated hat, and 1P Quilt, and all have been a truly incredible learning experience. The quality of your designs have so many in-built subtleties and details that emerge as the sewing journey unfolds, and yet it all flows naturally with the use of only a simple, carefully chosen materials. The fact that the process has been easy enough for a beginner like me to successfully complete is an astounding design achievement. I am truly in awe!" Raymond Y., Western Australia
"I just finished the one person quilt with alpine upgrade. It is way lighter than the dinosaur it is replacing. Now I'll need to do extensive testing!!" Jeremy C.
"I just returned from a trip along the JMT and my Ray-Way tarp worked fantastic! There was quite a bit of rain, thunder, lightning and hail but the tarp took it all in stride. My Ray-Way quilt also worked great!" Darren O., CA
I’m not a hiker, but a biker. But also for me the information given in Trail Life Lightweight Backpacking is very, very, very helpful. Worth its weight in gold. After all, it doesn’t just help you to reduce gear’s weight, but also seems to help reducing your mind’s weight. Ray and Jenny, I thank you so much! Keep it up!" -Hans A. Germany
"My wife and I just returned from our 2 week hike on the North Country Trail, here in Michigan, using Ray-Way gear and info from Trail Life and the Tarp Book. Everything went flawlessly." Kerry R., MI
"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
"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.
"First of all, much thanks for providing these kits! Quality gear + a new skill for a relatively low cost is a pretty great deal. I recently finished sewing my 2P Tarp and 2P Net Tent with negligible previous sewing experience. Overall your instructions were phenomenal, and really made these projects more approachable than I thought they would be." Brian S., OH
"I am a fan of Beyond Backpacking (and now Trail Life), and those books have changed my life, thanks for sharing your wisdom. I purchased a backpack kit about 2 months ago and it is now done. The kit was great, the instructions were clear and detailed, and I am very happy with the result. Thank you both!" Mark D., Indiana
"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
"I watched the backpack making DVD. WOW!, great job, it is really clear, easy to follow and professionally done. I also finished my knife and sheath and am very pleased with how it came out. The steel in these blades seems to be particularly good" Richard M.
"Thank you for your wonderful kits. They are much more than a weekend project, they are passports to freedom - spiritual, physical, and material." Elleyne B.
"I completed my 2 person split-zip quilt kit, my third, this time using one layer of Woodland. My wife and I tried it out this weekend on a 2 day mountain bike-packing trip. It was absolutely perfect! We stayed comfortable and dry under our Ray Way tarp and Net-Tent as temps dropped from a humid 85F to a breezy 60F during the over night pop-up thunderstorms. Next on the list is completion of our new 2,200 in3 Ray Way packs that should work extremely well for our mountain bike-pack trips. Thanks for making these kits and your knowledge available!" Kerry R., MI
"I have just completed my backpack after making a quilt and a stowbag for the quilt plus a knife. I still have a tarp to put together. I really enjoyed making my backpack. As soon as I was done I loaded it with all the gear that I could find, and found that even with the quilt and a bunch of stuff that it weighs less than my old pack did empty!" Eric S.
"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
"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'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
"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.
"Hey Ray & Jenny, The last Ray-Way backpack I made has done over 10,000 miles, but I need a new one. I still have my old video for making the pack, hopefully it still applies to the one I ordered here. Still the best backpack out there!" Scott Williamson, CA
"This weekend my wife and I took our newly constructed Ray-Way tarp to Anza Borrego Desert SP for its inaugural voyage. We particularly enjoyed sleeping under the tarp which allowed for us to enjoy the perfectly still and balmy desert night without sweltering inside our old claustrophobic backpacking tent. Not to mention the other perks in leaving 4 unnecessary pounds at home and the deeper connection to the landscape of stars and sounds of the night." Ben T.
"I received the backpack kit and video, along with the quilt, etc. The video hits just the right spot for demonstration and explanation of the steps involved. I know it's not meant to replace the instructions, but seeing it done is a great help and worth every penny. Thank you again for doing the video, this way many people can take a sewing class with you. I also want to note that your instructions for the tarp kit are clear and easy to follow as well as helpful in teaching sewing techniques, i.e. a balanced stitch and different types of seams. Needless to say, what you provide at any cost is a bargain, so much gratitude to you and Jenny." Steve B.
"I recently finished a quilt kit--thank you so much--it works great! Now that I've made one quilt, the next one will be a piece of cake. Thanks!" Steven B.
"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.
"THANK YOU!!!! i love my pack- this one is for my husband (he said he'd even sew it!)" Elleyne B.
"I finished my pack yesterday morning! I think it came out very well, I am quite proud of it. For me the combination of the book and the video were superb, and you did a wonderful job with the instructional materials and the plans!" David d.
"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 think your kits are fantastic." Jeanette E.
"The kits are packaged very well, arrive promptly and go together as instructed. Completed projects: 2-person tarp, Quilt, Knife kit. In Progress: Knife kit, Stowbag. Thanks again" Larry B.
"You have the COOLEST products. This is my second quilt from you." Fred W.
"Ray and Jenny, THANK YOU for sharing your ideas, inspiration, experiences, advice, insight, philosophy, positive /limitless attitude, etc!! I have always enjoyed backpacking and what you call *elbow* room. However, as hard as it is to admit, I, like many others, have been disillusioned by marketers, advertisements, etc...until now! Early this year Molly and I decided to hike the John Muir Trail in August. We purchased 2 backpacks + the DVD, a Tarp, a Net-tent, a Quilt, 2 spools of thread and a sewing machine. Having never sewn before I was a little nervous, but your encouragement and the success of others gave me confidence. I completed my backpack, tarp, net-tent, quilt, several ditty bags, stwobags for the quilt, 2 umbrella modifications, and a hiker's friend filter. Molly sewed her backpack and dehydrated our homemade food for the trip. In retrospect we are really glad we got these made as they proved indispensable! We were very pleased with the performance of all the gear." Brian L.
"I just am putting the finishing touches on the backpack kit. When I first read the instructions I was a bit overwhelmed and thought "What have I gotten into." However, by following the instructions one step at a time they made perfect sense. I don't think I have ever worked with another set of instructions that were as detailed and well thought out as yours. The pack gradually took shape before my eyes and the daunting process ended up being a series of small steps. Thanks for all the effort you put into the instructions and the kit. After completing the process I now see the genius in the order and progression. Again superb. I will be ordering some more Ray-Way kits in the future." Ron S., VA
"Thanks a lot for your effort! You really offer the finest materials, we both LOVE the Quilts, the lightweight nylon fabrics in their beautiful colours, they have real mood improving qualities! And it's relaxing to follow your instructions, they're so well thought out! Thanks for your good work by which you also improve our lives." Kirsten G., Germany
"Just finished my 2P splitzip Quilt, and tested it out in the Tetons/Yellowstone! I'd gone with the woodland insulation for an up-and-coming bike trip, but my wife and I slept TOASTY-warm even though the night temperatures in Wyoming's monstrous mountains were far from the recommended temperature rating! I attribute this to wonderful cuddling feature of the quilt, and your aforementioned advice on wearing warmer clothes to sleep in. Even though some of my stitches mighta' zigged and zagged, the quilt looks and works great! It was my first sewing project, and I could see my proficiency improving with every step along the quilt's instructions. Can't wait to make another "prettier" version come my next adventure! Thanks for all your help, advice and ideas!" Brent L.
"I wanted to thank you guys for all that you do. I really appreciate your philosophies. I just finished making your tarp, quilt, pack, and stowbag. It all turned out great. Its amazing how satisfying and rewarding it is to making your own gear. I am looking forward to many excursions with my newly sewn gear. Thanks for everything." JC P.
"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 ordered a tarp kit, net-tent kit, Tarp Book, and thread, along with a delux 2-person quilt kit with the alpine upgrade, and two stowbag kits. The box and materials combined weigh less than the tent I use now!! And it's considered an ultralight product." Jason L.
"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
"Loved Trail Life and had to buy one for my backpacking buddy so she would stop borrowing mine." Heather R.
"Gena and I just finished the JMT and had a wonderful trip. Wow, those mountains are breathtaking! Well, I stayed up late before our departure but completed the two person quilt and it was clutch. Most nights above 10,000 we awoke to frost on our quilt, but we were toasty warm underneath. Absolutely superb design and function. James G., CA
"I so much look forward to sewing and using these kits! Thank you SO much for the inspiration...I used to be a gearhead junkie..poring through the latest catalogs for the newest and best...you guys have given me the inspiration and the confidence to do it myself..cheaper and better! Thank You!!!" James P.
"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
"Dear Ray and Jenny, We've built your tarp, net-tent and quilt and are about to embark on another quilt and a backpack. We just wanted to drop you a line to say thank-you. Before we read your books and started adopting your philosophies and creating our own equipment, we didn't think backpacking with our 2-year old son would be possible. One of us has to carry him most of the way, so the other person must carry almost everything else. We now have a few adventures behind us and are pleased to say it is possible! Thanks for helping allow us to be together as a family in the wilderness!" Simon H.
"I love the kits, especially the tarp. I use mine as my main shelter up here in Northern BC. My family doesn't all fit under one tarp anymore! I would like to order another." Dale B.
The order placed today will be my seventh backpack!! Two for myself, and others as gifts. Still planning on the AT with ALL Ray-Way gear." Craig H., GA
"Just wanted to say thank you for your great kits. I was a bit skeptic about the Quilt's temperature rating, and i didn't want to freeze, so i ordered the extra layer. I have never used a quilt before (or a high performance lightweight bag either....) so when I finished sewing it I decided to test it. The weather was perfect - cold and clear with just a breeze blowing from the north. There was a thick layer of snow covering everything and reflecting the clear moonlight. I had a wonderful nights sleep there in my backyard on the snow with my sleeping pad and my new warm quilt and nothing but stars above me. I checked the temperature and was very impressed when i saw it was -10C (14F) !!! I felt that the Draftstopper and Gorget really helped me in keeping warm." Jonas N., Sweden
"I was given a deluxe quilt kit by my wife for Christmas. It was my first time in front of a sewing machine - my wife showed me the basics then left with the kids for the weekend. I finished the foot box as she pulled back in the driveway. It turned out awesome and her pride in my work was a real boost. Thanks for the great kit - As you imply in your writing, learning to make your own gear is empowering, and I have an attachment to the quilt beyond what my expensive down bag ever meant to me. On top of that, my kids love it and want to sleep under it too, so I'm ordering two more quilts and a tarp." Michael M.
"I have truly learned so much from your new Tarp Book Essential. GREAT JOB!!" Michael W., GA
"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
"I ordered your tarp kit and everything went great. You provide very detailed, yet easy to follow instructions. I also ordered your Atlantic Caper video, which I enjoyed very much. I'm glad you added the skydiving footage at the end...very cool." Calvin H., Ohio
"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.