|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 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
"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 work at backpacking equipment shop and despite the fact that it's somewhat of a conflict business-wise, I am not hesitant to recommend Ray-Way products as a source of superior gear." Jeff D.
"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 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
"The careful explanations and innovative approach of your "Sharpening The Ray-Way Knife" are wonderful and much appreciated." - Karl K., NC
"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
"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 am 14 years old and have recently finished a tarp kit from you. The tarp works great and I plan to use it during my scout troop's 50 miler on the Appalachian Trail. I am going to make a backpack kit next. Thank you for your great products." Ben B.
"After doing a 50 mile slog through Kings Canyon in California with my son's scout team, I wanted to try lighter weight backpacking gear. The thought of making it myself with your kits intrigued me. My wife got me started sewing the 2-man tarp on her sewing machine. I heard her laughing and telling my daughter that I was actually sewing. The instructions provided told me everything I needed to know. My son and I tested the tarp out tonight in the backyard with a hose. It's water tight and ready to go! I'm starting the backpack next." Steve S.
"I've ordered 8 backpacks for gifts and extras for if friends go hiking with me. Am ordering 4 more now. Thanks so much for the ideas and kits, Ray and Jenny!" Paul W.
"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.
"Since making my 2200 in3 backpack last year, I have used it and LOVE it. The weight of the pack alone is so much better than my old packs that every time I take it out it makes me SMILE! I just ordered my quilt kit and will have that ready to go. Thanks for making wonderful projects and sharing such wonderful ideas with all of us." Isabel T., CO
"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.
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
"My shipment arrived very promptly and the instructions are very clear and well-written." Don 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
"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
"Our first Quilt (and also first ever sewing project) only took a weekend to complete--GREAT INSTRUCTIONS, thanks." Blue & Nika M.
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.
"Prior to the JF class I purchased and made your Ray-Way pack, quilt, tarp, net-tent, knife and sheath. I brought them all and they performed wonderfully. I was especially impressed with how my pack felt and performed when we loaded 22 pounds of water for the long climb up to our camp above treeline. The pack carried the load beautifully. The instructions were excellent." Rich M.
"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.
"Loved Trail Life and had to buy one for my backpacking buddy so she would stop borrowing mine." Heather R.
"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
"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 completed my quilt last month. It turned out great! Just ordered 2 more. One for my son, and one for my son in law. I also ordered the tarp book, so that will probably be my next project! Thank you!" Will N., NZ
"I recently purchased your quilt and tarp kits. I have finished the quilt, and it was easy to sew and is quite amazingly warm. Thanks so much and keep up the great work with your kits, the directions are clear and they are a good deal!" Rick T.
"I have made your two person tarp, net and insulated hat and have found them to be excellent for use in the Australian climate. It gives a real sense of satisfaction to know that you made it yourself and results in no end of questions from fellow bushwalkers. They all want to know where it came from and how good it is. In Australia we don't have the range of materials available to us from local suppliers and your kits make it possible to get the best and lightest at a sensible price. Thanks for making my walking so much more enjoyable." Duncan C.
"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.
"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
"Thank you very much for these sewing kits--they're awesome!!!" Trent H.
"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 have truly learned so much from your new Tarp Book Essential. GREAT JOB!!" Michael W., GA
"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.
"THANK YOU!!!! i love my pack- this one is for my husband (he said he'd even sew it!)" Elleyne 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
"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 just finished up sewing my 3rd ray-way backpack last night, and I've been thoroughly pleased with the packs. I'll be sewing a couple more quilts in the next couple of days, along with another stowbag. Thanks again for the kits and the prompt service! Nothing but praise so far!" Paul W.
"My 1st quilt was finished last weekend - 5 more to go for family, 2 kits arrived today. Slept in mine for 2 nights @ 36'F - lovely! Perfect instructions." -Cassi Y.
"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
"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
"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
"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.
"I am sewing the kits with great enjoyment and sense of accomplishment. I finished the stowbag, and am now working on the quilt. Planning to do the backpack next, then the tarp & net-tent. I think that your materials, designs and instructions are simply superb. I can hardly wait to get out in the Sierra this summer and use the new gear." Steve S.
"The sewing journey I was on the last couple of weeks was an incredibly deep and enlightening experience to say the least! Sewing the quilt, tarp, backpack and stowbag kits, and studying the tarp book, backpack video, and highly detailed instructions with extremely accurate diagrams = A whole new perspective :) Thank you Ray and Jenny" Will Lady
"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've made so many of your projects that I need more thread. Thanks!" Earl W.
"My wife and I recently did a nice 7 day hike on the North Country trail here in Michigan, using Ray-Way Backpacks, Tarp, Net-Tent and Quilt. One of the nights we weathered a torrential downpour during a heavy (but windless) thunderstorm. We had never seen rain like that. We found out from a local person the following afternoon that it had rained at a rate of 5" per hour where we were-- torrential indeed. We stayed completely dry under the tarp, if not kept awake by the extraordinary noise of that rain. Site selection gleaned from your books also played a role-- no pooling to speak of on our elevated site on a very thick bed of pine needles." Kerry R., SW Michigan
"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
"I finished my knife and sheath, as usual the components in the kit and instructions are of the highest quality. I was surprised how pliable the leather is when wet allowing a custom fit to the knife handle. The knife and sheath came out great. Keep up the good work providing motivation and inspiration." Charles P., CA
"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
"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
"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.
"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
"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