|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 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’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
"I just wanted to thank you for the excellent backpack. I bought your kit last year while I lived in the US for a short while. As I did not have a sewing machine, I made it fully by hand - it took some 2 weeks several hours per day, but it was fun for most of the time - I was constantly mixing inches with centimeters. I took it canyoning for 2 weeks and it behaved extremely well - just some minor scratches, although I never seriously believed that the pack would stand all the abuse it went through. Now I am also using the backpack for hand luggage while traveling, perfect size even more perfect weight, I am going shopping with it 35 kg (70-80 lbs) without problems and, of course, backpacking. This year I am taking the pack ice climbing and on several backpacking and canoe trips." Atis R.
"We used our tarp and the net-tent on our 100+ mile trip of traversing the Uintas in Utah. Both were great and went a long way to lightening our loads. The tarp saved us from several severe soakings on the last few days. We were able to set up the tarp quickly and get out of the rain. Thanks for everything!" John W., UT
"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 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.
"This quilt kit is for my wife - she tried the one I made this summer (the alpine upgrade, deluxe) and now won't part with it until I make her one too =)." Nickolas G.
"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 finished the tarp project and am excited by the results. It was my first sewing project ever, and I can't wait to try it out." Noah B.
"I've made so many of your projects that I need more thread. Thanks!" Earl W.
"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 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.
"THANK YOU!!!! i love my pack- this one is for my husband (he said he'd even sew it!)" Elleyne B.
"I recently made the tarp, net-tent, and quilt. I'm working on 2 insulated hats. I really enjoyed working with the nice materials and the well thought-out designs." Gail H.
"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.
"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 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 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.
"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.
"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
"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
"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.
"Our first Quilt (and also first ever sewing project) only took a weekend to complete--GREAT INSTRUCTIONS, thanks." Blue & Nika M.
"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
"Oh boy. can't wait to get back on the trail w/new R-W gear. I've researched for two years and nothing compares to your designs. (and your low prices are so appreciated.) C U on the AT." -Cecilia M.
"This will be my nineth quilt." Don R.
"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
"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.
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.
"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 have truly learned so much from your new Tarp Book Essential. GREAT JOB!!" Michael W., GA
"Dear Ray and Jenny, Thank you very much for your book "Trail life" and videos "Caper" and "2010 A. T. Gear" - something excellent to read and to see! Now my wife and I would like to order a bundle of Ray-Way products. With best wishes" Michael V., Moscow, Russia
"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'm ordering more Trail Life books to give to friends...appreciate your sharing your trail-learned knowledge...I'm incorporating more of it all the time. Your Trail Life book is a great value. M. Feltis
"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 absolutely love the two person deluxe quilt. It's amazing how light it is. I love how you can adjust how it's positioned over you, so you don't have a heat stroke like in a mummy bag. Thanks for putting these kits together and making them available." Jason D.
"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.
"Thanks for the great products. I've really come to trust your equipment." Thomas C.
"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.
"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
"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.
"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
"The quilt kit just arrived and I've already sewn it together and slept in it in my back yard. I woke up and thought I would check the temperature and I was blown away to find out that it had dropped to 37F overnight. The quilt kept me absolutely toasty the whole night, even below the rated temperature and all I was wearing was a t-shirt and cotton pants. I had a blast making it and it weighs 1lb 9oz for the deluxe version. Thank you so much for this great product." Tom C.
"Thank you very much for these sewing kits--they're awesome!!!" Trent H.
"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.
"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 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 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
"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 recently completed my first project - a 1P quilt made with Light fabric and the extra layer. It looks great, especially considering its the first time I've used a sewing machine! I had ordered the extra layer knowing that my wife sleeps cold, and figuring that the quilt would catch her eye immediately. I guessed right, so have ordered a 1P quilt kit for myself. So if you've got a list of delighted customers, put us at the top! We'll be ordering the backpack kits next. Thanks for all your efforts." Don H.
"While preparing for our FFT (first Ray Way!), few things have been as valuable as "Trail Life". Early in my studying the book, I started making notes. My notes quickly turned into pages, too large for a web post. So rather than trying to convince experienced outdoor enthusiasts to buy your book, I just started buying extra copies and gifting them. If I hadn't buddied around and climbed with Ray in Yosemite, I might find what the two of you have accomplished as somewhat unbelievable. For the less experienced adventurist, in a one-liner summary I would simply suggest the following: "Ray and Jenny provide not only useful products and trustworthy information to believe - but also, and more importantly - two people to believe IN." You can quote me on that. Thanks again for sharing your experiences, tips and inspirations. I love what you have done and are doing." Craig C., AK
"Your kits bring a sense of satisfaction that one doesn't get from buying gear! I know you care about others' experiences, so thank you from the bottom of my heart." Elleyne B.
"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
"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.
"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