|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 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.
"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.
"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
"We have made tarps, quilts and stowbags with total satisfaction. Keep up the good work." Phillip B., Australia
"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.
"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 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
"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
"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
"Thanks for all of the great products that you provide. Making my own gear has changed the way that I interact with the outdoors. The two quilts I've made are my favorite sleeping bags now, and I'm sure my tarp and net-tent will be just as good. Take care, and keep encouraging and empowering the rest of us to make our own gear!" Ben S.
"I've made so many of your projects that I need more thread. Thanks!" Earl W.
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'm loving my just completed quilt and am working on my tarp and spitfire. I took up backpacking but didn't get very far because I was not strong enough to carry all the recommended gear. But adopting your gear with the training I'm doing now, I'm looking forward to a lot of fun backpacking this summer. Thank you for your kindness in sharing your experiences and your encouraging attitude." Kristin B., VT
"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'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 love these projects." Nick R.
"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.
"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
"I decided to try to assemble your deluxe quilt kit on a long weekend. By the second night I was sleeping under it! (Quite comfy, by the way.) The directions were clear, the materials outstanding, and the work involved was not that difficult, despite tri-focals and an el-cheapo sewing machine. I want to thank you for making this wonderful project possible. I am literally a happy camper!!" Greg 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.
"I've enjoyed making your kits: seven backpacks, four tarps, two bat wings, and three quilts, so far." - Craig H.
"Thank you so much for offering your variety wonderful kits. Thus far, I have sewn a tarp, net-tent, quilt and stowbags using your kits. I have also recently completed the knife kit and am about to start on the leather sheath. All of the kits produce a great looking final project and more importantly function extremely well while on the trail." James S.
"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 just wanted to let you know how impressed my wife and I continue to be with the versatility and functionality of our single layer Alpine 2-person quilt. We easily cover temps to 45 without adding more than a thin hat to our shorts and hiking shirts, impressive for a single layer of 3/4" insulation. Yet we don't get too hot at 75. Sharing body heat is a massive plus; it's amazing how much less insulation this allows us to get away with. The Gorget ensures a lovely warmth-snaring drape. It's amazing how much warmth is felt the second the Draft Stopper is tucked under our bodies and between our necks. The split zip makes it feel nearly weightless in our pack. We love all our Ray Way gear, but the quilt is really my favorite! Thanks for taking the time to refine this lovely piece of gear and make it so accessible through your kits." Kerry, MI
"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.
"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
"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 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.
"I received my order yesterday, and really appreciate your business! Before you made your products available I was always searching for the materials you recommended and settling for what I could find. Now when I order from you I get the very best!" George M.
"The careful explanations and innovative approach of your "Sharpening The Ray-Way Knife" are wonderful and much appreciated." - Karl K., NC
"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 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.
"Hi Jenny and Ray, You both are doing great stuff. I read 'Beyond Backpacking' years ago and got hooked on ultralight backpacking. My first project was your Backpack-Kit. Your kits are of outstanding quality and, especially because of the very good instructions, worth every cent! Thanks for sharing your experiences. You both raised a new generation of backpackers - free in their minds, free of commercial influences, thinking for themselves. All the best from Germany " C.F.
"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 had a lot of fun sewing the tarp. I think the backpack was a little easier to sew because the pieces were smaller. My biggest piece of advice is the same as yours: measure carefully. I spent a long while laying out the fabric and measuring and cutting to make sure I got it right. The drawings where very helpful and everything went together exactly as explained. I can't wait to try it out this weekend." Geoff G.
"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.
"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
"Thank you very much for these sewing kits--they're awesome!!!" Trent H.
"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.
"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
"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.
"I'm working on backpack kit, the instructions are easy to follow. This is my forth Ray-Way project and I feel like I can now sew anything." John K.
"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
"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.
"I've been a devotee of Ray-Way hiking since I read Beyond Backpacking in about 1999. A few years ago I ordered and sewed a two-person tarp, and I've used it on Outward Bound trips in Colorado these last two summers. It has worked really well! The tarp has even sheltered three people on two courses; I know it's not designed for that, but we were all fairly short, and didn't mind scooting close together when it rained. Thank you for the high quality kit, and for the inspiration over the years!" Priscilla H., CO
"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.
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.
"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 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.
"I spent the last two weekends in a row completing a tarp and quilt, and It has been an incredibly rewarding and satisfying experience. I can't wait to test this equipment in the Sierra this summer. Thank you!" Dylan B.
"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
"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.
"I have made your tarp (x2), net-tent (x2), quilt (x2), insulated hat (x4) and will order a couple of backpack kits very soon. I have gotten addicted to making my own gear." Matthew L., 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.
"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.