|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 love these projects." Nick R.
"I've enjoyed making your kits: seven backpacks, four tarps, two bat wings, and three quilts, so far." - Craig H.
"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.
"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.
"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
"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.
"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 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 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
"Hello Ray, Jenny! I'm currently putting together several of your kits (I've finished the Quilt, Tarp and I'm about halfway through the Backpack), I can't stress enough how awesome the projects are. I've really gotten to enjoy sewing, and am extremely proud of the projects I've finished. Another bonus is that the instructions are so well thought out and detailed that you're practically given no room to mess up :) I've found that any delays in sewing were due to me not having read them carefully enough, thus spending time with the seam ripper :) And, the triple and quadruple stitching on the backpack shoulder straps almost made me feel like I was putting together a parachute harness! :)" Dan D., Prague, Czech Republic
"Ray and Jenny, Thank you for your tarp design and kits. You've brought the openness of sleeping under the stars together with even greater protection and comfort than a tent. And this at a lighter weight than other gear with the satisfaction of making it oneself. Your Tarp Book Essential is very thorough in explaining how to make the most effective use of the design. Thanks again." Mike W., CA
"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 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
"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
"THANK YOU!!!! i love my pack- this one is for my husband (he said he'd even sew it!)" Elleyne B.
"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'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.
"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 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
"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.
"You have the COOLEST products. This is my second quilt from you." Fred 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
"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
"Dear Ray, I am writing to thank you. My copies of all of your books are dog-eared from being referenced again and again. I have great respect for the manner in which you share your experience, knowledge, suggestions and opinions. From the beginning I recognized that you were interested in attraction rather than promotion, and this principle seems to be pervasive throughout your writing. You write with respect for the intelligence of your readers; rather than try to "prove" that your way is best, you simply explain what works for you and invite readers to experiment for themselves if they wish. Mostly, I am thankful because your influence has allowed me to enjoy nature far more than I would have otherwise. I feel the purpose of gear is just to work so that it stays out of the way and allows the natural flow of being outdoors to emerge. The Ray-Way has taught me about being present, mindful, and happy in the outdoors, rather than "protecting" me from nature. Finally, I would like to thank you for sharing your life of adventure so thoroughly and enjoyably in your books and on your website. Every trip report makes the world of possibility a bit larger for me. Thank you." John G., Shenzhen, China
"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
"I just received the order placed earlier this week, and I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for the good service, taking care to ensure your products are high quality and that orders exceed expectations. Thank you for the kits, which have enabled me to learn new skills and rethink what I really need in the outdoors. This order included a third backpack kit, for my growing son, 10, who will be taking the lead in sewing it this time. I would not be able to pass on this skill if not for encouraging people to "break out of the mold of imagined inabilities". It is greatly appreciated." Mike W., CA
"I think your kits are fantastic." Jeanette E.
"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
"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.
"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 just placed an order for some of your awesome thread. I'm about to run out and realize now I should have followed your advice and ordered more than one spool! oh well, I ordered 3 this time because I can't imagine using any other thread for any of my projects ever again." Joel C., IN
"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
"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 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.
"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
"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
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 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
"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
"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 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.
"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 made a tarp, quilt, stowbag, and storage bag. They came out great!" Brian K., WY
"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.
"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.
"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
"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 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
"My shipment arrived very promptly and the instructions are very clear and well-written." Don 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.
"I have truly learned so much from your new Tarp Book Essential. GREAT JOB!!" Michael W., GA
"Our first Quilt (and also first ever sewing project) only took a weekend to complete--GREAT INSTRUCTIONS, thanks." Blue & Nika M.
"Made a quilt last fall, it is fantastic!! Can't wait to make the Tarp (ordered today). Thank you so much!" Matt L.
"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.