|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 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
"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 sewing is going along extremely well. Now I look back and realize my fear of sewing was only what you call *lack of familiarity*. I sure am glad I'm a little more familiar now. Sewing is fun, and your Ray-Way kits are pure magic! Everything falls into place beautifully, one stitch at a time. Thank you Ray and Jenny, your teachings are truly priceless." Will Lady
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
"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 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 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
"This is our first sewing project, and we are having a lot of fun with it." Larissa G.
"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
"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 just finished the JMT and finally put the tarp to the test. We had some intense storms at Lake Marjorie just north of Pinchot Pass. It was plain awesome! It was the windiest, rainiest and most lightening I've camped in and most intense storm I've seen. I remained completely dry inside the net-tent and under my quilt. I knew the tarp should hold up, but now I know viscerally how strong the shelter system is! Thanks again for producing such great products." - David C.
"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
"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 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 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.
"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
"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 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.
"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 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.
"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
"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 wanted to let you know that I appreciate tremendously what you do with your knowledge and products, which totally transformed my and my wife's backpacking methodology. The ideas we learned extend into the rest our lives far further than we'd ever have expected, as we apply much of Ray-Way philosophy to our every day lives. To date I've made 2 Quilts, a 2-person net tent (I added a zipper) for my Ray-Way tarp, 2 bat wings, 1 backpack, several storage/stow bags, not to mention countless repairs and modifications to existing gear, all from the kits/books/knowledge/philosophy garnered from Ray-Way products. I hope you continue to provide your guidance and kits-- much needed in our over-consumption driven society." Kerry R., Michigan
"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.
"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
"Our first Quilt (and also first ever sewing project) only took a weekend to complete--GREAT INSTRUCTIONS, thanks." Blue & Nika M.
"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
"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
"Hi Its Quilt Addic Fred, This Will be my 3rd quilt with you. Thanks a million. The quilts that I have already made are all that I now use to sleep in!" Fred W.
"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.
"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
"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 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.
"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.
"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.
"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
"The careful explanations and innovative approach of your "Sharpening The Ray-Way Knife" are wonderful and much appreciated." - Karl K., NC
"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 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 ordered your 2 person quilt kit, and found the instructions and materials to be of superior quality. The project took a little longer than expected, but the results have been well worth the time and effort. The quilt fits perfectly. As for performance, we hurried off the very next weekend to try it out. The weight savings was incredible, weighing less than one of our traditional bags. The trip was a bit blustery and got down into the 30's but we noticed no loss of comfort. Thank you for such an innovative idea." Jason M.
"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 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
"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.
"I love these projects." Nick R.
"Thanks for all your impact on the ultralight hiking community, and for offering such great products. Best regards from Germany" Jan W.
"Ray and Jenny: I have just finished my thru-hike of the A.T using all the gear kits I have purchased from you (backpack, 2 quilts, tarp and spitfire). The gear worked out great!! Also while on the trail I have inspired a lot of other hikers to make their own gear, and to use your kits. Thanks again for your great products. GA-ME 2012" Les P., NY
"I bought a Ray-Way pack last year and it was a joy to assemble. I never knew I could sew! My son and I are planning an extended packing trip this May for his HS graduation. I ordered another pack for him and we are both thrilled with our packs. Thanks Ray!" Taylor F.
"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
"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 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.
"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'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
"Before ordering my kits from you I had never sewed anything, in fact I did not even own sewing machine. I just finished the first project. I love it! There is one slight problem though, my wife and my kids all want me to make them one too." Randy B.
"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
"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