Our Hiking Equipment the Ray Way

by James Gibling


Our Hiking Equipment, the Ray Way!

For wisdom to pass from one to another, The realizations of ones mistakes is key to fuel the effort of an individual to seek change. On one wintery backpacking trip half way across a steep icy shoot, I definitely had one of those realizations and it went something like, “Oh dang!!! If I slip, this could be it!”

It was a slow haul across the shoot but I did make it across, but metaphorically making it across was a first step into appreciating another wisdom.

"The beauty of Ray and Jenny is in their efforts to help arm people with the mindset to safely turn their dreams into reality."

At a local climbing store, rethinking my approach to hiking, a bright colored book titled the "PCT Hiker’s Handbook" caught my attention and I happened to open right to a page titled “Brain Lock”. It’s when your body freezes up due to the realization that a mistake (like a slip on an icy shoot) could mean tragedy. Ya, you guessed it, what Ray described was exactly what I was experiencing.

Needless to say I studied the book diligently, and Ray’s lightweight approach to backcountry travel really connected with me on several levels. After hiking over 30,000 miles himself, he engineered out many of the hidden dangers of traditional backpacking (not exactly emphasized in the glossy magazine adds) all without compromising safety. His methods revolved around understanding the real dangers in the backcountry, appropriately lightening up your equipment while all along emphasizing skill, knowledge, and awareness rather than a dependence on equipment. But in the end, the equipment is a trivial matter. The beauty of Ray and Jenny is in their efforts to help arm people with the mindset to safely turn their dreams into reality no matter what type of gear you are carrying!

I have introduced my wife to Ray’s Ways and it has opened up a new avenue for her to join me on backpacking trips. I even had my friend Roy (also an engineer) whom never backpacked in his life, join me on my 06′ PCT Hike and he accomplished an astonishing 100 miles in just 4 days using Ray’s ideas!! If you get a chance, check out their website RayJardine.com. They sell kits that help you get started in making quality lightweight equipment at a very modest price. They also include an online journal of all their AMAZING adventures. And I mean AMAZING! Like sailing around the world, skiing to the south pole, rowing across the Atlantic, to name just a few… that’s right I said ROWING across the Atlantic. I promise their energy is contagious and to continue what they started, I added a photo slideshow of our some of our adventures using homemade gear via Ray-Way kits. Thanks Ray and Jenny.

James Gibling
June 20, 2013

Chance encounter with the book at left changed my life. At right, "Trail Life" the updated version.

Patiently sewing my tarp in 2006, now with more than 2,000 miles logged on it.

My first tarp used in a rain storm along the north coast. Worked great!

Gena and me at mile 906 near Red’s Meadow in Mammoth Lakes.

Along the JMT at a nice camp.


Island camping in Catalina.

Camped in Avalon Catalina.

Unlike a tent that is a fixed shape, the design features of the tarp is that you can pitch it low, making it more aerodynamic in heavy winds. I have seen many tent poles break in strong winds servicing a tent useless when you need it the most. If your support stick breaks with the tarp, you just find another stick.

Muir Hut

Pack #2 in the making!

Pack #2 completed!!! Woot woot!!!

14,000 feet - Ray-Way gear holds up great, on top of Mt Whitney.

Pack #3 in the making

In my huaraches carefully hiking among cactus on a ridge below Shark Harbor Catalina.

Gena with ice axe in hand traversing snowy section of trail along the PCT and enjoying the safer benefits of mobility and greater balance of a light pack.

Gena wearing homemade pack #4 on the JMT!

Beautiful trails along the flanks of the Kings Range which jut up out of the ocean to over 4,000 feet!

Our 2 person quilt on its first night covered in frost! We were toasty tho  

Quilt #2 complete! I used this quilt weighting a little over a pound 1,336 miles of the PCT. 2006 had the 2nd highest snow fall record and in spite of the snow, I was toasty warm.

Bundled warmly in my quilt at camp below the summit of Whitney at 12,000 ft!

Homemade knife from Ray-Way kits.

In 2005 with my good friends Ray and Jenny Jardine in Arizona at the first “Connection Camp” class.

Gena and James

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