The Ray-Way Backpack Kit

Make Your Own Backpack!

Ray-Way Products

Ray & Jenny Jardine

History of Development page 5 of 19

Pg 5: History of Development

Note: All backpacks shown on this page are 2,200 in3.

The Ray-Way Backpack has a long history of development. We made our first ones in the fall of 1992, for use on our '93 hike of the Appalachian Trail, shown in this photo. These backpacks were so successful that they allowed us to thru-hike the trail in only 89 days - and they became the basis for the backpack design we use today. (That's Mt. Washington in the background, covered by clouds.)


1993-AT, climbing Mount Moosilauke

1993-AT. Jenny's backpack always looked full because of the foam pads she carried rolled inside.

1993-AT. We built these backpacks originally with internal stays made of a aluminum, to support the hip belts. The rows of stitching for the internal sleeves that we used to hold the stays are visible in this photo. However, after only a day or two of hiking, we found that the hip belts were doing us no good, in fact that we could hike easier without the hip belts - due to our lightweight style of hiking. So we removed the hip belts, and also the aluminum stays. This photo was taken about 2,000 miles later. These hip-belts-less and stays-less backpacks were a complete success.

Our AT backpacks were so successful that we made a new pair of new ones for our 3rd thru-hike of the PCT, in 1994. These backpacks became the second set of prototypes of our Ray-Way Backpack design. This photo is on the PCT in 1994.


PCT-1994 with Lake Tahoe in the background.

Hiking through the Sierras on the PCT-1994.

Back on the PCT in the year 2000, we took a wrong turn with our backpack materials, trying to make the new backpacks as lightweight as possible. Those backpacks were strong and durable but they lacked substance. They just didn't feel right, and we never used them again.

In the next several years we hiked many hundreds of miles with our old 1994 backpacks. They worked the best of all, and were holding up great. By these field tests, we knew that we had a winning design.

In fact, the old 1994 backpacks were working so good, and holding up so well, that we used them also during our next big hike: the IUA in 2003.

The IUA was our most difficult hike yet, and the backpacks never once let us down.

IUA-2003. In Utah we switched from hiking to riding inexpensive mountain bikes, and simply strapped the backpacks onto the bikes.

2007: On a three-day trek in the Andes, with a 2,200 Ray-Way backpack.

2009-AT with a 2,200 in-cube Ray-Way backpack.

The story has 19 pages. This is page 5.
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