|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.|
"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
"I ordered my first quilt kit with much trepidation, due to the fact that my only prior sewing experience was watching my wife make throw pillows! I did the whole thing in about 7 hours!!! Wow. Though there are definate signs this quilt was done by a first-timer, it looks really good. This was a most exciting project and I cannot wait to use it. Thank you Ray and Jenny for a most inspirational project." Wil A.
"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
"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.
"My son and I took our Ray-Way tarps to Philmont this year and they were awesome. The head ranger was not happy with our tarps. Said they did not meet the Philmont Standard ... a tent. Anyway, since we were already on the trail, we were able to complete the trek with them. It was awesome, rain, hail, wind, always dry and what views the entire trek. We use the tarps all year here in MN and wherever we go. It is amazing to see how much better they work than tents, especially for eliminating condensation and we love the open views. The tarps have been a big success so tonight, I'm ordering a quilt for myself and a tarp kit for one of my Assistant Scoutmasters! Ray & Jenny - thanks for the awesome design, complete kits and quality materials!" Ken D., MN
"I've enjoyed making your kits: seven backpacks, four tarps, two bat wings, and three quilts, so far." - Craig H.
"We have made tarps, quilts and stowbags with total satisfaction. Keep up the good work." Phillip B., Australia
"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 have truly learned so much from your new Tarp Book Essential. GREAT JOB!!" Michael W., GA
"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 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 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.
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
"Thanks for providing such awesome, and well-thought kits. My son (now 15) and I made one of your two person tarps last summer. He's a very active Eagle Scout and has been using it exclusively ever since, even in the winter. He says he'll never use a tent again. The tarp is 1/3 the weight of his "lightest" backpacking tent. He camped under it this winter in temperatures below 20F at night and he said he was warmer under the tarp than he's ever been in a tent in winter. He's also read your book Trail Life cover to cover several times and says he learns something new every time. He's one of your biggest fans. Keep up the good work." Scott M., IN
"Thanks again Ray and Jenny for the awesome products you have made available. I have read Beyond Backpacking several times and have given it away several times. I have thought about making my own quilt, tarp and pack but wanted more instruction and *hand holding*. Your kits are the answer. You guys are doing wonderful things. keep it up." Geoff G.
"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 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.
"Thanks for designing these wonderful kits. I've finished two quilts in addition to the tarp and net-tent. What a great feeling of accomplishment, and empowerment!" David S.
"THANK YOU!!!! i love my pack- this one is for my husband (he said he'd even sew it!)" Elleyne B.
"I wanted to thank you guys for all that you do. I really appreciate your philosophies. I just finished making your tarp, quilt, pack, and stowbag. It all turned out great. Its amazing how satisfying and rewarding it is to making your own gear. I am looking forward to many excursions with my newly sewn gear. Thanks for everything." JC P.
"I have made a tarp, quilt, stowbag, and storage bag. They came out great!" Brian K., WY
"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'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.
"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 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.
"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
"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
"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 ordered a tarp kit, net-tent kit, Tarp Book, and thread, along with a delux 2-person quilt kit with the alpine upgrade, and two stowbag kits. The box and materials combined weigh less than the tent I use now!! And it's considered an ultralight product." Jason L.
"Thank you for your wonderful kits. They are much more than a weekend project, they are passports to freedom - spiritual, physical, and material." Elleyne B.
"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
"Thanks for the great kits. I have completed the tarp, quilt, hat, backpack, and a knife kit and have ordered a net tent kit. I must say that the instructions in your kits are bombproof. They are extremely well written and make the process easy. You simply do one simple thing at a time. My son and I spent a week on the trail in Shenandoah National Park. The backpack and tarp performed exceptionally. We even weathered a couple of blistering thunderstorms and stayed completely dry. We used many principles and ideas from Trail Life to keep our packs light." Ron S., VA
"I've made so many of your projects that I need more thread. Thanks!" Earl W.
"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 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.
"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.
"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
"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
"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.
"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
"You have the COOLEST products. This is my second quilt from you." Fred W.
"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
"Just got my first Ray-Way kits together (Quilt and Hat) and must say, congratulations for instructions and material! Great job! Compared to a project I finished a year ago (another brand anorak), your instructions were much, much clearer and easier to follow!" - Urs G., Switzerland
"Just dropping you a note about how pleased I am with the tarp I made from your kit. We took a group of scouts to Mt. Whitney this summer and it held up well through many days of rain keeping us warm and dry. One evening it blew especially hard, but the tarp stood firm. The other scouts and leaders were impressed as well (but not as comfortable in their domes)." Greg Z.
"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
"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
"Just finished the first two quilts, boy is that fun. My son had a few friends over while I was sewing and he was bragging about his dad sewing and about how lightweight his gear is. What fun to see the look on the boys faces when they saw a dad sitting at a sewing machine. The quilts are awesome and so much better than the pictures elude to. The construction is excellent (as with all your kits) and the instructions are easy to follow. I just ordered more thread because with one backpack, a tarp, 2 quilts, (so far) 3 quilt and stowbags, and other ditty bags and many other little repairs and projects, I finally need more." Geoff G.
"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
"I love the kits, especially the tarp. I use mine as my main shelter up here in Northern BC. My family doesn't all fit under one tarp anymore! I would like to order another." Dale B.
"Your Trail Life book was a cornerstone in helping my family complete our first backpacking trip, the JMT. Also, the one-person quilt with 2 layers of alpine insulation was a sensation. We swapped quilts throughout the trip and found that the Ray-Way quilt was a great deal warmer than the 20 degree down quilt of equal loft." -Sam J, KY
"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 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
"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
"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.
"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