To lighten up your load, try home made backpacks, sleeping bag or quilt, tarp, gaiters, pants, rain jacket etc... Some of this gear has been extensively tested on spring-fall mountaineering trips in the Sierra Nevada as well as during a 230 miles hike of the John Muir Trail in summer.

Need some inspiration?

Try Ray Jardine's book “Beyond Backpaking, Ray Jardine's Guide to Lightweight Hiking”. Lots of good stuff. Not all the ideas worked for us, try them for yourself. The last chapter has sewing instructions to get you started. We have used some of Ray's designs and written step by step instructions to make it easier.

Want to buy instead of making?

Golite makes and sells gear based on Ray's designs. Definitely cheaper to make it yourself.


You can get all the material at:


Here are a couple of designs that save both money and weight over conventional backpacks:


We have not tried this poncho-tarp design but it seems interesting. (Designed by Roy Robinson.)