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Websites that offer information, resources and materials for making your own gear and giving you ideas:
When I first started backpacking, all my gear came from what I considered name brands. And at the time, all the gear made by these companies was heavy. Yes, it would take a beating and last for many years, but it was heavy and over built for what most people used their gear for.
As the years have passed, more mainstream companies have attempted to get into the "lightweight" mentality, but sadly, few of them actually achieve it. The issue is that companies want the gear designed for the lowest IQ idiot, and that it will survive what they do to it. Making gear "bombproof" adds weight, no matter what you do. And adding in all sorts of bells and whistles also adds weight. From my experiences on the trail, most hikers who go UL (ultralight) or lightweight, they love their gear and take care of it. It is more than love for some, rather an obsession. We want to share how we lost 5, 10 or maybe even 30 lbs out of our packs. And we want you to have the same benefit of not backpacking stooped over, with a 45-60 lb pack on your shoulders. We love to show our gear and how it works.
My first backpacking trip I carried over 45 lbs for an overnighter, in good weather. The trip was 6.3 miles round trip. And it had an elevation gain of maybe 300 ft. I was in so much pain. I swore there had to be a better way out there, and I found it over the years. I don't know if I will ever have a true UL pack weight, but I reside in a happy lightweight area of 17-30 lbs, where I have the gear I want and need. I have a tent, clothes, good sleeping bag and pad, and a few luxuries. What I don't have is a 6 lb backpack and a 3 lb sleeping bag anymore. Or a 6 lb tent. It still takes my breath away when I come across backpacking books with a gear list that is two pages along. A certain outdoor school still requires these massive lists of gear. While they teach a great curriculum, I don't think I ever want to carry group gear, ever in my life again. Or 4 pairs of underwear.......
Some of the best gear has come from small companies, made here in the US. Cottage gear is usually what it is considered. Made in someone's house or garage, maybe they have gotten big enough to have a store, or have a small factory going-but they are making cutting edge gear that will take you farther with less weight on your shoulders. One of the things about them is that unlike a big company, these gear makers will take time to talk to you, work with you to get what you want. Actual customer service!
Washington State Trail Sites:
Books On The Outdoors:
Lighten Up!: A Complete Handbook for Light and Ultralight Backpacking (Falcon Guide) by Don Ladigin and illustrated by Mike Clelland:
It is a very humorous book, and Mike's drawings are the best around!