View Full Version : Why make it?
Lets face it, there are so many gear companies out there with such a huge variety of quality, high tech gear. Lets face it, if you dream of it, chances are you weren't the first. AND chances are someone has made it and is selling it.
But for some reason there are still those of us out there that would shun comercial gear for the discarded soda cans, scraps of housing wrap sewn into shirts, or tarps made to personal preference with quality to rival the best manufacturers.
So why do you make your own?
No big commercial companies make a soda can stove. Dancing Lite does sell one, as I am sure other small outfits do. However, the prospect of paying 10 or 15 bucks for something that I should be able to make for free (and easily) doesn't sit well with me. Plus, its fun. If I had a sewing machine (and knew how to sew) I'd try making my own sleeping bag/quilt. And, to be vain just briefly, there is a certain amount of credibility and interest that one gets when one pulls out a bunch of super functional, lightweight, homemade gear.
because it's fun. It allows one to think creatively. i started sewing my gear in 1974 when as a newly married e-5 on the old scale of military pay i desired good quality gear at a reasonable cost. there was a company named frostline that had excellant kits for sale and i found it rather easy and fun to sew 2 packbags, down sleeping bags and rain ponchos. since i began to lighten my pack weight home made gear has been essential to the process. in the last 2 years i have constructed abt 8 alchohol stoves, windscreen/pot supports, waterproof stuffsacks made of silnet, a 15 oz. pack, 21 oz. quilt, pot cozy. as you can see my whole system is now based on home made gear. the hours of fun planning and constructing compliment the hours of using the gear on the trail. presently working on a gearkin type of pack made of heavy mesh wid shoulder straps and hipbelt patterned after the lightweight adventure backpack plans. i have to thank many others for the great websites featuring homemade gear. inspiration is always the best starting point for a project. (ps. still trying to get my ion stove to simmer) :mad: :confused:
Hey, about that Ion stove simmer. I'm still trying to figure out WHY it does it in the first place. I made a second stove using my directions last night, so I'll see if this one can even simmer. That simmer property on the first beta model was a COMPLETE SUPPRISE, I didn't even count on that happening. :D
Thats the way with most great inventions isnt it? tryin to do one thing and then something else happens and you get a result you wernt expecting. watch next youll peice together a stove with two pieces of tinfoil and a soda can and itll be 100% efficient, and we will all be dumbfounded. (well we can only hope right?) well as soon as youve determined why it actualy does simmer be sure to let us know.
because beleive it or not, there really ARE some things that the gear companies haven't thought of; we made lots of little "adjustments" to our gear to make it work for us on the trail. One of the biggest small improvements I made was to my Marmot Precip rainjacket. I wore my hair mostly in two braids, and found that my braids were always getting stuck and tangeld in the velcro up by the collar that closes it out to rain, so I sewed in a littl flap of fabric that covered the hook portion of the velcro when it wasn't in use. You wouldn't beleive how much a two inch strip of fabric can change your trail experience! Plus, the satisfaction in making your own gear and watching it work is reward in itself.
Why make your own?
Because when you're only 5' tall, you sure get tired of having all the excess lengths to lug around and try to shift outta the way !
My poncho, raincover, and sleeping bag all fit a LOT better now , and
even those stuff sacks hold things better too.
Not to mention the useless weight I no longer have to carry!
:) :) :) Perkolady
I make my gear cause it is cheap,fun and I can custumize any thing I want. the stoves are my speciallity because I trust my work in the shop more than my sewing abillity or rather the lack there of.
A few reasons for making my own gear:
When you put your blood, sweat, and tears into a piece of gear, it becomes something more than a possession.
If something breaks, you aren't up a creek without a paddle. You know how it was made, and you know how you might fix it.
Helps you understand what you really need. Makes you think.
Customized gear. One size doesn't fit all. One set of features doesn't work for all.
I have found that commercial gear makers focus too much on appearance, and not enough on substance. No matter how good a product is, if it is ugly, a commercial gear maker is unlikely to make money off it.
Commercial gear is made by companies. Most companies out there are primary interested in making money. This pursuit of money often comes at the expense of acting in the best interest of the customer. (Some might argue otherwise.) I often see people buy what they don't need, or even what won't help them. If I'm out shopping for gear, I'm not immune to the effects of marketing. If I'm making my own, I can avoid this problem.
Money. Plain and simple.
With commercial gear, you are constantly hunting for the perfect piece of gear. I prefer to spend my time doing something else... making it myself.
I see backpacking as a way of getting back to the simple life. Homemade gear fits in with that philosophy.
I agree with TedB on all nine of his points and to make it an even 10 I would add that the gear I have made is lighter too. I too like to make my own gear. For some reason I favor gear I have made or modified.. Like adding a little piece of myself to it and it makes it personal and I trust it a bit more.... If it fails, I have only myself to blame... Plus I know the person who made the gear ( ME ) and I know he cares of the quality of the end product.
And let's face it, I know I cannot Backpack 100% of the time due to work, family obligations, and a myriad of other reasons... but making my own gear allows me to partially satisify that need to be out there... not to mention while I am making the gear I am thinking of being out there, thinking of how it will perform, and it just makes the next time going out a bit more exciting...
So far I have made water proof silnylon stuff sacks and alcohol stove set... and looking at making more of my own gear...
SLABFOOT.... I would be REALLY interested in hearing about you 21 ounce quilt... Would you share that, That is what I am looking at trying to make for myself.
checkout the lightweight backpacker website, make it yourself section for plans for the lightweight quilt. i cut mine for 42 in. wide but my next one will be cut for at least 50 in. to give more to tuck under when side sleeping. two in. of primaloft insulation has served me well in pa. from mid-april to mid-september but i'd add another inch to extend the season comfortably. understand tha any addition will add weight. i got my supplies from owfinc.com and had no probs. it's a fun project. get sum silnylon and sew a one ounce stuff sack too!
What is the web address to that site? I was thinking of making a down quilt but I am hesitant because of the problems that one poster had getting down and reading what a mess it made.
The exact page.
i was trying to get sparky to the maze, not through it rock!:D
It's easy sometimes to match the quality of big manufacturers as their sewing tests are not that difficult in general, and because long distance hiking is such a small percentage of the outdoor community most of the gear out there isn't really designed for thru-hikers. Just the fact that people are making functional tents (not tarps) at 25-30 ounces is pretty impressive. And I think quality as a whole is better with micro-companies and such due to the personal effort that goes into each design.
The problems with some of the bigger outdoor companies is they kinda have to eliminate all problems in order to "sell" a product to the public. They need tents that are free-standing but light, storm-proof yet well ventilated, reasonable priced but bombproof.
I think long distance hikers are more willing to accept the limitations of ultra-light gear, as we appreciate the fact that it won't last forever...but will cost a decent buck. We realize that you will get some condensation in a single wall tent, that a mesh pack won't last 5000 miles, and silnylon isn't exactly durable.
Saying all that...I can't sew but appreciate the hordes of designs out there I've seen, even the ones that don't work. I've worked with "big companies" for 10 years...and it's finally nice to see the community doing something about all the bull**** designs rather than complaining about them. Good on Ya All!