Fair question. I don't feel too guilty as a maker, since I flatter myself by thinking that I steer customers in the direction of comfort and efficiency first, and weight second. I'm very remiss to make compromises with quilts for instance, that would lighten them at the expense of adequate coverage and comfort. I first started making quilts for my comfort, and continue for others'. To me, the big advantage of quilts *is* their comfort, when properly designed, the weight savings is just a really big bonus. Still, thats why I don't make straight taper quilts anymore, and rarely half-tapers, and why I really try to talk everyone into sewn footboxes, instead of draw-cords for anything 35deg or under, even though it's more work for me.
Ultimately that's the paradox of this quandary. The gear is an essential piece of the puzzle. However, as a gear maker, I feel a responsibility to make sure it's genuine and useful instead of egregious, and to consider whether the gear I make can add depth, or remove it from the experience. To my mind, quilts require more skill to use effectively, but reward a multitude of advantages quid pro quo. So I'd consider that progressive use of gear.
Secondly, after this next big batch of orders I've got on the board, I'm going to stop taking them for a while. Maybe all summer. I was hoping to do an AT thru this year, but I might not be able to swing the time(read: gf might be upset), but I'll at least be out as much as possible everywhere else, probably do the JMT, and probably take at least one trip back to South America. I need some time to really learn more about the gear I'm making by being out there with it more, to bolster the direction, re-evaluate the needs.
If I don't do the AT, I'll still be making gear in-between trips, but likely mostly for myself, and testers. I'm really more interested in creating new tools for the outdoor experience, over rehashing the same old UL gear status quo. Some things I've got in mind, I hope will add versatility, hopefully encouraging more interesting trips and backwoods experiences. I'm also really interested in the crossover potential of UL philosophies and gear making strategies toward other skill sets. Bushcrafting is a great example.
I'd like to be spending my time working on new things, new gear, new adventures, new whatever, instead of producing quantity of anything. My brain works much faster than my hands.
Otherwise, I don't really know, it's definitely an evolutionary time for me personally. Sorry, complicated long answer to a short question, thanks for making me think about it more deeply.