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MYOG worth it?
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Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
MYOG worth it? on 08/05/2011 12:04:51 MDT Print View

I recently bought a 2 person REI Quarter Dome on sale for something less than $150.

Wow, what a wonderful tent! Workamanship, design, attention to detail and price are amazing. It isn't quite the tent I want, however. It is about 1 lb heavier than I would like and has way more mosquito netting than I want.

It is hard to motivate myself to make a replacement, however. Things I make are no where near the quality of this tent. And the cost of materials alone would exceed $150.

So, a rational person would just say "carry the extra pound and shut up". Carrying the extra pound is less work than a MYOG replacement for this tent.

When I went from a store bought frame pack at 5 lbs to a MYOG pack at 1 lb it seemed worth it. Plus backpacks are much easier to make than tents. But it is hard to get motivated on the 2 person tent project given the availability of tents like the REI Quarter Dome and others.

Your thoughts?

Brian Hall
tent on 08/05/2011 12:14:30 MDT Print View

You could always make a lighter rain fly for it, or buy lighter stakes and poles. In total weight, you will never be able to tell a difference in a 12lb pack vs. a 13lb pack.

Brad Walker

Locale: SoCal
1/4 dome on 08/05/2011 12:21:09 MDT Print View

I won't get into the philosophical side of your questions, but I'll point out some practicalities:
1. I have the quarter dome T3. Same thing, at a garage sale like-new for ~$120 a few years ago. It's de-luxe as a 2 person tent! An awesome tent for the price regardless.
2. Check this thread for ~10oz savings from making a cuben fly for some low(er) hanging fruit:
3. You could replace the poles too if you want with Fibraplex for $130:

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: 1/4 dome on 08/05/2011 16:11:15 MDT Print View

Daryl, I think it depends on how you define worth. In many instances it is hard to make items for much lower than can be manufactured in China especially if you count the time. Look for value elsewhere.

For me worth is....

- Doing something few do...explore and live in the wilderness using something I made
- Being able to design something that does not exist, be unique (my down pullover or pack)
- Be the lightest, to make something that weighs less than anything I can buy (my mini tent or down jacket)
- Save money, in rare instances I do save money if I ignore my time invested (my quilts)
- Sharing an item on the forums and having someone else make one (my bivy, quilt)
- Pure enjoyment, there is nothing more satisfying to me than making an item and having it work as intended (my pack, my tent, etc). Something as simple as making a stove, traveling into the wilderness all day, setting up camp, then heating water to rehydrate a FBC meal that I made using my dehydrater is pure enjoyment.



Edited by jshortt on 08/05/2011 16:32:38 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: MYOG worth it? on 08/05/2011 16:50:20 MDT Print View

Mostly, I do MYOG for the fun of it, not to save money, like others have said, but

The pyramid tent I wrote an article about costs $60 for a 9x9 with 2nds silnylon.

A similar tent from Oware costs $215.

Neither of those include pole or stakes.

So, you can save $155, but it takes maybe 8 hours if you're fast, so if you include your labor it's probably not such a good deal.

Pilate de Guerre
(deGuerre) - F

Locale: SE, USA
Opportunity cost on 08/05/2011 17:55:14 MDT Print View

To MYOG, or, more broadly, to do anything yourself comes down to opportunity cost. Both in dollars and in the case of UL gear, in grams.

As you pointed out sometimes with sales and coupons and what-not one can find a good price even at REI, but I'm not sure one will typically find gear that is as lightweight as what one can MYOG. Buying gear that is as light as a homemade cuben anorak is pricey and, although very rarely especially now that there are so many fantastic cottage manufacturers, maybe not on the market.

For me and I imagine a few (but only a few) others, there's the angle in that I'm not comfortable with purchasing a piece of gear, say a shoe, that was made by a brown or otherwise non-white child somewhere in the Global South. A child that was paid a few pennies an hour and was worked for 60+ hours a week in unsafe conditions. And then the Western trans-national conglomerate spends more on the marketing of the shoe than on the raw materials or labor.

There's another angle though and that is: how much value do you personally put on that one thing you're not going to find anywhere else? That is, how much is the satisfaction and experience of doing it yourself worth to you? Judging by the amount of awesome gear made by Bill Fornsell and Newton, just to name two, it's about much more than necessity or thrift. From just the posts of theirs I have seen, they each must have several closets full of gear they made themselves. Some of it quite innovative and still not on the market after many years. I don't think they made all that gear because it was "needed," but because part of their long-distance walking hobby is the creation of gear and they find a satisfaction in that aspect alone.

Jamie summed it up nicely, I think.

Edited by deGuerre on 08/05/2011 19:17:15 MDT.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Opportunity cost on 08/05/2011 18:22:24 MDT Print View

>> For me and I imagine a few (but only a few) others, there's the angle in that I'm not comfortable with purchasing a piece of gear, say a shoe, that was made by a brown or otherwise non-white child somewhere in the Global South. A child that was paid a few pennies an hour and was worked for 60+ hours a week in unsafe conditions.

Where do the raw materials come from that are used to MYOG? The same origin, I suspect.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: MYOG worth it? on 08/05/2011 18:41:07 MDT Print View

Economically, for the most part no. When I make a single item for myself, it ends up costing me same or more than if I purchase it. Hats and tarp skins and other things that I make a lot of to sell, yes, then it makes sense even financially to make myself a couple. It depends how much time you have and what your time is worth.
As far as the satisfaction and the experience and the ability to make yourself something is absolutely worth it.
Along with things I make to sell, I am making myself a Christmas present that would be ridiculous to most; a blanket/ quilt made of the nicest undied baby Alpaca wool. Estimated cost over 400 dollars and well over 200 hours. Is it worth it? I think so.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Re: Opportunity cost on 08/05/2011 18:44:02 MDT Print View

a shoe, that was made by a brown or otherwise non-white child somewhere in the Global South

Made by white kids would be OK then? I don't see the need to make a color statement. Child labor is bad I think we can agree on that. But let's stay on the OP's track.

Pilate de Guerre
(deGuerre) - F

Locale: SE, USA
Re: Re: Opportunity cost on 08/05/2011 18:54:17 MDT Print View

>Where do the raw materials come from that are used to MYOG? The same origin, I suspect.

Of course. But then, there really is no escape from industrial capitalism, is there? And that's by design, is it not? To bring this into narrow and perhaps familiar focus, see the US state's policy of indigenous genocide as seen regarding the buffalo, salmon and other more *ahem* direct means. See: all other slaughtered or recuperated indigenous of yesteryears. See: ongoing and near complete slaughter of the last wild Man in the Amazon.

>Made by white kids would be OK then?

I didn't make that assertion -- you did. Please don't make a straw man out of me.

>I don't see the need to make a color statement. Child labor is bad I think we can agree on that. But let's stay on the OP's track.

The point is that it's almost never a white child or a child of the Global North that is forced to work these heinous conditions for less than a pittance. I know it's not convenient or polite to point that out, but that doesn't make it any less true or relevant.

I agree we should stay on the OP's track. Perhaps make a thread in Chaff if you want to discuss or deny the contradictions inherent in walking around in the few areas left un-ruined by industrial capitalism while covered head-to-toe in plastic.

Edited by deGuerre on 08/05/2011 19:15:28 MDT.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
ah ah ah on 08/05/2011 19:01:06 MDT Print View

ah ah ah CHAFFFF!
I love a good sneeze : )

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Opportunity cost on 08/05/2011 19:06:29 MDT Print View

No, it's pick your battles, to be sure. I only wanted to point out that one way or another, someone in a developing nation is paying for the gear we all love so much, whether the item comes pre-assembled or not. At some point rationalization has to kick in or a person becomes a depressed, existential glob of carbon goop. I'm not gonna criticize where you or anyone else draws that line, see: hypocrite, trying not to be.

Pilate de Guerre
(deGuerre) - F

Locale: SE, USA
Re: Re: Opportunity cost on 08/05/2011 19:07:51 MDT Print View


a b
Re: Re: MYOG worth it? on 08/05/2011 19:10:00 MDT Print View

Speaking of which Kat, your home made Baby Alpaca wool hat was a huge hit on the Appalachian trail. I wore it a lot during the early days until things warmed up.
Then i bounced it ahead for the White mountains.
In fact a trail angel fell in love with it's warmth and softness so much that i gave it to her as a gift for helping us hikers!
That baby Alpaca wool hat you made now resides in Hanover, New Hampshire!
The sad part is i now need another baby Alpaca wool hat!
I hope you post some for sale in gear swap again.. hint hint!

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
hey on 08/05/2011 19:29:39 MDT Print View

Nice to hear of its good use. I have not posted any, but they are on my website. Just tell me what you want and I'll send you one, on me. I have been blessed with a lifetime membership to BPL, from an anonymous I'll pass on a little blessing.
Pm me.

Joslyn Bloodworth
(JoslynB) - F

Locale: Southwest
Worth on 08/05/2011 20:02:07 MDT Print View

for me personally I can make a bug bivy and tarp for around the same $150 or less mark and when I do it's something that is custom for me so it has all the features I want, none that I don't and I know my equpment on an intimate level that makes it worth so much more than a store bought tent. But in all of this, I should mention I've been sewing since I was a kid and am confident in the quality. If that's not someone else's situation, I can understand preffering store bought.

Jeremy Osburn

Locale: New England
worth it! on 08/05/2011 20:29:57 MDT Print View

MYOG is always worth it.

My first project was a completely one of a kind bivy that is long enough to store my winter pack inside at my feet and has a "front porch overhang" so to speak that can be staked out in two locations so no mater what nasty winter storm is happening I can dig a pit and cook in my sleeping bag under my porch and be great. Can't wait to find a nasty winter storm to test it out in. Sadly all my trips last winter were way too calm. It weights 10 oz. One of a kind! About 70-80 bucks in cost.

My second project was a thru-hiker down jacket but customized to have 3" of loft around the body and 1" on my arms and head. I added a hood, deleted all the pockets and draw strings, and made it a pullover with a half zip instead of the full zip in the pattern. 5.9 oz of down and 12 oz total weight with the stuff sack. all for a cost of $150. It has kept me toasty warm to -20F. Find me a similar jacket for less than 24 oz and $400 and I will be impressed. Most of the people I have been out with in the winter are easily carrying 2 lbs in puffy jacket.

I love that I get exactly what I want, because I designed it, built it, and get to use the only one of it in existence. I am hooked, I have about a dozen projects in various stages of design that I work on at lunch in CADD and discuss or learn from examples in this forum.

Plus chicks dig guys that sew their own extreme weather survival jackets... Or something like that.

Edited by earn_my_turns on 08/05/2011 20:31:16 MDT.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: MYOG worth it? on 08/05/2011 21:17:22 MDT Print View

I agree, it is hard to replace a nicely made tent with something handmade. But you can make something that doesn't exist and that is worth the expense and time.

I made a mosquito net tent for myself. The netting cost less than $10. Another few dollars for some ribbon for the ridgeline and the tieouts. The project was difficult with much cursing and tears, and the result was less than perfect. Much less. But it worked out in the field and it's actually a nice lightweight solution to a need I had. I wanted a light mosquito net I can set up without a tarp so I can sleep under the stars. I wanted a generous space protected from bugs. It works with a tarp, too. I'm sure I can buy something similar, but few of them had enough space to lie out naked without being inside my sleeping bag, or sit up and play a guitar and none of them cost $20.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
worth it - yes on 08/06/2011 04:57:53 MDT Print View


I would say for me it is worth it, but I enjoy the research and design almost as much as the assembly. I like taking many different designs and modifying them to produce something that is exactly what you want. Many hours were spent on my winter bush sled, modular SAR pack and the winter mitten system. I especially liked your tubular framed front-n-back pack and the tarp tent in your avatar.

As with my other hobbies, like fly tying, if you added up all of the materials and tools and would be cheaper to buy it off the shelf - assuming you could get what you wanted - what fun would that be.

I especially like this and other forums with the free sharing of ideas. Many out-of-the box ideas come from here and there is a thread on almost everything. I have posted many questions and the responses have been great.




Jeremy, now you are killing me with the mention of an oversized winter bivy that can contain all of your gear and you can cook in without leaving your sleeping bag. Where are the pics and write-up. Dude, open up your PM.

Jeremy Osburn

Locale: New England
Re: worth it - yes on 08/06/2011 05:46:03 MDT Print View


PM should be open, I will check. The bivy turned out great, I picture it being used on a fast and light trip as my only shelter. The trip I have in mind is a winter presidential range traverse in New Hampshire, where going slow and staying above tree line for many days (the traditional traverse) will mean you run into a nasty storm. I will do a post about it this weekend, it was a fun first project.