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In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear"
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Art ...
(asandh) - F
In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear" on 09/13/2012 07:51:31 MDT Print View

4 times out of 5 when I see someone announce they are making something from scratch (I'm not talking about gear modifications) I want to scream at them "Don't Do IT !! "

but then I walk over to the mirror, and look at someone who has done it many times ... and calm down.

There is something satisfying about designing and creating something from scratch, but I have to admit, that most of the time, if I count every hour I'm involved in the project I'm working for well below minimum wage. Oh yeah, once in a while I can brag I saved a few pennies by making it myself, but at what cost? all the hours I spent? what else could I have been doing? but then there is the self satisfaction.

Of course real self satisfaction comes from actually coming up with a new idea.
I've actually done this a couple times.
But aren't we, most of the time simply reinventing the wheel? is this true satisfaction? or are we oblivious to the years and years of efforts by others?

Why do you make your own gear?
What do you get out of it?

Anthony Britner
(ant89) - F

Locale: North Wales, UK
Re on 09/13/2012 08:23:28 MDT Print View

The way I see it is that if we choose to make a item we do so for the following reasons.

The satisfaction of using somthing we have made ourselves.

Comercial products may not offer the "features" (for lack of a better word) that we may require on an induvidual basis but modifying a commercial product may not work for what we have in mind.

thats the way I look at it.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear" on 09/13/2012 09:02:06 MDT Print View

It's fun to do projects

Commercial gear has too many doodads

Keith Bassett

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear" on 09/13/2012 09:22:42 MDT Print View

MYOG costs me twice as much as just waiting for a garage sale at REI.

However, it gives me something to do with my time and a great way to keep busy.

I am working through the list.
Tarp = done
Pack = done
Stoves = done
Bivy = done
Quilt = not just yet
Pack # 2-N = coming soon
Pyramid = done
Wacky Retro Pup Tent for Trekking Poles = Underway

Just look at the amount of time and fun there. I love whipping out a 10x 15 tarp and setting up a new pitch every time we hike. Good fun. And the look on someones face as they stare at your pack and then finally ask "What kind of pack is that?" is priceless.

MYOG is too much work for things like neo air pads, or shoes. But for the other stuff it is within reach and fun.



Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear" on 09/13/2012 09:49:45 MDT Print View

"real self satisfaction comes from actually coming up with a new idea"
This is the primary reason I make gear. My myog backpack, for example, was a pretty new idea when I first put it together. Same with carbon fiber tubing tent stakes with arrow tips and flat heads.

"But aren't we, most of the time simply reinventing the wheel?"
I try not to. If I can buy it already made I'll do so.

Exceptions to the above might include alterations of an existing idea or product to more specifically meet my needs and wants. Nothing new.....just personalizing. Otherwise I can't get what I want. Most tents these days, for example, have way more mosquito netting than I want.


Locale: Piedmont of the Carolinas
MYOG success on 09/13/2012 10:00:39 MDT Print View

I have a 12 oz pack I made for under 20 bucks, and probably spent 3-4 hours working on it. So if I value my time at even only $10 per hour, its a $50-60 product in terms of cost. Not bad. I would have spent that 3 hours researching all the cottage gear packs to find one anyway. A MYOG Success in my mind.

Before I started modding it into a half pyramid, I made a 5' x 9.5' flat tarp for under 30 bucks, less than 2 hours time invested. I couldn't even buy a smaller tarp that cheap.

I have had my share of goof ups and wasted material along the way though, but nothing that tips the scales away from still coming out ahead.

if I wanted a cuben fiber tipi or pyramid with internal nest, or an alpining pack for heavier loads...... I would probably just buy it. The cost for trial and error accelarates with the complexity of the project, and the law of diminishing returns kicks in I imagine. Maybe others could chime in.

But in my opinion, some of the best MYOG success is to be had in making your own trail food;)

Edited by REDWOOD82 on 09/13/2012 10:01:15 MDT.

Angus A.
(mangus7175) - F

Re: In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear" on 09/13/2012 10:11:55 MDT Print View

Why do you make your own gear?
- Partially because of the cost savings but really it's for my personal satisfaction that I can make something that actually works. I don't have a lot of MYOG projects under my belt compared to others but so far all of the items I have made myself I have used it and is part of my regular BP load.

Some of the items I have made so far are: Bug Bivy, Quilt, Hammock, and Stoves (alcohol).

What do you get out of it?
- As mentioned above, it's for my personal satisfaction. I like taking a piece of gear I've made to a BP trip and know that it will work and that it won't fail me. Luckily, none of the items I have made have...

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
Defense of MYOG on 09/13/2012 10:43:47 MDT Print View

I have been making a lot of my own backpacking gear and designing packs for a long time.
It true some items with the cost of the material and man power hours take longer than it would to go down to the sporting good store to buy. With MYOG the more you make and sew the better your skills get.
I did buy a 45 and 20 degree quilts from Golite when they had their crazy sales because I added up the material cost it was cheaper to buy a better designed quilt from Golite. Also I have found on some items manufactures make I like some of the features of equipment manufactures design their equipment but not all of them if I make it myself then it's custom made for me.

With MYOG I do it for self satisfaction I really mainly focus on backpack design and making it faster and stronger build with less time on the sewing machine and easy for the first time builder.

For example a couple of my MYOG pack designs like the Nomad Ruck and Scraps the Pack/FTZP are designed with less seams and time put in to the project. The designs save time and are easy to sew and only take 4 to 6 hours sewing verses 12 to 18 hour on complicated designed packs. I like to share my results with MYOG community who would maybe like to make their own version of the packs.


Nomad Ruck and plans:

Scraps the Pack FTZP:

Edited by socal-nomad on 09/13/2012 10:46:41 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear" on 09/13/2012 10:44:22 MDT Print View

quick estimates:

Packs = 5
Tarps = 8 (if you count plastic prototypes)
Stoves = 2
Windscreens = 3
bivy/quilt = 2 + materials for a third unless I decide to make it out of down
WPB jackets = 3
shirts = 2
pants = 4
shorts = 6
hats = 5
vests = 3 + 4th is half done
insulated jacket = 1 but it took the sleeves off and made it into a vest, the arms will become booties some day
gloves/mittens = 3
booties = 1

Jimmy jam
(jimmyjam) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear" on 09/13/2012 10:48:07 MDT Print View

I make my own stuff because of the satisfaction I get from having made it myself and because I can customise it- for example I made my backpack with one long side pocket that holds my tent, sloping side pocket for water bottle, and expandable front pocket for my parcho and other stuff.

So far I've made: 1 person tent, 2 person tent, 1p quilt, 2p quilt, wind shirt, wind pants, parcho, backpack,vest, jacket,stove & coozie, and a hood/hat. The wife gave me a sewing machine for Christmas a couple of years ago and I've become a MYOG addict.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear" on 09/13/2012 12:56:04 MDT Print View

"Why do you make your own gear?
What do you get out of it"?

Hunting, fishing, running, sailing, carpentry, racing, cycling and golf can all be termed as hobbies for us regular folk who do it for the fun of it and not in a pay for play professional capacity.

Currently my hobby is hiking with a side order of MYOG. Mechanical repair was a side order served up along with my auto racing hobby years ago.

I find it humorous that the term "gear head" seems to fit well in both genres.

I've done tarps, a bivy, packs, quilts, stuff sacks, pillow cases, stoves and windscreens. I've used all of it succesfully.

FWIW I've sold some of my MYOG and some little used manufactured gear to help fund my current shelter from Lightheart Gear.

Bottom line, I enjoy it and I get requests from family and friends for some of my MYOG. That's why I do it.

Party On,


Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
MYOG on 09/13/2012 15:34:07 MDT Print View

"There is something satisfying about designing and creating something from scratch, but I have to admit, that most of the time, if I count every hour I'm involved in the project I'm working for well below minimum wage."

When I used to make bio-diesel (back when I had a lot more free time), people would ask how much it cost me. About a $1/gallon. What if you factor in your time? Uh, $75/gallon. :) I could have bought it much cheaper but it was a great feeling cruising down the road propelled by something i made.

Same reason I'm looking forward to getting into MYOG. I have a sewing machine, material, and ideas. Now just waiting until my time is freed up!

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear on 09/13/2012 17:04:21 MDT Print View

You should never charge yourself for what you do in your free time.
if you do , it isn't a hobby...
Often I have pointed out that there is a good chance you end up spending more in DIY than buying a similar item, particularly with projects like tents and mats.
I do that when the thread starts with " I am trying to save some money...,"
However when it is understood that the project is part of leisure time and saving money is not the reason , then go ahead it can be a lot of fun and usually a good learning experience.
Still, would be better if people disclosed the real cost of their project, that is including new tools bought for it, trips to town, postage, the cost of those 3 meters of fabric leftover and so on...

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear" on 09/13/2012 17:59:28 MDT Print View

I think UL is only associated with MYOG because in the beginning the market simply didn't have much at all the choose from. If you wanted it you had no choice but to make it. Tarptent and GG both started out by sharing plans to make UL gear and only over time did they get in the gear making business. Add Jardines book and detailed instruction on making his designs as well.
Ive made a lot of stuff but Im not that interested in making gear so if I can buy it I will. The exception is simple gear and alterations that just don't take a lot of time.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear on 09/13/2012 18:32:47 MDT Print View

Recently I have made 3 LW hand saws.
The first works pretty much like a $10-20 6" pruning saw, however to make mine work I had to purchase an $18 blade so with the other bits (including a new drill BIT) it ended up costing me over $30.
But I had some fun doing that and mine is both smaller and lighter anyway.
The next one was an H type (that is what I call a bucksaw) made with aluminium strips. Cost :under $20 ($5 for the blade, the guy at the hardware store was glad to get rid of it...)
Then I made one from broken CF trekking poles and CF umbrella pole (rescued from a rubbish bin...)
This uses the same $5 blade so it pretty much was "cost free".
Of course I could have transferred $57 into Pay Pal account and have a working sub 4oz bucksaw ,but where is the fun ?

David Miles
(davidmiles) - F

Locale: Eastern Sierra
Re: In Defense of "Make Your Own Gear" on 09/13/2012 21:44:39 MDT Print View

Sometimes I make gear to save some money, but usually it's to make something I can't find.
Mostly, It's to make it just the way I want or need it.

There is great satisfaction in the inventing process and in the construction.
I learn a lot about what adds to the functionality and what doesn't.

Building one or two of something is a fun challenge.
You would have to certifiably crazy to build 100's of something ;)

David Lowry
(huskyrunnr) - F
my commentary/insight, or lack thereof... on 09/13/2012 23:26:31 MDT Print View

Either the commercial version costs too much, or it is not available commercially.

Right now I am churning out Kifaru style compression sacks at $5-$10 per sack, two sacks per day, in my spare time, for family and friends. The Kifaru sacks I'm replicating cost $40 - $50 apiece.

Thanks Z-packs for the timely shipment of the necessary accessories.

Not commercially available: a plaster cast positive and negative of my son's back, which I used to lay up a carbon fiber pack-board. Kinda nice, comfortable, and light. It even fits me well. I'm not sure how to get more "custom" than that.

Edited by huskyrunnr on 09/13/2012 23:42:28 MDT.

Thomas Conly
(conly) - F

Locale: Lots of canoeing and snow
It's not about money on 09/14/2012 00:00:45 MDT Print View

I've been making my own gear for years and although I love saving money, it's not really about that. I love making the stuff and no one would be doing much MYOG if they didn't enjoy it. I have always thought of buying materials like paying for entertainment. I don't have cable because I'd rather buy materials and spend my free time creating something. But, I'll list a few reasons I make my own gear that haven't been mentioned as often:

I can almost always make something lighter than the equivalent purchased product. Seems like every commercial product, even from Gossamer Gear, etc., have extras that end up adding to the weight. Look at the Hyperlite Mountain Gear insert for instance. I made a nearly identical net tent that weighs less, has more room and uses heavier materials. Why does it weigh less? The HMG one uses cuben fibre which is way lighter but then they bind the seems with grosgrain which probably adds a couple ounces. Why? because it's way cheaper to sew. Add a few fancy plastic clips and you've added an extra ounce.

I can have exactly what I want when I make it! I can make my stuff sacks the same diameter as my backpack. Totally customized.

I have tons of fun scraps. I have made tons of items from the leftovers including a backpack, mitts, vapour barriers, and I'm currently making a down balaclava.

Most importantly, how often have you found a piece of gear you love, then they stop making it? GoLite gust and breeze would be in my list. If I make something myself, I have control of that design. No one can take it away. When it wears out I can always replace it. Not only that, but when I use a piece of gear I inevitably end up thinking of all the things I would like to change. When the time comes to replace something, I can make those changes.