Like the G4 pack, the Ray Way pack is a classic ultralight do it yourself project. Unlike the G4, you can not purchase one these backpacks pre-manufactured. If you wish to own one you will have to make one or have someone do it for you. I do not have very many photos of the construction process, but there are a few I can share for those folks that are interested (see below).
I decided to construct a Ray Way Backpack after seeing them used successfully by other thru-hikers while on my 2007 Appalachian Trail thru-hike. I found the pack very comfortable and knew I had to make one when I got home. The kit is available at www.rayjardine.com
The pack is a no-frills essential component only item. In other words a true ultra-light piece of gear. The exclusion of bells and whistles type additions brings the weight of the Ray Way Pack down to a bout 10 ounces. Not bad at all for 2600 cubic inches of room with an additional 1200 in the extension collar. This brings the total to 3800 cubic inches.
The pack body is made from 1.9 ounce coated nylon. The pack back panel and shoulder straps are made of cordura nylon. The extension collar is 1.3 ounce silicone coated nylon.
When loaded properly the pack is very comfortable at loads around 20lbs and under. The shoulder straps are wide and have a nice balance between soft and firm. The wide shoulder straps help to distribute the weight of the load over a larger area rather than rely on a hip belt to do so. The pack also rides higher than traditional packs since the weight is on the shoulders instead of the hips and has a narrow profile to keep weight balanced on a persons frame. That is what makes this pack work so well. Especially for hikers with a base weight of 10lbs or less.
If your pack load is usually under 20lbs the Ray Way Pack is sure worth trying. If you are still working your way toward a lighter system a light weight pack with a frame such as the ULA Circuit might be a better next step. These light weight frame packs can used like “training wheels” until you have a lighter system in place.
I am still surprised at how comfy this pack can be. For back padding I fold a sleeping pad and lay it against the back. Most folks use Z-rests for this since they already fold like an accordion. I just fold my Ridge Rest like it was a Z-rest and it seems to work just fine (it gets easier after repeated folds).
This is the pack use for trips with a load under 25lbs. I also use this pack for most of my day hiking now.
A few possible modifications are:
1.) I attached a camera case to the shoulder strap for quick access. (I do this on most of my packs).
2.) I added ties around the top of the pack to keep the extension collar rolled up when not needed. (Especially for day hikes)
3.) Added the optional pocket as per Ray’s instructions. (This has been very handy).
Here are the construction photos:
Homemade Gear – Ray Way Quilt
How long did it take you to assemble this bad boy?
It took about two weeks, with hour here and there. I bought an old Elna sewing machine about half-way through and that greatly sped up the process.