Ray-Way Backpack Kit Review
Sewing the Ray-Way Backpack --- A Ray and Jenny Jardine creation
Price: $80 (includes Ray-Way Backpack Kit w/ instructions, Making the Ray-Way Backpack DVD, and shipping)
I worked on the backpack a number of different days after work. I would say it takes 6-8 hours from start to finish.
I appreciate the Jardines using as few materials in producing the homemade Ray-Way backpack kit. The Jardines fit the printed instructions, and cutouts necessary to design the backpack all within 8½” x 11” paper. One big drawback the Jardines failed to acknowledge is the type of thread we should use or the size needle in order to make the homemade backpack. I think they dropped the ball and know they did. Surprisingly on their website (rayjardine.com) the Jardines offer “their” thread for purchasing (again avoiding to tell us the type of thread).
Before starting and after cutting the fabrics, I would suggest labeling front/back, shoulder strap left/right, etc. I ended up making two shoulder straps where the bottom of the shoulder strap fabric pointed in the same direction (i.e.: two left shoulder straps), and did not notice until all the webbing had been installed on the strap. It is not noticeable when wearing the backpack- just annoying that you do not have enough fabric to change such an error. My other fabric blunder was at the bottom of the backpack. Somewhere during the construction of parts I put the “inside” on the “outside”. In the end, I like the look of the less shiny side better, but it would have been nice to avoid the mistake. Measure all parts of your fabric before you cut into the fabric. The Jardines say to follow step-by-step, but doing so could leave you fabric short somewhere else (ex: the mesh pockets…make sure you measure out all three before cutting any of them).
The Jardines seem to have shorted me the ¾” webbing for a glossy webbing that I had to use for the extension closure. The glossy finishing on the webbing slips on the buckle. I tried to go to local stores (ALL of them!) and none of the stores seem to sell the ¾” “rough” webbing used on All backpacks. The ¾” webbing connects the shoulder straps to the bottom of the backpack on traditional/everyday commercial backpacks. I just did not have enough for my extension collar and ended up using the slippery/glossy webbing.
Making the Ray-Way backpack DVD
- 60 minutes
- The DVD is homemade with Jenny as our sewing instructor and Ray as our narrator
- I enjoyed the DVD, excluding Ray’s random off-topic comments.
- Jenny does a fabulous / “money-like” work at making the backpack look easy to make – which the backpack is.
- The DVD skips many steps that are in the printed instructions as well as shows steps not listed with the printed instructions.
- I think the DVD and printed instructions compliment each other, bring a much needed second opinion, and provide different takes (learning styles) to the production of the backpack.
- I would rather see the DVD have step-by-step instructions and probably drop the printed ones. It would take the Jardines some time to produce the DVD. Some may consider the step-by-step DVD boring, but its pretty boring no matter how you capture someone at a sewing machine. Those who want to learn will appreciate the more clarified/extended version of the DVD.
- The extra $20 for the DVD is too high, but I wanted the second opinion with visual aid.
- Ray’s inked on imagery for the face of the DVD, is inked on, and wipes/smears off easily. The cheap case the DVD is stored, will not close properly. A paper CD sleeve would have worked for me. There are over 50 chapters; none of the chapters are titled.
Can I make this homemade backpack having never sewn before?
Yes, but do not look for the Jardines to assist with simple instructions. Jenny does provide great tips on the DVD, but basic sewing knowledge is left up to you.
What would I improve?
Besides the noted in this article- I think the material could be of better quality, especially the mesh netting for the price we are paying. A lightweight backpack means lightweight material, but cheap will not stand up over the long haul. Just putting the backpack together, I cut two holes into the material and had to patch them. Wear and tear are still up for judgment. The ¾” webbing for the extension collar is starting to fray on the edges, and not the edges where the webbing was cut to length. I fear the first brush of a downed tree that you will need to climb over/under may rip my side and front mesh pockets. The Jardines fail to attach the top of the foam shoulder straps to anything, and let the top of the shoulder strap flap, which could be annoying. I decided to use an industrial sewing machine to sew through the foam and attach the strap to the webbing that is attached to the backpack. You would not be able to do this on a home sewing machine, and may be why the Jardines skip this step. I avoided installing all but one of the “sock rack” straps. I do not use this feature on my Breeze and only find the “sock” strap useful when carrying an umbrella to hold the umbrella from swaying side to side.
Ray-Way backpack vs. Golite Breeze
I am not getting into all the disagreeances between Jardine and Golite. I decided to make the Ray-Way backpack because the Golite Breeze is no longer on the market. Being able to get a Golite Breeze at $70, the homemade Ray-Way backpack is too overpriced. If I had to choose between the Golite Breeze and the Ray-Way homemade backpack based on durability and price- the Golite Breeze wins. The Breeze/Jardine pack is my backpack of choice over all the other backpacks on the market for thru hiking. What makes these two backpacks superior? - Simplistic and useable. The backpack is a common sense bag, with no frills.
The Score for the Ray-Way Backpack Kit: 8/10
Conclusion: Fun, and the homemade Ray-Way backpack is the best on the market. I made it!, and the Jardines assisted.
Thanks Ray and Jenny.
To purchase or learn more about the Ray-Way Backpack Kit, visit: the Backpack Kit