Okay…maybe you have heard of one or two of these, but I’ll bet you haven’t heard of all of them. REI is a wonderful thing, but why not support the little guy from time to time:
1. Hyperlight Mountain Gear. Cuben fiber is the predominant theme in their line, and their Echo I and Echo II shelters are extremely light. They are also a bit expensive. The Echo 1 (one-person shelter) is less than 23 ounces, without stakes, and each of those 23 ounces will cost you about $25. The stuff sacks are a little less costly and would be a great way to shave some ounces, if you are using a heavy one for your down sleeping bag.
2. Titanium Goat. If you’re the bivy type you have to check out Titanium Goat. How about a shelter for less than SEVEN OUNCES. And you’ve got to love any operation that includes, on its “About Us” page, a comment like this: “During the winter of 2007 we moved the sewing machine from the living room to a small…750 square foot basement.” They also have down beanies that would keep your head warm in the coldest conditions.
3. Minibulldesign Cult. Sorry, but I’m not sure if that is two words or four. If you think your JetBoil is outrageously heavy, however, this is the place for you. Surprisingly, there is no titanium to be found—almost everything is aluminum. Oh, and the aluminum occasionally still has the evidence of a previous life as a Red Bull can or a Bud Light container. Before you laugh this off, remember that Andrew Skurka uses a cat food can.
4. Six Moons Design. Six Moons is probably a little more well known than the other folks on this list. They have been around for a while, and have a pretty complete line of tents, packs, tarps, and rain gear. Their Gatewood Cape doubles as a poncho and a shelter, for less than 12 ounces. They also sell Tyvek foot prints, if you would prefer not buying it by the yard at your local hardware store. If you visit this site be sure to read the blog article titled, “The Death of Ultralight.” It’s one of the smartest things written on the topic I’ve read.
5. Railriders. I saved the best for last. Their tag line is “toughest clothes on the planet”, which is exactly what I need. This stuff isn’t cheap, but you won’t be like me at Muir Trail Ranch, last year, sewing up the ripped seams in my hiking pants. On another note, the shirts come in colors that are actually pretty sharp!
Good hiking, Ray