Directory of “Cottage Industry” Backpacking Gear Companies

ultralight backpacking

ultralight backpackingSome of the best ultralight backpacking gear on the market is not made by the big gear companies (and it isn’t even available in most stores).

It comes from small, hiker-owned businesses who design, manufacture and sell their own gear on the internet and at small shows and hiker gatherings.

These “cottage industry” gear smiths are responsible for most of the innovative new ideas that have fueled the ultralight backpacking revolution (from tarp-tents to one-pound packs and more).

AntiGravityGear

www.antigravitygear.com – Lightweight shelters, cook systems, accessories and more.

Bear Paw Wilderness Designs

www.bearpawwd.com – Lightweight shelters and accessories.

Big Sky International

www.bigskyinternational.com – Ultralight freestanding shelters.

Black Rock Gear

www.blackrockgear.com – Ultralight down hats, vests, gloves and apparel.

Brasslite Backpacking Stoves

www.brasslite.com – Lightweight alcohol stoves.

Bushbuddy

www.bushbuddy.ca – Ultralight wood burning stoves.

Dirty Girl Gaiters

www.dirtygirlgaiters.com – Colorful lightweight gaiters.

DIY Gear Supply

www.diygearsupply.com – Materials and fabrics for building your own lightweight gear.

Elemental Horizons

www.elementalhorizons.com – Lightweight backpacks and accessories.

Enlightened Equipment

www.enlightenedequipment.com – Ultralight sleeping quilts.

Equinox LTD

www.equinoxltd.com – Ultralight packs, shelters, accessories and more.

Feathered Friends

www.featheredfriends.com – Ultralight down sleeping bags and clothing.

Four Dog Stoves

www.fourdog.com – Ultralight multi-fuel stoves and cookware.

Gossamer Gear

www.gossamergear.com – Ultralight backpacks, shelters, sleep systems & more.

Goosefeet Gear

www.goosefeetgear.com – Down booties and apparel.

Hammock Gear

www.hammockgear.com – Lightweight hammock tarps, quilts and accessories.

Hennessy Hammock

www.hennessyhammock.com – Lightweight hammock shelters.

Hyperlight Mountain Gear

www.hyperlitemountaingear.com – Ultralight cuben fiber backpacks, shelters and accessories.

Integral Designs

www.integraldesigns.com – Lightweight shelters, bivys and accessories.

Jacks R Better

www.jacksrbetter.com – Ultralight sleeping quilts, shelters and accessories.

Katabatic Gear

www.katabaticgear.com – Ultralight sleeping quits and bivys.

Lawson Outdoor Equipment

www.lawsonequipment.com – Lightweight shelter kits, fabrics and accessories.

LightHeart Gear

www.lightheartgear.com – Ultralight double-wall shelters, fabrics and accessories.

LW Gear

www.lwgear.com – Lightweight backpacks, DVDs, books and videos.

McHale Alpine Packs

www.mchalepacks.com – Custom fitted ultralight backpacks.

Moonbow Gear

www.moonbowgear.com – Modular pack systems, shelters and other unique gear.

Nunatak

www.nunatakusa.com – Ultralight sleeping quilts and down apparel.

Mountain Laurel Designs

www.mountainlaureldesigns.com – Ultralight backpacks, shelters, sleep systems and more.

Outdoor Equipment Supplier LLC

www.outdoorequipmentsupplier.com – Lightweight tarps, shelters and accessories.

Oware

www.owareusa.com – Ultralight shelters, sleep systems and accessories.

Packafeather

http://packafeather.com – Lightweight alcohol stoves and accessories.

Ray Jardine

www.rayjardine.com – The godfather of UL backpacking’s books and sew-your-own gear kits.

Ruta Locura

www.rutalocura.com – Trekking poles, tent poles, cookware and accessories.

Simblissity

www.simblissity.net – Lightweight gaiters, storage sacks and  accessories.

Simply Better Outdoor Gear

www.simplybetterthings.com – 5 in 1 hammock seat.

Six Moon Designs

www.sixmoondesigns.com – Ultralight backpacks, shelters and accessories.

Solo Stove

www.solostove.com – Lightweight wood-burning stoves.

Suluk 46

www.suluk46.comUltralight backpacking tools and accessories.

Tarptent

www.tarptent.com – The original ightweight single-wall shelters (and now double wall shelters)

Titanium Goat

www.titaniumgoat.com – Lightweight conical shelters, cook systems and more.

Trail Designs

www.traildesigns.com – Lightweight stoves, cookware and accessories.

Ultralight Adventure Equipment

www.ula-equipment.com – The best lightweight backpacks in the biz.

Warbonnet Outdoors

www.warbonnetoutdoors.com – Lightweight hammock tarps, quilts and accessories.

Western Mountaineering

www.westernmountaineering.com – Ultralight down sleeping bags and apparel.

White Box Stoves

www.whiteboxstoves.com – Ultralight alcohol stoves.

ZPacks

www.zpacks.com – Ultralight cuben fiber shelters, backpacks and accessories.

This list is still a work in progress. If you have a question or would like to suggest a company that is not mentioned here, please post your comments below…

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37 Responses to “Directory of “Cottage Industry” Backpacking Gear Companies”

  1. I would recommend adding hammockgear.com and warbonnetoutdoors.com. More geared towards hammocking, but some of the finest cottage manufacturers out there.

  2. I recommend you add Suluk46 — I have a 3 oz bivy from them I love.

    http://www.suluk46.com/products.html

  3. I also recommend Feathered Friends. I think they have the warmest, lightest down vests made for the dollar.

    http://featheredfriends.com/Picasso/Garments/Lt/HyperionHeliosVest.html

    They also make sleeping bags, etc. They make the lightest sleeping bags suitable for pairing up for couples.

  4. I would add Enlightened Equipment — a great place for ultralight, reasonably priced quilts:

    http://www.enlightenedequipment.com/

    and GooseFeet Gear — great source for anything down-filled:

    http://goosefeetgear.com/

  5. Excellent list! Great work. A few additional ones that come to mind:

    Simblissity — http://www.simblissity.net/
    Dirty Girl Gaiters — http://www.dirtygirlgaiters.com/
    Feathered Friends — http://featheredfriends.com/

    Simblissity is currently closed, but may re-open, so I think it is still worth adding.

  6. I also recommend Black Rock Gear who makes the warmest, lightest beanie made for hikers. Plus the lightest cuben fiber over (rain) mitts. Also ultralight 900 goose down vests, only 4 oz.

    http://www.blackrockgear.com/

  7. Being a ‘hanger’, I second Mike’s suggestions, especially HammockGear – great quilts and they now also offer Cuben fiber tarps…
    All the additional suggested ‘cottage’ folks mentioned have good gear, decent pricing, and excellent service – same goes for Erik’s original list…
    Support the “cottage industry” vendors giving us the gear we want (and ‘need’) to ‘lighten up’ our loads for long treks!

  8. Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. Keep em coming…

    Added: Moonbow Gear, Hammock Gear, Warbonnet Outdoors, Suluk46, Feathered Friends, Enlightened Equipment, Goosefeet Gear, Simblissity, Dirty Girl Gaiters, Black Rock Gear

  9. Erik, maybe the guy has changed his ways or the company is under new ownership but I sure wouldn’t recommend Big Sky to anyone. The owner was always able to supply Backpackinglight with test samples but couldn’t fill orders. A few years ago I gave the guy an essentially interest free loan after a glowing review…months later after haggling, pestering, and being given empty promises, I finally got my money back. Never DID get a tent…

  10. Oh, I almost forgot, don’t forget to add the grand-daddy of all the cottage guys and a real innovator…Dan McHale of McHale packs…top notch packs, service, attention to detail, and a good guy.

    http://www.mchalepacks.com

  11. I recommend Brasslite.com. Nicely made Ultralight stoves

  12. Erik, et. al.,

    Please note that the adjustable Goat Poles (now Yana poles), formerly sold by Titanium Goat, is now made (along with tent stakes,Tent Poles,Tenkara Rods, Pack Rifle Kits, Bivy, Head Lamp, Water bladders,Crampons,Titanium Pots,Titanium Grills) by Ruta Locura (www.rutalocura.com). Josh left Titanium Goat and has his own business now.

  13. A few more suggestions for your list:

    Packafeather (http://packafeather.com/). Their FeatherFire stove is an alcohol stove with a clever design that actually allows it to simmer.

    Brasslite (http://www.brasslite.com/). High quality brass alcohol stoves with a built-in pot stand and a simmer ring. They’re heavier than the Packafeather stoves, but also sturdier.

  14. Great that you included ZPacks, one of the best-kept UL secrets around. I got my pack, tarp-tent, sleeping bag/quilt & other accessories from them, and am very satisfied and impressed with the quality. Founder Joe Valesko is great to work with.

  15. We’ve bought tents a couple of times from Big Sky. Love their products. It’s a small operation, so I understand some people have had problems. We never have, and in fact, have had items sent to us super fast when we’ve needed them.

  16. Added McHale Packs, Brasslite, Ruta Locura and Packafeather. Thanks for the suggestions.

  17. simply awesome! Thanks E the B!!

  18. a very interesting UL backpack (hukePACK, made in Germany), still not available, but comming up soon:
    http://www.laufbursche-gear.de
    some pictures and info:
    http://laufbursche.blogspot.com/

  19. Great list

    I recommend you to add this site as well

    http://warbonnetoutdoors.com

  20. BackWoodsDayDreamer.com is a fabulous place to find DIY material and guides. The store is diygearsupply.com

  21. Thanks for the list, Erik. Just a quick note about Tarptent, though we certainly started with only single-wall shelters, half our product line is now double-wall. Everything is still 100% made in USA.

    Thanks again.

    Henry

  22. @Lothar Rees: Thanks for the link. Will add Laufbursche to the list when they get some products finished.

    @James Brown: Added Warbonnet Outdoors.

    @Chunky Monkey: Added DIY Gear Supply

    @Henry Shires: Thanks for the note. Updated the description and heading over to your site to check out some of the new models.

  23. Hey–I just saw a company called Kifaru advertising in the PCT Communicator. They make ultralight pack systems, sleep systems, and stove and shelter systems.
    http://www.kifaru.net/ultralight.html

  24. http://lukesultralite.com/

    fast shipping, quality stuff.

  25. Hi Erik

    While I’ve been reading your blog for some time, this is my first comment, so thanks are in order for the great content you provide.

    Thanks for this great collection of cottage industry firms. If you’d like to extend this list (or add a section to it) to include three cottage industry companies from Europe that I love, I could recommend:

    PHD (Peter Hutchinsons Designs) in the UK – http://phdesigns.co.uk/ who make great down clothing and sleeping bags (custom ones too with a sleeping bag designer tool on the site)

    gococo in Sweden – http://gococo.se/ who make Cocona based clothing, the majority of the selection being socks

    Laufbursche in Germany – http://laufbursche-gear.de who make ultralight packs and accessories but are looking to expand to shelters once they have more support. This site is in German with Google Translate facility until they fix something in their web-shop engine.

    Happy trails!

  26. Erik, thanks for all the great information and tips.

    I had heard of Gen Shimazu’s alpinelitedesigns gear before but had never seen it. Gen was as trail days this year with his company renamed
    http://www.yamamountaingear.com/index.php

    Nice ideas well made, worth a look.
    An announcement on the web page currently says closed for the season while he attempts to ride a unicycle 3000. Link at the web site above.

    A youtube review ( not mine )
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wermcBPgyo

    Gen has also tossed in a couple of free patterns in the myog section.

  27. *Second the motion on Big Sky tents. Just need to dab some seam-sealer on your pad to keep it from sliding on the slick floor when the ground isn’t level. (It happens.)
    *Also Ultralight Adventure catalyst pack. Love it, plus it carries a bear cannister horizontally. (Incidentally it’s good against more than bears.)
    *Regarding stoves, who needs ‘em? We go cold, that saves some weight, time & trouble. My wife dehydrates, so it’s light, healthy (not salty) and tasty (I add hot sauce often).
    *I previously mentioned Chaco sandals instead of sucky inhuman blister-boots. I found some no-smell O’Keefe’s salve to prevent cracking, with SharkSkinz for snow.
    *DriDucks (from BassPro) has a good ultralight rain suit, just don’t snag it.
    *Most important, mainly follow Erik’s packing list. He’s to b/p what Rick Steves is to overseas travel. Two birds of a feather that help one to hike/fly light.

  28. Aren’t Bozeman Mountain Works, Cilo, Feathered Friends, Moonstone, Montane, Mont Bell, Sea to Summit, Snow Peak, Terra Nova, Valandre, and Vargo still in biz? If Western Mountaineering is a UL cottage gear company I’m sure some of these can fit in that category too!

  29. I am an avid backpacker, and former textile industry (athletic, active, & sports apparel)veteran. I developed a product and started a company to address a specific problem – my technical clothing (shirts, pants, underwear,etc.) losing it’s ability to wick moisture after wearing and washing numerous times. My company name and product name is Wash & Wick. You can go to the website to learn more. The company is brand new although I have been using Wash & Wick for a few years now as we developed the product. Wash & Wick is NOT a detergent. It is a finish that stays on the fabric. Environmentally friendly too. I’d be happy to send you some to try (complimentary of course).

  30. The Emberlit Camp Stove (pat pend) is a lightweight, compact, wood burning stove that doesn’t require you carry any fuel. It packs completely flat at about 1/8th in thick, weighs only 11.3 oz, and is 100% Made here in the USA from stainless steel. The new Emberlit-UL is made of titanium, in the USA, and weighs a mere 5.45 oz.

  31. Yama mountain gear
    Lukes ultralight

    These are both good companies with great service and products.

  32. +1 for Zimmerbuilt. Just ordered a pair of hipbelt pockets, top-notch quality and choice of materials.

  33. flatcatgear.com

    Innovative alcohol and Esbit stoves

  34. There is also Etowah Outfitters. Makers of ultralight tarps and alcohol stoves that are quite popular in the Southeast.

  35. As Tucas of Spain. http://astucas.com/en/

    Maybe also ookworks in Scotland. http://oookworks.com/

  36. http://thru-hiker.com/ is a good resource for buying ultralight materials and finding project plans.

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