Directory of “Cottage Industry” Backpacking Gear Companies

Some 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 – Lightweight shelters, cook systems, accessories and more.

Appalachian Ultralight – Ultralight backpacks.

Bear Paw Wilderness Designs – Lightweight shelters and accessories.

Big Sky International – Ultralight freestanding shelters.

Black Rock Gear – Ultralight down hats, vests, gloves and apparel.

Brasslite Backpacking Stoves – Lightweight alcohol stoves.

Bushbuddy – Ultralight wood burning stoves.

Cooke Custom Sewing – Silnylon tarps, packs and other gear.

Dirty Girl Gaiters – Colorful lightweight gaiters.

DIY Gear Supply – Materials and fabrics for building your own lightweight gear.

Elemental Horizons – Lightweight backpacks and accessories.

Enlightened Equipment – Ultralight sleeping quilts.

Equinox LTD – Ultralight packs, shelters, accessories and more.

Feathered Friends – Ultralight down sleeping bags and clothing.

Flat Cat Gear – Ultralight stoves and baking systems.

Four Dog Stoves – Ultralight multi-fuel stoves and cookware.

Gossamer Gear – Ultralight backpacks, shelters, sleep systems & more.

Goosefeet Gear – Down booties and apparel.

Hammock Gear – Lightweight hammock tarps, quilts and accessories.

Hennessy Hammock – Lightweight hammock shelters.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear – Ultralight cuben fiber backpacks, shelters and accessories.

Integral Designs – Lightweight shelters, bivys and accessories.

Jacks R Better – Ultralight sleeping quilts, shelters and accessories.

Katabatic Gear – Ultralight sleeping quits and bivys.

Lawson Outdoor Equipment – Lightweight shelter kits, fabrics and accessories.

LightHeart Gear – Ultralight double-wall shelters, fabrics and accessories.

LW Gear – Lightweight backpacks, DVDs, books and videos.

McHale Alpine Packs – Custom fitted ultralight backpacks.

Moonbow Gear – Modular pack systems, shelters and other unique gear.

Nunatak – Ultralight sleeping quilts and down apparel.

Mountain Laurel Designs – Ultralight backpacks, shelters, sleep systems and more.

Outdoor Equipment Supplier LLC – Lightweight tarps, shelters and accessories.

Out Gear Recreation – Lightweight hammocks.

Oware – Ultralight shelters, sleep systems and accessories.

Packafeather – Lightweight alcohol stoves and accessories.

Purcell Trench Grills – Lightweight grills for campfire cooking.

Purple Rain Adventure Skirts – Lightweight backpacking skirts and kilts.

Ray Jardine – The godfather of UL backpacking’s books and sew-your-own gear kits.

Ruta Locura – Trekking poles, tent poles, cookware and accessories.

Simblissity – Lightweight gaiters, storage sacks and  accessories.

Six Moon Designs – Ultralight backpacks, shelters and accessories.

Solo Stove – Lightweight wood-burning stoves.

Suluk 46 – Ultralight backpacking tools and accessories.

Tarptent – The original lightweight single-wall shelters (and now double wall shelters)

Titanium Goat – Lightweight conical shelters, cook systems and more.

Trail Designs – Lightweight stoves, cookware and accessories.

Ultralight Adventure Equipment – The best lightweight backpacks in the biz.

Warbonnet Outdoors – Lightweight hammock tarps, quilts and accessories.

Water Road Outfitters – Lightweight wood burning stoves.

Western Mountaineering – Ultralight down sleeping bags and apparel.

White Box Stoves – Ultralight alcohol stoves.

ZPacks – 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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70 Responses to “Directory of “Cottage Industry” Backpacking Gear Companies”

  1. I would recommend adding and 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.

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

    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:

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

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

    Simblissity —
    Dirty Girl Gaiters —
    Feathered Friends —

    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.

  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.

  11. I recommend 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 ( Josh left Titanium Goat and has his own business now.

  13. A few more suggestions for your list:

    Packafeather ( Their FeatherFire stove is an alcohol stove with a clever design that actually allows it to simmer.

    Brasslite ( 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:
    some pictures and info:

  19. Great list

    I recommend you to add this site as well

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

  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.


  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.


    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 – who make great down clothing and sleeping bags (custom ones too with a sleeping bag designer tool on the site)

    gococo in Sweden – who make Cocona based clothing, the majority of the selection being socks

    Laufbursche in Germany – 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

    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 )

    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.


    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.

    Maybe also ookworks in Scotland.

  36. is a good resource for buying ultralight materials and finding project plans.

  37. After surfing the net for over a month planing my first AT hike This is the most informative site I have found Great web site Thank you and Happy Trails

  38. Deep South Mountaineering. Founded by a thru hiker, they donate some of sales to trail crews, made in America, and styling. I love the hammock straps and the best looking tarp on planet earth.

  39. Don’t forget about Helium hiking Equipment out of GA.

  40. is a fairly new Scottish operation offering a range of lightweight shelters with a focus on durability and performance in wind.

  41. The best ultra-light sandal. Backed by a 5,000 mile garauntee these shoes will last a life time. They just released the new version with webbing instead of paracord. Super suave on the trails and so comfortable with sealskin socks for all weather and all terrain sandals.

  42. my recommendation for bear canister is the
    Bear canister, it is the best bear canister the there is, light and indestructible.
    Ive hiked the John muir, wonderland trail, as well as other with this canister and love it

  43. Bearpaw wilderness designs makes great tents and tarps. They will build you a tent to your custom design or modify your existing tent/tarp to suit your needs.

  44. Custom bikepacking gear sewn in Grand Junction, CO –

  45. erik
    i would add it is a fine twig stove!

  46. sorry that should be very good wood stove. 4 oz for titanium.

  47. Erik, thanks for the great list.
    Here’s a small company I’ve used. He’s a great guy, too.
    Dan Cooke is a cottage maker out of the northern Midwest. His emphasis is on quality gear, not always ultralight but he does have a UL pack & great tarps/tents out of 1.1oz sil-nylon. I’ve used his stuff on backpacking, canoe & kayak trips. I had his tent @ 12k’ in a wind gale -pitched in the dark, cross-ways to the wind – and as always, performed beyond expectations.

  48. Hey Erik, thanks for the shout out. Our company name is actually spelled “Hyperlite”. Would you possibly be able to change that? Thanks very much. -Lizzy Scully, Marketing Manager

  49. Great list, thank you! Take a look at Jeppaks! They make ultralight packs that look awesome!

  50. I had two different bags made over the years by Butch Dunn over at Packlite Outdoor Gear, but I can’t find any evidence online of them still being in business.

    The best part about Butch was his prices were AWESOME (~ $100 each time).

  51. Hi Erik, has a guide to American outdoor gear manufacturers which would be a good supplement to your post.

  52. Surprised that isn’t on here yet

  53. Erik,
    I hope you consider adding Purple Rain Adventure Skirts ( ) to this fine list. They make the BEST hiking/backpacking skirts and kilts. Super comfortable and durable!

  54. If cooking over a wood fire counts as a lightweight tactic, then you might include Purcell Trench grills. Their titanium grill is 53g.

  55. For silnylon flat tarps, Tundra Tarps from Cooke Custom Sewing are great. The center “quad loop” is brilliant for keeping a center pole from sliding out.

  56. Hello, Would you mind adding Out Gear Recreation to this list. We are a small start up company based in PA. We currently make hammocks.
    Thank you

  57. Here’s a sleeping bag/quilt/down jacket maker; I’ve used one of their quilts for 8 years in 21 third world countries in Asia/South America with excellent performance:
    Also a manufacturer of lightweight packs which I may order soon:

  58. gossamergear link goes straight to REI

  59. A friend of mine from school created a co. called Father Nature Outdoors a few years back. I know they’re doing well as a small biz for backpacking, car camping, etc.. I have one of their blankets and think its solid. I bet they’d like to be included here- I’ll pass it on.

  60. You should probably also add
    Their Divide pack is awesome and their smaller tents are really nice and lightweight!

  61. Hi Erik. Not sure if you’re still actively updating this, but I started a cottage backpack company earlier this year called Appalachian Ultralight.

    Here’s our website:

    We recently released a whole line of ultralight frameless packs. I hope you dig our stuff, and I’d appreciate if you could add us to your directory :)