Over the past year I have put a lot of time into designing and making my own lightweight backpacking gear. I recently took a 2.5-day trip using many Make Your Own Gear (MYOG) items to cover 60 miles in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The trip began in my head nearly a month before the first trail day. I usually start by pondering what I want to accomplish. This might be something like explore a new backcountry area, set a new daily distance record, achieve a new lower base weight, take fantastic pictures, test out new gear, or try out a new technique. The objective for this trip would be to see a new region of the Great Smoky Mountains using my own MYOG big three (shelter, sleeping bag, and pack). After several canceled trips because of work, I finally had firm dates of May 5 through 7, 2010.
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I grew up in VA exploring and camping the woods around my house. As a teen in the 80's I learned how to backpack by reading books. Back then my pack weight was a respectable 27 lbs and I hit the woods every chance I got. Once adult life took over it was rare to take an overnighter. I faced several challenges during my middle age life and turned to the outdoors to restore me. As my knowledge and skills advanced, my base weight dropped to below 5 lbs. With this came a freedom that I had never experienced before.
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