MYOG – its inevitable, isnt it?

Having been out and about much more this year (so far) than last year, I find that I have also experienced a wider variety of conditions, distances and types of trips.

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So what?

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Well, I am starting to find limitations on my kit be it the clothing, tent, backpack, sleeping bag etc. Now this sounds very much like a preamble to getting lots of new kit. Well yes and no. I used to own a lot of kit that I found I didnt use or was too similar in nature to each other. I got rid. However, I do need new kit to either supplement or replace other items I have but the issue lies in that the ready made stuff out there doesnt quite fit what I want or need. Sound familiar?

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The premise of mass manufacturing is to provide consumers with readily available goods that are relatively cheap (mass production techniques) and easy to get hold of (off the shelf). The problem is that even allowing for sizes (clothes) or colours (preferences) or function (one man tent versus two man tent etc) manufacturers cannot tailor make gear that is personalised for you as an individual. Thats where cottage gear industries come onto the scene. However, because things are often made bespoke or at least very niche, time and cost come into play (you can have a purple tent but it will cost £500 and take 4 months to make – purely hypothetical example). Even then, you may not end up with an exact fit of what you want.  A quandry then.

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I find myself browsing fabric retailers online more and more to see what is out there and what is possible. I have a few ideas in my head about what I want to do for bits of kit I think would work for me but the issue of proficiency and time also come into play. I cannot sew although I expect its not that hard to learn but I am limited by time as I travel 2-3 hours a day for work and tend to do 10 hour days when at work. Doesnt leave a lot of time (or inclination it has to be said) for me to attempt these things. Weekends are my best option but I am impatient (and a little lazy) and so the quandry remains.

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I guess the thrust of this post is to see what people out there think about MYOG. Is it inevitable that you will consider MYOG as you walk and camp more and more? Is it inevitable that you get largely (but not completely) a little switched off by mainstream gear? I guess that if you have the money, some avenues arent closed off in terms of buying highly specialised (and therefore very expensive) but off the peg items but for the majority…not? A good example would be the TN Laser Ultra 1 (for me anyway!). Its just that for me, I look at a piece of kit on the shop shelf (virtual or in the flesh) and think “thats nice but I wish it had x,y or z as well”….

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Just some musings I guess and I am looking to see what other people think and also what they have done in terms of MYOG. Maybe I will be inspired to actually get off my arse and make some items that I really want…

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About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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12 Responses to MYOG – its inevitable, isnt it?

  1. GeoffC says:

    From past experience in other fields, I’ve tended to go the opposite way. Unless you are proficient in the required skills and own suitable equipment, it’s a very big investment in time and effort (plus a learning curve) for a small gain, and it’s not just once – when an item wears out or gets damaged, you basically have to start over. The main benefit is a certain pride and satisfaction in an acquired skill, rather than the result, which is unlikely to match the quality of a professionally made product.

    A lot of gear doesn’t perfectly match my ideals, but I can usually find something I’m reasonably content with. The only really critical item for me is footwear and I certainly can’t make shoes or boots myself!.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      fair enough Geoff….possibly the OCD/perfectionist coming out in me then! 😀

      Good points on the replacements of the MYOG kit though….it would be starting over again. I also concede the point on the finish of professional gear is by its nature refined and up to a repeatable standard.

      I also concede the point on shoes! 😀

  2. All I can say is get stuck in and enjoy!

    I have been making bits and bobs, mainly to get pack weight down on a budget and customise gear for my needs. But recently I’ve been taking it a bit more seriously with a MYOG Cuben fibre drybag http://bit.ly/lOJkbv I am also in process of a bivy and a hooded fleece.

    There is lots of support, encouragement and ideas floating around the internet as I’m sure you are aware. Silnylon etc is tricky to learn to sew with, but I’m slowly getting there.

    I hope you give it a go and see how rewarding it is to use something you made for yourself!

    • backpackbrewer says:

      thanks for the encouragement Simon. I really want my cake and eat it! I want nice bespoke kit but I havent (currently) got the gumption to make it (yet)

      I would be interested to see how you get on with the bivvy as this is one thing I really, really, really want to attempt for a MYOG project. I cant see the “perfect” bivvy out there but know what I want in terms of design and functionality

      Let me know how it goes!

  3. nicodemus says:

    If you get in contact with some of the smaller cottage manufacturers, most are willing to look at exactly what you want. I’m a photographer that takes his heavy gear on ultralight trips and had a long phone call, and eventually went to visit, Mateusz of Laufbursche fame, and he modified his Huckepack with side pockets that just work perfectly to carry my heavy camera gear, so the camera and important lenses are always at the ready. The price was very reasonable and he really enjoys providing custom solutions, takes a lot of pride in his work. I highly recommend looking locally to see who can find. I too would love to MYOG but MYOF (making my own food) and PMOT (planning my own trips) into the mountains takes enough time. And If I’m honest, if I was to try the level of perfection that Mateusz seems to just shake out of his sleeves it would take me MOLT (my own lifetime).
    greets
    nicodemus

    • backpackbrewer says:

      I’m good at PYOT, not too bad at MYOF but a non starter for MYOG it seems. 🙂

      I do take your point about the cottage industries and that the bespoke stuff can be done. I guess that I am torn between choices of not quite perfect shop bought vs more expensive bespoke made vs cheaper but potentially never finished MYOG

      I suppose it would hurt to ask a few small scale manufacturers out there to cost up what I want…..

      • nicodemus says:

        Depends a little on the gear you are talking/thinking/dreaming about. A pack is a lot more involved than a basic tarp. That said, most things you need for a weekend trip are lying around the house, or a friendly neighbours cellar. You can get excellent gear for cheap in most DIY type shops for making tarps and such. Tyvek, although not completely water proof, if you fold it double, stands up to a lot of abuse. Combine that with good tape and a bivy isn’t far away. Nice thing is the material is cheap, and mistakes are easily forgiven and you have lots of Christmas gifts to give away to friends and family. You can say, “Merry Christmas, this is a prototype of …. I made.” Which gives you Sinclair type inventor status immediately and you will have earned infinite respect among your peers. Since you seem determined on your road, start simple start cheap. And enjoy. Personally, I prefer being out there, than in here. Which is why I just deleted my facebook account and this will be my last web comment ever.

        • backpackbrewer says:

          Blimey Nicodemus, I wish you the best in your future outdoor endeavours…!

          Never tried Tyvek but I guess its worth having a look at. I really fancy making my bivvy but its going to take planning, patience and energy on my part.

          Hopefully

  4. -maria- says:

    I know how to sew, and I own sewing machine + serger + coverstitch machine. I’m also 155 cm tall (short?), which makes it clear that very many clothes off the self don’t fit me very well. I still do buy some clothes, but I also make part of them (to me and also other family members) myself. It is nice to have e.g. pockets where I want to have them (same applies to kids – good to have zipper pockets for keys etc.).

    So far I have not made any other outdoor gear myself (not counting the odd windshield or two), but I’d like to try making a tarp(tent) one day.

    By the way, it is not always easy to get the needed materials (for outdoor clothing/gear). Very often it means ordering online.

    Finding time for sewing is a problem, so I often sew when others are sleeping. Not very wise… But now it seems that even the smallest family member lets me sew (and is not ‘helping’ me all the time), so I guess I’ll find more time for MYOG projects in the future.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Maria, regarding your size, here in Wales they would call you a “dwt” 🙂

      I am not huge myself being about 171cm so I too share the misfortune of sometimes finding it difficult to get clothes to fit me! Now I am a little more rounded of frame (“padded” is the expression I think) its not quite as bad although I have very small legs!

      I think small items of clothing (hats, mitts etc) or stuff bags or even a simple tarp are what most people start off with for MYOG projects. I guess I need to get some material, practise some sewing and then plan (really plan) what and when I am going to sew and give myself a realistic target for completion.

      So, I will stop procrastinating and get on with a MYOG project……erm….soon

  5. Tomas says:

    I think MYOG is definitely inevitable. Not just to get customised gear that suits you personally, but also because once you are in the backpacking community and see all the lovely MYOG projects other people manage, you start to wonder what you yourself could pull off.

    I managed to botch up a MYOG tarp for my last big hiking trip to Behuslän and although it looks like shite, it worked great and gave me a dry, mosquito free few days.

    Unfortunately it’s as addictive as crack, the only thing I could think of once it was finished was, ‘How can I make the next one better?’.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      nicely put Tomas 🙂

      Once you start down the road of MYOG I guess it snowballs on and on. My first proper project is still staring at me in the gear room…

      I might try starting this weekend 🙂

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