I guess this is more of a philosophical question then a technical one, but, has anyone who has been making gear for a while noticed the increase in well-made lightweight specialized gear?
I thru-hiked the AT in 2003, and a lot of the gear that I had hiked with I had made, mostly because the only real lightweight stuff was from GoLite, and that was pretty brand new at the time.
My girlfriend and I are planning on doing the Long Trail this fall, and I admit that I have strayed from backpacking and long-distance hiking for other pursuits (mostly rock/ice climbing and ultramarathons) and it seems like one is able to get commercially made equipment(even from some of the big manufacturers) that is lightweight.
This is a big change from a few years ago, when Gossamer Gear
was just Glen Van Peski giving people his instructions, and Tarptent
was Henry Shires telling folks he wasn't planning on making his tarpie commercially.
So what are peoples motivation now? I seen there has been a shift into using strange new alien fibers(cuben) to make superultramegalightweight stuff, as well as more specialization into what people need specifically, and experimentation that would never happen in "the industry".
Why do I plan on making more gear for this future adventure? Because I am a recent college graduate that prefers the freedom that my current economical and employment situation gives me over the financial security of a career. In other words, I'm poor because I like to take a lot of time off, and I wouldn't be able to take that time if I had a "real job".
I think when it comes down to it, we will always be able to make lighter gear, because commercial gear is plagued with "features" and what we make only has what we need. Besides, its cool to be able to say "I made it myself!"
So, why do you do it?