If you’re looking for innovative new ideas and products for your hiking and backpacking habit, Etsy is a craft-oriented shopping site that hosts the shops of many up-and-coming ultralight backpack gear manufacturers. There are about 30-40 companies actively making backpacking gear today on Etsy and they all have really unique histories that depart from the norm. Please give them your support if you see something that will suit your adventures.
Here are some of our favorites.
Co-founder Jim Toel writes, “we really enjoy being a small and flexible cottage shop at Packback Designs. It grants us a unique opportunity to do small runs of high-quality, creative, and innovative product ideas. Things the bigger gear companies can’t find the economics with. We are not a custom pack maker but a group of avid hikers that really want to give something “special and unique” back to the hiking and backpacking community. We love to hear feedback and ideas.”
Cindy and Bryan Payne are a husband-and-wife team that loves to hike and mountain bike. “We primarily make water bottle holders in 5 sizes for your backpack shoulder strap, that features easy attachment, a shock cord to securely hold your water bottle, giving you easy access to your water. In addition, we offer Dyneema roll-top bags, Dyneema zipper pouches, cell phone/misc. pouch holders, and square end zipper bags. We are located in central Indiana and have the ability to take our shop on the road in a van that we customized ourselves, so we could still enjoy all the things we love to do. We started GearBagsandMorebyCP to create quality, durable, lightweight, and functional gear at a reasonable price for the everyday person.”
Founder Conor Brown writes “On my thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail, I noticed every kit seemed too similar, muted, militaristic, or took itself too seriously. The super-serious appearance of backpacks and shelters stood in stark contrast with the candy-eating, nickname-giving, cheery wanderers that called themselves “Hiker Trash”. As an Industrial Designer with years of sewing experience, I started High Tail Designs with a group of fabric printing experts in the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia. The result is a series of ultralight, performance outdoor products that don’t skimp on construction or technology and offer unique prints and patterns by a variety of small, independent artists who collect a royalty on every sale of their work. Since 2020, we’ve grown to a team of 8 and expanded our offerings to include flat-locked Alpha Direct hoodies, ultralight chalk bags, collapsible trekking dog bowls, and seven-ounce catenary curve tarps, all boasting the same vibrant prints High Tail Designs is known for.
Luke Nalley, founder of UltraliteSacks writes, “we specialize in high-end outdoor organizational gear utilizing only the best materials and technical fabrics available. From thru-hikers to weekend warriors, we have you covered.”
Justin Anderson of Justin’s UL specializes in making water bottle sleeves that have a near-cult following in the thru-hiker community and sell out week after week. He writes, “In the constant pursuit of happiness, nature has been my personal escape for decades now as I continue to spread the love for getting back to our simple roots.” All products are hand-made by myself here in the USA.
Jason Pond, the owner of Pond’s Edge, founded his business in 2019 in Northern Wisconsin just a few miles from the Ice age national scenic trail. “I enjoy making the highest quality gear and the occasional custom piece”, he writes, including working with Dyneema, nylons, polyester, cotton, and leather. I absolutely love working with people to get them the gear they have always wanted and could never find.”
KAM Outdoors specializes in custom-designed, ultralight outdoor gear. Each item is hand constructed with the highest quality fabrics and accessories. “My best sellers include the UL Dyneema Trail Wallet, Trail Pouch, and Sternum Pouch,” writes owner Chris Stoy. “My love for being outside and backpacking with my friends and family led me to start making my own gear, as well as for others.”
Steve Hazel at HangTight has been on a mission to make camping cozy, warm, simple, affordable and light by doing the work for you. He writes, “In the ultralight community of hammock and camping, I wanted to make Down quilts attainable for the average hiker. My passion is to bring this incredible way of enjoying the outdoors to folks without breaking the bank. I can’t believe it all started years ago because I needed to set up the family for a big trip!”
Rob Kelly aka QiWiz (trail name) is now in his 12th year of making ultralight backpacking gear, most made from titanium, in his basement workshop in Ohio. Many of his most popular items (3 sizes of cathole trowels and 3 sizes of cooking spatulas, multiple sizes of windscreens, a twig-burning stove, and a unique buck saw) are available in his QiWiz Etsy shop. He makes everything himself, by hand, one item at a time. He himself is an avid backpacker and LNT enthusiast.
Georgia Wetmore started backpacking 5 years ago and began modifying and making her own gear. She writes, “I loved doing it so much that I made pouches and fanny packs for friends and family and eventually started an Etsy shop as a side-hustle to my 9-5 job. I never expected Hartford Gear Co. to become my full-time job, but I am elated and flattered that so many folks want what I make. I describe Hartford Gear Co. as “No Frills” because I strive to make the simplest, strongest, most functional bags I can. I am a one-woman operation working out of the house I rent in Hartford, CT along with my cat Paco.”
My name is Mike and I’ve been an active outdoor enthusiast since I moved to Southern California about 14 years ago. I love the outdoors, creating, and the creative process and have always followed my passions in life. Like others in the MYOG group, the appeal of making gear to fit my needs was a calling. Everything I sell is designed, cut, and sewn at my home on an industrial Brother walking foot sewing machine. I’d love to accommodate variations of my products if there’s anything that could be done to make it better suited for your needs. I also welcome new build ideas!
My name is Nick and I’m 14 years old. I came up with the idea for these water bottle holders a couple of years ago and worked to develop and make the prototype with my dad. Ever since I was little my family has done a lot of backpacking. A huge frustration we all felt was the inability to retrieve our water bottles from the pockets of our backpacks. Stopping and taking off your pack or asking for help adds time to your hike and it’s inconvenient. My family and friends have been testing these on hiking trips for the past couple of years and hundreds of miles of trails. They work great and I am excited to make them available to you.
I am the Ben of Been Campin. Ever since moving to the Tetons in 2013, I have been obsessed with hiking, camping, and generally being outdoors in the mountains. I am currently in Colorado and have climbed 49 of the 58 Colorado 14ers (14,000’+ mountains). I have always been very ambitious with my hiking goals and the ultralight world was helpful in making some of those goals a bit more obtainable. With the Dyneema options on the market being so limited, I learned to sew in late 2018 and started creating my own ultralight gear.
I started making gear around 2015 while in high school, writes founder Scott Donovan. I was looking for a way to get better gear without spending a lot of money and I fell in love with it. I started Lone Star Ultralight in order to bring the same quality of gear to everyone.
Have you ever wanted to sew your own ultralight backpack or thought about starting your own cottage company to make backpacks? StitchbackGear sells detailed sewing patterns for making your own backpacks, backpack accessory pockets, and stuff sacks. Stitchbackgear is owned and operated by Drew Soderborg an industrial designer based in central Utah who likes to make things with all sorts of materials. He especially likes to make his own outdoor gear. He also enjoys backpacking, climbing, and canyoneering in Utah’s backcountry with his wife and daughters.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.