When I got into hammock camping a few years back, I felt I was on the fringe of the backpacking community. It seemed like very few people were really doing it, but those who were loved it and wanted everyone else to know just how much they loved it. Back then, there were only a few trusted vendors and their prices were fairly reasonable. Today, it seems almost every day a new hammock vendor springs up–each with its own “unique” features (gimmicks?). And, these new gear rigs are coming at a very high cost.
Just recently, I saw a new hammock vendor I had never heard of advertised on Facebook. This vendor wanted $275 for the tarp setup alone, and over $400 with their hammock and suspension. Really? Is that where we are now? This just seems prohibitively expensive, especially to someone just starting out and looking to get into hammock camping.
I’m not against paying high dollars for a nice setup. In many cases, I think it’s worth it and I believe you get what you pay for, but these vendors coming out with these crazy prices just seems a bit extreme, and I think in the long run it’s going to turn more people away from hammock camping. I understand any hobby costs money, whether it is hammock camping, backpacking, golf, or whatever, but it just seems as though there are way too many of these “startups” and Kickstarter type of companies that are attempting to make huge bucks for the sake of the trend.
To any new hammock campers out there, keep your eyes open and don’t just jump on a gear rig because it might “look cool”. There are a lot of quality vendors out there like Warbonnet, Hennessy, and Dream Hammock–just to name a few–who’ve been doing this for quite a while and really know their stuff. And, they’re likely not going to break the bank while outfitting you with a quality hammock and tarp. Do your research, and check out places like http://hammockforums.net and some of the hammock groups on Facebook. There are a lot of people there who really know what they’re talking about and will steer you in the right direction.