Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 30, 2012.

Update #18

Finished Domestic Shipping!

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Great news! After a year of gear testing with more than a dozen gear testers, we have finally shipped out Alpine Hammocks to our domestic backers. This means we made 56 shipments that were sent to 22 different states across the country. We had delays along the way but we learned a ton and ultimately produced a product that was in line with the vision of the project. One of our supporters Ian just got back from a trip to Iceland where he spent the night on the side of a volcano:

Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland 2013
Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland 2013

We’re excited to be bringing hammocks to places they’ve never been before and we can’t thank you enough for your contributions. If you haven’t already Liked us on Facebook or Followed us on Twitter please do so and help us spread the word! 

Thanks again to everyone who supported us from the beginning, especially those who waited so patiently for their Alpine Hammocks. Also, as a teaser, stay tuned for a Military-Edition coming to Kickstarter this spring! 

For those of you thinking of running a Kickstarter campaign in the future we have a few pieces of advice: 

• Get an Accountant on day one to help you with your taxes. We lost money by trying to file taxes on our own through an online tax-prep service. The accountant that we ultimately worked with was worth every dollar. Make sure to budget accountant fees into your campaign costs. 

Understand Shipment Costs. As a project creator you are responsible for covering shipping to your backers. This is especially important when shipping internationally. As an example it will cost us almost $200 to ship an Alpine Hammock to Israel when we budgeted for much less than that. This is part of the reason why our international shipments have been delayed. 

• Have a solid manufacturing partner lined up ahead of time. We received quotes from multiple shelter manufacturers prior to Kickstarter but after successfully raising the money we changed manufacturing partners twice due to low quality, poor communication, and inattention to detail. This resulted in months of delays and increasing costs as we went back and forth on contract negotiations, educating them on our design, and dealing with errors associated with sewers getting used to new manufacturing processes. Our third and final partner is an all-star and we are psyched to still be manufacturing in the United States. 

We have grown tremendously as a result of this project and we are fortunate to have had this opportunity.  Thanks!

Now stop reading your email and GO OUTSIDE!

Mike and Ryan


Update #17

Manufacturing Has Started!

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Great news!  Our first Alpine Hammock just rolled off the manufacturing line yesterday!  After a year of testing, refinement, and patience, we're starting to produce one of the coolest shelters out there.  We can't wait to see them out on the trail.  

For the 72 backers who pledged for an Alpine Hammock, we'll be making them in weekly batches and mailing them out at the end of each week.  We expect this to take about 4 weeks while we work streamline our manufacturing process.  You'll get an email when your hammock ships that will include a shipment tracking number so you'll know EXACTLY when to expect it in the mail.

Our manufacturing partner is based in the United States and has many years of experience in large military textile contracts.  Recently, they have refocused their efforts to start working more with startups like Alpine Hammock to help get companies like ours off the ground and to keep manufacturing in the U.S.  Additionally, we partnered with the North Carolina State University College of Textiles to do the fabric cutting in their laboratories.  This has helped us to avoid large up front capital costs while we are still in the startup phase of our business.  We also partnered with local printing shops to print our logo on the rainfly and to print up warning labels.  We are very proud to have these shelters made in the USA and we can't wait to share them with you.  

Here are some pictures of the process to cut over 1,000 yards of fabric:

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Update #16

The Long-Awaited Manufacturing Update

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Hello Patient Backers!

It's been over two months since we have sent out an update and for that we'd like to apologize. It's been even longer since we've commented on our efforts toward manufacturing the Alpine Hammock.  Before we get into those details, we have had some exciting updates to our personal lives: Ryan just crushed a First Ascent of a 5000m peak in Kyrgyzstan and Mike quit his busy day job and is working on Alpine Hammock full-time.  We are making moves in our personal and professional lives so we can better bring the Alpine Hammock to life.  Also, we just had manufacturing samples made that we demoed at Outdoor Retailer, the world's largest tradeshow for outdoor companies.  The shelter was very well received from retailers, designers, and athletes alike.  The only recurring question was "When can we get one?"

Now, what everyone has been waiting for... an update on manufacturing.

January 2013:

In January, we had our Kickstarter prototypes shipped out to 12 gear-testers from 12 different states.  Compared to our estimated delivery timeline this was two months delayed, mostly due to miscommunications between us and the custom gear shop we were working with to produce the prototypes.  This delay taught us that our manufacturing directions needed to be more explicit and that agreements should be done in writing with very clear deliverables and timelines.  Lesson learned.

Our testers hailed from the Bahamas, to Texas, to New Hampshire, to Afghanistan and beyond.  After compiling their feedback in January/February, we realized that our shelter needed significant upgrades in the ability to shed water (testers experienced water pooling on the rainfly), weight reduction (close to 3lbs packed trail weight instead of the 2lbs we were shooting for) and overall breathability (testers cited the shelter as too claustrophobic).  Ultimately, this feedback meant that our product was not as market-ready as we had previously anticipated. Here is a picture of one of our Gear Testers during a Ragnar 200-mile relay race in New England:

February-April 2013:

As engineers, designers and end users, we couldn't in good conscience produce a product that fell below so many of our gear tester's expectations.  So, the early part of 2013 saw a creative and complete redesign of our entire hammock. It took several tries to get the new features figured out but what we came away with is a far superior product that is lighter, more comfortable, easier to use, and more weatherproof overall.  We could have immediately started producing our early prototype but we think you will be much more inclined to love and take this product with you on your future adventures as a result of the improvements we took the time to make.

The new design is so different that we amended our patent application to capture more of our unique features and innovations. The biggest changes from the original alpine hammock include the addition of adjustable cross vents in the head and foot ends to promote airflow across the body of the user, a tailored rain fly to more efficiently shed water, and more effective waterproof zippers. We are proud to say that all of this was accomplished while reducing the overall weight by almost 1lb.

May-July 2013:

Once we made our design improvements, we developed samples with an experienced gear manufacturer in North Carolina.  These samples were a chance for us to work out any manufacturing and design kinks as we move into production in August.  This portion took about twice as long as we expected because we were in conversations with multiple manufacturing companies.  We didn't do a great job at factoring in that these companies have their own lead-times and deadlines with other customers.  It would be weeks before they could start on our shelters so we had to get in line.

August/September 2013:

With our design set and three factory demos that look and work great, we ordered materials for our Kickstarter Alpine Hammocks this week!  We will be doing batch shipments every week starting the first week of September (it will take a few weeks for our fabrics to arrive).  Shipments will be sent out in the order that the pledges came into Kickstarter (i.e. our earliest backers will get first dibs).  We'll send you a personal email with a shipment tracking number so you'll know when to expect your own Alpine Hammock in the mail.

The design will be the same as the pictures above but the rainfly color will be a Forest Green HyVent material instead of a Mint Green GORE-TEX Paclite.  Every designer we talked to at Outdoor Retailer recommended moving away from GORE-TEX to either HyVent or eVent because GORE-TEX is hard to acquire and it is a bit antiquated compared to more modern waterproof-breathable fabrics.

Wrapping Up:

It has been almost exactly one year since friends, family, and supporters helped us succeed on Kickstarter.  Since then we have robustly tested our design in the field, made user-recommended design changes, and found a quality manufacturing partner in the United States.  We never like missing deadlines, especially those with our friends, families and supporters.  However, the delays were a necessary biproduct of creating a shelter that will hopefully exceed expectations.

Here is a short chronology of our design phase from the beginning:

June 2012 --> Bed Sheet Concept Prototype:

August 2012 --> An unrefined but usable version for testing in the field (no vents or tapered rainfly):

December 2012 --> An improved version of our original prototype for gear testers from Kickstarter:

April 2013 --> incorporation of gear tester feedback with venting and a tapered rainfly:

July 2013 --> Production Design:

To see photos and specs of our production version of the alpine hammock, check out our website.  For more frequent and discreet updates from the Alpine Hammock team, please Like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter.

With sincere thanks for all of your patience and support,

Happy trails!

Ryan Stolp and Mike Brown

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Update #15

Alpine Hammock to Launch at Outdoor Retailer

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The Alpine Hammock Team is makin’ moves!  In August, we’ll be attending the world’s largest outdoor industry tradeshow called Outdoor Retailer.  It’s a four-day tradeshow that is only open to buyers and sellers in the outdoor industry, aka these are the folks who make things happen.  Attendees from last year include big names like REI, Patagonia, Eastern Mountain Sports (New England), Marmot, Black Diamond and hundreds of other companies.  The timing of this event will coincide with our official product launch so this is our chance network with dozens of outdoor retailers and kick things off strong.

Alpine Hammock will be participating in the Open Air Demo Day, a showcase of all the new gear coming out for 2014.  We’ll be among the tent section with a 12' x 15' plot of land to showcase our stuff.  We’re bringing two Alpine Hammocks, one we’ll set up in a hammock stand and the other we’ll lay on the ground next to it as a bivy sack.  Buyers and sellers alike will be able to come try it out and ask us questions.  Also, our new prototypes look awesome so we're excited to show them off:

So $1500 later plus a plane ticket and a hotel room we’re heading to Salt Lake City!

Other noteworthy news is that our cofounder Mike got selected to give a seminar talk on crowdfunding in the outdoor industry.  Here’s the brief writeup of the talk:

Using Crowdfunding to Accelerate Innovation in the Outdoor Industry

“In 2011, over $1.5 Billion Dollars were raised through crowdfunding to support artists, musicians, fashion designers, and inventors. However, outdoor products lagged behind in this global trend of peer-to-peer research and development. In this presentation you’ll hear about successful individuals and companies alike who have used crowdfunding to bring innovative products into the outdoor marketplace. You’ll learn how to effectively (and not effectively) launch a campaign, how to set up attractive reward structures, how to attract media attention and ultimately how to successfully reach your fundraising goals.”

For a few awesome crowdfunded outdoor products check out the coolest sleeping pad we've ever seen called the Windcatcher,  the most B.A. theft-resistant bike light ever from Gotham Bicycle Defense Industries, and a video documentary of the first African American Ascent of Denali.

This is an incredible opportunity for us because it will be the first ever crowdfunding talk at Outdoor Retailer so it is likely to attract a lot of attention.  We’ll have a captive audience for a full 60 minutes who are all there to learn about crowdfunding in the outdoor industry.  Awesome.

Thanks again to everyone who believed in our Kickstarter campaign.  Without your help we wouldn’t have had the cash to make prototypes, start our first production run, and pay for a trip to Outdoor Retailer.  Your support has made all of the difference.  Thank you!

Quick Update on Manufacturing

We are currently in negotiations with a well-known tent manufacturer to make our first 100 Alpine Hammocks.  If things go as planned we’ll be starting manufacturing in June.  We will post another update as soon as the details are finalized.

Happy Trails!


Update #14

Six Month Detailed Progress Update

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It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 6 months since you all helped us to fund the Alpine Hammock on Kickstarter. It has been a wild ride ever since and we are learning new things everyday from how to write patents, to negotiating with manufacturers, to building an e-commerce website and more. We are a few months behind schedule on our Alpine Hammock prototypes so this project update will outline our progress thus far and our plans for full production.

September

You all helped Alpine Hammock to successfully raise $42,915 on Kickstarter! Amazing. We immediately formed a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and opened a small business bank account so we could get started. We sent out over 300 shoutouts to all our backers on Facebook and Twitter as well as postcards featuring our illegal bivy spot on Franconia Ridge in New Hampshire (we didn’t actually camp here, just set up for pictures and talked to passing hikers).

October

We mailed out all of our moisture wicking t-shirts and laser-engraved HydroFlask rewards. About 10% of our 300+ shipments had issues including lost items, damaged items, and the wrong items shipped. Thanks to UPS shipping insurance and patient Kickstarter backers we were able to resolve all of these issues for free. Since October, people have sent us pictures of them using our gear from New Zealand, Germany, Abu Dhabi UAE, and Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.  Awesome.

For our shirts we originally we used CustomInk.com but due to quality issues (thread unraveling) we decided to start working with Adayak.com instead. Adayak is an organic apparel company for outdoor brands like Dirtbag Diaries and Section Hiker so it is very cool to have Alpine Hammock featured on their site. You can now buy men’s and women’s Alpine Hammock shirts through Adayak.com, check them out HERE.

We also ran into a few quality issues with the HydroFlasks. If the straps to your lids break, be sure to send an email to info@hydroflask.com and they’ll send you a replacement lid free of charge. We aim to start offering our laser-engraved HydroFlasks on our website soon but we’ll be switching from the wide mouth lids (with the strap) to a standard mouth lid (without a strap) because they stay warmer longer and seem more durable than their wide-mouth counterparts.

In October, we also found two attorneys to represent Alpine Hammock, LLC. We included that in a previous Kickstarter Update, so click HERE if you want to read more about it.

November

By November we had planned to ship out 11 prototypes to our gear testers to give us feedback on our design. This step in the R&D process is critical because it will ultimately inform what design changes we need to make before our production-ready prototypes. This part of the process is where we have learned the most about the difficulties in bringing a new product to market.

We started out on time by finding a custom outdoor gear manufacturer in September and then signing a manufacturing agreement by early October. We then sent our manufacturing directions to the custom gear shop for a finalized price quote and detailed discussions. However, some of our descriptions weren’t clear so we mailed them our one and only prototype. This would allow them to physically see what we were trying to describe. These discussions led us to making a few design and material changes that seem obvious to us now but we didn’t include in our first prototypes. This brought us into late November causing the schedule to slip but we had made some great improvements so it was worth it.

December

Throughout December we had minimal contact with our manufacturer. We wrongly assumed that “minimal news was good news” and figured they were busy cranking away on our prototypes. However, it wasn’t until New Years that our first prototypes were actually ready for shipment.

While waiting for news on our prototypes we started working on the writing of our Business Plan. In 2010, Mike won the Tufts $100k Business Plan Competition and is now a judge for the 2013 competition so we are excited to see how the Alpine Hammock plan comes out.

January

Right after New Years our manufacturer (read: a one-guy custom-gear shop) was hospitalized with an upper respiratory tract infection. So our prototype shipments were again delayed.

Despite the late prototypes, Ryan and I had a great opportunity to show off the Alpine Hammock to a group of 120+ ice climbers at VICE Fest 2013. This included local legend and professional ice climber Freddie Wilkinson. We had co-sponsored the event by providing swag along with other major outdoor brands like Outdoor Research, Rab, Deuter, Sterling, Black Diamond and others. The event generated a lot of excitement for Alpine Hammock, having several people ask us, “Where can I buy one of these?!”  We gave out some tshirts and other swag but maybe next year we can raffle off an actual Alpine Hammock.

February

Finally all of the prototypes were finished and sent out, roughly three months behind our intended schedule.

This delay could have been prevented if we had done a few things differently:

• Updated our manufacturing agreement to include discussed design changes and a “finish by” date
• Structured weekly or biweekly phone calls with our manufacturer to discuss issues and progress
• Allowed more time in our schedule for changes and delays
• Better accounted for the overall 2-3 weeks of shipment time (from wholesaler to manufacturer and then from manufacturer to customers)

We have definitely learned from this experience and will plan accordingly when we go into full production in a few months.

Also in February, we took two Alpine Hammock prototypes on a five-day ice climbing trip to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. We spent 1 night in hammock-mode at 0F and 1 night in bivy-mode. We both agreed that bivy-mode was much warmer and is indeed the preferred method of use in sub-zero winter conditions.  Many hammock campers use underquilts for cold weather hammocking but for fast and light traveling in the mountains, the ability to bivy and not carry the extra gear is crucial.

March → April

Realizing the immense value that our gear testers will bring to our final design, we extended this phase from one month to two. This will allow our gear testers to really put the prototypes to the test in the backcountry. We have developed two different online surveys to help us gather their input. The first survey is aimed at their “out of the box” experience and what they expect from a hammock-bivy style shelter like the Alpine Hammock. The second survey is to be filled out after they have used the Alpine Hammock on a trip in the backcountry. This survey focuses more on design, utility, and overall functionality.

Throughout March and April we will continue to make our own prototype modifications while collecting feedback from our gear testers and incorporating them into the design.

May → June

In May we plan to have our production-ready Alpine Hammock finalized and a more professional set of manufacturing instructions. We have been talking to a number of large-scale manufacturers of outdoor shelters so in May we also plan to obtain final price quotes, lead times and production volumes. It is our goal to launch our first production run in June.

We apologize that this new target is roughly five months behind our initial delivery date but we think our design changes and gear tester extension will allow for a more polished product. We appreciate your patience as we go through our startup growing pains. Keep looking for semi-monthly Kickstarter updates as we continue to make progress toward our goal of putting the Alpine Hammock on the market. To follow us in real time make sure to Like us on Facebook and/or Follow us on Twitter.


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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    67 backers

    Alpine Shout-out: You'll get a HUGE thanks from us via Facebook, Twitter, and Email. We really appreciate your help, every dollar counts!

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    37 backers

    Alpine Supporter: You'll get the above shout-out as well as a Postcard with a picture of us on an adventure using the Alpine Hammock. You're pledge is really helping us to have fun and hang safe in the backcountry.

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    72 backers

    Alpine Enthusiast: You'll get the above plus a vacuum insulated bottle with our logo on it. We never leave home without a mug of tea so have fun with your first ever piece of Alpine Hammock swag. (Add $15 for international shipping outside the U.S.)

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    37 backers

    Alpine Performer: You'll be sporting our Performance Tech T-Shirt (read: synthetic and moisture wicking) with our new logo. Wear it around town or in the mountains, either way it'll keep you dry. (Add $15 for international shipping outside the U.S.)

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    33 backers

    Alpine Explorer: You'll get the above plus a Performance Tech T-Shirt with our logo. We wouldn't wear cotton while exploring the outdoors so neither should you. Be the first to rep the Alpine Hammock on your back and wear it proudly. (Add $15 for international shipping outside the U.S.)

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    44 backers

    Alpine Lead User: You'll receive the Production-Ready Version Alpine Hammock and be among the first in the world to use one in the backcountry. This reward does not include the bottle or the shirt, just the shelter itself. (Add $15 for international shipping outside the U.S.)

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    Alpine Lead User Plus: You'll receive the Production Version Alpine Hammock and as a plus you'll also receive the bottle and the shirt. (Add $15 for international shipping outside the U.S.)

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    Alpha Gear Tester: You'll receive our alpha prototype meant for gear testing meaning you'll guaranteed to be the first to get an Alpine Hammock. We want your feedback so our production version can be even better with your input. When you complete our gear review form, we'll then send you the Production Alpine Hammock when it's ready to go and you can keep the Alpha Prototype as well. The bottle and shirt are not included. (Add $15 for international shipping outside the U.S.)

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    2 backers

    Alpine Guide: You'll receive 2 Production Version Alpine Hammocks, 2 bottles, and 2 shirts. You're a backcountry leader who frequently takes people with you on trips. Enjoy the additional Alpine Hammock and take a friend with you. (Add $15 for international shipping outside the U.S.)

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    Alpine Extremist: You'll receive 4 Production Version Alpine Hammocks along with 2 bottles, and 2 shirts. But wait, that's not all, we'll also take you on a 2-day guided trip anywhere in New England. (Add $15 for international shipping outside the U.S.)

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    Alpine Angel: You'll receive 10 Production Version Alpine Hammocks so you can be the first to stock up (and/or sell) the Alpine Hammock. We'll also throw in a bottle and a shirt so you can rep our gear in the outdoors. (Add $15 per Alpine Hammock for international shipping outside the U.S.)

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    Alpine God: You are truly a legend in our eyes and we'll be forever grateful for your support. We'll send you 2 Production Version Alpine Hammocks with your name or favorite phrase embroidered on the rainfly. We'll also include 2 bottles, 2 shirts, and a 2-day Guided Trip in New England. If there's anything else we can do to improve your Alpine Hammock experience please let us know and we can likely work something out.

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