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The Alpine Hammock is the first ever alpine-style hammock: it's fast, it's light and it can protect you in all your outdoor adventures.
The Alpine Hammock is the first ever alpine-style hammock: it's fast, it's light and it can protect you in all your outdoor adventures.
362 backers pledged $42,915 to help bring this project to life.

Six Month Detailed Progress Update

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.

Provisional Patent, Trademarking, and Prototype Development

Greetings from Boston where winter has officially hit us in full force.  The temperature outside is currently +3F but with the wind-chill it feels like -17F!

[Mike on top of Mt. Carrigain in New Hampshire circa 5am, good times]

We at Alpine Hammock have been keeping busy since our last Kickstarter update with both prototype development as well as getting some of our legal matters in order.

To quickly remark on our legal situation, we have just filed a provisional patent for a novel airflow design to help increase the breathability of the Alpine Hammock.  Breathability has been a common concern that we have heard from friends, Kickstarter backers like you, and from our new followers on Twitter and Facebook.  We have listened to this feedback and as a result we have designed a system that will still offer a lightweight, self-contained shelter system while also including ample airflow and protection from precipitation.  We are officially “patent pending” but we now have less than 365 days to file our full utility patent and the time will fly by for sure.  We will send pictures in an update in the near future.

Additionally, we have filed a trademark for the words “Alpine Hammock” and we should hear back from the US Patent Office in 3-9 months as to whether our trademark will be granted or not.  Trademarks like this are primarily used to protect against consumer confusion.  This means that other companies won’t be able to offer a similar product and call it an “Alpine Hammock”.  So when you finally see our name out there then you’ll know that it came from our company and not from someone else.

We made a slight change to our logo, can anyone spot the difference from the original?

Moving on to the fun part (our prototype development) we are excited to announce that our first 4 alpha prototypes have been manufactured and shipped to our Kickstarter Gear Testers.  We have 9 more that are almost done and we are aiming to ship them during the first week of February.  This is indeed 2 months after our projected timeline for delivery of our prototypes but we have made some great design improvements as a result.

As we mentioned in our last Kickstarter update, we started working with One of a Kind Adventure Gear to produce our first 15 prototypes.  We could have built them ourselves easily enough but we wanted to test our manufacturability (design, directions, and supply chain) on these 15 prototypes now as opposed to waiting for the start of our full production efforts in the spring.  We started discussions with One of a Kind on the 1st of November and all of the materials for manufacture arrived to their location on the 25th of November.  From here, our production was slightly delayed due to some excellent (and more professional) improvements suggested by the folks from One of a Kind.   They have been making custom gear for almost as long as Ryan and I have been alive so their willingness to work with us to improve our product (at no extra cost) has been incredible.   Production was then delayed a few more weeks due to the head manufacturer at One of a Kind coming down with a serious upper respiratory infection.  He has been in and out of the hospital several times and is finally coming back to life so we are excited to see his health return and to have the rest of our Alpine Hammocks shipped out in the next few weeks.

Here is a list of design improvements we’ve made:


  • We redesigned the waterproof zipper flap to increase weather-resistance and to address some water pooling issues we were seeing.

  • We altered the entire bug net to reduce the overall amount of fabric.  Instead of the material extending the entire length of the hammock (sewn into either end) and secured to the overhead pole with Velcro, the bug net is now sewn into the foot-end and then zipped into the rainfly above the user’s head.  This follows the same trajectory as the rainfly zipper and eliminates the need to secure it to the overhead pole.  It definitely makes for a cleaner, simpler, and lighter setup.

  • There were improvements made to the tent pole sleeve and how we secured the pole on either end.  It is now faster to set up and it is stronger as well.

  • The pole design and dimensions were also changed to make it both lighter in weight and also to make the inside of the hammock seem more spacious by raising more of the rainfly material into the air.

  • We used a proprietary seam sealant from One of a Kind to address unique waterproofing concerns in hammock shelters.  It is very fast and easy to apply to the shelter and it also seems to protect the seams better than products we have used in the past.

  • Improvements were also made to our manufacturing directions and the overall workflow for assembly.  Thanks to everyone at One of a Kind, our manufacturing package should be in great shape by the time we're ready for full production.
The next phase of our product development with our Alpha Gear Testers from Kickstarter will be the most critical part of our R&D thus far.  We will have 11 gear testers putting the Alpine Hammock through the wringer in the backcountry.  It is still winter in many areas of the country so this should really put our shelter to the test.  Over the next two months we plan to gather user feedback via electronic surveys so that we can make improvements to our design before full production.

Here is a screen shot of part of the survey. It will help us to collect the necessary data points to improve our shelter:


Also, we have developed an interactive user guide that explains how to use the Alpine Hammock.  At the moment it is only available to our 11 Alpha Gear Testers from Kickstarter but we will make it available on our website in the near future.

Lastly, this weekend we are excited to be a sponsor of New England’s newest ice climbing festival, VICEFest located in the Franconia Notch Region of the White Mountains in New Hampshire.  Ryan and I are both members of a local group of ice climbers called the Vertical Ice Climbing Enthusiasts (VICE) and this will be the 4th year that we’ve held VICEFest.  This year will include over 100 climbers with a guest speaker presentation from local legend Freddie Wilkinson.  Other sponsors of this event include big-name brands like Black Diamond, Outdoor Research, the American Alpine Club, Deuter, Petzl, Nemo, and many others so it is a huge opportunity for Alpine Hammock to be participating as a sponsor.  Look for another update soon with photos from the event!

Stay warm out there,

Mike and Ryan

p.s. to follow the progress of Alpine Hammock in “real time”, make sure to Like us on Facebook and/or Follow us on Twitter.

Kickstarter Update - Prototype Manufacturing

We are excited to announce that next week we’ll begin producing our first batch of Alpine Hammock prototypes.

Until now we’ve been iterating on our design and producing Alpine Hammocks one at a time. This method has worked great for design tweaking and testing, however, once our design is finalized we plan to work with a tent manufacturer to mass produce the Alpine Hammock.  So before we launch into full-rate production we need to work out the kinks in our supply chain and make sure our manufacturing directions are clear and professional. As an example, some fabric suppliers will sell us the materials we need but they can’t supply them in large enough quantities. After dozens of phone calls and emails we’ve found a couple of promising suppliers who can meet our needs as our business scales up.

To do our low-rate prototype production, we’ve teamed up with One of a Kind Adventure Gear to make our first 14 prototypes.

One of a Kind Adventure Gear is based out of Byron Center, Michigan and they specialize in making custom outdoor gear. They also do gear modifications, gear cleaning, gear repair and many other services.  If you have a need for gear that you don’t see on the market, they can work with you to make it happen. Their responsiveness to our needs as a new startup has been awesome and we are really looking forward to getting our first fleet of prototypes out to our gear testers.  Make sure to check them out and “Like” them on Facebook.  For our next phase of manufacturing we will have to choose a larger manufacturing partner but for now, One of a Kind Adventure Gear is perfect for our needs.

11 of our prototypes will go to our Alpha Gear Testers from Kickstarter. This group of gracious gear aficionados will be the first (aside from us) to put the Alpine Hammock to the test out in the wild. We’ll have gear-review forms for them to fill out and we’ll host discussion sessions over the next few months to get their feedback. For the remaining three prototypes: one will go to a lab for strength testing, one will go to a group of engineering students from Tufts University for a Human Factors analysis, and one will be donated to the Tufts Mountain Club to be used on weekend trips so we can obtain even more feedback.

We are committed to building an awesome product and this next round of testing/feedback will be critical to the Alpine Hammock’s success.

Happy Trails,

Mike and Ryan

Alpine Hammock 60 Day Kickstarter Update

Hello Kickstarter Backers!

It’s been almost 60 days since you helped us surpass our fundraising goal of $40,000 on Kickstarter and it’s been an epic adventure ever since. As always, we can’t thank you enough for your support. As a result of you pledging your hard-earned money, our gear has been sent to Italy, Japan, Finland, Canada, Liechtenstein, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom, Philippines, Switzerland, Hawaii, Alaska, and 22 states throughout the continental U.S. The global reach of Kickstarter is still very surreal to us but we are psyched to put the Alpine Hammock into the hands of as many adventure enthusiasts as possible. Here is an update of what we’ve been working on over the past 60 days:

1. We sent social media shoutouts to each of our 362 backers (see our Facebook Page if you missed it):

2. Then, we mailed out almost 100 moisture-wicking tech shirts sporting our brand-spankin-new logo. We hope you wear it proudly and take it with you on many adventures. Feel free to take a photo of you using it in action and send it to AlpineHammock@gmail.com or post it to our Facebook Page:

3. Next, we mailed out over 130 HydroFlasks with our logo laser-engraved on them. We are really excited about our relationship with HydroFlask. Their dedication to charity and to delivering a high quality product have made them an awesome partner so far. Keep an eye out for this custom product soon on AlpineHammock.com:

4. Also, if you received a HydroFlask, make sure to visit www.fivepercentback.org and read through the charities that HydroFlask donates to. Use the code on the inside of the bottle’s label and HydroFlask will donate 5% of their gross profit to a charity of your choice.  We learned that this process is actually done for each individual HydroFlask (not for our bulk wholesale order) so make sure to keep your labels and visit the website to donate:

5. In addition to the rewards we shipped out, we also hand-delivered rewards to over 40 of our backers. It was amazing to hear their stories, to absorb their words of encouragement, and best of all, to have the chance to thank them in person. Here’s a photo of Ryan, a Firefighter in Bangor, ME after he received his Alpine Hammock gear at the beginning of his 24 hour shift:

6. Lastly, we threw an epic launch party to celebrate. The festivities included a pull-up competition (Julia = 6 pull-ups and Dan = 21 pull-ups), a wall-sit competition (Kate = 5:30 and James = 5:00), and general shenanigans with the Tufts Mountain Club, the Tufts Entrepreneurial Society, the Vertical Ice Climbing Enthusiasts, friends, family, and of course Harpoon Microbrews. One of our backers even rode a bus for more than two hours from Portland, ME to Boston, MA, now that’s dedication to the hammock revolution.

October is now coming to a close and we’ve fulfilled all of our non-hammock Kickstarter rewards. This is exciting because it means that we are now 100% focused on getting our Alpine Hammock onto the market. We’ve looked into several potential manufacturers in the United States to mass produce our product and we have two favorites so far. However, their lead times are much longer than we estimated. Our original delivery target for our prototype testers was November 2012 and the final production version was January 2013.  It is very likely that our delivery dates will be pushed back but we are working hard to keep things on schedule. Once we have a contract in place we’ll send out another update to let you know exactly when they’ll be shipped out. In the mean time, you can follow our progress in real time via Facebook, Twitter, and our new website AlpineHammock.com. Also, we’ll be posting a “The Making of the Alpine Hammock” video soon so keep an eye out for that as well.

Thanks again for all your support!

Happy Trails,

Mike and Ryan

Final Update - LESS THAN 3 DAYS LEFT!!!

These final days remind us a lot of doing a summit push after long winter trips to Katahdin in Maine or climbing Anconcogua in Patagonia; you know you've accomplished an unbelievable amount so far but you've still got such a long way to go to reach the summit. Your body doesn't think it can take another step but somehow your mind takes over, it blocks out the pain, fatigue, and hunger and it finds a way to succeed.

This is how we feel today. With your help we have accomplished a lot but we still have a long way to go. In our push for the summit, we've seen 200 backers help us raise over $31,000 in just 27 days; an enormous accomplishment for everyone. It has been so amazing to see 200 friends, family, and complete strangers come together to support our project. We've also seen:

The harsh reality is that we still need $9,000 in order to reach our goal or else everyone goes home empty handed. This seems overwhelming but to put it in perspective, if each one of our backers convinced 10 people to pledge just $4.50 to our project then we would reach our goal in no time. Sharing our project has been the key to its success so far and it'll be the only way that we can reach our goal by Thursday August 30th at 6:40pm.

Every dollar counts, we are just running out of time so we need your help in one final push.


  1. Please post our link on your Facebook Page tagging friends asking them to pledge $5 and/or to share the link on their own walls. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alpinehammock/the-alpine-hammock

  2. Please Retweet anything and everything from @AlpineHammock on Twitter.

  3. Lastly Email, Call, or Chat up anyone you can think of who might support our project with a few dollars.
Our Kickstarter funding will allow us to do our first production run, to buy hundreds of yards of fabric and zippers, to buy an industrial sewing machine, and to pay for various legal services (incorporation, trademark, make a dent in patent fees). If our Kickstarter project doesn't reach the $40k funding goal then it'll be months (or years) before we can put this product on the market. As two recent college graduates with hefty college loans, we don't exactly have any spare cash to invest in this project ourselves. This is why we came to Kickstarter in the first place, to seek the help of friends, family, and outdoor enthusiasts to get this great idea off the ground (literally).

Our ultimate dream is to some day be traveling in the mountains and to come across someone using the Alpine Hammock. With your help we can make that dream a reality. START SHARING!!!