Back in June 2013 I posted an entry to this blog titled Hammock Camping on a Budget in which I described a few ways to assemble a ‘starter set’ of hammock camping gear without breaking the bank. To my surprise, that post has received nearly 9,500 views to date (March 4, 2019). Hopefully it’s helped a few folks jump into the world of hammock camping and saved them a few sheckels in the process.
I’ve re-read that entry several times lately and I remembered that the post leaned heavily toward ‘make-your-own’ or ‘do-it-yourself’ gear. That’s not a problem for some but let’s face it, not everyone has the time or resources for DIY. BTW, no, I’m deliberately not including ‘ability’ here. I think that most anyone without some significant physical impediment can learn to run a relatively straight line of stitches and a backstitch on a sewing machine with just a little practice.
Also, each time I re-read the entry I found myself wondering “OK, what next?” I realized that since I wrote that post, my own set-up has evolved and has been upgraded and I’ve dropped a bit more coin on a few items but I’ve still managed to make nice upgrades and I’ve made those upgrades by purchasing from reputable cottage vendors without spending stupid amounts money.
Rather than giving a bunch of links to specific products which might come and go or change over time, I’m going to describe a few of the strategies I’ve used to find good quality gear at good prices and then give a few links to the home pages of vendors that I’ve used or have been recommended to me. Keep in mind, in this entry I assume that you, the reader, have at least a little hammock camping experience and have a pretty good idea of what pieces of your set-up that you may be looking to change or upgrade. You don’t have any hammock camping experience? No worries, you can benefit from what I have to say too…
Here we go:
1) Know your needs. I recently found myself in need of a new tarp and had a couple of specific requirements. I wanted a silpoly winter tarp (a tarp with ‘doors’ that could be pulled closed on the ends), I needed an 11-foot ridgeline and I wasn’t all that concerned about color. Knowing exactly what I needed enabled me to narrow my search to a few reputable vendors fairly quickly then it was a matter of comparing specs and prices.
2) Do your research. I could easily call this 1A. As soon as you start thinking about purchasing a new piece of gear, do some research, both on-line and by visiting your local outdoor outfitter. Find out what variations and options are available. Remember, ordering from a cottage vender isn’t like ordering from REI or Outdoors.com. There are often options that can be customized to suit your specific needs.
3) Be patient! Just like large retail store, nearly all of the cottage vendors that I buy from run some sort of sale periodically. Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Independence Day, Black Friday…even Valentine’s Day. You know the drill. Heck, sometimes some of the small cottage vendors will run a flash sale for the heck of it on a random day.
4) Get plugged in. Tip number 3 doesn’t help much if you don’t know when these sales are going to be or if you don’t have the vendor code that you need in order to take advantage of it, does it? Follow the vendors on social media. Every cottage vendor I can think of has Facebook and Instagram accounts and you can bet that they post the information you need there. Want to get ahead of the social media followers? Go to the vendor’s website and sign up for their newsletter. OK, yes, you will have more email in your in-box…but that’s mail you actually wanted, right? More often than not that email will hit your inbox a full day or sometimes two before the rest of the world knows about a sale or whatever special the vendor is offering. One more thing, occasionally one of the cottage vendors will offer an item thats been sitting on their shelves for an extended period of time at a pretty good discount. Why has it been sitting on the shelf? Could be one of a number of reasons but its still top quality gear. If you’re not picky about colors this can be a great way to go. I picked up a Hammock Gear Incubator 20 underquilt for about 75 clams less than it would have cost if I had had one made to my specs.
5) Lastly, take advantage of those times when someone might have a need to buy you a gift and you might have some input as to what that gift might be…you know, a birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, an anniversary, Father’s/Mother’s Day, etc. Not surprisingly, the vendors’ sales often correspond with such events. I don’t know about your spouse or significant other, but when given a choice, my wife would much prefer buying me a new piece of outdoor gear than say, a new pipe or a box of cigars.
So now you have my favorite strategies to save some of your hard earned cash when purchasing outdoor gear. Hope they work as well for you as they have for me. Now about those links I promised…
Simply Light Designs (Recommended by Hammock Forums member rweb82)
Don’t see your favorite cottage vendor in my list? Shoot me a comment with their name. I’ll check ‘em out and if they have a good reputation and I like what I see, I’ll add them to the list. Have your own tip that you’d like to share? Send me a comment and if I like it I’ll update the entry and drop it in.
Hammock Forums member GillyGilligan had a couple of good tips to share:
Try before you buy. While it may not be practical for everyone, if possible get yourself to a ‘hang’. Basically, a ‘hang’ is a gathering of hammock hangers. They’re a great opportunity see and even try out many different pieces of hammock camping gear. More often than not, one or more of the cottage vendors will be attending and might have some of their wares for sale. Don’t know where to find a hang? Check out thye Hangouts, Campouts and Trip Planning section of Hammock Forums.
GillyGilligan Tip No. 2: Don’t be afraid to trade. Have a piece of gear that you’re not crazy about? Offer it up for trade. Sure, it can be hit or miss but when it does work out its pretty sweet. Check out the ‘For Trade’ section of Hammock Forums. You have to be a Hammock Forums member to trade. BE SURE TO READ AND UNDERSTAND THE ‘FOR TRADE’ FORUM RULES BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT TO TRADE.
Gunner 76 of Hammock Forums reminded me of something that I forgot this in my original post: Check out the ‘For Sale’ section of Hammock Forums. Once again, You have to be a Hammock Forums member to buy and sell. BE SURE TO READ AND UNDERSTAND THE ‘FOR TRADE’ FORUM RULES BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT TO BUY OR SELL.
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That’s it folks, see y’all in the trees…