April 28th 2014
I've been asked for some good books to getting started with backpacking. I do not consider myself an expert; however, I am the kind of guy that likes to research lots of things. So, here's my list:
- AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller - one of my first and better trail journals I read.
- Ultralight Backpackin' Tips by Mike Clelland - I'm not an ultralighter, but this is an easy to read guide on cutting weight
- Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backpackin' Book by Allen O'Bannon - Similar book, broader audience.
- The Ultimate Hang by Derek J Hansen - One of the core members of HammockForums.net. Probably the best book to get for starting with hammock camping.
- The most important site I've found for leaning about hammock camping is by far HammockForums.net. Yes, it's a crappy phpBB site and I hate it. However, the community is very helpful, not argumentative, and open. Lots of tips, technical discussions, and DIY projects. I check this site almost daily.
- I also like Derek's The Ultimate Hang. He's a great illustrator who does a great job summarizing the material from HF. He's got a lot of gear reviews and compares them to DIY projects.
- An older resource, but still very good is Sgt. Rock's Hiking H.Q.. He was one of the early backpackers that converted to hammock camping.
- First and foremost, a shout out to Shug. I think most of us who sleep in a hammock have watched one of his videos. He's highly entertaining while also giving a lot of good information. This is probably the best place to start learning about hammocks.
These are some of the more popular "cottage vendors" on HF. Most of these shops are literally one guy and his wife working as hard as they can. The gear is designed very specifically towards light weight hammock backpacking.
Warbonnet Outdoors - Excellent hammocks. I have a Blackbird XLC and a Yeti three season underquilt. The WB "Superfly" and "Mambajamba" are probably the two most popular tarps on HF.
Dutchware - Dutch is one of the true innovators in gizmos for hammock camping. He makes lots of little titanium bits for simplifying hanging hammocks, tarps, and quilts. He also has good prices on DIY material and premium rope/line.
Hammock Gear - Excellent down quilts; both top and bottom. Adam also sells a very popular cuben fiber ultralight tarp.
Underground Quilts - Excellent down quilts. There are very little differences between UGQ and HG. One exception is that UGQ has an excellent order status page.
Butt in a sling - I've not bought any of their gear, but it looks good on their site. I've also heard good reviews on HF.
Dream Hammock - I've also not bought any of their gear. I think they are becoming known as the "cadillac" of hammocks.
Arrowhead Equipment - One of the older cottage vendors. They also sell fly fishing gear. It's worth noting they focus primarily on synthetic quilts rather than down. That makes their gear a little bulkier, but also cheaper.
ZPacks - These guys specialize with cuben fiber. Lots of super-light weight gear: tarps, rain gear, packs and more.
Honorable mention goes to Jacks 'R' Better. I wouldn't classify them as "cottage". Their gear is not made to order as most of the above are. It's supposed to be very good gear and able to ship very quickly.
Thru-Hiker - They have their own forum for DIY gear makers and a good selection of materials. They also have projects and articles.
Of course, there's much, much more. These are the things that came to the top of my head in about 15 - 30 minutes of typing. As I remember more sites worth including, I'll update.