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[July 21, 2014]
Production of world's lightest camping hammock a family affair for Monument man [The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) :: ]
(Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 22--For Chris Loidolt of Monument, designing what he bills as the world's lightest-production camping hammock was a snap.
Getting his product in the hands of consumers is shaping up to be a family affair.
Loidolt, 21, launched Hummingbird Hammocks from his family's home, and with the help of his parents, brother and other relatives, he's marketing an ultralight camping hammock weighing in at 5.2 ounces -- some 2 ounces less than his nearest competitor, he says.
That may sound like a thin shave, but for adherents of ultralight camping, the savings are substantial.
"These are people who cut the labels from their clothes," said Kathy Loidolt, Loidolt's mother and Hummingbird's director of sales and marketing. She and her husband became financial supporters after seeing one of their son's hammocks, which use high-grade parachute materials and pack to the size of a baseball.
"We asked him, 'Is anyone else this light?'" Despite the feather weight, the hammock is rated to hold up to 300 pounds.
Formed late last year as part of a Kickstarter campaign, Hummingbird Hammocks is enjoying early success in its bid to break into the niche outdoor gear market.
It all began last year when Chris Loidolt, a recreational skydiver and certified parachute rigger, used materials lying around a home workshop in Fort Collins, where he was going to school, to make a hammock that his website describes as "stronger, far lighter and much smaller than anything else available on the market." Materials are key to the hammock's performance, he said. Loidolt uses the same nylon fabric found in reserve parachutes. He also constructs a lightweight alternative to carabiners.
On the advice of a roommate, Loidolt launched an August 2013 fundraiser that reaped $6,700, surpassing a $5,000 goal. The venture generated enough capital to make parachutes for his donors and yield a $2,000 profit from additional sales.
Now the Loidolts are working on breaking into the national marketplace, and the family says early responses have been encouraging.
In recent weeks, Hummingbird Hammocks scored a contract with a distributor in Japan that could put Loidolt's hammock on the shelves of up to 35 stores there. Closer to home, Jax Mercantile Co. and Neptune Mountaineering -- two Colorado-based retailers -- have agreed to carry the hammock.
The Loidolts say two big-box retailers also have expressed interest.
It's a heady time for Loidolt, who dropped out of Colorado State University in part to pursue his business interests.
He's also invented buoyancy vests for scuba divers, built longbows and longboards, and dreamed up designs for parachutes and paragliders.
Loidolt is the son of Colorado Springs-area homebuilder Joe Loidolt, who, according to his wife, has the humble title of "laborer" at their son's startup.
The hammock is available for $79.99 at Hummingbird hammocks.com. A three-person hammock intended for families goes for $375.
For $29.95, the company also sells 2.1-ounce tree straps that come with adjustable "whoopee slings" to allow for quick adjustments during setup.
Among the products Loidolt intends to introduce is a lightweight tarp for protection from the elements.
___ (c)2014 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Visit The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) at www.gazette.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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