Sometimes you get lucky and your hobby becomes your career.
Dutch (who just goes by that: Dutch) is one such man. He hiked the Appalachian Trail, during which time he deconstructed his hammock tents to make them lighter, but found he didn’t have the carabiners needed to fill in the gaps. So he made them. And they worked. And then he sold some of them online, they sold well, and he went into business making hardware for DIY campers.
In 2010, he hit paydirt with a line of titanium carabiners for those who like to tinker with their gear. Out of that, Dutchware Gear was born.
“We have grown to include every component of the hammock,” he says. “We were one of the first in the industry to develop fabrics just for hammocks rather than using fabrics from other industries.”
Dutchware purchases titanium as scrap before finishing everything in house. And like all of his goods — “top of the line webbings, Kevlar and Dyneema” — 90 percent of it is made in a factory in Lancaster, PA. His newest product is the Chameleon Hammock, which is already funded on Kickstarter with nearly a month still to go. Its modular design allows you to add and subtract rain flys, bug nets and all sorts of extra pockets for gear based off of what your needs are for any given trip. It's born of the sort of homegrown innovation that's American as apple pie.
chameleon hammock tent (6 images)
Downside: Dutch has been so successful that he no longer has the time for five-month hiking trips, although he is heading to Machu Picchu soon.
Because when it’s your company, sometimes you get a day off.