Swinging in a Himalayan Hammock
by Erin Green
I’ve been searching for a good hammock, and I’ve found a Nepal-produced piece of resting perfection. They’re made by a tight team of three just outside Kathmandu. Since the business began, these hammocks have traveled all over the world—to Chile, America, Switzerland, and beyond. They’re super lightweight, durable, and made by hand. Well, they’re made by two hands. It’s a nice story.
I had the pleasure of meeting Yelamber Sing Adhikari who gave me an introduction to his business, Himalayan Hammocks. Besides my lifelong love of hammocks, I liked his voice. It’s like it was created swinging in a hammock. Plus, Yelamber had a touch of an American accent, giving my roots a little cuddle. If he hadn’t spent time studying and climbing in the States, these Himalayan Hammocks wouldn’t exist.
Yelamber had spent a summer climbing in Wyoming, driving around in his Suburu and crashing on friends’ couches. He’d climbed in Nepal before he went to study in the States, and he dug the diverse group of climbers in Wyoming. I think the group dug having a climber from Nepal around, too!
Eventually, he returned to Nepal and got involved with the Himalayan Outdoor Festival, which has been going on now for seven years. It’s a weekend combination of competitions—three cycling events, three running events, and two climbing ones. That can’t be easy to organize. But, he loves it. It’s growing as an event, and more and more Nepalis are taking part. That’s exciting.
The Himalayan Outdoor Festival also puts on the Adventure Film Festival, which is a selection of the same films shown at the Boulder Adventure Film Festival. Excitement, adventure, thrill, determination, focus, and endurance describe the events of the Outdoor Festival and the content of the films. After all of this adrenaline, you need some time to chill out.
That’s where Himalayan Hammocks comes in.
Yelamber never thought he’d start a business with his hammocks, though. He’d just returned to Nepal, with his own American made hammock that was falling to pieces. He brought it to his local tailor, Parshu Ram, and asked if he could replicate it.
Parshu Ram is a tailor for the army by trade. He didn’t just replicate the old hammock, he enforced it and made it perfect.
It’s lightweight, only 300 grams for the hammock itself. It’s made of durable, waterproof Ripstop nylon, uses tough Beal climbing ropes to attach to carabiners, and ropes containing easy-to-attach-to daisy chains (so you don’t need to mess around with tying knots). It can be transformed into an emergency shelter by turning it upside down and made into an A-frame, and it has a mosquito net. It is about 8 ft by 4.5 ft, comes in pretty colors, and takes a minute to set up.
His friends wanted some.
He and his wife put their heads together and decided to give the business a go. They asked Parshu Ram, who has two kids in college, if he was in. All the money he makes outside his army work goes towards his kids. He came on board. They registered the business as a small business cottage industry in Bhaktapur in 2014. With the help of social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, the word got out about Himalayan Hammocks.
This is what Yelamber thinks is so cool; the relationships he’s built with people via his hammock’s social media sites. He says, “It’s a pretty amazing experience to have made really good friends from this. Plus, they’re amazing climbers and adventurers, so they send awesome pictures.” He gets a bit of free marketing when his friends and customers send him pictures of his hammocks dangling off slacklines above Lake Superior, or swinging over the snow at the base of Mt. Denali. He’s made friends and clients all over the globe from this venture.
Right now, Himalayan Hammocks is just a nice little business. It will grow in the future, but right now they’re pacing themselves. When bigger orders come in, Parshu Ram hires a few of his friends to help out. They’re stocked at Mountain Hardware and a few other small shops around Kathmandu and Patan, and available online.
I asked if he thought about selling abroad, but he believes the cost could be too high. Definitely too high for huge stores like REI, but perhaps some smaller independent shops would be able to stock their product in the future. They do have some international customers, who don’t mind the mighty shipping costs. This hammock is worth it.
Yelamber had a Swiss volunteer who took a whole bunch of hammocks, about 30 or 40, back to Switzerland to sell. “I guess she sold them for a really good mark-up, because she brought me a 10-liter outdoor solar shower. That was really sweet of her, cuz, you don’t expect someone to say, ‘Hey I sold your hammocks really well, here’s a solar shower.’ I’ve met some really great people from this. If not for Himalayan Hammocks, I wouldn’t have crossed paths with a lot of these people. So yeah, it’s really nice.”