Bear Butt Hammocks Aim to Dominate Hammock Industry

By Hannah Palmer, 1/25/17

Theodore Tel sits in a Bear Butt hammock in the snow.

During his two-year mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Michael Whiteley decided that he would never have a job again.

In 2015, he noticed the increasing demand for hammocks but also saw how expensive they were. His goal then became to change how high the prices were. While out fishing one day, Whiteley thought of the name Bear Butt, and so the idea for a hammock brand was born.

The first Bear Butt hammock was sold Nov. 19, 2015 and Whiteley sold out before Christmas.

He increased his inventory, estimating he would sell around 50 hammocks a day. Before long he was averaging selling 300 hammocks a day. Shortly after that, his estimation was again too low.

Whiteley realized he couldn’t do business on his own, so that was when the Bear Butt Team formed.

Excellent customer service

The home page of its website says, “Shaking the eagle out of the nest since 2015 at half the cost of the other guys.” The slogan makes reference to a leading hammock brand, Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO).

In the story of how the company came about, Whiteley lists his goals to sell “top quality gear at half the price of the other guys with some real customer service on top.”

One area that Bear Butt aims to achieve excellent customer service is its refund policy. The policy is called, “Way too easy money back promise!” The website says, “that at any time for any reason — seriously. Any time and any reason you aren’t stoked with your Bear Butt Gear or a ninja comes by and chops it to pieces. We will give you a FULL REFUND or a REPLACEMENT. Bam!”

Bear Butt’s refund or replacement policy does not require the customers to return their old hammocks. This contrasts against competitor ENO’s return policy, which has a two-year return period as long as the customer has adequate proof of purchase. Its website lists the details of the policy.

According to outdoor gear specialist Kevin Glover, Bear Butt hammock nylon is made with five deniers (a unit of measurement that gauges the density of fibers) more than ENO hammock nylon. This means the hammocks are slightly stronger.

Bear Butt hammocks come in a small bag, which the rope straps fit inside.

A competitive market for hammocks

Bear Butt is growing in size and is expanding its market.

“I think it’s cool for there to be a competitive market for outdoor adventure equipment,” said Meghan Lechner, 25, avid outdoors woman and previous outdoors educator. “For me personally, the more affordable it is, the more people we’re going to have going out into the outdoors, which I find incredibly healthful and beneficial to a community.”

Lechner said she appreciated the competitive slogan of Bear Butt because it meant that Bear Butt would be challenged to make its product more economical than competitors or challenged to create a wider range of products.

Meghan Lechner shares what she learned while working at an outdoors education company in Danbury, Conn.

Ex-Marine and biking, hiking and backpacking enthusiast Tracy Swope, 55, shared a similar sentiment towards the competition.

Swope said that ENO has many times been confronted about creating a hammock that would be more beneficial for backpackers. Swope owns an ENO and says that for backpacking trips she has to take three items: her hammock, her tent and the tent tarp.

Bear Butt has designed their hammocks so that the hammock can function as a tarp, to make the backpacking load lighter. This means backpackers have to carry two items instead of the previous three.

Swope said the competition was good because ENO should have addressed this problem sooner and ENO “deserves to get kicked at.”

Swope also said she also enjoys supporting start-up companies.

Appeal to millennials

Hiking, climbing, backpacking and biking enthusiast Theodore Tel, 19, said he had never heard of Bear Butt. When he heard of the company and its campaign slogan, he said the slogan was “funny.”

“I would definitely purchase one. It’s making fun of a popular brand. That’s bold,” Tel said.

The informal language on the Bear Butt website targets this reaction with humor and voice infused into every written section, as well as the FAQ page. Even the company name uses a play on words to create humor.

A hammock review website ranked Bear Butt hammocks as #4, just behind two Serac hammocks and the ENO SingleNest hammock.

The quality, durability, comfort and especially the affordability of Bear Butt hammocks will only continue the increasing rise of the brand.

Additionally, Bear Butt holds competitions each month, encouraging hammock owners to take a photo of themselves in their hammock to share to social media. Three winners each month win $100 for their submission.

Bear Butt is trying to appeal to all generations with their customer service, humor and quality. According to their website, they are “So Cool Even Your Grandma Joined The Team.”