Although not necessarily true in every situation, the world of lightweight backpacking is often fairly expensive. Most vendors referenced in my blog are known for solid products, but also for being fairly pricey (often justifiably so based singularly on materials). Is there anyone out there who offers good stuff at reasonable prices?
I often get questions from more traditional backpackers on where they can go to test the lightweight market without dipping into their children's college funds. When I answer this question, I usually piece together a gear list consisting of very specific products from cottage vendors while supplementing it with mainstream commercial offerings. It is rare that I can name an individual vendor who has more than one reasonably-priced product (or economic) and most don't even make the cut.
BearPaw Wilderness Designs (http://www.bearpawwd.com/) is a small and relatively unknown member of the cottage industry despite having been around a while. They manufacture tents, tarps, bivies, pack covers, and stuff sacks, as well as sell fabric, cordage, and other supplies...all at fairly reasonable prices. My personal favorite part - their willingness to do custom work in addition to using both standard silnylon fabrics as well as cuben fiber. Users describe BearPaw as reliable, offering quick turn-around times for products which is often uncommon, and excellent workmanship.
If you or someone you know needs a bit of a push towards the world of lightweight backpacking and saving money is the final straw, give BearPaw a shot.
Another vendor recently offering lightweight cuben tarps is Lawson Equipment (http://www.lawsonequipment.com/). Currently there is a sale offering "any" of his cuben tarps for $225 plus free shipping which is really a nice price point, albeit an introductory offer.