Buy local! Our editors select their favorite gear from top regional outdoor companies
Merrimack Osprey Canoe
BASE CAMP: Travelers Rest, South Carolina
When Merrimack owner Andy O’Mara first arrived in Travelers Rest, he had intended to focus solely on his growing canoe company, but when he moved the company to a larger production facility, he opened what has become a widely popular pizza joint on Main Street in the space that used to house his canoe manufacturing business. Now Andy splits his duties between Merrimack Canoes and Sidewall Pizza, where he still stores and displays some of his handmade, artisan canoes. The Osprey is the original Merrimack Canoe and has been enjoyed by canoeing enthusiasts for over 50 years. A 39-inch center beam gives this 13-foot wooden canoe a remarkable amount of stability, making it ideal for fly fishermen, photographers, waterfowl hunters, and families.
Jackson Kayak Orion Cooler $499
BASE CAMP: Sparta, Tennessee
Eric Jackson of Jackson Kayaks founded his company in 2003 as a way to help kids experience the world of kayaking, something that had been previously inaccessible for most youth. Today his local kayak company, based out of the small town of Sparta, Tennessee, has morphed into one of the most recognizable names in paddlesports and has even branched out into the highly competitive world of high performance coolers. The Orion line of coolers offer more features and better performance than any other cooler on the market today. Features include six tie-down points, four bottle openers, low profile camping latches, a variety of different color options, and a highly functional tray system.
ENO HAMMOCK and METHOD GUITAR CASE
BASE CAMP: Asheville, North Carolina
ENO is one of the longest standing and most reputable outdoor gear builders in Western North Carolina. Founded by brothers and adventure partners Peter and Paul Pinholster in the summer of 1999, ENO has grown from its original incarnation as a small mobile company popping up sporadically along the East Coast to sell handmade hammocks to music festival attendees, into the nation’s most recognizable hammock brand. And ENO hasn’t stopped at hammocks. They also make a high quality line of various bags, accessories, and lifestyle gear like the Method Guitar Case, which allows you to create your own soundtrack for everyday outdoor adventures.
Equinox Gear Parula Ultralite Day Pack $65
BASE CAMP: Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Situated on the banks of the Susquehanna River, at the foot of the Allegheny Plateau, Equinox gear operates out of an old pajama factory in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The company has been designing and crafting quality outdoor equipment for “earth travelers” of all stripes for over 20 years. One of our particular favorites is the ARAS Eagle Pack. The Eagle Pack features a dual hydration sleeve, an adjustable quick release suspension system, three strategically placed drain holes, and bottle loops on the shoulder pads. It weighs just over 20 ounces and has a capacity of 3,200 cubic inches.
Monolith Studio Handmade Knives (Prices vary)
BASE CAMP: Charlottesville, Virginia
Zack Worrell is a self-taught artist and designer who comes from a long line of Appalachian adventurers and craftspeople. In 2012, Worrell began to take up to the age-old art of knife making. Today, this Virginia knifemaker’s portfolio is full of impressive works of art that include large butcher knives and other types of hand forged kitchen knives to smaller, sheathed knives ideal for camping and other types of outdoor pursuits. Simply put, Worrell makes functional art and tools for living with an emphasis on design without compromising functionality, reliability, or longevity.
Watershed Aleutian Deck Bag $135
BASE CAMP: Asheville, North Carolina
Based out of Asheville, North Carolina, Watershed has long been making dry bags that are recognized as some of the best in the world by people who recreate and make their living in a marine environment. The Aleutian Deck Bag’s ZipDry technology is guaranteed to keep all of your most important items bone dry, while the spacious 800-cubic-inch, 13-liter interior offers space for just about everything you could possibly need while out on the water.
Tsuga TS 8.0 Canopy $225
BASE CAMP: Boone, North Carolina
When Jimi Combs began sewing and manufacturing his first handmade canopies in the late 1980s, his primary goal was to build a shelter that was both lightweight and weatherproof. Today his Boone-based company is one of the foremost producers of high quality canopy shelters in the Southeast and is also making top of the line water filtration systems along with messenger bags and utility buckets. Tsuga’s TS 8.0 Canopy is made from extremely durable, fade-resistant WeatherMax skins, and it works just as well as a sun-beating beach shelter as is does when rigged to the back of a pickup truck in the woods.
Goosefeet Gear Down Socks $65
BASE CAMP: Milledgeville, Georgia
In 2010, Ben Smith of Milledgeville, Georgia, was just an ordinary 20-year-old college student who liked to backpack on the weekends. Today he is the owner of a burgeoning outdoor company that specializes in handmade down socks, waterproof overbooties, down pillows, down pants, jackets, and more. Ben began fashioning his own down booties out of necessity because he couldn’t seem to keep his feet warm during cold overnights in the north Georgia mountains. Pretty soon, he began making and selling the same type of down booties he had originally used for his personal backpacking excursions, and GooseFeet Gear was born. Ben makes all of his high quality products to order.