In the Blue Ridge, Ma Nature musters some mean conditions—from scorching summer heat and humidity to biting, icy wind and snow, with plenty of roots and rocks thrown in. That makes it the perfect place to punish outdoor gear. Our experts tested and selected the latest and greatest gear, including brands from right here in our Blue Ridge backyard.


Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody $300

Patagonia is calling this the best warmth-for-weight jacket they’ve ever built, and we’d be inclined to agree. The expertly designed Micro Puff Hoody delivers ultralight, water-resistant, down-like warmth. The featherlight garmet even stuffs down into its own pocket and comes complete with a reinforced carabiner clip-in loop.

Helinox Chair Zero $120

Put simply, this is the lightest and most compact folding chair available. The Helinox Chair Zero weighs one pound and packs small. With a seat eleven inches off the ground and a frame strong enough to support up to 265 pounds, it will be a welcome addition to any thru-hiker’s pack.

Thermacell Backpacker Repeller $40

Utilizing the same camping gas canisters that backpackers and campers have in their bag already, the compact and lightweight Backpacker Repeller is a nifty little device that keeps bugs at bay even deep into the backcountry. Like other Thermacell products, the Backpacker deters stinging and biting insects by creating a 15 x 15-foot zone of protection, keeping your campsite comfortable for as long as your gas canister is up to the task.

ENO Fuse Hammock Divider $30

Asheville-based ENO was the first to bring hammocks out of the backyard and into the world of outdoor adventure, and they’re still making one of the all-time best packable camping hammocks. Even better, they are constantly innovating, as evidenced by the new Fuse Hammock Divider. The Divider affixes two Hammocks to one set of anchor points, allowing for side-by-side hammocking with a new level of comfort.