The Blue Ridge region is full of innovative outdoor brands making gear to get you outside. Here are some of our favorites.
Pisgah National Forest Short Sleeve T-shirt
Made from a shockingly comfy blend of recycled cotton and plastic fibers, this tee shows off your pride for the region’s public lands. Based in Charlotte, N.C., the brand is dedicated to keeping all of its sourcing and manufacturing within 250 miles of its headquarters, keeping it both local and showcasing a model for sustainability.
Asheville’s premier paddling brand has set a new standard for PFDs that improve on both the function and look of this mandatory safety gear. The new YTV 2.0 is not only sleek while still providing plenty of protection, it’s also part of the first series of PFDs to gain Bluesign approval. The esteemed third-party certification guarantees the materials, manufacturing processes, and work conditions all comply with stringent sustainability and fair labor standards.
Diamond Brand Gear
The LMNL Tent System
When it’s time to glamp, you need to go all out. This roomy and easy-to-assemble home in the hills is handmade in Asheville, and it puts a new spin on the classic canvas wall tent. It’s highly weatherproof and provides plenty of airflow (with none of that old canvas stink). Best of all, it’s modular, making it easy to upgrade or replace parts should something break.
Parkway Adjustable Hammock Stand
If you are like the crew around here at BRO, you probably have several ENO hammocks kicking around in your gear closet. This new hammock stand makes it simple to set your favorite backwoods lounger up on your deck. The Asheville-based brand’s new stand is sturdy, simple to set up, and adjusts to two different lengths.
Appalachian Gear Co.
Women’s All-paca Fleece Hoodie
With alpaca fibers sourced from Peru and a manufacturing facility in Kings Mountain, N.C., Appalachian Gear Company is crafting cozy and dependable outdoor apparel with a good dose of green cred. This quick-drying fleece breathes surprisingly well and proves its worth as the ideal piece to wear for a solid midlayer when the temperature really drops. Plus, it just looks good around town.
Blue Ridge Overland
This 12″ x 8″ x 4″ gadget bag holds all those essential electronics and manual necessities that usually kick around in random spots in your car or tent. It’s just one of the many useful bags, tools, and other organizers from the Bedford, Va.,–based manufacturer that started in a backyard shed.
Founded by legendary paddler Eric “EJ” Jackson and based in Sparta, Tenn., Jackson Kayak builds boats with the know-how of spending endless days on local rivers, lakes, and creeks. And this do-it-all boat can take on anything from downriver excursions to wave surfing to creaking. Credit that versatility to its full planing hull, which makes it playful and stable—the perfect boat for both beginners and seasoned river rats.
Ever since the 1980s Chattanooga–based Litespeed has been leading the pack in titanium bikes, and the strength and suppleness of the material mean its a solid choice for the gravel craze. Litespeed’s Flint FI gives you lots of pedaling power in a light package—just the ticket for ragged back roads. Best of all, the wires and housing are all fully integrated here, keeping them protected from the dust, mud, and other elements of backroads.
Mountain Laurel Designs
For more than two decades, Roanoke’s Mountain Laurel Designs has been crafting gear to make backpacking and backcountry travel lighter and simpler—seeking out better materials and design innovations. Now, the brand still makes the tarps it first launched in 2002 as well as everything from bikepacking panniers to foam pads. But the brand’s real standout is its packs. Weighing just 17.5 ounces, the Prophet 48L is a surprisingly sturdy and comfortable ultralight choice for serious backpacking and extended alpine adventures.
Catoctin Creek Distilling Co.
Rabble Rouser Bottled in Bond Rye Whiskey
Crafting fine whiskey in Purcellville, Va. (be sure to stop in to sip for yourself), Catoctin Creek has staked a reputation as one of the finest rye producers in the region. One taste of the Rabble Rouser—which we think speaks to you, BRO readers—will prove our point. Aged for six years, this grainy beast really shows off the type of wild flavor that makes us love rye.
Oyster Fly Rods
Georgia’s Oyster Fly Rods is the place you go when you feel that you have mastered the fundamentals of fly fishing and want to turn your angling into an art. The custom bamboo crafters build rods that are nothing short of magical in the right hands. While most of what they produce is custom order in their workshop, they do also offer some of their rods for immediate purchase. Or you can sign up for a class and learn to craft your own thing of beauty.
Blue Ridge Thread Co.
Eco Friendly North Carolina Merino Wool Beanie
Founded by two Blue Ridge locals, this brand promotes the #exploretheblueridge hashtag, encouraging others to love, enjoy, promote, and protect this special place. Made with temperature-adapting merino wool, these cozy beanies give a call out to the Tarheel State on their cork tag.
Headquartered in Brevard, N.C., SylvanSport has brought a new sense of style to the trailer market for the past 20 years when it first introduced its famed GO trailer. Its rooftop tent boasts all the minimalism and savvy design philosophy of the GO—with a hard plastic roof and polyester sides the 80″x 48″x41″ topper is light (117 pounds) and sets up in no time, with plenty of ventilation as well as the ability to batten it down if a storm hits.