Fall is the perfect season for outdoor adventure in Appalachia. It’s also the perfect time to re-up your gear stash. We’ve consulted top contributors and gear-obsessed members of our BRO athlete team for essential beta on the must-have pieces of gear for fall adventure in the Blue Ridge and beyond.
KEEN has always been known for coupling performance with comfort, but their new Aphlex Waterproof Boot takes both of these aspects to a whole new level. Combine comfort, increased toe and heel protection, and extremely effective waterproofing and you’ve got a boot that is meant to go straight from the box to the nearest trailhead. $150
Built for winter excursions in the rugged backcountry, the Nano Puff shell is made from moisture-shedding, wind-blocking 100% recycled polyester and insulated with lightweight, highly compressible Primaloft Gold insulation. The sculpted fit and zippered chest pocket self-stuff sack makes the jacket an easily portable must-have on any mountain adventure. $120
Its superb breathability is enhanced by its Torsoflo design, which allows you to unzip the side of the jacket from the armpit down, providing increased ventilation even while wearing a heavy pack. Throw in GoreTex and you’ve got a top of the line rain shell. $215
The AG stands for anti-gravity, Osprey’s new suspension system that helps evenly distribute weight while simultaneously keeping a few inches away from the user’s back. The opening it creates between your back and the bulk of the pack allows wind to pass through, providing increased ventilation and comfort. $260
It’s the smallest, lightest, brightest, rechargeable headlamp on the market. The Iota is ideal for early morning training sessions or evening runs with a three-hour burn time and rainproof exterior. It also incorporates PowerTap technology which makes for an easy to use dimming or light change system. $40
The Ozone is one of Black Diamond’s top of the line lightweight harnesses. Carefully designed with a heavy emphasis on comfort, sleekness, and breathability, the Ozone features Kinetic Core Construction and a 3D mesh interior. Few harnesses on the market today can offer climbers the same level of trust and confidence. $100
This is the perfect shoe for climbers who want to experiment on different types of terrain. The full length outsole and increased stiffness are matched with Vibram XS Edge rubber to offer Scarpa’s most supportive lace yet. $159
Unlike most chalkbags which hold chalk only, this has been been designed to hold a few essential items as well—think keys and small snacks. With these items in tow, the multi-pitch climber can enjoy a more streamlined experience without constantly fumbling through a bulky pack. $40
The Stumpjumper is a true MTB classic that debuted in 1981 as the world’s very first mass produced mountain bike. The new carbon model for 2016 brings some significant upgrades, including a top-notch internal cable routing system, dropper posts, which allow riders to adjust seat levels on the fly, and a built-in storage hatch on the frame. $6,500
The Rally MIPS, or ‘multi-directional impact protection system’, works by separating the outer shell from an inner shell, which keeps your brain better insulated from the rotational forces involved in most mountain bike crashes. $125
BRO Athlete Gordon Wadsworth calls this bike “the single best looking and best performing multi-discipline steed since the invention of the horse”. From winding pavement descents to the rigors of the cross course, the Pivot Cycles Vault performs incredibly in every terrain. Thru axle disc brakes, a lower bottom bracket length, shorter chain stays, and increased tire clearance make the Vault the ultimate cyclocross machine. $3,899
This no nonsense fork mounted roof rack is compatible with a variety of axle standards and will easily attach to your vehicle’s factory crossbar. Whether you’re toting the MTB to the nearest trailhead, taking your commuter across town for a tune up, or heading to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a long
overdue road ride, this rack is a great go-to. $220
With 300 lumens, the REACTIK + offers long distance trail runners and other outdoor enthusiasts a smart phone enabled, rechargable headlamp. Bluetooth technology that allows the user to connect to a mobile app to check remaining battery life, activate, customize lighting, and adjust brightness. $110
The rugged, responsive trail runner features a newly added rock guard, making this shoe ideal for mountain running and technical training on hard, rocky surfaces. The SR stands for “sticky rubber”, and the acronym has lived up to the hype. $130
Run in the shoe inspired by Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer. With 4 mm lugs and an injected EVA midsole, the Speedgoat is built for tough terrain. Yet it weighs in at a mere 9.7 ounces, and breezes across even the most technical trails with ease. It’s our go-to shoe for long training runs and ultra races in the mountains. $140
This water bottle was designed specifically with long distance runners in mind. Its ergonomic shape makes for a natural hold while running, and it’s encased in insulation so your water stays cool for hours. $35
If you’re going after bull redfish, you’ll need the acclaimed new X from Sage, preferably in the eight to ten weight range. This rod has an unbelievably fast action that allows anglers to cast faster, farther, and more accurately with greater ease. Pair it with the Sage 6280 Reel and spool that with RIO’s Redfish saltwater line. Rod: $895 | Reel: $459 | Line: $89.95
This impressive app turns your mobile device into a handheld GPS with an emphasis on fishing. Your location is mapped and the map follows you as you travel along the water, even when you’re in far flung locations with no cell service. Stream Map USA is currently available for purchase in five editions covering 33 states on the App Store and Google Play. $8.99
The lenses are the business end of these glasses, featuring ChromaPop polarized tech that greatly enhances color and cuts through any body of water that a fish might call home. Stainless steel spring hinges allow for maximum flexibility. $179
Unlike the original cylindrical Jetboil, the MiniMo’s cooking pot is wide-mouthed and holds up to one liter of liquid. The improved regulator provides the user with much more control of the heat output. Expect to get about 20 meals out of a standard four ounce gas canister. $135
Weighing in at just over two pounds, this two-person, three-season tent owes much of its packability to its ultra thin carbon fiber tent poles and super light micro fiber mesh. At just 17 inches long and 5 inches wide, it’s an efficient space saver that’s useful on an A.T. thru-hike or a weekend excursion in the Linville Gorge. $500
This lightweight and super packable fifteen degree bag features some of the best down insulation on the market—900 fill down if you want to get techy about it— while the innovative vertical baffles transfer body heat evenly throughout the bag. If you’re looking to stay warm and dry during a long stint on the trail, this is the bag for you. $679
Built specifically for adventure, the Stealth Shovel folds down into an easily portable 18” and expands into a 56” powerful aluminum shovel. Its precision teeth are sharp enough to break snow and ice but not your pack. Weighing only 3.3 pounds, it’s a must-have for any backcountry snow adventure this winter. $129
The Flip is an extremely portable, 100% leakproof, tough-as-nails soft cooler boasting an inch of YETI’s ColdCell foam insulation to keep your food and drinks as cold as possible all day long. Its compact cube shape is perfect for strapping onto your kayak, day trips to the mountains, and campground hangouts. $280
Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to the SHUBU SUP series from Boardworks. This wide series board comes in lengths of either 9’ 6” or 10’ 6” and is great for still water paddling, fishing, yoga, surfing, and more. The generous width of these boards offer maximum stability in flat, turbulent, or choppy water, and because they’re inflatable and come with an easy to use backpack, you can take them just about anywhere. $1099
Are you stuck on the fence between buying either a whitewater or flatwater kayak? Your solution lies in the new Roam kayak series from Dagger. A sit on top kayak equipped to face off with moderate whitewater, the Roam is the perfect way to break into the world of whitewater without breaking the bank or sacrificing the gear-hauling, adventure-enabling benefits that traditional sit-on-top kayaks provide.
Designed in collaboration between engineers and some of the best racers in the world, the 2016 model provides race-grade control with its carbon shaft and greater leverage with its increased blade length. $350 for straight shaft, $450 for bent shaft
Best of the Rest/ Editor’s Picks
Extremely durable with a modern and slim look, the Deuter pack has been a staple for backcountry adventure. The new flexible Active Fit shoulder straps and the revised hip wing construction provide optimum comfort. $279
Keep craft beer cold for up to 4 hours and iced beverages for as long as 15 by adding a set of Stanley’s Adventure Stacking Vacuum Pints to your base camp mess kit. $15
Who says you can’t have great coffee in the backcountry? Wacaco has shattered that myth with the brilliantly engineered and super affordable Minipresso. This hand pump espresso maker produces a velvety and flavorful shot of espresso with ease and simplicity every time. $59
The Cold Quest Performance base layer is basically a high performance set of long underwear capable of keeping you warm in extreme conditions while wicking moisture and inhibiting odor causing bacterial growth on fabric. Shirt $40, Pant $32
Rooted in the Blue Ridge
Appalachia is known for Iits superb craftsmanship, and the world of outdoor gear is no exception. Some of the industry’s best equipment is made right here.
Blue Ridge Chairworks
Alan Davis, founder and chairman of Blue Ridge Chairworks, found his way to chairmaking by way of whitewater rafting. In the 1970s he guided on the famed Cheat and Youghiogheny Rivers of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. When screen printing came into popularity in the late 70s Allen and his fellow guides decided to cash in on the trend by making T-shirts pressed with raft company logos. So began his love affair with making and selling goods in the outdoor industry. Soon he discovered woodworking and began creating custom canoe paddles. Today he has taken his craftsmanship to a whole new level with an entire product line of hand made wooden chairs. Carefully fashioned in the heart of the Western North Carolina Blue Ridge, these chairs are perfect for the outdoor enthusiast on the go.
What we recommend: Caravan Chair and the Pisgah Forest Table
Zack Worrell is a self-taught artist and designer who comes from a long line of Appalachian adventurers and craftspeople. For much of his life he dabbled in various disciplines within the construction industry—from reclamation to timber framing. But it wasn’t until 2012, after spending time on a sabbatical with his family in Spain, that Zack began to take up to the age old art of knife making. Today, this Virginia knife maker’s portfolio is full of impressive works of art that span the gamut from large butcher knives and other types of hand forged kitchen knives to smaller, sheathed knives ideal for camping and other outdoor pursuits.
“The knives we make at Monolith Studio are suited for kitchen culinary aficionados and knife users who love the outdoors,” Zack says. “Quite simply put, we make functional art and tools for living with an emphasis on design without compromising functionality, reliability or longevity.”
What we recommend: The Mount Kilimanjaro Survival Knife
The idea for LightHeart Gear was conceived on the Appalachian Trail when a nurse practitioner and lifelong seamstress named Judy Gross realized that the four pound tent she’d be hauling around for hundreds of miles was inadequate and decided it was time to make her own.
“While hiking the Appalachian Trail, I met a guy who had a tent that, quite frankly, pissed me off. It was a lot lighter than mine and it was huge – like a palace,” Judy remembers from the experience. “I was schlepping a 4 ½ lb, 2-person tent. A tent that was really only large enough for 1 ½ people.”
With a strong knowledge of pattern making, she set about designing her own tent. The original plan was to just sew one for herself, but that was before Judy showed her prototype to a few friends and received some seriously positive feedback. She made the decision to launch the LightHeart Solo, and Lightheart gear was born. The unusual design of the LightHeart Solo provides for spacious headroom, allowing even tall individuals to sit up inside without hitting their head and plenty of length for sleeping comfortably.
What we recommend: The Lightheart Solo Tent
YAMA Mountain Gear
Like LightHeart, YAMA Mountain Gear was born on the trail—in this case both the Appalachian and the Pacific Crest Trails. Gen Shimizu founded the company in an effort to regain some of the novelty he felt while thru hiking these trails, and it’s resulted in some of the sleekest and most packable hand made shelters around.
“Throughout life, I’ve had a strong passion for the outdoors,” Gen says. “I’ve also always found myself driven to design and work with my hands. YAMA Mountain Gear is the confluence of my passions.”
His outdoor passions are diverse and varied—in 2012, after hiking both the AT and the PCT, Gen Embarked on a mountain unicycle ride along the 2,755-mile Continental Divide Trail—and the tents reflect his sharp eye for design and craftsmanship.
What we recommend: The 1-person Cirriform Shelter
Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods
Bill Oyster has been designing and handcrafting fine bamboo fly rods for over twenty years, and his rods have been drawing wide acclaim the entire time. He was commissioned to craft a rod for former president and Georgia native Jimmy Carter. In his workshop, nestled deep in the mountains of North Georgia, Oyster carefully creates some of the best bamboo rods in the world. He even offers classes on the art of rod making and intricately engraves beautiful artwork on his fly rod’s accent pieces.
What we recommend: The 3 piece extra tip Master Series
Eagles Nest Outfitters
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. Over the year’s they’ve gotten better and better at designing hammocks and other accessories for the outdoor lifestyle, and now they’re out with one of their lightest, most backpack-friendly hammocks yet.
Eric Jackson of Jackson Kayaks founded his company in 2003 as a way to help kids experience kayaking. Today his local kayak company, based out of Sparta, Tenn., has morphed into one of the most recognizable names in paddlesports, and he has even branched out into the highly competitive world of high performance ice chest-style coolers. Features of the Orion 45 include six tie-down points, four bottle openers, low profile camping latches, a variety of different color options, and a highly functional tray system.
What we recommend: The Orion 45
Farm to Feet Socks
Some of the most technologically advanced hiking socks are made in the foothills of the Blue Ridge near the border of North Carolina and Virginia. Farm to Feet offers a full line-up of high tech merino wool socks designed for everything from hiking and fishing to snow sports and multi-day backpacking. Farm to Feet is known for quality and sustainability, demonstrated by their commitment to sourcing U.S.-based materials.
What we recomend: The Mid Weight Damascus Crew