Swimming Hole Essentials

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Sara Bell started Green River Adventures, in Saluda, N.C., 10 years ago with the idea that she would teach the fundamentals of paddling. It was a simple business plan. Fast forward a decade, and Green River Adventures has grown into a full-fledge adventure guide business, with a kayak school, zipline canopy tour, and canyoneering and waterfall treks.

“We do this really cool waterfall trek that begins with a 200-foot waterfall rappel linked up with an intense swimming hole hike, where you’re roping up and jumping off of 15-foot drops,” Bell says. “It’s like an amphibious hike.”

We asked Bell for her top gear picks for an adventurous day exploring swimming holes. Here are her picks in her own words.

Osprey Rev 24 ($130)

This is basically a trail running pack, but it’s big enough to carry snacks and some light gear, and it also has a hydration sleeve. It dries really fast. All of our guides use these, and they can get pretty ragged after constant use, but when we retire them, our guides fight over who gets to keep them.


Prana Lahari Halter Top ($55) and Immersion Research Guide Shorts ($65)

Sometimes in the office, this top doubles as a bra, it’s so comfortable. The IR Guide Shorts offer good coverage for when you’re rappelling or hiking. And yeah, I wear them in the office too.

prana halter_FIX



Recover Recycler, Dry Tee ($25)

These shirts are made out of 100% recycled material—eight water bottles and some recycled cotton go into each shirt. The shirts are really soft, and they perform well on the trail.



National Geographic, Dupont State Forest Map ($12)

Dupont State Forest might be swimming hole Nirvana. Nat Geo’s new Dupont map helps pinpoint the good stuff with its waterfall table and loop hike suggestions that call out specific landmarks.

dupont cover_FIX

Watershed Ocoee ($105)

The Ocoee is perfect for our day trips. If you add the shoulder strap, it becomes the perfect camera bag. That’s what our guides are taking for their cameras on all our treks.


PacSafe VentureSafe X30 ($170)

Travel safely through rugged terrain or rough city streets with this anti-theft adventure backpack, featuring hard-to-cut webbing straps, slashguards, and security buckles.


EnerPlex, Kickr  IV ($130)

The 6.5-watt flexible solar panel can charge your phone, GPS, or any USB device. It’s blade-thin, lightweight, and built for backcountry adventure.

Ascent Aug 3013_260_FIX

Mountain Khakis Equatorial Pant ($85)

Built for adventure, these lightweight, high-density nylon weave pants feature six mesh-lined pockets and reinforced, adjustable heel cuffs. They pack easily, breathe well, and offer superior mobility on the trail.


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