Local Heroes: Great Gear from the Blue Ridge

The Blue Ridge region is a hotspot for independent outdoor gear manufacturers who are working to create products that are sustainable and benefit the local community. Here are some of our favorites.

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DoubleNest Giving Back A.T. Hammock

Based in Asheville, N.C., Eagles Nest Outfitters revamped its legendary line of single and double hammocks this year. The new iterations are just as tough and easy to enjoy on a balmy day in the backcountry as the originals, but you can rest even easier in them, since the brand rethought its supply chain sustainability and the nylon meets Bluesign certification, the strictest on the planet. Plus, the brand gives $10 to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for each of these hammocks featuring an A.T. design that it sells. $85; eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com

Kitsbow

Haskell Pant

A revolution took place at Old Fort, N.C.,–based apparel brand Kitsbow last month: The employees bought the company. That means you don’t have to feel like you are helping line the pockets of the Man when you slip on these rugged hike/bike/sip espresso pants. The water-resistant stretch fabric can deal with all the variables of Blue Ridge weather and each pair is custom tailored to fit you by those aforementioned local owners. $229; kitsbow.com

Albemarle Cannabis Company

Legal recreational cannabis is indeed coming to Virginia, which means we all may be able to get over the weed stigma and embrace the plant for its anti-inflammatory and pain-erasing properties, a big boon to outdoor athletes. Charlottesville-based Albemarle Cannabis is a woman-owned company that’s ahead of the curve and its CBD rubs, gummies, tinctures, and soaks are federally legal now and can help ease aches after a big day in the woods. albemarlecannabiscompany.com

Solid State Clothing

Natural Dye Shirt

Sustainably minded Solid State manufactures all of its organic cotton tees within a 250-mile radius of its Burlington, N.C., home base. Better still, the dyes it uses in this comfy tee come only from plants, including locally foraged black walnuts. Don’t believe the hype? A QR code in the shirt allows you to trace the entire supply and manufacture chain—from the harvest by a third-generation Tar Heel State farmer to your door. $65; solidstate.clothing

Blue Ridge Chair Works

Blue Ridge Chair

Simple, stylish, and sturdy, the standby chair from one of our favorite local brands is a gear piece that we pack on road trips or just flip open to enjoy the sunset on our deck. It’s also handcrafted right in our North Carolina backyard and the company—founded by former West Virginia whitewater guide Alan Davis—is committed to zero waste. In fact, its Blue Ridge Cap Lifter bottle openers are made from wood waste created when building the chairs. $155; blueridgechair.com

Recover Brands

Protect the Parks and MADE X MTN Tees

Sustainable apparel manufacturer Recover Brands, the brainchild of two guys who love to ride bikes on Blue Ridge roads and trails, crafts its tees with 50% post-consumer PET (aka old plastic bottles) and 50% organic cotton. The result is a shirt that feels great, can handle some action, and lightens the load on the planet. Even better, the brand partnered with Protect Our Parks, to fight for public lands, and MADE X MTN, to promote pride in Western North Carolina’s mountains, on these special edition beauties. $25; recoverbrands.com

Farm to Feet

Trail Socks

It’s enough to praise North Carolina’s Farm to Feet for the pure comfort of its technical merino hiking socks that provide warmth, breathability, and padding in the right places. Also, add in the fact that the brand only uses wool from American farmers. But the best thing about this sock is the Unity Blaze. It’s the symbol of forward-thinking advocacy group Black Folks Camp Too, whose mission is “to remove fear, add knowledge and invite “more Black folks to camp, and enjoy the outdoor lifestyle with any and everyone.” That’s a cause we can all march to in these socks. $25; farmtofeet.com 

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