April in the Blue Ridge is a beautiful time, but many view the coming of the month with dread due to one reason: taxes. Sure, Uncle Sam can take a bite—or a series of nibbles—out of your paycheck, but if you are in the 99 percent at least some of that money should be coming back to you. Splurge on one of these selections for every tax bracket.
1. Korkers Redside Wade Boot
This versatile wading boot features Korkers’s OmniTrax Interchangeable Sole System, which allows you to swap out soles of different material on the fly, from studded felt to sticky rubber. Not only does this allow you to customize your traction for a specific river, it helps prevent the spread of invasive species. The Redside features waterproof material and integrated drainage ports to reduce weight and a cinch lacing system so nothing will slow you down on the water.
$150 (with soles); korkers.com
2. Keen Ellwood Daypack
This 35-liter multi-use daypack provides ample space for all of the essentials, and it’s by far the most comfortable daypack we’ve tested, thanks to the wishbone strap and lumbar pad. We especially liked the large, easily accessible side water pocket, which makes it easy to grab fluids on the go.
3. Specialized Bicycle Company Carve Expert 29
For those in the upper brackets, tax return time means it’s a new big-ticket toy, and this is the year to upgrade to a 29er. The Carve is a XC race-inspired hardtail equally at home on flowy singletrack loops during lunch or comps on the weekend. A super lightweight frame, 10×2 drivetrain, and Shimano components make the Carve a lightning fast cruiser and climber.
4. Osprey Viper 13
If you’re looking for a high-performance pack for running, biking, or hiking, the Viper 13 is the pack of choice. The fast-loading hydration sleeve makes it easy to refill water, and the breathable back panel kept our testers’ backs dry and sweat-free after long hours in the saddle.
5. FITS Sock Co. Performance Trail Sock
This sock is built to perform while you’re running or biking with cushioning in the heel and toe and vented upper. The merino wool and digit wrapping Dynamic Toe Cup virtually guarantee a tight fit with no extra fabric to chafe. $18; fitssock.com
6. Stio Carter Pant
The Carter Pant from Stio, a new lifestyle and technical clothing company out of Jackson, Wyoming is rugged enough to wear while you organize the garage or rebuild your bike, but classy enough for a night on the town with a fresh button down. The lightweight but durable cotton canvas and articulated knees combined with the stylish cut will make the Carter your go-to from the boulder field to the brew pub.
7. Patagonia Torrentshell
This waterproof, breathable, windproof hard shell is lightweight and packs down to nearly nothing, perfect for throwing into a daypack and forgetting about…until the clouds roll in. Pit zips keep you cool when the sun pops back out, and storm flaps on all zippers provide an impenetrable barrier against the worst storms Mother Nature can dish out.
8. Smith Optics Frontman Sunglasses
Polarized lenses with Tapered Lens Technology provide an undistorted view of that feeding brook trout or that patio pale ale. Evolve frames with moisture-activated nose and temple pads are eco-friendly, lightweight, and will stick to your face during even the most active pursuits.
$80, $120 (polarized); smithoptics.com
9. Sierra Designs Flash 2 Ultralight Tent
Who says an ultralight backpacking tent has to be bare bones and cramped? While the Flash 2 may not satisfy those counting ounces, for the average backpacker, the tent’s 3 lbs., 15 oz. weight is just fine. A roomy interior – nearly 30 square feet – and two vestibules will keep you comfy and well ventilated during a night in the woods.