Steven Reinhold grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina and considers this area and its people as a base camp for life. He recently completed charity expeditions to Mt. Whitney, Mt. Shasta and The Grand Teton. His latest endeavor is The Appalachian Adventure Company, specializing in custom outdoor trips.
Our outdoor careers serve as one long product testing session. Eventually, through trial and error, you learn how to pack for every occasion.
Don’t you love the feeling you get when your pack is dialed in with the perfect mix of gear for a trip? Whether going for a night of naked and afraid, a weekend of glamping, or an assault in the Smoky Mountain rain, having the right gear makes the experience so much better.
The old days of laurel walking sticks, old packs and pads, steel percolators, 7” Winchester knives, massive Coleman camp stoves, hatchets and thick double-knee Carhartts are gone. Now, you’ll find so many synthetic materials in my kit you’ll need an organic chemistry degree to unpack.
My passions include snowboarding, backpacking, adventurous travel and the “Great American Road Trip.” Of late I have found myself in the Mountaineering world trying to help spread the word for Big City Mountaineers (BCM), taking underserved urban youth on wilderness mentoring trips across the country. Recently I have opened up The Appalachian Adventure Company in Waynesville, N.C., which offers all kinds of custom trips in this area.
My packing rules are simple: if a piece of gear is going to add to your experience, then bring it. Bring gifts to share with your friends at random times on the trip and always be prepared for varying weather conditions. Although every adventure demands a different list of gear, here are a few of my favorites that go to wild places with me.
This guy is the life of the party at Base Camp and DeLorme is a huge supporter of Big City Mountaineers. With this incredible unit you can send and receive messages to anyone with a link showing your current position on a remarkably detailed map. The unit pairs with an App called Earthmate on your smartphone so you can see a detailed map of your position and send/post messages with the ease of your phone’s keyboard. It is really special to bring this along on our charity climbs. It gives everyone the opportunity to communicate and share the experience with those who helped support your cause. On Mt. Shasta our team sent dozens of messages to friends, family members and supporters at Base Camp. They were able to follow our climb and know exactly where we were on the mountain at all times and the moment we returned safely.
Depending on the expedition we wear a variety of footwear ranging from full on Mountaineering boots to lightweight approach shoes. I’ve had some great success with Lowa and Salewa on the mountaineering side and love Scarpas for the latter. For all around awesomeness though I really want to highlight the Keen Marshall series. The Marshalls offer ridiculous ankle support for how lightweight they are. They are surprisingly water proof and have a really aggressive tread pattern for difficult terrain. I can train like an animal in them beforehand and then use them on the approach to camp for a big climb. Keen is another huge supporter of Big City Mountaineers and they give every Summit For Someone climber a discount code good for a free pair of boots!
I have to say this is my favorite company out there right now. They are very generous sponsors of Big City Mountaineers and are run by some wildly bearded outdoorsmen from Washington. I got a chance to hang out with their crew at the last OR show and it was a blast! They make super lightweight and durable custom water bottles from all recycled materials. You can order a batch to sell for a fundraiser or to promote your business and get anything you can dream up printed on them! The Gold bottle is a one of a kind item that’s special to me. It is the first place trophy from Liberty’s annual Ping Pong tournament at the OR show I was lucky enough to win!
These things are great for just about anything. I usually take two of the orange ones with me since they are highly visible. You can use them to mark a trail, hang a water filter, secure an ice ax and tie just about anything to your pack. I even crossed two in an “X marks the spot” fashion on Mt. Shasta to mark a beer cache I brought to surprise my teammates!
The Klamath Pack is Lightweight, versatile and has a super-easy adjustable strap system. Most all of the packs available today are going to be great and you can’t go wrong with an Osprey but this one from Jansport was free as part of the Summit For Someone gear package! Jansport and the legend behind it, Skip Yowell, have been long time supporters of Big City Mountaineers. Skip is just about the coolest guy walking the planet and Jansport is passionate about our cause so it is an honor to have one of these wonderful packs strapped to my back!
Most everyone who has camped has eaten with one of the colorful plastic sporks from this company. The President of Industrial Revolutions which owns great brands like UCO and Light My Fire is a Summit For Someone climber himself. Light My Fire provides all of the Big City Mountaineers kids with a backpacking food kit. Check out our video from that Grand Teton climb and see our climb thanks to GoPro!
For me this one is simple. I hope to grow old one day and when that happens I want to look back on all the awesome things I have done in HD. Just be sure to spring for the extra battery.
An ax is your best friend and sometimes life saver at elevation. Black Diamond is another generous company that donates an ax to every Summit For Someone climber! There are countless designs out there for a variety of climbing but I have really come to love the Raven series as an all-around great tool for the mountains. I go old school and carry a longer ax for better balance and strong anchors. I heard Yvon Chouinard suggest that in a speech at the American Alpine Club’s fundraising dinner last winter and the advice stuck. I even keep it with me in the back of the truck at night on long road trips as a serrated, razor sharp theft deterrent!
–What’s In Your Pack is a regular column on BlueRidgeOutdoors.com. Contact us with suggestions on athletes and adventurists you want to see featured!