This is a summer love story. We hope it is a love story that lasts for years, but it begins this summer with a trip to our new downtown Asheville retail location. Clients have been asking us for years about our gear recommendations, and now we finally have a place to share it all! We’ve narrowed down our guides’ favorite items to a list of the top five “must haves” for summer hiking and backpacking.

Mariposa 60L Pack from Gossamer Gear

My favorite reaction to get in our retail location is when I ask customers to take the Mariposa pack off the hook to see how much it weighs. Reactions vary slightly, but I can almost guarantee a “WOW” or a confused “How does this weigh so little?”. This staggeringly light pack weighs less than two pounds and has plenty of space for a day hike, overnight trip, or thru-hike. Our guides love it so much, they don’t even mind matching on trail…

TR1 Junction from Astral

Our company loves Astral, and we especially love the TR1 Junction. Our guides have put thousands of miles on these shoes in the glacial streams of New Zealand, on the rugged Alaskan coastline, on our beloved Appalachian Trail, and countless places in between. These shoes give us the support we need without any extra weight, dry quickly, and have a rubber sole so sticky it squeaks when people try them on at our store. They provide great breathability on the hottest summer days, and good traction when you happen upon a creek crossing (or when the rain turns the trail into a creek!). Still not sure about them? Maybe Jennifer Pharr Davis can help convince you.

LiteFlex Hiking Umbrella

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly skeptical the first time I took a Liteflex Hiking Umbrella on a backpacking trip. I had survived hikes in some of the wettest places in the world without an umbrella, and I was not convinced it would make me that much happier. Oh, how mistaken I was. This ultralight umbrella is the perfect transportable shelter from rain or sun. At just 8 ounces, its weight goes unnoticed in your pack and is comfortable to carry in your hand. It has left me wondering how I survived rainy days without it in the past, and is sure to be on every packing list in the future.

Quicksilver Hammock from AntiGravity Gear

There is nothing that feels as much like summer as rocking yourself to sleep in a hammock, and AntiGravity Gear knocked it out of the park with this one! It weighs in at just 14.1 oz, including the suspension. At 5’ wide, its roomier than other single hammocks on the market. The 30D Ripstop fabric holds up to regular use, and has just enough stretch to cradle the body nicely. Plus, AntiGravity Gear is based right here in North Carolina.

(Photo courtesy of AntiGravity Gear) 

Adventure Skirt from Purple Rain

Who doesn’t love hiking in a skirt? You get unmatched breathability and mobility, plus you look great! The Purple Rain Adventure Skirt has four pockets that actually fit your items, unlike so many other skirts on the market. The pockets, plus the ridiculously comfortable waistband, make it a guide favorite. We love these skirts even more knowing that Purple Rain Adventures Skirts is a sustainable, female owned business.

What are your favorite gear picks for summer? Let us know in the comments below!