The overall process of outdoor gear getting lighter, smaller, faster, better is matched only by our hopes to do the same with our own bodies in Virginia’s great mountain settings.
Summer is here and we know you’ve got some adventures up your sleeve. We went out and quizzed local outdoor retailers throughout southwest and central Virginia on their top picks for summer 2016. From stand-up paddle boarding to hiking, biking, or running, here’s what they think you might need to plan a rad, fun-filled summer adventure in Virginia’s great outdoors!
Sleep Under the Stars
Plan a car camping or backpacking adventure with Western Mountaineering’s Everlite 45 Degree Down Sleeping Bag.
“What stands out about this summer down bag is that it weighs under a pound. What’s more, the drawcord closure in the foot box allows this dual use bag to completely wrap around the ever-popular ENO hammock. Plus, it’s made in the USA!” —Brett Davis, General Manager, Back County Ski & Sport, Blacksburg
Pedal the Parkway
Looking to log some big miles on a road bike this summer? Look no further than the Specialized Tarmac Comp UDi2.
“The price of electronic shifting keeps coming down and is now available on the 2016 Specialized Tarmac Comp. Electronic shifting is something no one thinks they need…until they ride it. The shifting is done by a motor instead of a spring so shifts are quicker, crisper and more accurate—especially under heavy pedaling. It also automatically trims the front derailleur position to eliminate chain rubbing so you can enjoy a noise-free ride. Worried about charging the battery? With an early low-battery warning and the ability to ride 500 to 1000 miles between charges you can worry less about a dead battery.” —Davy Hazelgrove, Owner, Blackwater Bike Shop, Lynchburg
Forget the Pink
Ever wanted a pair of women’s mountain biking baggies that didn’t include pink? Luckily for you, Shredly entered the market with a full line of comfortable and fashionable women’s cycling wear that isn’t pinkwashed. You’re an epic woman and you hit the dirt hard—you need clothing that keeps up with you.
“My ‘gear to have’ this spring, is the new line from Shredly, an American company focusing on active lifestyle clothing for women. The fabrics are super fun, the fit is designed for active women so it moves and never binds. There are great features built in, like decorative closures, vent panels on the thighs and fast-drying fabrics. The waistband is non-binding and adjustable to fine-tune the fit.” —Kim Parker, East Coasters Bike Shop, Roanoke
Run Lighter, Faster
Ultralight racing has become the next-big-craze in running, and if you’re looking for a shoe that can do it all, then look for On Running’s Cloudflyer.
“The Cloudflyer brings extra cushioning and stability to your run through its patented CloudTec system. Weighing in at 10.5 ounces helps make it the perfect ultra-light “do anything” training and racing shoe!” —Ed Shepherd, Store Manager, Runabout Sports, Roanoke
Learn to SUP
The standup paddleboard market is tough to navigate for begininers—what board do you need and why? If you’re new to the sport, definitely check out the Riviera Original in 10.6’ or 11.6’.
“Our most popular board is the Riviera Original. This is a great quality board for first-time to intermediate-level paddlers; it’s very stable and perfect for flat-water paddling in various paddle conditions. It is a quality first paddleboard and an affordable price.” —Michael Valach, Owner, Mountain 2 Island, Dublin (Claytor Lake State Park)
Shred Some Dirt
The mountains of southwest Virginia offer some of the country’s premier mountain biking trails. If you’re unsure of what all-around mountain bike to try, check out the Ibis Ripley LS—a trail bike best suited for, well, anything!
“The Ibis LS is the perfect bike to tackle everything the trails can throw at you. From all day adventures to quick post-work rides up Mill Mountain, it’s your best bet for a do-everything mountain bike.” —Stratton Delany, Owner, Starlight Bicycles, Roanoke
Catch a Big One
One of the best ways to truly experience a Virginia summer is to spend time fly fishing the state’s crystal clear, trout-filled streams. Picking a great pair of waders can be tough, but the Simms G3 Guide Pants are a best bet for summer streams.
“I don’t see much point in a full chest-high wader after June 30th until late October. They are GoreTex cool and comfortable; no suspender pull down at the shoulders. My Simms’ G3 guide pants have a zipper and they are easy on and off like trousers.” —Bruce Wankel, Owner, Virginia Creeper Fly Shop, Abingdon
Sip in Eco-Friendly Style
We’ve all got a growing collection of Klean Kanteen reusable pint glasses thanks to various outdoor festivals. But what if you could find a reusable pint glass that squished down in your backpack or hardly weighed an ounce? Look no further than Silipint! Made of food-grade silicone, it’s unbreakable, lightweight, oven-safe to 440 degrees Fahrenheit and easy to carry around.
“I use my Silipint for my favorite beverages while camping, hanging out at festivals, sitting in the stand at races and at home. Easy to clean, durable, colorful and soft, silipints are a must have anytime and everywhere!” —John Futrell, Owner, Outdoor Trails, Daleville
Kick It Around Town
Skateboarding has seen a resurgence in popularity over the past few years and boarding can be a great way to see your city with a new set of eyes with the Globe Big Blazer Cruiser.
“It’s perfect for getting around town with its softer wheels, kick tail and medium size. It even has a bottle opener for afterwards.” —Jeff Gray, Owner, Scene 3, Lynchburg
Sway in the Shade
Nothing says summer like a hammock and a cold drink. Or maybe a hammock and a view. Or maybe just a nap in a hammock. However you sway, the ENO Doublenest Hammock is a best bet for summer relaxation—with room for two!
“A must have for this spring/summer season is an Eagles Nest Outfitters Doublenest Hammock, Atlas Straps, and ProFly! A great system for backpacking, camping or just throwing up in your back yard to take a hang out. Compactable, lightweight and easy to pack.” —Suzanne Mayerchak, District Manager, Walkabout Outfitters, Lexington
Practical Packs Made for the Trail
If you’re looking to upgrade (or buy your first) backpack, look no further than the Osprey Volt 75.
“My Osprey Volt 75 pack has been with me through many rough miles. Their backpacks are made with features that are practical and make sense. My favorite feature is the zipper finger grips. They’re wide and are made so that if someone is wearing gloves, their fingers can still unzip the pack with ease. It has made all of my winter and summer backpacking/camping trips much easier and is just an example of how the backpacks they make are full of features that have been thought of and tested in the field by real backpackers.” —Karen Moore, Owner, Highlands Ski & Outdoor Center, Abingdon
Recover Better than Before
Your workouts take a toll on your body. Roll out sore, exhausted muscles with the Roll Recovery R8.
“It is a MAGICAL recovery tool that is just plain addictive. When you first look at it, you’d think it’s a torture device. As soon as you start rolling the smooth wheels over your quads, you can feel the good work that’s being done flushing out the badness from our muscles and fascia.”—Michelle Andersen, Owner, Crozet Running, Crozet
Free Your Toes
Whether you’re planning a beach vacation or wanting a great sandal to slip into after a long day on the trails, the Superfeet Outside Sandal is a perfect summertime treat for your feet.
“Anytime you take your fun outside during the summer, Superfeet’s Outside Sandal will provide you with the comfort, support, and style your ordinary sandals can’t provide. Superfeet has been helping people find comfort and wellness with their insoles since 1977; now experience that in a summer Outside Sandal.”—Andrew Holbrook, Manager, Fleet Feet Sports, Roanoke
Travel Easy With An Inflatable Board
Entry-level stand up paddleboards don’t come in just your standard shape and size anymore—they can also be found in inflatable versions. If you’re traveling around with a SUP this summer, be sure to check out Red Paddle Company’s 10’6” Ride for the best all-around, inflatable, beginner-friendly SUP experience.
“Red Paddle Co.’s 10’6” Ride is a great all around board for our area.... rivers, flatwater or surf, it is a versatile board. It has indestructible fins that really stand up to abuse in the rivers and it inflates to 25 psi (pounds per square inch) versus 15 for most boards. It packs down really nice for travel and comes with a backpack with roller wheels for air travel. We love ours!” —James Revercomb, Owner, Roanoke Mountain Adventures, Roanoke