Meet The Backpacker Staff!
Michael Mathews, Owner
Michael’s father, Dale, founded The Backpacker in 1974, so he has been a lifetimer! Michael took over the store in 2000 and is now the President and owner. His favorite brands range across the store–he loves high quality, unique outerwear and gear that nobody else has. As president, he’s responsible for aligning work goals with staff members and managing company finances. What he enjoys most is working with the staff members to get those goals accomplished and seeing the benefits of them take effect. Outside of the store, he loves snow skiing, all kinds of saltwater fishing, scuba diving, and pretty much anything outdoors. When he is at home, he enjoys spending time with his kids, exercising, and cooking. He hopes to add whitewater kayaking and mountaineering to this list.
Tyler Hicks, General Manager
Tyler started with The Backpacker in 2007 as Store Manager of Backpacker Baton Rouge and now serves as General Manager. His favorite brands are Hobie kayaks, Arc’teryx outerwear, Salomon shoes, and Prana apparel. His duties involve overseeing the day-to-day operations of our two retail stores, social media marketing, and helping to plan great events like the Ride the Bull kayak fishing tournament, on-water kayak demos, and movies at The Varsity Theater. Outside of the store, he serves on the board of directors for the Capital Heights Neighborhood Association and is a member of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce and Center for Planning Excellence. He enjoys hiking, biking, climbing, and paddling at the local BREC parks with his wife Sarah, 4 year old son Jude, and dog Libby.
Anthony Arabie, Store Manager Backpacker Baton Rouge
Anthony has been with The Backpacker since 2008 and has served as the manager of both locations, but currently operates out of the Baton Rouge store. His favorite brands include Mountain Khaki, Patagonia, Osprey, and Chaco. As Store Manager, his first priority is to make sure that every customer is being assisted with their needs by our staff. Beyond that, he is running around making sure that all the new products are getting out on the floor and that all is running smoothly. His number one hobby outside of the store is camping/hiking, whether it is by getting in some mile backpacking or taking it easy at one of his favorite camping spots. Other than that, you may see him biking around town or paddling in a kayak.
Susie Weeks, Assistant Manager Backpacker Baton Rouge
Susie started with The Backpacker in 2009 and is currently the Assistant Manager of the Baton Rouge location. Her favorite area of the store is the shoe department, where she feels she is best able to get to know customers through their effort to find the perfect fit and style for the customer’s needs. Her favorite brands are Salomon for outdoor adventures and Teva wedges for looking cute and staying comfortable. Susie’s favorite clothing brand is prAna. Her responsibilities at the store include “herding cats,” organizing anything she can put her hands on, and greeting customers with a smile. Outside of the store, she enjoys riding bicycles, making jewelry with recycled bike parts, kayaking the local bayous, and camping along the Mississippi.
Eric Svendson, Store Manager Backpacker Lafayette
Eric Svendson started with The Backpacker in 2009 and is now the Manager of our River Ranch store. His favorite brands are Patagonia, prAna, and Salomon. He is responsible for assisting employees, helping customers, and merchandising clothing and equipment around the store. When not in the store, he pursues his passion of photography and helps maintain the studio that he shares with his mother in downtown Lafayette, Svendson Studios. He also enjoys hunting, fishing, kayaking, biking, and exploring the southern Louisiana wilderness.
Craig Biddy, Assistant Manager Backpacker Lafayette
Craig Biddy has been with The Backpacker since 2009 and currently serves as the Assistant Manager of our River Ranch location. His favorite brands are Arc’teryx, Chaco, MSR, prAna, Smartwool, and Patagonia. His duties include managing the daily operations within the Lafayette store, but he tries to spend most of his time assisting customers, where he enjoys trying to find the perfect product for each individual. He loves trying to make the technical aspect of the products seem simple so that everyone can feel more confident in their purchases and want all the more to get out in the world and see what it has to offer. He fashions himself a writer and is always looking for things to write about, so he tries to get out there–hiking, camping, paddling, and of course surrounding himself with those who make it all worth it.
Ally Dempsey, Backpacker Tours Manager
Ally Dempsey has been serving as Backpacker Tours’ tour operator and owner Michael’s personal assistant since she started with the company in 2010. Her favorite brands are Arc’teryx, Gramicci, Patagonia, Marmot, Smartwool, Smith Optics, and Keen Footwear. As Tour Operator, she is responsible for booking ski trips for customers, working closely with them to ensure she exceeds their expectations in planning their trips. She places and manages supply/utility orders for the office and store. As the owner’s assistant, she sees new tasks and duties that vary on a daily basis. Outside of the store, she is kept very active and busy with her 2.5 year old twins. Her family spends lots of time outdoors, at parks, visiting the zoo, and fishing.
Emily Holt, Bookkeeper
Emily started with The Backpacker in 2006 and serves as the company accountant. Her favorite brands and products are Smartwool, Arc’teryx, kayaks, and dry bags. She spends her days crunching numbers and listening to music. Her hobbies include enjoying live music, making and selling jewelry at art festivals, spending time with her three dogs, kayaking, and playing kickball any chance she gets.