Articles for August 2017

Zach Miller has been apart of the Backpacker family for over 2 years. He is dedicated to educating and inspiring others into an active and adventurous lifestyle.

What’s in Zach’s Backpack for Climbing Linville Gorge?

One thing to remember is that when you work at The Backpacker you join a family, a community, and a culture that is often times long lasting. One of the first people I met at Backpacker, as most people in the past might have as well, was Matt “Matt’Teryx” Vecchio. He has outfitted many of people for gear and sent them safely onward towards adventure. He has been my belay partner and adventure buddy for many moons and I was saddened when he left Baton Rouge to live in Greenville, South Carolina. A few months after his departure, he invites us to come and stay with him and to go climbing in the Linville Gorge located in North Carolina.Jumping at the opportunity, I packed all my gear and hit the road with my fiancé and Matt’s girlfriend, Ariel. Greenville treated us well and the time weInt spent there was more than enjoyable. We spent Matt’s birthday downtown touring breweries and local cuisines while cruising the city on bicycles. Before the night ended, I made sure to fill up both my Hydroflask growlers with some local beer to take to the woods with us. The Hydroflask growler is vacuum-sealed, double-wall insulated to keep your drinks cooler for longer and they have a special lid that keeps the carbonation for a fresher beer when you’re ready for it.

Enjoying a flight while filling up our Hydroflask Growler for the trip at Quest Brewery in Greenville, SC
Enjoying a flight while filling up our Hydroflask Growler for the trip at Quest Brewery in Greenville, SC

march in

The next morning we left bright and early to head to the Linville Gorge. We parked at the campground for Table-Rock, a popular crag for climbers. Instead of heading to the Table Rock climbing area, we headed the other way to a lesser-known area called the Amphitheater that boasts three large, and fairly easy, multi-pitch trad climbs. We also found some off the path campsites that allowed us to base-camp for a few days while we hit the highlights. During the hike in, we were distracted from a moderately tough approach with fresh blueberries and blackberries growing along the trail. Once we arrived at the Amphitheater, we walked out to the rim and laid our gear down for a snack and to organize us. We used the Big Agnes Onyx tarp and the Grand Trunk Rain Fly to create a base camp. While the girls took a nap, Matt and I took the basic trad gear, two ropes, a bottle of water, and went off to get a refresher on the systems for when we all went out the next day. A basic trad rack, in this case, consists of a set of Black Diamond Nuts, #.75-#4 Black Diamond Camelots, 6 quickdraws, 6 slings (60cm and 120cm), cordelette for anchors, locking and non-locking carabiners, and two 60m ropes. We hiked down to the edge of the rim and set a 60m rappel to the halfway point of the route “The Prow” (5.4). By the end of our first pitch, we caught a rain storm that forced us under an overhang that protected us from the weather but left the rest of the climb, as well as the girls above, soaked and wet. After trying to rest while hoping it cleared up, we had to make the decision whether to try and rappel down and leave gear or to take a slow climb out. Realizing that it would be far to difficult to rappel with the top out being so close, we decided to take a slow, safe climb out. As we topped out, we realized that our 1-2 hour recon trip turned into a 5-6 hour adventure. However, we found a much more protected campsite at the top out that would be more protected from the weather.

All we could do was we waited
All we could do was wait…so we waited

As I left Matt to clean the route to go assure the girls that we were ok, we were met with angry/happy tears. When I sat down to drink water and to try and convince them to move to the other site while they were still upset, they happened to begin telling me that we were moving sites to exactly where we had planned already. Turns out they made the discovery and decision to move while searching for us. As we commuted to our new location, we used our climbing gear to hang a close line and extra gear for organization and drying. As we continued to set up camp, I cooked sausage jambalaya on the MSR Whisperlite. This versatile little stove is great for every type of backcountry cooking; that’s boiling water to gourmet meals for small groups such as us.

We had each found this site, and agreed individually to convince the group to move camp here. One of the best campsites one can have.
We had each found this site, and agreed individually to convince the group to move camp here. One of the best campsites one can have.

The following morning, July 4, we set out to do a ground up ascent of The Mummy (5.5), a 3-pitch 350’ route that stands proud amongst The Amphitheater. Though 5.5 is not an inherently difficult grade, the experience was demanding as a whole. The approach was a mixture of steep, mountainside trails and dense forest that required skillful navigation since the trail was not always evident. Once to the top of the climb, we rappelled down a wet chute that led us to the base of the climb. Once we arrived, we noticed that the first pitch, a beautiful crack leading to the first belay station was soaked and dripping from the day before. Having to dance on and off the route in order to find dry holds and gear placements, we finally made it up the first vertical pitch to the belay station. From here on out it was beautiful, easy climbing that was dried in the now present sun. When the sun came out we realized that the water we had brought ran out faster than anticipated and dehydration began to creep upon us. A successful top out was short lived by the need to return to camp for water. Even my helmet rolling off the side of a 20ft ledge could not deter me from the need at hand; I had to let the old friend go.

The Mummy. Look and you might can spot a climber somewhere in the picture
The Mummy. Look and you might can spot a climber somewhere in the picture

Upon return, we celebrated with plenty of water and dehydrated meals. The Good-to-Go Thai Curry, Mexican Quinoa Bowl, and Bibimbap were great toppers to the day. Oh, and just because we were in the mountains did not mean we were without fireworks for America’s Birthday. We perched on the edge of the cliff and caught the light show from the town down the valley. Not much of a better way to end the day.

Sending up the wet pitch!
Sending up the wet pitch!

The hike out was a continuous feast of fresh blueberries and blackberries along the trailside. The three-mile hike seemed to last long but was refreshing with all of the snacks. Back the Table Rock parking lot, we celebrated with Quest Brewery’s Golden Fleece IPA that had been waiting on us in the car. The Hydroflask Growler kept the beer fresh since it’s lid locks in the carbonation and keeps it from going flat like traditional glass growlers, and the YETI Hopper kept it cold during those long hot days in the car while we were away. After sharing a beer and a snack, we headed to the nearest town with the best BBQ. Banner Elk, NC boasts a local favorite, The Peddlin Pig. With meat so tender it would be worth any amount of time and suffering in the woods to come to such a rewarding feast. However, though suffering was minimal, the celebration with great BBQ and cold, local beer was the cap to a great celebration with friends.

Gear List:

Osprey Kestral 48 
Thermarest Neo-Air
Marmot Nanowave 55 (an amazing lightweight summer bag that won’t break the bank!)
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2
MSR Whisperlite
MSR Quick 2 Pot Set
Helinox Chair One
elinox Table
North Face Enduras Trail Shoes
La Sportiva Mythos Climbing Shoes
Petzl and Blue Water Ropes (9.8mm)
Petzl Corax harness
Petzl Spirit Quickdraws
Black Diamond ATC-Guide (Here is a link to the ATC-XP: it has the same braking funtions as the guide but without top-belay capability)
Black Diamond Positron Quickdraws
Black Diamond Camelots (full run of cams)
Black Diamond sewn runners (4x60cm 3x120cm)
Friction Labs Chalk
Hydroflask 32oz growler (64oz growler carried at Backpacker locations)
Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filter
Leki Legacy Trekking poles (I used men’s and my fiance used the women’s)

Zach Miller has been apart of the Backpacker family for over 2 years. He is dedicated to educating and inspiring others into an active and adventurous lifestyle.
Zach Miller has been apart of the Backpacker family for over 2 years. He is dedicated to educating and inspiring others into an active and adventurous lifestyle.

Inventory Lead, MOD

Inventory Lead, Manager On Duty

Backpacker Lafayette location

Full-time, consistent schedule.

Weekend shifts required.

Competitive pay plus benefits after 90 days including extra vacation hours for outdoor adventures!

Work with fulfillment and sales team to reach sales and customer service goals.  Heavy computer use required.   Occasional out of store or late night event shifts required.  (ie, informational or training meetings, and Saturday morning kayak demonstrations). Possess ability to be detail-oriented, organized and flexible.

Apply at

Now Hiring

Open Position: Lead Sales Backpacker Lafayette

Lead Sales, Manager On Duty

Backpacker Lafayette location

Full-time, consistent schedule.

Weekend shifts required.

Competitive pay plus benefits after 90 days including extra vacation hours for outdoor adventures!

Retail Experience strongly desired

Work with management team to reach sales and customer service goals.  Position requires strong  leadership and interpersonal skills and ability to follow merchandising direction.   Occasional out of store or late night event shifts required.  (ie, informational or training meetings, and Saturday morning kayak demonstrations)

Apply at

What’s in Austin’s Backpacker for Road Trip’n Colorado?

Ever since I started working at The Backpacker, it has grown my love for the outdoors. Two of my best friends from Tampa, Matt and Jack, came along with me on this trip. Matt and I completed similar trips last year to Colorado, but it was a first for Jack. As we just graduated, we decided that this was the best chance to do this trip before everyone gets too busy with jobs and luckily for me, I work at a place that encourages these trips. I’ll get into where we went and photos after I share what I brought with me.

Gregory Paragon 58 – this is an overall great pack, with many features including an optional day pack used for your water bladder and also includes the raincover. It also included several compartments for better organization.
Big Agnes Tumble 2 – The Tumble 2 has the MtnGlo feature which allows you to turn on some lights in the tent so you can either read a book or grab something without moving around in the dark
Big Agnes Air Core Ultra Pad– This is my favorite pad because it packs down small and is several inches thick which makes it very comfortable to sleep on.
SealLine Baha 30L – Great dry bag to use either in your packs for organization or to use kayaking
Sawyer Mini – Very easy to use water filter that can fit on the inline of a water bladder or screw on to water bottles.
MSR Whisperlite -Incredible stove that is light and can cook or boil water pretty quick
Salomon Quest 4D – By far my favorite boots. Uses Goretex waterproofing and has great support along with the contragrip Salomon uses. There’s a reason these boots win awards
Smartwool Hiking socks -Using wpol socks helps keep the moisture off your feet to avoid blisters and add a little more support.
Ex Officio boxer briefs – Outstanding underwear that is moisture wicking and quickdrying. Also you can wear these for several days at a time without worrying about smell.
Patagonia Baggies– These shorts are very comfortable and can be used in a variety of activities like hiking or rafting.
FreeFly Lightweight Long Sleeve – Easily my new favorite long sleeve shirt. The bamboo it is made with allows it to be quickdrying and has UPF protection. Ive worn this hiking, rafting, fishing, and also just out and about. This shirt really can do it all
Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoodie – This jacket keeps you warm with little weight and can also pack down into its own pocket to save room or be used as a pillow,

All of these items can be found at The Backpacker and all of them worked very well and made the trip better.

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Our first night we spent in the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma, which is only 10 hours from Baton Rouge and is a very nice getaway. It was a little hot during the day, but the campgrounds were great and the short hike we did had this incredible view.

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The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and then drove to southern Colorado and arrived at Sand Dunes National Park. We arrived early enough in the afternoon to where we could do a very fun hike that had some incredible views. Also the campgrounds were over 9,000ft in altitude so coming from sea level; you will feel the altitude but wasn’t anything that slowed us down too much as we drank more than enough water and ate properly. We hiked to the Zapata falls and filled up our water bottles there as the water was just above freezing from the snow melt. We ran the water through our filters and it was perfect.

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Then the next day after we slept in for a little bit we drove back down to see the sand dunes which were incredible. After seeing the sand dunes we then drove a couple hours north to Buena Vista where we stayed the next couple nights and hung around Buena Vista. Here we went to a local BrewPub called Eddyline and the food and beers were delicious. After A quick meal here we then went to hike up to a pair of high alpine lakes called the Harvard Lakes on Mount Harvard. The hike was pretty much straight uphill and gained around 2,000ft in elevation before reaching the lakes. So if you ever go up to the mountains be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get up the mountain as it will take longer due the altitude and elevation change.

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The day after the Harvard Lakes hike we drove over to Fairplay, CO (where the creators of South Park are from) and went to Mount Sherman and went for the summit. Mount Sherman is 1 of 53 mountains that are over 14,000ft high and they are all nicknamed as “14ers”. The range of difficulty can be anywhere from a moderately difficult day hike to a challenging overnight hike with intense switchbacks and scrambles. We chose Mount Sherman because it is one of the easier 14ers to do and this would be our first summit so we didn’t want to put ourselves into something that we weren’t prepared for. It took us a couple hours to get up the mountain and at this altitude it is much colder and the wind was howling with gusts up 60mph. By the time we got to the saddle of the mountain which was at 13,500ft we just couldn’t push it anymore as the altitude was too much and we were worried if we did make it the summit we would be too tired and make it dangerous to come down with risk of hurting ourselves. This just means I will have to go back and get the summit under my belt.

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We then drove back to Buena Vista and camped there one more night and woke up the next morning and drove to Canon City to go white water rafting with American Adventures Expedition. We met up with Garrett and Shelly, who both worked at The Backpacker and we spent the day with them as Shelly was on her way out to California and Garrett was almost done training to be a raft guide with AAE. After rafting we found a campsite on the Arkansas River and just hungout the rest of the day as we were pretty tired. The next day Shelly went on her way to California and we headed to Amarillo were we went to the Palo Duro canyon and did some hiking there and ended up back in Baton Rouge a week after leaving.

As always these outdoor trips bring something special to you as you get to experience things that you may never get to experience anywhere else. Please come by and ask me about the trip and my gear, but until the next adventure I will see y’all at the store!

What’s in my backpack? Sarah’s Georgia Vacation

Every year, I travel with my family to a nature resort, gardens, and preserve in north Georgia called Callaway Gardens. Every year, I can look forward to adventures kayaking and hiking and exploring in the foothills of the Appalachians. Now, writing this blog post in reflection of my trip this year, I’ve considered just how much gear I’ve acquired at my time at The Backpacker and how much all of it has enhanced the comfort and coolness of my adventures.


My Gear

Osprey Daylite pack – The lightweight 13L pack that has nearly taken the place of a purse in my life. I’ve loved using it for this Callaway trip (and everyday life) because I enjoy that it sits pretty narrowly on my back, has extremely comfortable shoulder straps, and has just enough room for my daily essentials – discouraging me from overpacking!

Teva Terra Float Livia sandals – I love these well-cushioned water/day sandals. They use the same R-Mat technology as some of of Hoka One One’s highly stable, cloud-like shoes, for responsiveness and durability. They feel great even when wet and also perform well as a hiking sandal – I’ve worn them even for 10-mile hikes.


Outdoor Tech Buckshot 2.0 speaker – Water-proof, shock-proof, and a sweet sound quality that surprisingly comes from such a small piece of tech. The pocket clip and Bluetooth made it really easy and comfortable to have on my side for hikes.

Suncloud Loveseat sunglasses – Seriously never found a pair of sunglasses that works for my face like these do. The bronze mirror lens that I have enhances colors beautifully outside as well.

Smartwool Outdoor/Darn Tough hiking socks – Both are essentials. The merino-nylon blends stay comfortable all day, even when wet, and always seem to maintain the perfect temperature.

image3An awesome ziplining course called Treetop Adventure that I always complete with my sister/friends. This is a high zip platform up in the pines.Photo Jul 06, 11 16 24

My little sister in my Salomon X-Mission 3s (link below).
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The two of us in our adventure shoes.

Oboz Bridger Mid hiking boots – I selected these after pondering what boot to choose for months. I decided on these because I knew the waterproof leather would be great for hiking in colder temperatures later, and I was just going to deal with them not being as breathable for this summer trip as some of my other options. They surprised me in being much more breathable than I expected (for a waterproof leather boot) and comfortable after not having given them much time to break in (like 4 hours of wear total). The aggressive tread and support were awesome. Also, I dig the red leather.


Salomon X-Mission 3 trail running shoes – With these, I’ve finally found a running shoe that fits my foot perfectly. Their structure and tread make light hikes easy, and the QuickLace system is such a cool feature. My little sister also got to enjoy them when I let her borrow them for her senior trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Prana swimwear (Aleka top, Sabra bottoms) – A trip to Callaway Gardens involves jumping into and getting out of lakes and pools multiple times a day, so I usually just never change out of a swimsuit. Both pieces were really comfortable, with the top providing way more support than a girl usually finds in a swimsuit top. Thus, this one was Callaway-worthy.

Nalgene bottle Because no other simple water bottle of similar durability holds as much water or stickers as a Nalgene.

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Dad’s barbecuing on the 4th of July!