Local Clubs


Work day at BREC Comite Trail

This past Sunday,  Tyler, Susie, and Walter from our Baton Rouge store helped get the BREC Comite park bike trails back in shape after the historic floods from August submerged much of the trails.  The work day was led by BRAMBA (Baton Rouge Area Mountain Bike Association) who maintains the trails year round.  

Some portions of the trails remain impassable by bike so proceed with caution if you plan on visiting the park this Fall.

The BREC Comite Park has over a dozen miles of fast and hard riding trails that are frequented by mountain bikers, runners, and hikers.  The beautiful natural area is a maze of low land hardwood trees and swampy areas that is home to many bird, reptiles, and small mammals.  

The trail is open 7 days a week sun up to sun down and is connected to it’s sister park, BREC Hooper Rd park and its 6 miles of trails at the back of the Sharon Hills neighborhood.

Both parks are a 15 minutes drive from Backpacker Baton Rouge.


THRIVE Takes On Tickfaw State Park

by: Nicki Klein

group walking

THRIVE Academy,” founded in 2011, “is a free, college preparatory, charter boarding school for grades six through twelve in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, serving at-risk youth from East Baton Rouge Parish. The mission of THRIVE is to empower students from underserved Baton Rouge communities and prepare them academically and personally for success in college and beyond.” According to their mission statement, THRIVE seeks to “meet the physical, emotional and educational needs of [their] students and provide them with the tools that will empower them to advocate for themselves and make a lasting impact on the community.” Everybody Plays Sports (EPS), created in 2007, is a local non-profit with a mission to raise “awareness about youth fitness and [improve] the health and wellness of youth through exercise, nutrition and education.” In 2015, EPS joined with the Outdoor Outreach Team, the brainchild of local resident Erin Sullivan. Outdoor Outreach specializes in “long term mentoring with at-risk youth through hands on outdoor experiences like hiking, paddling, and overnight primitive camping. The Outdoor Outreach Team also focuses on team building, character development, and nature education.” Reading all those mission statements and goals, the take-home point is this: all of these groups and projects have the same overarching goal-to empower young people. That EPS, and their Outdoor Outreach project, would join forces with the THRIVE Academy only made sense, and in 2012, a partnership was created. Since then, EPS personnel have visited THRIVE two afternoons a week throughout the school years, working with (now) 6th-9th graders, and taking them on field trips to explore the local outdoors.  Like most non-profits, EPS receives a lot of support from volunteers and local groups such as: Muddy Water Paddle Company, Varsity Sports, Lululemon, Heroes On the Water, Louisiana State Parks, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, The Louisiana Marathon, and The Backpacker, which is how I found myself introduced and involved in the program. The Backpacker supplies kayaks for various THRIVE/EPS/Outdoor Outreach events, and man power when extra help is needed. After offering to help with one afternoon session, I found myself hooked, and did my best to attend anytime I was available. 

epsbackpacker logo


The hard work that the 6th-7th graders put in throughout this school year was rewarded with a two night, three day trip to Tickfaw State Park. Because of other obligations, I wasn’t able to join the first day/night, but was excited to join for the remainder of the excursion. In true Nicki fashion, I decided to add a fun kick to my trip, by biking the 50 miles to Tickfaw from Baton Rouge…on a mountain bike…with all my gear on my back. That experience is a whole other blog in itself, but I will say the kids thought it was pretty cool. Or maybe just that I was a little weird.


I arrived during lunch, just in time to get prepared to head out for an afternoon of self-made bamboo-pole fishing, and kayaking through a bayou. A couple fish were caught, and although I had to (constantly) advise that “no, that’s a log, not an alligator,” to a number of disbelieving students, my group had a great time.

bambooMaking bamboo fishing poles

fish2First catch of the day







Happy kayakers


After dinner, we night hiked while looking for wildlife (the kids loved hiding behind trees and jumping out at their unsuspecting peers…and the adults!)

spiderA spider found by one of the students

and finished up the night with s’mores around a fire. Although there were cabin style rooms available for the students, a number of them chose to sleep in tents they had pitched the night before!tent 3Setting up tents on the first afternoon


The next morning we woke up with the sun and after a quick breakfast, Shelly, a fellow Backpacker employee, led a group through a relaxing yoga flow.



More hiking, a trip to the park’s nature center, and lunch, and the trip was already over!

erin and groupOutdoor Outreach founder Erin Sullivan leading the group

shelly and kidBackpacker supervisor Shelly with one of the THRIVE students




When I write about it, the trip seems so simple and short. But those 24 hours I spent with the THRIVE students at Tickfaw were anything but. From seeing them work together to make their fishing poles and bait their hooks; watching them paddle their kayaks in tandem; playing in the dirt, picking up bugs, pointing out wildlife; helping each other create the PERFECT s’more; and finally, working together to pick up their campsite; this trip was the culmination of a year of dedication, teamwork, and learning through outdoor awareness. Not just for the students, but for all the adults involved as well. I know I’m not simply speaking for myself. In my short time helping with EPS, the Outdoor Outreach Team, and the THRIVE students, I’ve gained perception, and a new perspective, on just how beneficial the outdoors can be for all of us-not just those already inclined. And kids NEED nature! I look forward to the future with these beneficial programs and projects, and want to again mention that without the support from local volunteers and groups, this trip, and others like it, wouldn’t be possible.


Nicki Klein loves to run, especially in new places, and ESPECIALLY on new trails. She started running in 2011, ultrarunning in 2015, and can be found most days running around the LSU Lakes with her dog. Nicki also enjoys backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, SUPing, and generally spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Combining those activities with family, friends, and a good beer or two, and you’ve got her ideal day. Nicki Klein’s Instagram

Q50 Sunset 13.1


by: Nicki Kleinq50 symbol

This post is a little overdue. I told myself I’d let the injury I’d sustained during the Q50 Sunset 13.1 race heal, and then I’d type up my recap. But it’s been weeks, and although my ailment continues, I suppose I shouldn’t wait any longer lest I forget any details of the race. So I proceed:

One reason I love being part of the Louisiana trail-running community is the that I have the opportunity to see new places in this state that I might not otherwise visit. Although I’ve mentioned in a previous post that Cesar Torres’ Q50 races are usually held close to New Orleans, his Sunset 13.1 and 6.5 races held on April 2nd were located in Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana, which is about 2.25 hrs from New Orleans. There’s a $3.00 fee to cross the bridge to Grand Isle, and a $2.00 park entrance fee. I was told beforehand to strictly follow the speed limits because the area is notorious for handing out tickets, but the slower speed allowed me to really enjoy the scenery–I felt like I was driving through the small beach towns I frequented during my childhood years in Florida.


When I got to the park, I’d hoped there might be primitive campsites still available (I hadn’t reserved one, because like most state parks in Louisiana, online reservations require a 2 night payment, and I only wanted to stay one night). Unfortunately, there were none, probably a result of the race weekend coinciding with many local high school’s Spring Break.

My pre-race excitement quickly overtook any disappointment about being unable to camp, as I drove to the observation tower where race-day packet pickup was being held. I picked up my bib and Q50 screen-printed beach towel (in lieu of the standard race shirt), saw a number of familiar faces, chatted with some first-time “trail” runners, and had a good conversation with Cesar about my recent 50 miler (Equinox Ultra). And when I say conversation, I mean that Cesar was standing on the observation tower, communicating through a bullhorn, while I stood in a nearby parking lot and shouted back answers. Cesar is always good for a laugh.




The race was to start at 5:00pm, and about 15 minutes before, we gathered for the pre-race meeting, and then walked down to the beach where we took part in completing either 22 pushups to “honor those who serve and to raise awareness for veteran suicide prevention” or 22 jumping jacks for peace. Common themes touched upon at the Q50 races include volunteerism, community, and awareness (environmental, homelessness, etc), so this quick “warm up” was not surprising.



With that, the race began. And within .25 miles, I’d fallen. First of all, I’m notorious for being clumsy. I run into things. I trip over nothing. I’ve gotten pretty good at falling “gracefully.” But this time, I was running on the packed sand, and as I leapt over an inlet of water, I landed on what I thought was more packed sand, but ended up being more like quicksand. My entire right leg sank to my knee, and hit my left knee on what WAS tightly packed (and hard) sand, and caught myself with my hands. Because I was holding my Orange Mud bottle in that hand, I couldn’t completely prepare for the impact, and my left thumb stuck out awkwardly as I landed on it, thus jamming it. Hence, the previously mentioned injury. I hope those of you reading this now have a greater appreciation for this post..each spacebar strike is another reminder of my injury…and clumsiness. 😉


Other than my early fall (when runners are still in a pack, and everyone sees you fall), the rest of the race went well. The sand was (mostly) packed, making a nice surface to run on, and there was a slight breeze for the majority of the race. We passed the primitive beach campsites, MANY groups of Spring Breakers (who offered lots of high fives, but why did no one offer me beer?!?), people fishing, and families strolling. At about mile 3.25, there was a table with water and a couple volunteers–this is where the 6.5 mile racers turned around. Remember, Q50 races don’t use any paper or plastic cups (aka trash), so runners must provide their own water bottle (and the reason I was carrying one). Myself, and the other half marathoners, continued on until we reached the 6.5ish mile mark, which on a 7 mile island, allowed me to see almost the entire coast. A volunteer marked my bib to indicate I’d reached the halfway point, I refilled my water bottle, and I turned back to head to the start/finish.



The second half of the race was much of the same. More high fives, more sand, more WIND. I’d saved some energy in case of strong winds on the return, but had conserved enough to make a push during the last half, passing a number of people.12968012_1062544073816644_8669811599495500392_o

After 1:47:49, I crossed the finish: 1st Female, 4th Overall, and with a new 13.1 PR. My legs were definitely stiff–I’ve learned that each race, depending on distance, hurts a different way–as I hobbled back to the observation tower where there were cold sodas and beer, and food, provided by the New Orleans Mission. A short time later, awards were handed out–3 deep for Overall Male and Female in both the 6.5 and 13.1 races. The awards at Q50 are some of my favorite-mine was a ceramic fish from Mexico City, with other prizes ranging from plants contained in coconut shells; other various ceramic dishes and decorations; and of course, one-of-a-kind handmade medals for each finisher.







And thus, another Q50 race concluded. I had another successful race, and I visited a new place in Louisiana. Grand Isle State Park has $14 primitive sites located on the beach, and with many local bars and restaurants within walking distance, I definitely plan on reserving a 2 night stay in the future!


As always, thank you to The Backpacker Baton Rouge and Orange Mud for gearing me up, and Forge Racing for supporting and sponsoring my running endeavors. And a special thank you to the Louisiana Running Company for taking beautiful pictures.

Other Sources:

The Backpacker FB             Forge Racing FB               Ales N Trails FB

backpacker logo

orange mud logo forge-racing-logo




Nicki Klein loves to run, especially in new places, and ESPECIALLY on new trails. She started running in 2011, ultrarunning in 2015, and can be found most days running around the LSU Lakes with her dog. Nicki also enjoys backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, SUPing, and generally spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Combining those activities with family, friends, and a good beer or two, and you’ve got her ideal day. Nicki Klein’s Instagram

Fleet Feet’s St. Patrick’s Day 3.17

by: Nicki Klein



On Sunday, March 13th, Fleet Feet hosted their annual St. Patrick’s Day 3.17 mile race (and half mile fun run). Packet pickup was at Fleet Feet on Perkins, and was conveniently available right before the race started. Those that pre-registered received a race t-shirt and glass. At 5pm on the dot, the half mile fun run began, with a number of young participants, and supportive adults, running the quarter mile and back course on Quail Drive, alongside Pennington Biomedical. As soon as the last half mile racer crossed the finish line, the 5k(+.07) racers walked to the starting line just down the street from the finish. With a quick countdown, we were off.

IMG_2962Photo Cred: Mischa Pizzolato

The weather was HOT, but the course provided some shade as runners crossed under the trees throughout the quiet residential course. After exiting the neighborhood, the final .17 or so miles consisted of what we in Louisiana call a hill, and culminated in running under the finish banner. All participants, for both races, received green shamrock “medals” affixed to green Mardi-Gras style beads. As runners finished, they walked the short distance back to Fleet Feet where they were greeted by food (chicken wraps with salsa, and cookies courtesy of Zoe’s Kitchen) and drink (water, Powerade, and Bud Lights). The top 3 finishers in each age division received a Zoe’s soft-sided cooler with a Zoe’s on-the-go cup, a bottle of their Greek salad dressing, and a bottle of seasoning mix. First overall male and female finishers received a $120 Fleet Feet credit to use on Brooks shoes or apparel.

IMG_5785My roommate Francis and I with our awards. Francis came in 2nd Overall Male Finisher, after having running the Zydeco Marathon that morning

I have to say, this is a bargain race, only costing $20 (before fees) if one signs up early. With the food, drinks, and race goodies, you’ve already made your money back.. and you get the fun of running a race! I’d recommend the Fleet Feet 3.17 to anyone, especially those looking to get in a little exercise to counteract the adult beverage consumption that tends to take place around St. Paddy’s Day; or for new runners trying to ease into the sport , who might be intimidated by bigger races.

In regards to my personal race…I set out to get a PR (sub 21 min 5k), which I missed by a bit (the weather was hot, and there was some adult beverage consumption during the BR Paddy’s Day Parade the day before so I probably wasn’t properly hydrated), but I still finished 1st Overall Female in 21:45. I was the 5th place finisher overall, finishing just behind an 11 year old boy. If that isn’t bad enough, two years ago when I last ran this race, I lost to an 11 or 12 year old girl. I guess it wouldn’t be a Paddy’s Day race without me getting beat by a child. I joke, but seriously, kudos to both those young runners-if you so choose, you have great running experiences awaiting you.

IMG_2998Photo Cred: Mischa Pizzolato

Besides enjoying the race personally, I had the privilege of being part of a group of that (painted ourselves and) cheered on our friend Chaney as she made the final push up the hill to finish her first 5k.


While my own achievements are important to me, seeing someone else reach a new distance, PR, or accomplish a set goal, is just as exciting, if not more so. Running is my passion, and to see others enjoy it as well is a feeling I can’t put into words. It’s just…awesome.

IMG_5802Photo Cred: Mischa Pizzolato


Thank you to Fleet Feet for hosting a great race, Zoe’s Kitchen for providing food, Brooks for sponsoring the race, and of course, The Backpacker Baton Rouge for sponsoring me!

fleet feetzoebrooks        backpacker logo


Nicki Klein loves to run, especially in new places, and ESPECIALLY on new trails. She started running in 2011, ultrarunning in 2015, and can be found most days running around the LSU Lakes with her dog. Nicki also enjoys backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, SUPing, and generally spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Combining those activities with family, friends, and a good beer or two, and you’ve got her ideal day. Nicki Klein’s Instagram

2016 Q50 Trail Extravaganza

by: Nicki Klein

q50 symbol

Let me start off by saying that I love trail running. I mean, I LOOOOVE trail running. I will gladly pick running in the woods or up mountains over roads any day. And I love to trail race. Because racing hurts. And if I’ve got beautiful scenery to distract me, that’s definitely a plus. One of the great things about the Q50 Trail Extravaganza is that it gives us trail runners an opportunity to run 1, 2, or even 3 trail races in a single weekend! Q50 Trail Races puts on a number of races every year, often held on trails in the New Orleans vicinity. Cesar Torres is the race director of these races, and if you’re looking for someone to encourage you, cheer you on, and make sure you have a great race, he’s your guy. The first time I signed up for one of his races (the 1/2 marathon at the 2015 Trail Extravaganza), he called and thanked me for registering.

This year’s races were held on Saturday, February 20th, and Sunday, February 21st. Options for races included a 10 miler Saturday morning and a 5 miler Saturday evening. The next morning, a 52 miler, 39 miler, full marathon, and half marathon were offered. Registering for more than one race “saved” runners money. The races were held at Bogue Chitto State Park. A $2 per car fee was collected at the gate, a small price to pay for the park to be closed to the public so we could run uninterrupted.

opening ceremony2016 Q50 Trail Extravaganza Opening Ceremony Saturday Morning

I arrived Saturday evening in time to pick up my bib and almost immediately start my race (the 5 miler). Because of the recent weather, and lack of rain, the trails were exceptionally dry, which means the sandy paths weren’t packed. It felt like running on a beach. Uphill. That made for a tougher course than expected, but it was marked well with tape and flags, and volunteers instructing runners where to go.











One interesting tidbit about the Q50 races-you’ll never see water cups or bottles. According to their website, “Q50 Races has a profound commitment for the protection and preservation of the Environment. We value our recognized reputation for not providing paper or plastic at our races, never leaving a trace of liter or waste at our venues, as well as our policy of BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle).” So if you don’t bring your own container to drink from, tough! And another interesting fact-you may never see water cups or bottles, but you’ll ALWAYS see the race director. I think I saw Cesar 3, maybe 4 times, during my 5 mile race. As I came around a pavilion to reach the finish line, two people were holding a finisher’s tape-this is something you usually only see when you’re the first person to cross the line. At Q50 races, EVERYBODY gets to “break through” the finisher’s tape. It’s a fun feeling!

IMG_5323Finishing the 5 miler-1st Female (photo courtesy of The Louisiana Running Company-they took hundreds of pics and provided them to runners for free)

IMG_5246Receiving my handmade plate award for the 5 miler

After I finished my race, I stuck around talking to friends, cheering on other finishers, and eating jambalaya and red beans cooked by the New Orleans Mission. Eventually, I made my way to a friend’s reserved campsite where a group of us sat around and snacked, drank a beer or two, and talked about the races we’d be taking part in within a few short hours.

I woke up the next morning at 4:30am to head back to the starting line in time for the 6am 52 and 39 milers start. Soon, the runners were off.IMG_5248

I helped these ultra runners refill their water, change shoes, and refuel until my 1/2 marathon, and the full marathon, started at 9am.

IMG_5329The start of the full and half marathons Sunday morning (photo courtesy of The Louisiana Running Company)

Although I hadn’t pushed myself too hard the night before because of my race on Sunday, I still felt pretty weak throughout, and struggled to maintain my desired pace. Meeting new people, and first time trail runners, and chatting on the course definitely lifted my spirits, as did seeing some of the ultra runners out there…how can I complain about 13 miles when they were running 3 times as much, or more!

IMG_5268Running alongside my friend Liz, who finished 1st Place Female in the 52 miler (notice us both carrying our own water-mine courtesy of Orange Mud)

The race culminated in another finisher’s tape, and more food and beer.

IMG_5265Finishing 13.1 looking rough

Thanks for keeping my beer cold, Backpacker Baton Rouge!

I didn’t get to stay to watch all the runners finish, because I had to catch a flight to Vegas (that’s another story), but I was excited to see my roommate’s first place marathon finish (he’d also placed first in the 10 miler and 5 miler on Saturday), and see my boyfriend as he went out for his final lap of the 52 miler (his first ultra!).

IMG_5256 My roommate, Francis, clinching another 1st Place Overall finish (26.2)

Besides the great people and beautiful courses, Q50 races are notorious for their awards-each finisher received a handmade “medal,” and the 52 mile runners were awarded a handmade cane for their hard work. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place overall finishers in each race were given handmade pottery-there were plates, jugs, serving dishes, and other similar items. They’re absolutely beautiful, and one of a kind.


IMG_5251Receiving another handmade award for my 1st Female 1/2 Marathon finish

The 2016 Q50 Trail Extravaganza weekend was so much fun. Camping, friends-both old and new, food and beer, and TWO days of trail racing…you can’t beat it. As always, thank you to The Backpacker Baton Rouge and Orange Mud for gearing me up, and Forge Racing for supporting and sponsoring my running endeavors. They too put on some great trail races all over Louisiana, and are even holding the first ever 100 mile race in the state of Mississippi during the Equinox Camp Fest the weekend of March 18th. I’ll be running my third ultra, and my first at the 50 mile distance, that weekend. Come join in the fun, or stay tuned for the race recap!

backpacker logoorange mud logoforge-racing-logo






Other helpful websites:

The Backpacker FB

Forge Racing FB

Q50 FB

Ales and Trails FB

Nicki Klein’s Instagram

Nicki Klein loves to run, especially in new places, and ESPECIALLY on new trails. She started running in 2011, ultrarunning in 2015, and can be found most days running around the LSU Lakes with her dog. Nicki also enjoys backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, SUPing, and generally spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Combining those activities with family, friends, and a good beer or two, and you’ve got her ideal day.






Before You Run


So the weather is starting to warm up and your treadmill just isn’t cutting it anymore. You find that your feet (and your heart) are longing for the gentle crunch of the trail underneath.

“I started running to get back in shape around 8 years ago. The more I ran the better I got and the better I got the more I liked to run. Running has now just become a part of my life and my identity. It is my sanity and my escape from the daily grind. It also has a recharging effect on my vitality.” – Ed Melancon
Whether you are trying to knock a few pounds off or just get out there, here is what you need to know.

What do you need to get started? 

Not much, that’s part of the beautiful simplicity of the trail run. Let’s break it down.

  • Be prepared for rips and snags. You are running through trees and brush after all.
  • Dress for 10 degrees warmer. You are going to warm up, we promise.
  • Synthetic or lightweight wool tops and nylon shorts are a must. These will keep you from staying damp.
  • Sunglasses! These are not just for sun protection, they offer eye protection from low branches and spider webs.
  • Choose running shoes with good grip. You can start off with your normal running shoes.
  • No cotton socks so your feet stay dry too.
  • Optional: Lightweight rain shell and a lightweight hat.

_MG_7328-smallIf your shoes get muddy: Once they are wet, take your insoles out and the shoe laces off. Wash them out well. By getting the mud out and keeping them clean, they will last a long time.If its super wet, avoid a Gortex lined shoe that would hold water. Instead, opt for a nylon mesh shoe so that water can get out. _MG_7283-small

  • Water.
  • Energy supplements for multi hour runs.
  • I.D. in case something happens.
  • Cell phone in a ziploc to prevent moisture damage.
  • Whistle for safety
  • Insect repellant. It’s Louisiana.
  • Optional : Trekking poles for landscapes with higher elevation change and gaiters.


  • Tell someone where you are going and when you should be back.
  • Carry a cell phone.
  • Bring a headlamp if you are running near sundown. Even if you think you will make it back in time.
  • Pack your trash out. Food may attract wildlife and may make them aggressive.

Be sure to follow the rules of the trail!

  • Run the posted direction.
  • Let faster runners/bikers go ahead of you. Step off the trail when you stop to take a breather.
  • Don’t zoom past slower runners

“Don’t be ashamed to stop and walk. I still have to fight pride on trails and force myself to stop and walk from time to time. I have a heart condition so I have to be extra cautious on the trails. On the roads it’s predominately flat, you are not straining your heart that differently through the miles. On trails each tiny hill adds up and adds extra strain and before you know it you’re in trouble. Force yourself to stop and walk when you are beginning, I tend to use this time to drink water or take pictures of flowers or birds before trying to run again.” – Robin Cobb

Ready to get started? 

Here’s where you can find some likeminded folks.

“I started running with Forge Racing and have found that joining the Ales and Trails group is a great way to get in runs on the trails in a group setting. Another way is to participate or even volunteer at a race. You never know who runs the same trails as you until you condense us all into one space and time to be able to meet each other.” – Robin Cobb-small

Be sure to check back for our next post on where to go and tips on technique and recovery!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for all Backpacker news and more classes like this one led by Forge Racing and BREC Outdoor Adventure at our Baton Rouge location.


Louisiana Marathon 5k Winner

5th Annual Louisiana Marathon Weekend

by: Nicki Klein

This was the fifth year for the Louisiana Marathon, a race weekend that gets bigger and bigger every year. This year there were five race options: a quarter marathon (6.2 miles), a 5k (3.1 miles), and a Kid’s Marathon (fun run) on Saturday, and a full marathon (26.2 miles) and a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Sunday. If a runner signed up and completed two races (one on Saturday and one on Sunday), they received a commemorative crawfish platter, the DejaVu award.

Last year I injured by back less than two weeks before the races, but was fortunate enough to be able to defer my registrations to this year.

On Saturday, I ran the Advocate 5k, finishing with a time of 21:05, and a first place overall female finish.
race_1786_photo_30293403Notice I look a lot happier before that kick at the end (see below)race_1786_photo_30304156

IMG_4742 (1)Celebrating with fellow Backpacker employee, Shelly

Although this was a HUGE achievement, and quite a happy day, Sunday was even better, when I paced my youngest brother through his first marathon.IMG_4751During the marathon

IMG_4765 (1)Before and after race pics

IMG_4772 (1)

In addition to my brother running the marathon, he ran the 5k the day before. My Mom and Dad were also in attendance, each running the 5k on Saturday and the half the next day. My family came all the way from Tennessee, a true testament to how great of a race weekend this is. I’m not the only one that thinks so…these races have even been featured in Runner’s World magazine. Lots of race options, beautiful scenery, unique awards, and the BEST finisher festival I’ve ever been to (and I’ve run a lot of races). I can’t wait till next year!

As always, thanks to The Backpacker for sponsoring me in all my wild and crazy adventures, and keeping me well stocked in gear (notice the Hokas-that pair has won me a 5k AND a 100 mile race now!)

Nicki Klein is a 100 mile runner, avid bicyclist, passionate camper, and enthusiastic about promoting all things outdoorsy.  Her home base is Baton Rouge, Louisiana and she is an ambassador for The Backpacker.

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Going Above and Beyond: The Backpacker Welcomes their 2016 Fishing Team

By Captain Casey Brunning

When it comes to Louisiana and kayak fishing, there are a few names that go hand and hand that have been together since the sport,s inception into the world of organization, non profits, and giving back to the community. Over the years the sport of kayak fishing has grown into a worldwide epidemic that has swept a bug into the veins of veterans, youths, newbies, and experienced anglers alike.  While I would love to say that kayaking all started in Louisiana, we all know that wouldn’t be true. What I can say is that without the partnership of The Backpacker and the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club, our sport would likely not be as strong as it is today in the state of Louisiana.

When Bayou Coast was founded, The Backpacker was the sole sponsor of the club and has been their “big tournament” backer ever since, and they continue to be the largest sponsor for Bayou Coasts’ Paddlepalooza and FallnTide tournaments. It’s a combination that goes together like rod and reel.

The Backpacker is the kind of store you’re happy to take your family in to.  They have a laid back atmosphere with a store full of employees that aren’t just there to collect to paycheck.  They are a family who works in a field around the hobbies they are passionate about it.  At some point in our lives, we all look back and contemplate about working a job in a field that we love. Well, these men and women do that, whether it’s climbing, backpacking, snow skiing, camping, kayaking, canoeing, or just preparing for anything outdoors, The Backpacker has someone in house that will help guide you through your next adventure, lifestyle change, or trip of a lifetime.  If I had to describe The Backpacker in a two second commercial clip it would be cut and dry and straight to the point, “We do LIFE”.

When it comes to kayaking and kayak fishing, there isn’t a team out there like what The Backpacker has built.  From guiding marsh tours and fishing trips to safety and fishing seminars and demos days to get people acclimated to the sport, this team is top notch.  In true leadership fashion, The Backpacker Team is involved in more than just education, they are also well respected in tournament scenes across the country as well as leaders within the Bayou Coast community holding positions from coordinators up to president.  The guys that make up Team Backpacker, give it all for nothing.  It’s a group of selfless individuals that make sure to always put the greater good of the sport and others before themselves.  With the 2016 year just around the corner I am honored to introduce the following members of The Backpacker 2016 Team.

Backpacker Fishing Team Tommy Eubanks

Tommy Eubanks is known as tefishmaster on the BCKFC forum, fishes out of a Hobie Pro Angler 14, has held positions of President, tournament director, executive committee member, and is currently serving as Vice President. He has many top 10 tournament finishes under his belt from winning Paddlepalooza and FallnTide several times to qualifying for the Hobie Worlds and is also a member of the Hobie Fishing Team.

Backpacker Fishing Team Todd Lewis

Todd Lewis is known as Yak-a-Lou on the BCKFC forum, he fishes from a 2016 Hobie Outback, has held past positions of Tournament Director, Secretary, and is currently in his second year as President, he has been a Hobie Fishing Team member since 2011, is a former Wildlife and Fisheries Agent, the weigh master at all BCKFC sanctioned events and has been fishing from a kayak since they were carved out of wood.

Backpacker Fishing Team Eric Fey

Eric Fey is known as E-Money on the BCKFC forum, he fishes from a Hobie Pro Angler 14, is a Hobie Team fishing member, and runs a blog at www.pcbkayakfishing.com

Backpacker Fishing Team Craig Brown

Craig Brown is known as TigerEye2 on the BCKFC forum, he fishes out of a Hobie Outback, has held past office of Sponsorship Coordinator and is currently the Tournament Director for Paddlepalooza and FallnTide, he has been fishing from a kayak for 4 years and runs a blog at www.voodookayakfishing.blogspot.com

Bill Crawford is known as RevRedfish on the BCKFC forum, he fishes out of a Wilderness ATAK kayak, has held a past office of Sponsorship Coordinator and has been fishing from a kayak for 10+ years and is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and can be found at www.revredfish.com

Backpacker Fishing Team Casey Brunning

Casey Brunning is known as Hookn1 on the BCKFC forum, fishes out of a Hobie Outback and Pro Angler 14, has held past office of Assistant Tournament Director and Tournament Director, has been kayaking for 12+ years, has several tournament wins and top 5 finishes in local and national events, he runs a blog a www.hookn1.com and is a member of the Hobie Fishing Team.

The experience and knowledge that this team has within it is amazing and they are all happy to help at the drop of a dime. Feel free to reach out to any of them on the www.bckfc.org forum or simply swing into The Backpacker and they will be happy to help you track them down, you can also find them roaming the local tournament scenes, demo days, and seminars that take place throughout the year at your local Backpacker establishment.

Until Next Time,

Stay Safe & Catch1



“Going Above and Beyond: The Backpacker Welcomes their 2016 Fishing Team”

Louisiana Local Outdoor Resources

South Louisiana has a wealth of outdoor adventures waiting to be discovered!  These local clubs and organizations are some of our favorite ways to connect with other outdoorsy people for knowledge and fun!


Baton Rouge SUP

All about the Baton Rouge SUP community!

Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club

“Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club (BCKFC) is a non-profit recreational kayak fishing club. We strive to provide a friendly meeting place to organize area kayak fisherman from all across the Gulf coast. With an open public forum as well as a private members section, there is a wealth of information and ideas that have accumulated here since this club began in 2005, from experienced kayakers and fishermen alike. We host several events throughout the year; including many kayak fishing tournaments that are open to the public. These events are an excellent way to get in on some great conversation with the most talented kayak fishermen in the area. The food and fun at the weigh-ins alone are well worth the price of admission. In addition to the tournament style events, we partner with local sponsors in southern Louisiana to put on demo days that allow those interested to test out all the different styles of yaks out on the market and ask question from those that have used them the most.”

Bayou Haystackers Paddling Club

Please consider joining the club. Anyone who enjoys paddling is welcome to join. Our club consists of canoeists and kayakers of all kinds. You can come on a trip or two without being a member of the club, but you’ll have alot more fun if you join.

Representing Southeast Louisiana and Southern Mississippi – New Orleans, Baton Rouge, the Northshore, Lafayette, Southern Mississippi and all points in between.

Bike Baton Rouge

Bike Baton Rouge is a 501 (c) 3 grassroots organization dedicated to making trips by bicycling or walking so safe and enjoyable that people will choose to leave the car at
home. We will accomplish this by:

  • Promoting bicycling and walking as transportation options in the greater Baton Rouge area;
  • Making these modes of transportation as safe, convenient, and enjoyable as possible, and;
  • Bringing to light the associated environmental, economic, and health-related benefits of biking and walking

BRAMBA (Baton Rouge Area Mountain Bike Association)

The Baton Rouge Area Mountain Bike Association (BRAMBA) was formed in December 1992, in response to a need for a mountain bike trail in the Baton Rouge area. Until that time, bikers were riding the “levee trail,” near the water’s edge on the east bank of the Mississippi River, but that trail was under water during the spring. Other than the levee trail, local riders had to drive two hours to Alexandria, Louisiana, or Clear Springs, Mississippi, to find suitable mountain bike trails to ride. This need for a place to ride and fun people to ride with coincided with the explosive growth and popularity of mountain biking. BRAMBA was officially formed to find a permanent trail, organize trail building efforts, and support mountain biking in the Baton Rouge area. BRAMBA secured a 240-acre parcel of land at Hooper Road Park from BREC for mountain bike use. The Baton Rouge Area Mountain Bike Association, Inc. has been recognized as a not for profit organization under IRS 501(c)3; any donations to BRAMBA are tax exempt. Today we operate as advocates of the Kerry Stamey Trail System and support being healthy and having fun through cycling and the MTB community!

BREC Outdoor Adventure

The BREC Outdoor Adventure department is dedicated to promoting an active, outdoor lifestyle to all citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish by providing recreational opportunities that revolve around the outdoors. These programs include activities such as, kayaking, canoeing, climbing, biking, fishing, camping and land navigation. BREC’s Outdoor Adventure programs introduce and instruct patrons in outdoor sports and helps them advance through progressive skill levels. These specialized programs also promote environmental awareness and ethical practices when in outdoor and nature based activities. BREC’s Outdoor Adventure team is committed to providing opportunities for adventure here in East Baton Rouge Parish and beyond!

BRLA Climbing Enthusiasts

Climbing hard, organizing climbing excursions, and sharing climbing info and knowledge in this small pond of Southern LA.

Louisiana Hiking Club

The Louisiana Hiking Club is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization designed to
meet the needs of Louisiana backpackers and hikers. Its goals are:

• to advance the knowledge of hikers and backpackers in Louisiana by
offering classes, seminars and other educational resources
• to foster communication between hikers
• to maintain existing trails and establish new ones
• to plan trips
• to compile accurate cartographic and naturalist guides for Louisiana trails

PaddleBR’s mission is to promote awareness of, access to, and conditions on our local waterways.  In order to further that mission, our activities include:

  • Paddle trail maintenance, e.g. our regular work days on Bayou Fountain,
  • Waterway cleanups,
  • Group presentations and exhibits, and
  • Fun recreational paddling events!
The Delta Chapter is 3,000 of your neighbors supporting the work of the Sierra Club in Louisiana. We advance the cause of protecting Louisiana’s environment in a variety of ways, including sponsoring a campaign to take Mercury out of the environment, identifying and protecting the state’s scenic rivers, and working to save the cypress and keep the Atchafalaya Basin, America’s greatest river swamp, wet and wild. We work to raise public awareness about the effects of human caused climate change and to develop clean energy solutions. We advise the state legislature in Baton Rouge on issues related to public health and the environment. In addition we conduct outings and informational events so that our members and friends can get outside and enjoy our beautiful state.
The Baton Rouge Group of the Delta Chapter (Louisiana) of the Sierra Club
Exploring, Enjoying, and Protecting Greater Baton Rouge’s Environment: For Our Families, For Our Future
“Louisiana Local Outdoor Resources”