Meet the amazing partners Jennifer is fortunate to work with

Jennifer has built relationships with a select group of outdoor companies over the years- brands she used before having a formal partnership, and her love for them has only grown over time. Like Jennifer, they’re focused on sustainability, craftsmanship, people over profit, and doing things the right way.

Check them out below and visit their websites. We’re sure you’ll fall in love the same way Jennifer has.

When a gear company comes along in your own backyard, reviving practices that have been integral to your home state for over a hundred years; when they immediately begin manufacturing the very BEST lightweight alpaca hoodies, beanies, shirts, and sleep sacks in the business, garnering praise from Outside, Backpacker, and thru-hikers alike; AND when they happen to be doing it in the town of King’s Mountain, North Carolina, where your great-grandmother worked at a textile mill… as a single mother of 6… until she was 97 years old, you take notice and jump at the opportunity to work with them. Jennifer is thrilled to be partnering with Appalachian Gear Company and their head honchos John Gage and Mike Hawkins, who’ve been in the NC textile industry since you were in diapers. And no, App Gear Co. doesn’t make alpaca diapers. Not yet at least.

The story of Asheville-based Astral Designs is really the story of its founder, Philip Curry. After selling his first successful gear company to Patagonia in 1999, Philip turned to biodynamic farming. But the question kept nagging him… Could he protect more land and water by managing his small farm, or by getting back in the outdoor equipment business? Fortunately for all of us, he chose the latter. Now, Astral makes some of the best-fitting, best-looking trail shoes on the planet. Want something for hiking the trails outside of town? Great. Wanna grab a beer or go to a concert afterward? Terrific. You won’t need to change shoes because Astrals fit perfectly in both settings. In a market dominated by huge corporations, Astral puts nature first in all their business and product decisions. What could be better than that?

Thru-hiking the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails fresh out of college had life changing implications for Jennifer. After finishing them, she wanted nothing more than to share her love of hiking and the opportunity for transformation it brings with others. So at the ripe old age of 25, she started Blue Ridge Hiking Company with the believe that “the trail is there for everyone at every phase of life.” She sold BRHC to her long time manager and friend Lindsey Barr in February of ’23. But the mutual admiration and love Jennifer has with her former guiding service remains unchanged. If you ever find yourself in Asheville, be sure to swing by the downtown shop to check out the latest lightweight gear, ask for trail recs, or just say “hello.”

When Jennifer was gearing up (literally) to hike across the state of North Carolina in 2017 on the 1,100-plus mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail, she heard about a little old sock company in Mt. Airy in the Piedmont. Farm to Feet was doing things the right way. Sourcing wool from ranchers in the Northern Rockies, using the same craftsmanship that textile workers have made North Carolina famous for since the early 20th century, and making trail-themed socks with names like Damascus, Max Patch, and Cascade Locks. Jennifer loved Farm to Feet’s story, the fact that they were American-made and based in North Carolina. But more than that she loved that they were the most comfortable and best-looking socks she’d ever worn.

When Jennifer became pregnant in 2012, it was the first time she really thought about how she was treating her water, what she was putting into her body, and how that might have an effect on the baby growing inside her. She did a little research and came across Sawyer Products, a Florida-based water filtration company that also makes sunscreen, bug spray, and emergency first aid equipment. Besides loving the idea of taking the bad stuff out of the water naturally and without using chemicals, she loved the way Sawyer was doing all sorts of good for people in developing countries around the world. She jumped on the Sawyer train in 2012 and has never looked back. Now Sawyer filters are almost all you ever see thru-hikers carrying these days. Not just because of Jennifer, of course. But because they make the best water filters on the planet. Check them out and you’ll see why.

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