With summer officially here, it’s time to head for the mountains! Treat yourself to an afternoon of fresh air, picturesque scenery, and adventure. If you want to go for a hike and need the right gear, Walkabout Outfitter in downtown Harrisonburg is the perfect place to start. Whether it’s Chaco’s, ENO, Patagonia, Camelbak, or North Face merchandise, the staff at Walkabout Outfitter can make a recommendation based on your goals. 

Need a location? Believe it or not, the section of the Appalachian Trail (AT) near us has some of the best-maintained parts of the AT. A surplus of neighboring volunteers aid the upkeep of the Trail, and as a result leave it even more beautiful than before. In addition to the 100 miles of AT in the Shenandoah National Park, check out some of Walkabout Outfitter’s favorite spots in and out of the Park: Bearfence, Old Rag, High Knob, Dark Hollow Falls and Humpback Rock.

Vince Mier, manager of the Harrisonburg Walkabout Outfitter, is a local you’ll want to meet. He thru hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2011, and earned his trail name “BLAZE”, by helping repaint the trail marks found on trees and rocks that help hikers navigate all 14 states of the AT, including Georgia and Maine. His charismatic and friendly charm makes you feel like you’ve known him for years.

Vince Mier (pictured second to right) gearing up for a recent backpacking trip to Seneca creek trail in west virginia with harrisonburg area hikers of all skill levels. 

Vince Mier (pictured second to right) gearing up for a recent backpacking trip to Seneca creek trail in west virginia with harrisonburg area hikers of all skill levels. 

As with all of the staff, Vince embodies what Walkabout Outfitter represents — personal growth and accomplishment without feeling like the king of the world. This goal is emphasized in the stores and by the character of the people who work there. They support all wanderers on their adventures, from beginner to advanced, however they define it for themselves. The store’s slogan, “Quit Your Day Job” inspires those who want to have an adventure to get out there and do it!

Walkabout Outfitter opened its Harrisonburg location in 2013, but the family-owned business has been around since 2005. Owner Kirk Miller opened his first store in Lexington, VA after being inspired by the outfitter shops he experienced during his 1999 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. In addition to the Harrisonburg and Lexington locations, Kirk and his wife Tina have opened stores in Roanoke, Richmond and another coming next month in Blacksburg. 

If you’re ready to hit the trails, be sure to connect with Walkabout Outfitter and all things outdoors by finding them on Facebook and signing up for their email list. You’ll find out about promotions and exciting events including special dates for overnight backpacking trips, holidays, speakers, and how-to presentations.

Backpacking Essentials Recommended by Walkabout Outfitter

  • A rough itinerary of the trip and a copy of it left with someone at "home"
  • Appropriate and extra clothing - quick dry/wicking fabrics, proper layering per season (tops + bottoms)
  • Hiking shoes/boots that fit properly, quick dry/wicking socks (optional sock liner to prevent blisters), lightweight camp sandals/shoes, and trekking poles
  • Waterproof raingear for you & your backpack/gear
  • Properly fitting backpack with adequate carrying capacity
  • Water bladder or bottles and water purification & a backup purification method
  • First Aid Kit & Safety – Suggestions: alcohol pads, antibacterial ointment, band-aids, Benadryl, epi-pen, butterfly closures, gauze pads & roll, gloves, Ibuprofen, iodine, medical tape, moleskin, rescue mask, safety pins, shears, sterile water, syringe, tweezers & nail clippers, emergency blanket, whistle, any personal medication, and an understanding of the basics of first aid
  • Sun protection- brim hat, or head coverage, sunscreen, sunglasses & Bug repellent
  • Shelter- Tent, hammock with fly, bivy, trail shelter/hut
  • Sleeping bag & sleeping pad
  • Waterproof matches/fire starter
  • Map, compass, guidebook, & basic navigation knowledge
  • Enough food/snacks for your trip & extra- more calories are needed for more energy burning
  • Stove, fuel, and mess kit including knife and eating utensil
  • Toiletries:  Trowel, TP, chap stick, toothbrush & paste, personal hygiene products, biodegradable liquids
  • Headlamp with extra batteries- hands free lighting
  • 30ft. Rope or Nylon cord- safety, bear bags, shelter, comes in handy in several situations