Hammocks by Eagle’s Nest Outfitters — $55 to $80
These hammocks are a great gift for anyone simply looking to relax or hit the trail with an ultra-light, overnight shelter. Within seconds, you can be swinging from your favorite backyard tree or looking out over the Smoky Mountains.
If you want to upgrade your dangling piece of paradise, a whole slew of accessories from rain flies to bug nets to insulated covers are available. You can also get creative with everything from custom hanging hammock speakers to tailored Christmas lights.
An added perk: the company that makes them is based in the River Arts District of Asheville, where they’ve been designing and manufacturing gear for more than a decade.
Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody — $195
Down is the king of insulation. If only more outdoors enthusiasts understood its advantage over fleece, things would be different. Down jackets are windproof and typically a better insulator than their synthetic counterparts. This jacket by Outdoor Research — with lightweight, lofty down feathers, hood and a durable shell that comes in a variety of color combinations — is no exception. This well-designed must-have gets the vote of the folks in Sylva.
Dehydrated meals by Backpacker’s Pantry and Mountain House — $4 to $9
You vowed after graduating from college that your days of eating Ramen noodles and Kraft macaroni and cheese were over, so why revert on the trail? With the variety of lightweight, gourmet food out there today, hikers can enjoy everything from spaghetti and meat sauce to risotto with chicken to their southern favorite, biscuits and gravy, without the hassle of preparation. Let’s face it, the last thing you want to do after hiking 15 miles is dice onions. These meals are ready in a matter of minutes and weigh a fraction of what your canned beans do. The pre-prepared meals will appease vegetarians, meat-atarians and even the pickiest eaters for each meal. It’s not a bad idea to keep a few on hand in the pantry in case a winter storm knocks out power and forces you to breaking out the camping stove.
Sunglasses by Costa Del Mar — $130 to $270
Are you an avid fly-fisherman, a backcountry camper or a honky-tonk hero who wears sunglasses indoors? Chances are if you have a pair of eye sockets, Costa has got a pair of shades for you. This hard-to-find brand has some of the clearest optics on the on the market, making everything from glass to plastic lenses in more than a dozen different shades and colors. Also, their polarized lenses help reduce glare off the snow, water and almost any other surface that can be otherwise blinding. Partner your choice lens with your favorite bodystyle. Blackrock is one of the few outdoor shops in WNC that carries a wide variety of them and anything not in stock can be special ordered.