Devils Backbone Brewing Company is set in Nelson County, Virginia — just a short drive from mile marker 842 on the Appalachian Trail — and founder Steve Crandall (along with the entire outdoor-oriented DB team) are pretty tapped into the hiking community there. “We get great joy in meeting the 100s of hikers that stop by our place for free camping and some healthy carb-loading stop at our pub,” says Crandall. He started hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1966 at the age of 10 and that love of the outdoors inspired Devils Backbone to partner with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy by donating some of the profits from its Bavarian-style Hefeweizen Trail Angel Weiss to support preservation efforts on the AT. Since that love of the outdoors is part of the culture at Devils Backbone, Crandall shared with us a round-up of his personal must-have gear list for a day or two on the trail.
“I have used everything from white gas stoves to the super fancy jet boils, but you just can’t beat the reliability, light weight and flexibility of this stove.”
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Sky 2 Tent
“I love this two man 65 oz. tent. It has two dry vestibules and allows each person to have his/her own entrance and storage outside the tent for muddy boots. Holds up well in wind and rain and is easy set up and take down.”
Kuiu Ultra Merino 210 Hoodie
“This is a great all season, mid-layer garment. I have taken this on many mountain hunting trips some with rain for days while hiking over fog and rain or snow covered mountain tops. Ultimately you’re going to be wet with sweat and rain leaking in. This hoodie keeps you warm and the hood keeps that precious heat in. If your feet are cold, put on a hat!”
Edmund Davidson Small Drop Point Hunter Knife-
“This 3 ¼ inch BG 42 steel knife in a leather sheath weighs more than a spring-loaded pocket knife, but hey, I am old school and a solid sheath knife goes whenever I am in the outdoors. I have a dozen or so of similar custom-made sheath knives but a man cannot have too many. Some might say these knives are too pretty to take into the timber but their looks are deceiving and they are workers. Buy one and it will last several lifetimes.”
Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Arturo Fuente Chateau Series Cigars
“Lewis and Clark, on their journey across the western wilds, stockpiled whisky for their team along the way and for their return. They all lived. At the end of a thirteener (a mountain that exceeds 13,000 feet) or a long hike, I’m usually hurting. Setting up camp and having a tot or two (helpful to add 10,000-year glacial ice) changes the whole outlook of the day. It is good for the soul. The double Chaieaus, half as long as a normal cigar, not only complements the peaty scotch but is helpful in preventing you from burning your fly line in two as you cast to the risers. I learned this the hard way.