Get Outdoors

Exercise smarter thanks to these Virginia outfitters.

(Photo by Adrian Lorenzoni)

With spring comes the familiar itch to get outside, hike some trails, or paddle a kayak. And outdoor outfitters can set you up with the right gear.

If getting out on the water is on your to-do list, check out the world of kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards at Appomattox River Company in Farmville. The store offers one of the state’s most extensive inventories, with equipment for customers of all skill levels. It’s a one-stop shop with apparel and accessories. You can even find a life vest for your dog.

In Fredericksburg, River Rock Outfitter carries popular clothing brands like Kuhl, Patagonia, Mountain Khakis, and Prana, along with backpacks from Osprey, climbing gear from Black Diamond, and Big Agnes tents and sleeping bags.

New is River Rock’s Reboot Consignment Program. It’s been a lifesaver—for the store and its customers—during recent supply chain challenges. If you’re ready to replace gently used camping tents, backpacks, hiking boots, and clothing, you can declutter while earning some cash to spend on upgrading your gear.

Ragged Mountain Running Shop in Charlottesville in 1982, running was king, their primary customers were young men in their 20s, and running shoes set you back 30 bucks a pair. Walking for fitness was still in the closet, the Cinderella of the not-quite burgeoning health and wellness movement.

“It’s been an incredible evolution,” says Mark, who notes that, since walking has emerged as a bonafide sport with tangible health benefits, a full half of Ragged Mountain’s customers are walkers. Most are in their mid-50s and half are women. “During the pandemic, people really seemed to make the connection between getting outside and improved mental health,” he adds. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll in a park or a vigorous run, being in nature can be beneficial.

Shoes now run $120-$160 a pair. Familiar brands include Brooks, Asics, and Saucony, and the newer kids on the block like Altra, Hoka, On, and Topo. The store amended its name to reflect a changing demographic: it’s now Ragged Mountain Running & Walking Shop. Company culture discourages customers from saying “I’m ‘just’ a walker.”

Mark recalls advice his father once shared: “Treat people like you want them to come back.” Sticking to that guiding principle, which permeates Ragged Mountain’s customer-focus vibe, has worked. By inspiring intense customer loyalty, multi-generations of families have become faithful patrons.,,

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