Gear Guide 2012: Outdoor 76 Franklin

Outdoor 76 t-shirts and “828” caps — $22 to $26

If you fish local, hike local or kayak local, then you might as well support local outfitters or organizations that protect the resources that make those activities possible. Outdoor 76 has partnered with conservation group Land Trust for the Little Tennessee to sell “828” caps in a variety of styles and colors — from camouflage to bright blue. Each purchase makes a donation of $2 to LTLT to be used by the organization responsible for a litany of stewardship projects from stream protection to land conservation. You can also represent your local outdoors shop by picking up one of the cool, long-sleeve t-shirts or hats with their name on it.

NatGeo Maps — $12

Some say they’re the most important printed documents in Western North Carolina. These path-finding gems are waterproof, tear-resistant and cover almost every square inch of wilderness playground in the region. Whether on a day hike to a nearby bald, a GPS-guided search or a week-long sojourn through a wilderness area, these maps will keep you on track. Poring over one from the comfort of your armchair on winter evenings is oddly fulfilling as well. Proceeds from the map sales are used by the National Geographic Society to fund programs in research, exploration, conservation and education.

TOMS shoes — $44 to $69

There are a lot of cool shoes out there, but there aren’t a lot of cool shoes with a cool story. TOMS shoes live by the mantra “One for One” — for every pair you buy, a child in need gets a pair for free. The founder of the company started it with philanthropy in mind after visiting Argentina in 2006 and seeing the large number of children without shoes. TOMS has now given 2 million shoes to children worldwide. The shoe design — a canvas or cloth upper — is based in a traditional Argentinean shoe. Needless to say, they’re also very comfortable and trendy, and while they were originally conceived as slip-on, flat-bottom shoes, they come in a full-range styles such as wedges, classics, cordones, botas and stitch-outs.

Patagonia Better Sweater — $99

From amazing outdoor gear to a global responsibility, Patagonia is becoming one of the strongest brands in the industry for all the right reasons. This season, the choice buy for those who want to stay super warm and look great is the company’s classic sweater. This hip-length garment combines a durable, knit exterior with the comfort of soft fleece on the inside. Also, so your hands aren’t left out in the cold, the sweater-jacket combo features two hand-warming pockets. Its size is perfect for wearing as an outer jacket or under a shell.

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