gear diversity
Rob Arends geared up for fishing on West Virginia’s Cranberry River

Whether it’s fly fishing for rainbows on West Virginia’s Cranberry River, teasing for red drum in the marshes of Bogue Sound, or feeding his addiction as a 160-mile-per-week cyclist, Greensboro Store Manager Rob Arends is heavily dependent on gear. And because of his varied interests — he’s also leading a hike as part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail’s 42nd Birthday Celebration the weekend of Sept. 6-8 — he’s dependent upon gear that can multi-task. Today, he shares some gear favorites that help in the field, on the water, even on the road.

Aquamira Frontier Max (for backcountry)

No matter what the activity, you’ll get thirsty. Take, for instance, making your way to a remote spot on the Cranberry River for a day of fly fishing. It’s one of Rob’s favorite spots for rainbow trout, and his destination this past May with wife Katherine. It’s not only a good hike in, but you need a day’s supply of water, which Rob has at his waddered feet, thanks to his Aquamira Frontier Max water straw. “It works with a bottle or a bladder,” says Rob, “but I just suck it straight out of the creek.” It’s not only a convenient way to filter and drink all the water you like, it weighs practically nothing at just under an ounce. Learn more here.


It should come as no surprise that a fisherman doesn’t like distractions. Even stopping to eat can be troublesome, especially when you’re working the perfect pool. Still, a guy gets hungry. “I like these,” Rob says picking up a ProBar. As a fisherman and a cyclist, Rob’s had his share of compact-meals-on-the-go, and this is one he’s yet to tire of. “I like it’s texture,” he says. “Plus, it’s a bigger bar. It’s more like a meal, when I’m hungry.” And that’s the intent of the ProBar Meal bars. The gluten-free, Superberry and Greens bar, for instance, has 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 360 calories. “That and an orange, that’s a meal,” says Rob. Learn more here.

gear diversity
MSR WindBoiler stove

MSR WindBoiler Stove System

A bar and a piece of fruit may suffice on a summer outing, but come winter, it’s nice to have hot food and drink in the backcountry, says Rob. A good option: toss the MSR WindBoiler Stove System into your pack. “I’ll make some oatmeal, maybe some hot cocoa,” says Rob. And he’ll do it in a jiffy: although boil times vary depending upon air temperature and amount of water being boiled, we’ve managed to make a mug of coffee in less than 90 seconds, from start to sip. It’s lightweight — 1 pound, 5 ounces — and it nests nicely, taking minimal space in your pack. Learn more and reserve your MSR WindBurner here.

Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible Pants

Often, Rob is in waders when he’s patiently trying to coax a cutthroat from a creek. When he’s not, he loves a good pair of convertible pants, such as the OR Equinox Pants. The lightweight pants have a durable finish (great for navigating briars), zippered cuffs make them easier to slip on and off over boots, they have stretchy material built in to make passage over tough terrain easier, and they have a UPF 50+ sun protection, just the thing for long hours in exposed sun (which is what we all hope for, right?). Learn more and reserve a pair here.

Patagonia RO Long-Sleeve Top

You better believe a fisherman standing in the sun all day is going to wear a long-sleeve shirt. One that dries quickly (85 percent recycled polyester, 15 percent spandex), that’s comfy, and that includes additional protection from the sun (50+ UPF sun protection). “I like that it’s fast-drying and isn’t as scratchy as a lot of other shirts,” says Rob. Ideal for one of those fall days that starts cold and warms to cool, and spends a bit of time under the sun, thanks to a canopy devoid of leaves. Learn more here. 

gear diversity
Tilley Airflow

Tilley Airflow Hat

“It’s synthetic, so it dries fast,” begins Rob, “it has a darker underside to reflect the sun, it’s got UPF protection (50+), it’s got a strap to keep it from blowing off, and it’s got a vent at the top.” And don’t forget the lifetime guarantee for this vital piece of sun-blocking protection. Learn more here.


“It does everything,” Rob gushes of this unassuming, yet vital piece of gear. It’s a scarf, it’s a neck warmer, it’s a do rag, it’s — it’s everything you could possibly imagine from a late-night TV pitch, only true. “Everything,” reiterates Rob. Learn more here.

Osprey Stratos 24

So where to put your stuff? There are a lot of great packs out there, but for Rob, the Stratos stands out for two reasons: one, a suspension system lifts it off your back, and two, it has a frame, which enables it to comfortably hold a little more weight. It’s also got a padded hip belt and shoulder straps to help with weight distribution. If you’re a hike leader or just like to carry a little extra in your pack (just in case) this is your pack. Learn more and reserve your pack here.

gear diversityFarm to Feet Damascus socks

Yes, most of us think of this emerging classic as the ultimate hiking sock, with it’s snuggle-your-foot grip and its always-forgiving (not too hot in summer, nice and warm come winter) merino wool construction. But Rob finds the quarter-crew version ideal for the rigors of a 50-mile bike ride, the crew perfect for insulating your feet from standing in the cold waters of a mountain stream. Can’t ask for much more than that. Learn more and reserve a pair here.