Our Honorary Gearheads
Meet the outdoor-obsessed folks putting our Backcountry gear to the test this spring and summer season.
Look out world, here they are! We’re giving a warm welcome to the 20 outdoor-obsessed folks putting our Backcountry gear and apparel to the test this spring and summer. Give them a follow and keep an eye out on social media over the next few months to follow their adventures, see the gear they’re testing, and hear what they think about our latest products.
Caleb Adcock | @calebadcock
Kalispell, MT | he/him/his
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Backpacking
Favorite Trail Snack: Anything with peanut butter on it
Caleb’s a North Carolina kid living in Northwest Montana. Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, he’s grateful to have spent a good portion of his childhood outdoors backpacking, climbing, and paddling. It’s because of those experiences that he now loves helping get others outdoors to experience the joy that comes from the big moments of summiting a peak, but also the small victories of having a good water source (can we get an amen?). He always keeps the ol’ Tacoma, Pearl, stocked with coffee and there’s probably a random ramen packet around to fuel the tailgate hangs in between adventures.
Lexi Beckman | @lexbeckss
Sacramento, CA | she/her/hers
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Climbing!
Favorite Trail Snack: PB&J
Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Lexi works as a copywriter at an advertising agency. She’s a lover of nature and all things connected to Mother Earth. Climbing and hiking are her main hobbies and photography is her other main passion. As an outdoor adventure photographer, she aims to tell stories through her lens that captures the humble beauty of nature that humanity has the privilege of experiencing.
When she isn’t spending time outdoors, Lexi is advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the outdoors. She aims to give back when she can and use her little community to amplify others and believes that nature is for everyone. She says, “We’ve got a long road ahead to get mainstream media to represent POC fully, but I’m here for it!”
Lexi’s long-term dreams are to start a nonprofit to get BIPOC children into outdoor sports and to own a sustainable clothing line.
Torey Lee Brooks | @tleeski
Portsmouth, NH | she/her/hers
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Skiing (you never forget your first love)
Favorite Trail Snack: Pickles and/or cheese & crackers
Torey is a skier, climber, and trail runner who just generally loves being outdoors. She works full time as a structural engineer (and ski coach on the side) and is very familiar with the weekend warrior lifestyle! She’s a big believer in setting goals and bettering the communities around her, and she actively fundraises for outdoor based non-profits through her platform Summit4Something.com .
Landon Burnley | @landominium
Portland, OR | he/him/his
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Fly fishing
Favorite Trail Snack: Honey Stinger energy waffles
Landon is a recent college graduate with a background in engineering and a passion for everything outdoors. He moved out to the Pacific Northwest in hopes of finding a dream job in the outdoors industry while exploring the amazing scenery and landscapes that the region has to offer. Before college and moving to the PNW, he grew up backpacking with his father, camping with his family, exploring the Sierra Nevada Mountains, fishing, hiking, and taking photos along the way.
Not only does Landon enjoy being out in nature, but he loves to document and photograph it as well. He takes his camera everywhere and loves to share his experiences with others. With his knowledge of engineering principles, an appreciation for well-made products, a passion for the outdoors, and an eye as a photographer, Landon can’t wait to test out some new gear and share his experiences with others.
Alexandra Garcia Grover (or Alex Garcia) | @alexandramariagarcia_
Knoxville, TN | she/her/hers
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Trail Running
Favorite Trail Snack: Peanut butter & jelly rolls
Alex grew up being outdoorsy in unique ways–exploring the beautiful coastlines of Aguadilla and Isabela, as well as the rolling country hills of Moca, Puerto Rico. When she moved to Virginia in 2015, the trails became the connection point to a life lived outside back home. She’s since hiked all over the U.S. and abroad, mostly on her own, but also with her pitbull Mooch! She’s proud of her “difficult pursuits,” a personal project to challenge herself physically in the outdoors “to her limits” at least once a year. Alex is also excited to bloom in the outdoor industry as a Latinx woman with a passion for doing hard things in the outdoors, and giving others tools so they can, too. She’s starting a role with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy as the Latinx Partnerships Coordinator, and her mission there is clear: to build bridges for Latinx to have meaningful relationships with the trail that hopefully turn to love, which in turn will drive advocacy and action.
Alex is excited to be a Gearhead and be able to provide valuable information to the Latinx population about the Backcountry line in a format they can consume easily: en inglés y español. In her spare time (actually, her time-consuming 9-5), she’s a business development engineer making critical infrastructure stronger and last longer.
Dre Hernandez | @wanderingdre
Vail, CO | he/him/his
Favorite Outdoor Activity: All things climbing
Favorite Trail Snack: Pocket burritos—all kinds!
Dre is 28 years old and grew up in the swampy suburbs of South Florida. He found the mountains and his passion for the outdoors on a year-long backpacking trip through South America where he met his now wife and main adventure partner! They’ve lived in Vail, CO ever since (about 6 years now). Dre is an avid climber and backcountry snowboarder. His “rest day” side hobbies are trail running and mountain biking, and he’s constantly seeking new adventures and self-inflicted “sufferfests.” This spring during their off-season in the mountains, Dre and his wife plan to go on a nice long climbing trip: sport, trad, and bouldering. This summer, they have a bunch of alpine objectives they’re looking to complete. Dre is excited to be a reviewer because he not only absolutely loves gear, but also loves to push the limits of said gear and see what it can handle. Dre truly puts his gear through the wringer!
Lauren Hronek | @laurhronek
Salt Lake City, UT | she/her/hers
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Mountain Biking (but backpacking is a close contender)
Favorite Trail Snack: Honey Stinger Waffles, Clif Shot Blocks or her homemade trail snack of rice and eggs packed in a Ziploc bag!
The outdoors has always been a crucial part of Lauren’s life and keeps her centered— mentally, emotionally, and physically. Lauren recently became a mother and has been determined NOT to let that stop her outdoor adventures! She’s found ways to explore, camp, hike, backpack, bikepack, mountain bike, fat bike, and ski with her little guy! See a theme? Yes, they love bikes! Lauren believes that being a mother doesn’t mean you have to give up what you love. Sometimes it requires more work and grit, but is so rewarding.
Lauren is a believer and advocate that everyone should enjoy the benefits of living a life outside. She loves inspiring others to connect with and find themselves in nature. Lauren currently works for Women in the Mountains, a mountain bike skills coaching company that empowers women to learn to mountain bike or up-level their riding where she loves being a part of the women mountain bike movement! Her little family of three is looking forward to exploring the desert this spring, more specifically the less-traveled areas of the West Desert of Utah. There’s nothing she loves more than being off the grid and finding that less-traveled road. This summer, she’ll be doing lots of backpacking, hiking, and mountain biking.
Rachel Kenney | @rachloden
Upstate NY | she/her/hers
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Skiing/ski touring
Favorite Trail Snack: Peanut butter & jelly
Rachel grew up in Upstate New York, smack dab in between the Adirondacks and the Catskill Mountains. She didn’t grow up outdoorsy. Working at an equine facility, she had a horse as a kid, but it wasn’t until she got her first Bernese mountain dog, Baloo, as a senior in college that the outdoors opened up a whole new world of opportunities for her. Getting Baloo outside and hiking,camping/backpacking, and paddleboarding together showed her so many amazing experiences she’s very grateful for now that he’s gone.
That same lifestyle has continued on and even more so with Wylder, her current Bernese. They started ski touring together this winter and it’s probably Rachel’s favorite thing to do with him, especially since he loves the snow and she loves to ski. They also plan on completing a 136-mile thru-hike in the Adirondacks on the Northville Placid Trail at the end of September with a friend and her pup.
Rachel hopes to inspire people to take their dog with them. Creating these memories and experiences may mean you need to be better prepared, and might take more work, but it’s 100% worth it! There’s so much life to fit into a short amount of time. Rachel’s excited to be a reviewer and work with Backcountry because outdoor gear is super interesting. She thinks that fine-tuning what works and what doesn’t and why is the fun of it. She’ll provide honest reviews as she (and Wylder!) put Backcountry gear to the test to its fullest extent.
Lisa Lundgren | @doctorlisagna
Logan, UT | she/her/hers
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Hiking
Favorite Trail Snack: Honey Stinger energy chews (Orange Blossom flavor)
When Lisa isn’t exploring the outdoors in Logan, Utah, she’s a professor at Utah State University. Her passion is to be outside to experience the world from new angles and to be challenged while doing that. Whether she’s hiking, fossil hunting, or skiing, seeing the natural world from a new perspective or a new place is truly one of the greatest things in life. Additionally, she likes challenging herself and inviting others into that challenge. One more hill, one more hot lap, one more hill repeat … let’s go! She’s excited to be a plus-sized reviewer for Backcountry and says ”we’re out here, our voices need to be added to the conversation!” We couldn’t agree more!
Alexandra Malloy | @amalloyy
Denver, CO | she/her/hers
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Skiing, all things all the time
Favorite Trail Snack: Honey Stinger energy gummies or good ol’ PB & Fluff
Born alongside the Atlantic on Cape Cod, Alex has found her life in the mountains. She’s a skier, hiker, budding backpacker, and firm believer that glitter makes any sufferfest infinitely better. She loves trailhead dance parties, picking up trash, skinny dips, and misplacing her spork. The mountains are where she recharges, disconnects, challenges herself, and finds her inspiration. As a female-identifying lover of the outdoors who is constantly transformed by their experiences in nature, Alex is driven to create an industry that is more inclusive, diverse, and supportive.
Michael Manuel | @mike_manuel_
Seattle, WA | he/him/his
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Tie between rock climbing, splitboard mountaineering & mountain biking
Favorite Trail Snack: Homemade Onigiri!
Mike is a passionate advocate for social justice in the outdoor space. He believes in the power of community, storytelling, and the constant call for critical love. He uses outdoor recreation as a lens to learn about life, failure, success, and connection to oneself and the natural world. Whether he is climbing up mountains or flowing down fresh powder, evergreen trails, and clean surf, he is always searching for ways for the BIPOC community to find connection to our natural state.
Briana Mazzolini-Blanchard | @dirtbagmomma
The Ancestral lands of the Shawnee and Miami peoples (Cincinnati, OH)
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Rock climbing
Favorite Trail Snack: Dried mangos and peanut butter wraps
Briana is an Indigenous woman living in Cincinnati, Ohio and her outdoor passion is rock climbing. Briana loves her community and serves on the Board of Directors with the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition and specifically leads initiatives in education, DEI, and outreach. She is also a lifelong projector and currently a weekend warrior, which motivates her to train multiple days of the week, but has also led her to send V7, project V8, and V9, and work on a number of 5.12 routes. She’s a wife and a mom, a coffee lover, and a plant collector, and is just here to change the world a little at a time.
Kevin Nguyen | @kev_is_alive
Salt Lake City, UT | he/him/his
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Backpacking
Favorite Trail Snack: Clif Bar (chocolate chip)
All of Kevin’s spare time is spent outdoors. There are not enough hours in the day nor enough days in the week for all of his activities. He regularly road and mountain bikes, pavement and trail runs, rock climbs, backpacks/camps, and snowboards. Kevin loves to explore nature in various ways. Backpacking is one of his favorite activities because he gets to fall asleep under the stars.
Running, especially trail running, is his favorite way to see the world. Kevin runs everywhere he goes, and (though currently on pause due to the pandemic) his five-year plan is to run a marathon or longer on each continent (three down!). The Great Ocean Road Marathon in Australia and Two Ocean Marathon in South Africa are next on his hit list. Kevin is looking for gear that can sustain his lifestyle. He’s excited to put the gear through the wringer and give his honest thoughts.
Kristen Nelson | @nowherenelson
Los Angeles, CA | she/her/hers
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Backpacking
Favorite Trail Snack: Sesame sticks
Kristen grew up in Aurora, CO and currently lives in Los Angeles, CA, where she works in production at DreamWorks Animation. When she’s not working, you can find her outside backpacking, biking, skiing, etc., usually with a camera in hand. Being outdoors is very meditative for her because it’s the best and most fun way to bring her back to the present. When you’re on the side of the steep hill trying not to topple under a heavy backpack, you don’t really have any other option but to be present!
Growing up, she didn’t see many Asians (especially female) in the outdoor industry so when it came to learning how to backpack, she didn’t have any role models who looked like her. Through the Honorary Gearhead program, she’s excited to play a role in diversifying the outdoor industry, in the hopes that this industry will ultimately look as colorful and diverse as the environment around us is.
Danielle Rootes | @chasing_trail_
Adirondack Mountains of NY | she/her/hers
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Canoe Camping
Favorite Trail Snack: Blueberries, cheese, and crackers
As a full time medical/surgical nurse, Danielle can often be found climbing, hiking, or paddling on her days off. She enjoys long trips into the backcountry either by foot or by canoe and loves to share her adventures through photo and video. Danielle’s next epic adventure will be exploring Moab, Utah and trying canyoneering for the first time.
Bethany Stivers (B) | @adventuresof_b
Park City, UT | she/her/hers
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Backpacking
Favorite Trail Snack: BEER
Meet Bethany—her friends just call her B. She’s been living in Park City, UT for almost two years working as a barista and a ski bum. Her love for mountains and the outdoors comes from growing up in Colorado. Before living in Park City, she worked as an outdoor educator and backpacking guide all over the country and the world for a few years. She still finds time to guide a little in the summers and her passion for experiential learning continues to grow the more time she spends outside.
When she’s not making coffee, you can find her snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, trail running, or backpacking in the Utah mountains. This summer, she plans to spend a month guiding a backpacking, rafting, and canyoneering trip for high school students in Utah. She also has her sights set on thru-hiking the Highline Trail in the High Uinta Wilderness and signing up for a few mountain bike races just for fun.
Noe Tolentino | @flowy_noe
Denver, CO & Sacramento, CA | he/him/his
Favorite Outdoor Activity: At the moment, fly fishing in remote alpine wilderness
Favorite Trail Snack: Peanut butter-filled pretzels and organic baby food puree
Noe is a full-time Registered Nurse specializing in Disaster & Emergency Response Nursing such as Fire, Flood, and Disaster mitigation/planning/evacuation and most recently this year, pandemic (COVID-19). When not at work, he loves rock climbing and is part of the USA Climbing Team, Adaptive Division, and holds a Gold Medal from the 2019 Competition. He also enjoys teaching climbing clinics to fellow adaptive communities and helping them reach their maximum potential despite their physical limitations, eventually guiding them to realize that it doesn’t have to limit them! In addition, he’s been passionately obsessed with fly fishing. Noe likes to keep his gear reviews optimistic, real, engaging and, of course, fun.
Charleto Valenzuela Jr | @leto_360
Vallejo, CA | he/him/his
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Mountain Biking
Favorite Trail Snack: Cherry Almond Honey Stinger protein bar
Growing up as a city kid, the outdoors weren’t a big part of Carleto’s childhood memories. It wasn’t until he found mountain biking that a seed was planted and kick-started his love for the outdoors. Fast forward 10 years and his passion for riding has grown into something he aims to share with other passionate people who are stoked to ride bikes. He believes people from all walks of life can learn to appreciate the great outdoors.
This year, he’s looking forward to the return of the Seaotter Classic Bike Festival, and the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival in 2021 (Shredona).
He’s excited to be an Honorary Gearhead and feels that bike gear is just as important as the bike when it comes to shredding that sweet single track. There’s no better review for mountain bike gear than when it comes from a rider himself. In the words of Carleto… “Stay stoked and ride!”
Zach Youngberg | @zachyoungberg
Dallas, TX | he/him/his
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Tie between mountain biking & fly fishing!
Favorite Trail Snack: Energy gels
Zach is a cinematographer. He loves that he gets to travel all over the U.S. and sometimes out of the country for different filmmaking projects with a wide array of clients. Zach thinks the best part about working freelance in that industry is it allows him to really enjoy his time off at home and go running, riding or fishing mid-week when the trails are quieter vs. weekends when it can get packed.
In June, he has a big trip up to Montana and Wyoming planned with his fiancé, which he has a hunch is going to be incredible. Zach is really excited to be reviewing Backcountry gear that covers the gamut of the different things he loves to do, whether it’s trail running, mountain biking, fly fishing, or even backpacking!
Cat Yu | @cyuself
Park City, UT | she/her/hers
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Backcountry ski touring
Favorite Trail Snack: Dried mango
Cat loves being outside and any excuse to eat snacks. She primarily identifies as a skier, but over the last few years has been in the constant pursuit of exploring the outdoors in all aspects. She has a hard time passing on adventure, which has led her to some trial-by-fire moments like an impromptu trip to visit her best friend in Jackson, WY, which quickly evolved into summiting the Grand Teton as her first climbing experience.