Mountain Crossings Reinvents The Shake Down
One of the unexpected cool things about working for a specialty outdoor retailer that is also a small business is how involved you get. I mean really, really, involved. My co-workers and bosses are like my brothers and sisters. We have all moved here away from our families only to become a whole new family. We live and work together, day in and day out, which means work never really ends and play is always part of the work day. Lately, we’ve been doing a lot of that late night, half buzzed brain storming about our little business and about the Appalachian Trail. About the changes coming and the ones that have already passed. About what’s best for us. Us as a business and more importantly, us as thru hikers in this wonderful thru hiker community. As thru hikers who love to and really try to build backpackers into thru hikers! With thru hiking hitting the big screen and with screens in general becoming more integrated into thru hiking, the AT experience isn’t what it was in the 90’s, much less when Earl and even Emma were out there. How do we handle these changes? How far do we let them go? We’ve asked ourselves these questions lately and this is what we came up with: if it helps someone out and harms no one else, it’s got a to be a good change, right? We think so. And in that spirit we bring you a huge change from the little stone building sitting at Neel Gap, mile 31.7 of the Appalachian Trail.
Mountain Crossings is now offering Virtual Shake Downs!
It’s just like the shake downs that have been going on here for decades but with a twist, which is that you can be anywhere in the world! We have long since encouraged hikers to get a shake down in the winter months leading up to their thru hike if at all possible. It makes those first three days way easier on your body and then when you get here you don’t have to haggle for a spot in the shake down line. But if you live in Ohio, or Texas or Washington, you probably can’t make a trip to the shop before your thru hike. So we fixed that! Now using Google Hangout, which is an online video chatting service, we are able to host one on one shake downs with hikers who are far away from us. They can show us what gear they already have and we can show them an outfitter full of whatever gear they may need or have questions about. In the end, if they need to pick something up to round out the perfect gear set up, we can compile it for them to purchase online and have it sent out to them the next day.
Here’s the Run Down:
- A Virtual Shake Down is a service you purchase on Mountain Crossings‘ website. It costs $100 but that is 100% rebate that can be applied to the purchase of gear. Yeah, we know, that’s steep and wait, hasn’t it always been free before? Yup, always has been free when you do it in the shop (and it still is), but as one learns with the inter workings of business, this operation takes a good bit of man power that is often times well outside of typical hours. Also, if you’re a savvy shopper, or just a regular old hiker, you will willingly take advantage of that $100 rebate and get a lighter rain jacket, or a better sleeping bag. That is what a shakedown is about! Getting out on trail with good gear that will last you to Maine if you take care of it and keep that pack weight down.
- All you need is a computer with video and audio capabilities. This means a built in or USB video camera and microphone. (Standard in almost any lap top ever these days.) Internet connection is helpful too but McDonald’s has your hiker trash back if you don’t have internet. (Buy your self an apple pie and a McCoffee and plug up!)
- Google Hangout is the service we will be using and we will provide you with all the login info you need in order to stream line the process and make it easy. You must have a gmail account to participate in a Google Hangout so we made a couple dummy accounts for Staff and Guest.
- Its the same good old shake down you get when you’re in the shop. You’re still going to be face to face with a former thru hiker who can answer every last question you have and give excellent guidance gleaned from thousands of miles of hiking.
- At the end of the shake down, our hope is that you feel way more comfortable about getting out there and getting your thru hike on. We hope you’ve got all your questions answered and we hope you are super confident in whether you want to tent or hammock, or if you’ll bring an alcohol stove or canister stove, or if you’ll bring rain pants, a rain kilt or just plan to enjoy the free showers. We also hope that you got a pick up some of the missing pieces of your gear set up. If you are using the rebate (AND YOU SHOULD, thats the point of a rebate) then we can help you purchase those items online in a personalized bundle and send them out to you.
Good Things to Know:
- This in NO WAY changes the old shake down process at all. It is and forever will be a free service Mountain Crossings offers. If you prefer to drive up, come on and see us! If you are willing to suffer the three days of carrying extra stuff and don’t mind waiting in a cold stone building for a shake down in an over crowded, funky smelling situation instead of watching movies in the hostel, then wait until you’re hiking through to get one. And I, for one, am a fan of the cold stone building that is over crowded and smells of hiker funk in which I do upwards of 6 shake downs a day in during hiker season! Its the best time of year to work here so don’t try to think I’m dissuading you. I’m just being realistic!
- The Virtual Shake Down is NOT ONLY FOR THRU HIKERS!! Section hikers and weekend backpackers can benefit from a shakedown as well and we love helping out backpackers of any experience level and with all kinds of intentions.
- This isn’t exactly a brand new, one of a kind, original idea. We know there have been people for a long time who have been helping folks over the internet as they prepare for a long distance hike. Everyone’s favorite guy, Zach, “Badger” Davis does a much more comprehensive service like this where you can rent out his extravagant brain for a while! We just decided to build off of this idea in a way that was reminiscent to the shake down we are famous for.
For anyone who is interested, here is a link to all the things you could ever need to know about a Virtual Shake Down. (Okay, maybe not, because you and I don’t share brains and maybe you want to know something else. But if you have a question that isn’t on this list, email me at [email protected]!)
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I have this hysterical visual of someone dumping their monster size backpack full of crumpled dirty gear all over a booth at McDonalds!
Great idea, I hope you can record a few shakedowns and can post the video. Fun, educational, and possibly some laugh out-loud moment as people argue with you about how important everything is!
Oh that’s a great idea! Please record some of them. It’s bound to be entertaining. And yes I’m afraid I would be one of those arguing and trying to justify my have to have NECESSITIES. LOL