|When I was driving out to the Ocala National Forest the other day, I heard a radio commercial for a new outfitter in town. Now I was saddened to see Brasington’s pull out of town some time ago, since they focused on gear for hiking and kayaking, so there has been a void in the local market since.|
At Christmas, I visited the new Gander Mountain, but there wasn’t any effort there to cater to hikers and backpackers, as their main market is sportsmen and anglers. So I was intrigued to learn of Flint Creek Outfitters. Sure enough, they are tucked away in one of the new malls on SR 200 west of I-75 where I’ve avoided going simply because it bothered me to see the horse farms give way to commercial development. I finally made an exception, and I’m glad I did.
Although they carry a very extensive Orvis line for anglers, a goodly part of the store is devoted to kayaking, and a fair corner to backpacking. They carry GoLite (scored points from me on that one!) packs, bivys, and tents as well as products from The North Face and Mountain HardWear . Plenty of Backpacker’s Pantry products, for those who enjoy them, and some nice hydration products … I picked up my first-ever, a 3L ultralite HYDR8R, as Friday’s hike in open scrub reminded me that I do need to hydrate more often, and my Kiva day pack is built to handle a bladder. So, that’ll be my next gear trial this week.
The store quietly opened back on Black Friday and is planning a grand opening in February. Meanwhile, they’re tinkering with the product lines. If you’re in or around Ocala and want to get your two cents in regards best gear for Florida hikers – thank goodness the gentleman on the floor is one, and we talked at length about Florida-appropriate products – do stop in, check out what they have, and say hello!