214 W. Holly St., Bellingham
Located on West Holly Street in downtown Bellingham, Backcountry Essentials has provided a place to shop for outdoor gear since its doors opened in 2006. Store owner Chris Gerston believes his store serves as both a gear shop and a hub for the outdoor community.
Full of gear for every season and sport, the store is lined with hiking boots and camping equipment along with everyday items like water bottles and clothes. The shop underwent renovations in 2010, at which point they also expanded into the second story. Upstairs, you’ll find a selection of gently used clothing and shoes at unbeatable price points. The store also runs an award-winning ski shop.
Gerston hopes his store is a welcoming place for people of all experience levels.
“First and foremost, we try to be accessible to people,” Gerston says. “We have a staff with a lot of experience and I pretty much tell them, I don’t really care how fast they ski or how hard they climb, the thing we need to do is just be nice to people.”
At the back of the store you’ll find a beer cooler, so customers can stock up on brews before they set off on their outdoor excursions. You’ll also find guide books, maps, and other items to aid in trip-planning.
In this way, Gerston hopes his store is like a mini vacation for people, a space where they can dream about their next big getaway.
“Oftentimes, people may not be able to get out for a vacation or even get out for a hike,” Gerston says. “But they will come in here for maybe a 15 minute vacation, where they just sort of dream and walk around and look at the gear.”
What You’ll Find
Backcountry Essentials sells gear and clothing from the best outdoor outfitters around. You can find shoes from Chaco, Merrell, Vasque, and Altra, as well as apparel from brands like Patagonia, Columbia, Prana, and Kuhl Clothing. Climbing, hiking, and camping gear runs the gamut — you’ll find offerings from Outdoor Research, Black Diamond, MSR, and more.
Along with buying skis and ski boots, in the winter you can also rent skis and mountaineering equipment like ice axes and crampons. They even offer an option for people to demo new skis for a day.
“My favorite thing to do is gear testing,” Gerston says, noting he’s already excited for next year’s skis. He loves seeing new items come into the store.
If you’re someone who has years of outdoors experience or is curious about Bellingham’s outdoor community, stop by Backcountry Essentials to find the right equipment as well as the right information.
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