(credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Whatever outdoor activity you have in mind, it’s always more fun when you’re prepared with the right stuff. Before you get away, check out the state of your outdoor gear. Consider what’s a must-have, what needs replacing, what can make do for now and what’s on your wish list. See how much fun it can be to chat with the folks that sell this stuff for a living (before they no longer do) because online is just online.
377 Santana Row
San Jose, CA 95128
Here are two good things together: great gear in a great location. Among all of the wine bars and nail salons, there is a truly good place for fly fishing gear. As we all know, coming in for a helpful conversation with an expert and getting your hands on the fishing rod and reel is a wholly different experience, and a much more satisfying one, than an online purchase. Check out the after-work pizza and free fishing clinics offering tips on technique, locations as well as the on-the-water weekend getaways.
1266 W. San Carlos St.
San Jose, CA 95126
Serving the outdoors enthusiast since 1946, Mel Cotton’s Sporting Goods is a staple in San Jose. If your tube socks look that old, it’s time to stock up. If you can think of it, this shop probably has it, with more than 1,000 vendor brands in stock. From a small wooden duck call to the biggest roof rack, you can either pop in or ask your questions in advance via email. Whether fishing, hunting, skiing, hiking, snowboarding, shooting, golfing, snorkeling or wakeboarding, Mel Cotton’s has what you need.
1299 W. El Camino Real
Mountain View, CA 94040
Welcome to 1965. Don’t let the look of the place nor the website get you down. It’s old, crusty and dusty. If you don’t want to dig around through years of stuff while shopping, this may not the place for you, but you can always ask for help finding something. Burning Man supplies, camouflage, army/navy stuff, duffel bags, camping kit gear, mess kits and flasks are available. Be prepared for hit or miss and if it’s a miss day, you can always kit yourself out for earthquake preparedness.
3449 Stevens Creek Blvd.
San Jose, CA 95117
Another mainstay of the community, Stevens Creek has been selling outdoor gear since 1976. Dozens of well-known brands are stocked, including Harley-Davidson, Caterpillar, Altama, Georgia and Hi-Tec. Campers will find cooking fuel and stoves, tents and sleeping bags. Hikers will find sunglasses and compasses, canteens and fanny packs. There’s rainwear, winter wear, bib overalls, those great Wellington boots that the English adore and more. Shop here for BDUs, parachutes, gas masks and steel toe boots, too.
855 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Go green. You’ve probably never seen a store like this one. The parent company, SilRay, handles larger solar projects and is bringing small items to the retail audience via this new store in the Town and Country Shopping Center specializing in solar-powered gadgetry. Your phone, tablet, laptop, flashlight, lantern, bicycle lights and lots more can all remain charged in an eco-friendly manner while you’re enjoying the great outdoors. Why not keep your drinks cold in a mini-fridge powered by a USB connected to a solar source or sport a solar-paneled cap?
Laurie JM Farr is a freelance writer covering all things in her adopted San Francisco. A dedicated urbanite, she’s a transplanted New Yorker by way of a couple of decades in London as a hotel sales and marketing manager. Follow her work on @ReferencePlease, USA Today, Yahoo! and on Examiner.com.