Q: How can I take full advantage of my gear store to get the best advice on nearby trails, equipment, and training? - Liz, Indianapolis, IN
A: Outdoor shops are full of experts who want to help you elevate your adventures. Here’s how to tap them for advice: >> Ask about trips. Fish for details about an associate’s recent trip, or where other customers have been reporting good conditions. Get specific and
take notes. >> Get gear advice. Most salespeople have a specialty; if your interests don’t match, get a referral to the store’s expert. >> Rent before you buy. Use loaner gear to test-drive big-ticket items. Shop employees also know first-hand about durability; ask for the lowdown on
oft-repaired items, then use that insight to guide purchase and maintenance decisions. >> Go to clinics. If an event requires registration, sign up ASAP. If an event’s full, volunteer for setup or takedown to score a standing-room seat.
No interesting events? Ask the manager how to organize one of your own design.