Molly's Summer Staff Picks

Hi, I'm Molly!

I love to hike, camp, backpack, and cross-country ski, and I feel so lucky to live in Tahoe, where I can do all of them…practically in my backyard!

My Story:

I grew up in Minnesota and spent most of my 20s in Arizona. It was in the Southwest that I began my love of the outdoors and knew that I wanted to find a way to incorporate that into a job. I found myself working at a National Forest Visitor Center, then moved on to an outdoor retail store. This ultimately led me to a job at Gregory Mountain Products and a move to Northern California.

After Gregory relocated to SLC, I worked as a tech rep for a couple of great agencies, but ultimately felt more at home in retail. After a lot of planning and some luck, my husband, pup, and I arrived in Tahoe, and I hoped in time I would find my way to Alpenglow…a shop I had loved since the first time I walked in back in the summer of 2009.

I truly enjoy being part of a long-time, independent brick-and-mortar like AG and how much we tie into our local community. It feels pretty unreal to look out our shop’s front windows and see beautiful Lake Tahoe and the Sierra within my reach!

"I love lightweight gear, but that usually is so I can pack more! If you have the lightest weight trail chair…why not bring a second one for a friend, right?"

- Molly Mcguire

My Top 3:

Skratch Energy Chews

I find myself typically grabbing for gels and gummies on hikes and backpacking trips. Bars are too heavy and filling, and make me feel like I need a nap on the trail. Skratch’s chews are delicious and provide fast-absorbing energy, without any preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors. What can I say, I never grew out of loving fruit snacks as a kid!

Petzl Tikka Core 450

I love Petzl’s Tikka Core as an all-around headlamp. The Tikka Core is reliable, lightweight, and packs a ton of value, including a rechargeable core battery and a storage pouch that effectively turns the headlamp into a pleasant, diffused lantern. The entire Core family of Petzl’s headlamps come with a rechargeable battery, also allowing you to use AAA batteries when needed. I try to always have one in my pack, even on day hikes; as one of the 10 essentials, it has proven clutch when a short hike turns into an unplanned long hike (box canyons can be tricky in the southwest)!

Bedrock Cairn Evo Sandal

I would be remiss not to include a trail-worthy sandal. As I honed my outdoor and trail skills in the southwest, I knew nothing other than a life of sandals. Now, as long as there isn’t snow on a trail (and sometimes even then), I typically grab for a pair of durable, light, and grippy sandals like Bedrock’s Cairn Evo line. Bedrock’s Cairn Evos provide excellent traction, and a superior purchase on rocky and dusty trails alike.

My gear philosophy:

My gear philosophy has always been a bit of a hodgepodge. I love lightweight gear, but that usually is so I can pack more! If you have the lightest weight trail chair…why not bring a second one for a friend, right? I can be wooed by new and flashy toys, but ultimately they do need to serve a purpose. I also will take an unsexy tried and true piece of durable gear over something so lightweight that I can see the warranty issues in my future. And last… I don’t believe in skimping on core gear and believe that the lightest weight pack can feel the heaviest if the suspension is lacking or it doesn't fit correctly. Ultimately, if you research and shop thoughtfully, you will get the right gear for you…anyone judging me for my once-a-year trip with my first backpack doesn’t realize the memories make it feel lighter, and it still fits like a glove 25 years later!

More Top Picks:

The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada

A must-have, must-read for anyone invested in the Sierra; this book is the ultimate trail companion to get to know the flora and fauna of our mountains. I love how the format (dichotomous key) will enable even the most novice hiker to learn about their surroundings and identify a Jeffrey Pine vs a Ponderosa Pine (hint: “gentle Jeffrey” and “prickly Ponderosa”). I initially got this book for a biology class, and suddenly identifying plants and animals became a fun game!

Hydrapak Mountain Stow 500 mL

I like the Stow 500 mL from Hydrapak because it is a lightweight and collapsible bottle that is great to toss in your pack whether you are on the trail or traveling. It has a spillproof cap and can deliver A LOT of water fast, packing down to practically nothing when you are done. My husband got one of these this past winter, and I immediately stole it from him! Now that they come with a mountain print, he can have his back and I get a new one!

Jetboil MiniMo Stove

I have to have a Jetboil on this list because I have been using one for over 20 years. A good friend knocked excitedly on my door at nearly midnight back in 2002; he knew it was never too late at night to show off a new, exciting piece of gear. All of these years later, Jetboil is still known for its all-encompassing cook systems that boil water and cook food fast, saving time, energy, and fuel on the trail. The MiniMo is lightweight, compact, and efficiently boils water in about 2 minutes; with a pushbutton igniter and a bottom cover that doubles as a measuring cup, the MiniMo system is a no-brainer for the trail. We pair ours with a Grande Coffee Press (sold separately) and take it on morning paddleboard trips; coffee can’t taste better than when you are sitting in the sun on the shore of a Sierra lake!

All my picks:

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