Is there anything more elusive than a perfect Mother’s Day gift? Your mom is a pretty special lady, so you want something that celebrates her unique brand of awesomeness. But you also want a gift that’s practical enough that she’ll actually use it. Never fear, our team of gear experts has gotten pretty good at picking out gifts – and they have moms too. For your gifting inspiration,  here’s what we’re getting for mom this year.

ENO Doublenest Hammock – $69.95

Because what mom couldn’t use a peaceful spot to relax after a hectic day?

– Belinda, Frugal Backpacker Asheville


Marmot Precip Anorak – $90.00

If your mom loves the outdoors, like mine, a rainshell makes a practical, yet thoughtful gift.

Vickie, Frugal Backpacker Asheville


Socksmith Socks – $8.00 – 10.00 

I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t love these fun socks. They come in so many cute prints that there’s one to fit every mom.

Maggie, Frugal Backpacker Asheville


Unsinkable Sunglasses – $59.40 – $83.40 (MSRP: $99.00 – $139.00)

A pair of Unsinkables is perfect for my mom as she starts gearing up for summer days. Now she can finally have a pair of sunglasses that won’t end up at the bottom of the lake.

Morgan, Frugal Backpacker Greenville


UV Buff – $24.00

My mom is all about some UVA protection. She’s also got a lot of hair, which can be difficult to manage during outdoor activities – a buff is a fuss-free way to keep it in place.

– Isaac, Frugal Backpacker Greenville


Tilley Melanie Hemp Sun Hat$30.00 (MSRP: $105.00)

This sun hat protects mom’s skin while allowing her to look her best.

– Mike, Frugal Backpacker Greenville

Still need a little help? Stop by for personalized help in picking out the perfect gift for the superwoman in your life.


The sunny days and balmy temps that we’ve been enjoying this month have us itching for a relaxing day on the water. Fortunately, the Greenville area is full of beautiful lakes, rivers, and even has a fantastic blueway. Here are three of our favorite spots for paddling in the upstate.

Lake Jocassee

Location: Oconee County.

Why we love it: Lake Jocassee is inside Devils Fork State Park (perfect for add-0n adventures). This lake offers crystal clear, cool water even in August. There are also several hidden waterfalls accessible only by boat.

Access: Entrance fee is $5 for adults; $3.25 for SC seniors (age 65 & older); $3 for children ages 6-15; ages 5 and under, free. You can purchase maps of the lake at the park store.

Lake Blalock

Location: Spartanburg County.

Why we love it: Lake Blalock has horsepower limits on power boats, the highest allowed being 40 HP for pontoon boats. You never have to worry about heavy boat traffic which makes paddling peaceful.

Access: A boating permit is required to paddle the lake. The permit fee of $5 per boat can be purchased at the Lake Blalock Warden’s Office. 1925 Sandy Ford Rd, Chesnee, SC 29323

The Pacolet and Lawson’s Fork Blueway

Location: Spartanburg county.

Why we love it: This waterway includes easy to moderate skill and flow levels, so it’s perfect for everyone. It offers class I to class IV rapids only 15 minutes from downtown Spartanburg. After paddling take time to check out the picturesque Glendale Shoals Preserve. The best times to paddle are October through May when water levels are the highest.

Access: You can purchase a waterproof map at one of the Upstate Forever offices (GREENVILLE – 507 Pettigru St, Greenville, SC 29601 SPARTANBURG – 201 E. Broad St. Suite 1C, Spartanburg, SC 29306) or email Lee Brashier at

As outdoor lovers, we want products that both perform and take care of the earth. Here are nine of Frugal Crew Member, Mac’s favorite outdoor products with serious green credibility.

Sun Bum Sunscreen

Sun Bum Sunscreen

Sun Bum Sunscreen is one of the best natural sunscreens on the market. It is free of a lot of harmful chemicals that most other broad spectrum sunscreens will have, as well as being vegan and animal cruelty free. Because is does not contain any harmful chemicals, it is safe in the ocean, and is reef friendly.
Dr. Bronner’s Products
Dr. Bronner’s Product is a great company that only uses certified fair trade organic products for all of their soaps and oils.They have been a staple for households and camping adventures since the 1880’s! They use regenerative organic agriculture practices at all their farms throughout the world, which sequesters huge amounts of excess carbon from the air and bring it back into healthy soil. They also support fair wage bills, and countless environmental advocacy groups.
Squirrel’s Nut Butter
Squirrel’s Nut Butter makes amazing all natural anti-chafing and skin restorative salves. Their belief is that if a product is not natural, then you shouldn’t be putting it on your skin. Their products are fantastic for healing and preventing blisters and hot spots.
Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
This deet-free plant based insect repellent is just as effective as the regular stuff, but without all the harmful chemicals. This makes it safer to put on both your body and your clothes!
Luci Light Products
Luci Lights are solar powered lanterns and lights that can be used for everything from campsites, to outdoor parties, to emergencies. Most of them can either be charged by the sun or with a USB cable.
Patagonia Backstep Shirt
Hemp and Organic Cotton Apparel
We sell a variety of hemp and organic cotton made clothing that does not have synthetics in them. These products will have are less toxic and are more sustainable for the planet. They also have less of a carbon footprint in their production.
Goal Zero Flip 10
Goal Zero Products
Goal Zero has a wide selection of solar ready portable chargers for all your electronics. They also may be charged through a USB.
Recover Apparel
All of their apparel is made from recycled water bottles and recycled cotton. 8 bottles –> 1 shirt! Plus, it feels fantastically soft.
Patagonia Torrentshell
Patagonia Rain Jackets
Patty’s new line of wind and rain shells are made from 100% recycled materials.
Photo of Falls Park in Greenville, SC

The Swamp Rabbit Trail

With a new Frugal Backpacker location in the beautiful Greenville SC, we are so excited to be a part of this community and explore all that the city has to offer! From restaurants, breweries, trails, and more, there is so much to discover, and we want to help you all do the same through posts like these! Today we are highlighting the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 20-mile greenway opened in 2009 that runs through the heart of Greenville along the Reedy River. We have inserted a fantastic four minute video tour of the trail, so definitely check that out above.

Oh The Things You Can Do

This trail has it all, from a detailed map highlighting where the restrooms, parking, and water fountains are), to an extensive guide called “ The Carrot ” highlighting the restaurants and breweries along the way. Not to mention every one of these locations are within either a 1 mile bike ride or ¼ mile walk from the trail! The Swamp Rabbit Trail is also dog friendly, so that means you and your (on leash) furry friend can enjoy the journey together! Biking is among the most popular activities on the trail, and if you don’t have a bike, don’t worry! Just stop by Reedy Rides on your way, Greenville’s dedicated bike rental business for the trail.

Teal Bike on part of The Swamp Rabbit Trail

Photo taken by @galemanor on Instagram

Great Routes for a Biking Adventure

If you are looking to get the Downtown Greenville experience, consider starting your adventure at Cleveland Park and heading into the city to find out everything it has to offer. If you prefer something a bit more laid back, try starting around Furman University and make your way over to Traveler’s Rest. There you can spend the day exploring all of the cute shops and restaurants on your route!


Some of our staff had planned on biking the trail this past Saturday, but were unfortunately thwarted by rain. That didn’t stop us from having a good time though, and enjoying one of the restaurants along the trail, The Swamp Rabbit Café! As you can see, everyone had a great time and really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of this cute café, regardless of the rainy weather. 

Photo from outside of The Swamp Rabbit Café

Photo of staff members outside of the Swamp Rabbit Café

We want to hear from you guys what YOUR favorite part of the Swamp Rabbit Trail is, so leave a comment on Facebook under this article and let us know where your adventure takes you!



A bee visiting a purple flower.

Why Plant for Pollinators?

In recent years due to high levels of pesticides many bees have become endangered, all are at risk. Many estimate bees have plummeted by upwards of 30%, others say it is much higher. You can take action in your own backyard by planting items that bees are likely to visit. Bees are natural pollinators, without them we would no longer have some of our favorite flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Keep it Natural

When planting to attract bees, be sure to stay clear of chemicals. Pesticides are designed to kill insects, so by default you are also killing the bees.  By staying organic you will provide a safe and natural habitat for the pollinators.

Go Native

North and South Carolina have more than 500 native bee species, and there are more than 4,000 species in North America.  Native bees are attracted to native plants, so that is a good place to start.  Research shows native plants are four times more attractive to native bees. Some examples of native species for WNC and Greenville SC are purple coneflower, aster, bellflower, black-eyed susan, mint, alyssum, poppies, sunflowers, lupine, creeping thyme, lavender, bee balm, great blue lobelia, goldenrod, and many others thrive in gardens and provide food and habitat for native pollinators. Not only will these plants attract bees, but many of them will also attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Embrace Variety

Bees are drawn to a variety of colors and sizes.

Bees and other pollinators have good vision to help them find flower and nectar.  Bees tend to prefer the blue and violet-colored flowers the most, followed by white and yellow. These color flowers tends to produce far more nectar than flowers of other colors. This allows the bees to harvest more from these plants. Planting your flowers in clumps will attract more pollinators than individual plants scattered throughout the garden.

Include different shapes in your flowers. With the diversity of bees, each kind has their favorites. Bees will be different sizes, have different tongue lengths, and will feed on different shaped flowers. Having a variety will provide more benefits for more bees.

Create a Welcoming Environment

You can provide housing for bees. Some bees, like mason bees, will build nesting sites in insect holes and hollow stems. These cavity dwellers will also move into bee houses made from bamboo reeds, and holes drilled in wooden blocks.  You can also find bee houses for sale at garden shops.

Gathering nectar is hard work for bees and they do get thirsty. A bee bath will give them a place to get fresh, clean water. Fill a shallow container with water and several pebbles or twigs for bees to land on while drinking. Make sure to keep the water safe by changing it often and keeping it clean.

Bees work all season; so plant items that will bloom in early spring to fall. Enjoy a variety in your garden!


Here are some additional resources for caring for and selecting pollinator friendly plants:

NC Cooperative Extension Pollinator List

Note: while this list specifies the piedmont region, similar eco-systems make it applicable to the mountains as well. 

Clemson Pollinator Fact Sheet Central Appalachian (including WNC) Pollinator Guide Southeast Mixed Forest (including Upstate SC) Pollinator Guide

How to Make a Bee Bath

Sunny days and late sunsets make for epic long runs. If your time outdoors has you ready to train for your next 5k or maybe bust into ultra territory, we’ve got the gear you need at frugal prices. Check out our top picks below, and stop by to shop our awesome selection of running shoes, hydration, and apparel.

1- Columbia Cullman Crest S/SFrugal: $25.00
This crew feels like cotton, but wicks like synthetic.
2- Camelbak Nano Handheld – MSRP: $30.00 Frugal: $24.00
For those light and fast runs, this handheld is just right for holding water, keys, and your phone.
3- Camelbak Ultra Pro Vest – MSRP: $120.00 Frugal: $96.00
When you’re going a little further this vest will keep you well hydrated while balancing that extra weight. It comes in both a men’s and women’s specific version for a perfect fit.
4- Patagonia Duckbill Trucker – MSRP: $35.00 Frugal: $28.00
Wish your beloved trucker hats were a little lighter? This synthetic trucker packs down small, but doesn’t skimp on style.
5- Body Glide Anti-Chafe StickFrugal: $8.95
If you run in summer, buy this. Trust us, your thighs will thank you.
6- Salomon Sense Ride – MSRP: $120.00 Frugal: $72.00
Plenty of traction and generous cushioning make this shoe a go-to for long trail runs.

If you’ve looked for hiking footwear recently, no doubt you’ve noticed a dizzying array of options. Here’s a quick guide to finding the right shoe for your foot in five easy steps.

  1. Which shoe type fits your terrain and hiking style?
    1. Trail Runner – Heavier than a road running shoe, but still can be light weight. They are designed to support and protect the foot on rugged trails.
    2. Light Hiker – Made for hiking on well-established trails, they are not meant for extremely rocky, rugged or off trail hiking.
    3. Mid Hiker – These are sturdier than the light hikers, usually with deeper lugs for increased traction.
    4. Heavy Hiker – Sturdy, usually boots that are higher cut and will protect the ankle and foot.
  1. Boot or shoe?
    1. A shoe is typically lighter in weight, more flexible and cooler than a boot. Shoes will mold to your foot faster and are often more comfortable out of the box. But they will usually wear out faster than a boot.
    2. A boot is usually thicker than a shoe and is heavier. Boots will help support the weight of a pack and often feature more dense midsole construction. A boot will usually offers more protection for your ankle.
  1. Waterproof or non-waterproof?
    1. For shorter summer hikes, non-waterproof shoes will offer more breathability. They are also often more budget friendly and lighter in weight.
    2. Waterproof shoes provide valuable protection from the elements on rainy days, stream crossings, and winter hikes. Waterproof shoes do not breathe as well as non-waterproof, and can trap moisture both directions. If you tend to have sweaty feet, keep this in mind. Waterproof shoes are typically a little more expensive than non-waterproof.
  1. Get a perfect fit.
    1. No guess work – an in store fitting is the best way to get shoes that work well for you. Our staff is always happy to measure your feet.
    2. It is very important to try on both shoes. Most people have one foot that is longer than the other and you want to make sure you have a proper fitting for both feet.
    3. Wear the correct sock when trying on hiking shoes. Make sure they are the same thickness as what you will be hiking in. A medium thickness is typically recommended. No cotton socks – they will give you blisters!
    4. Check to see if your foot slides when going down hill or your heel is slipping when going up hill. We have a special knot to fix that.
    5. Shoe size varies from company to company, don’t be surprised if you wear different sizes in different shoes. Some shoes are more narrow, while others can be a little wider. One of our shoe experts can recommend styles that will work well for you.
  1. Take ’em for a test ride.
    1. While a proper fitting will get you most of the way to a perfect fit, some issues may not be noticeable on a 10 minute jaunt around the store. Wear your new shoes around inside the house prior to taking them on the trail. I recommend wearing them while vacuuming or doing chores to get a feel for what they will be like during extended wear.


Not to be confused with Chimney Rock State Park, these Chimneys sit on the edge of Linville Gorge.  Starting at the Table Rock Picnic Area, you’ll follow the white blazed Mountains to Sea Trail to the south (on the left side of the parking lot).  You’ll find beautiful 360-degree views as you walk along the ridge on the eastern edge of the Gorge.  This hike is easily extendable by continuing along the MST to Shortoff Mountain, or by heading back to the parking lot and up to the top of Table Rock (see our blog post about this hike here).
Length: 1.5 miles out and back
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Directions: From Asheville, take I-40 East to exit 85 for US-221.  Follow 221 North for 28 miles, then turn right on NC-183 South.  Follow 183 for 4.5 miles to NC-181.  Turn right onto 181 South and follow for 3 miles to Gingercake Rd (you’ll see signs for Table Rock Picnic Area).  After 0.3 mi on Gingercake, veer left at the fork onto Table Rock Rd.  Follow Table Rock Rd for 5.4 miles (the road turns to gravel after about a mile), then turn right onto Forest Road 210B (again you’ll see signs for Table Rock Picnic Area).  Follow FR 210B for 2.9 miles to the Picnic Area, passing a sign for North Carolina Outward Bound School (after 1.5 miles the road turns back to pavement and the switchbacks get steeper).

How are you planning on enjoying this gorgeous spring weather? If family bonding in the outdoors is high on your list, our frugal finds for family fun will make for an unforgettable day!

1- Patagonia Kid’s Interstate Hat – MSRP: $25.00 Frugal: $20.00
These adorable hats will keep the sun out of their eyes and their manes tamed.
2- Columbia Peak Freak TeeMSRP: $22.00 Frugal: $14.99
3- Columbia Outdoor Elements Tank Frugal: $25.00
These moisture wicking shirts offer UPF 50 sun protection, to keep your little explorers protected and dry on warm days.
4- GSI Backpack BocceFrugal: $16.95 *BOGO 50% off all GSI games*
This compact bocce set can accommodate up to 4 players – perfect for the whole family.
5- Pocket Disc Sports DiscFrugal: $14.99
This bright disk can be folded to take up minimal space, and is a great way to include fido in the fun.
6- Kelty Bestie BlanketFrugal: $24.95
This lightweight throw works well for picnic spreads and chilly peaks alike.
7- Kelty LoveseatFrugal: $89.95
Portable seating doesn’t get any comfier than this roomy loveseat.