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A family business: local couple brings the outdoors to your door

Sam Briley paddles at Summersville Lake in West Virginia.
Sam Briley paddles at Summersville Lake in West Virginia. (Photo by Thomas Briley)

For Samantha and Thomas Briley, being outdoors has always been a part of life. Both are North Carolina natives, with Sam growing up in Garner and Thomas in New Bern. They met while rock climbing when they both attended East Carolina University and they say they've "been attached to each other's side ever since." Both Sam and Thomas worked for outdoor companies leading activities like kayaking, mountain biking, and backpacking. They settled in California, accumulating personal outdoor equipment for more than five years, when tragedy occurred. All of their equipment was stolen. "We didn't have anything," says Sam. "We were right in the middle of California ready to get outside and mountain bike, paddle, backpack, even just camp and we couldn't."

Though it was a major setback, an innovative business idea was sparked. While slowly piecing their collection back together and borrowing equipment they didn't have yet, Sam and Thomas realized that a business based on renting outdoor equipment could be built. The couple moved back to North Carolina and created Gear Up. The company rents outdoor adventure gear and delivers it to the customer's home or to a campsite in the greater Raleigh area. The vailable gear includes tents, sleeping bags and mats, camp cookware, and more. They offer multiple packages based on what the customer needs, from deluxe packages with all necessary gear for camping, to individual a la carte rentals. The Brileys want to make sure that people have access to equipment, whether they cannot afford to buy it all or lack the storage necessary to house it. "Based on our personal experience and years in the industry, we know that it isn't always easy getting into adventure and outdoor activities. What we've seen is that access to equipment is the largest hurdle."

When renting from Gear Up, customers are not confined to having adventures just in the local area. There is no travel limit when using the Gear Up equipment, and they'll even mail gear nationally. "Say you want to fly to Yellowstone and camp but you can't take all of the gear with you on the plane," explains Thomas. "We'll ship the gear to where you're going, and we include a return label so you can put it back in the mail to us at the end of your trip."

The business had their ribbon cutting in March of 2020, two days before the state went into quarantine for Covid-19. Most campgrounds were shut down, and the Brileys had to adapt. They created birthday and backyard packages, and used the time to fine-tune their business processes. Now, with restrictions lifting, they're expanding their business beyond camping gear. Gear Up now offers guided outings, photography classes, and recently added eight Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP) for rent. There are also future plans for SUP excursions, including brunches and bridal shower parties.

To find out more about Gear Up and to check out everything they offer, go to their website. You can also visit their Facebook and Instagram pages, and they have a YouTube channel that includes the family's adventures, how-to videos, and trail food recipes.