It all started in Granite Gear's booth at Appalachian Trail Days in 2015. Rob (Granite Gear) and Shelly (Darby) were working the booth when Cap and Spice of the Packing It Out team walked up and introduced themselves. They were raving about their Granite Gear Crown VC 60 and Blaze AC 60 packs when they nonchalantly mentioned their (unbelievable) mission to pack out 1,000 pounds of trash from the Appalachian Trail that year. Needless to say, Rob and Shelly were impressed and the Granite Gear team instantly wanted to support this team in their admirable efforts to leave the trails better. Granite Gear quickly became the team's first sponsor.
Over the years, the Packing It Out team has never stopped inspiring Granite Gear, and many others. Their mantra to "Leave it Better" has resonated across many channels, and Granite Gear wanted to find out if other hikers wanted to partake in the mission of cleaning up the trails. They put a call out and had almost 200 thru-hikers apply to join Granite Gear's new Grounds Keepers program! From those 200, they chose 15 hikers who had previously completed a thru-hike or various section hikes, have a passion for Leave No Trace ethics, are strong in mind and body, and have committed to doing their very best to pick up as much trash as possible while on the trail.