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Backcountry Summit by Tread Agency

October 2023
Author: Jessica Taylor Byers

Summertime in the mountains consistently paints a picture that’s hard to forget – fields of wildflowers, a fresh cup of coffee at sunrise, an acoustic guitar around a campfire, catching a trout in a tucked away stream, dinner over an open flame, a midday rain shower or maybe a wicked monsoon boiling, and if you’re lucky, watching animals graze in a young burn as the sun begins to set. Now add a layer that looks something like this – a long-range rifle class, one-on- one pistol instruction, bear identification and defense, and wilderness survival tactics, which includes foraging, shelter variations, universal knot tying, and backcountry first aid. Welcome to the very first Backcountry Summit by Tread Agency.

I was fortunate enough to attend this recent event outside of White Sulphur Springs, Montana and connect with some like- minded individuals who would also prefer to sleep on the ground more often than the average person. It provided us the opportunity to see newly released products and network with those who are in different corners of the outdoor space, even beyond hunting and fishing. Base camp was set up near a stream, which was my natural white noise as I dozed off in my spaceship that evening, also known as a Shiftpod. What a treat!
It’s true what they say, if you’re the smartest person in the room (or in this case, on the mountain), you’re in the wrong room. I’m proud to report that I was far from the smartest while being surrounded by instructors like Laura Zerra, most well-known for her time on Naked and Afraid and who now has a show on CarbonTV called “Uncivilized,” as well as Jordan Jonas who won Season 6 of “Alone.” I enjoyed watching them feed off of each other in a balanced, complimentary way. They were both exceptional at sharing their knowledge throughout our hike to our next camp. They highlighted which plants were edible or a good source of Vitamin C or which ones provided the best stem to create a strong rope when necessary. I even learned what they prefer to use for toilet paper! Laura went as far as cutting her thumb to show me how to stop the bleeding by chewing up Yarrow leaves and packing them into her skin. It worked flawlessly! It’s those hands-on lessons that stick with someone much longer than what you heard on a podcast or watched through a screen.

Typically, I judge the success of an event on what I was able to add to my “arsenal,” regardless of whether it’s physically or mentally expansive. For example, I’ve been shooting rifles since middle school and never realized how bad my hips shifted away from the rest of my body while laying prone. I was instructed by Creighton Greene of SCOUTE Arms to get in a perfectly straight line behind the gun, and although it was uncomfortable at first, it allowed me to absorb the shot better. More importantly, it allowed me to get a follow-up shot much quicker because I didn’t throw the gun off its mark as it kicked back.

I also enjoyed the playful challenges they added to the event. When someone tells me I have to send a second bullet before the first one hits at a certain distance, I’m going to shoot until I make that happen. Well, it didn’t happen on the first or second attempt, but you guessed it, the third time is, in fact, a charm. In a similar fashion, when Justin with Razco Gear presented me with a 10mm and put a timer on me, I was going to try until I could consistently hear the ring of steel at whatever pattern and number of shots he told me to send. Good thing Winchester Ammunition supplied all the ammo for this event and packed a few extra boxes for yours truly.

Having the US Fish and Wildlife Service put on a very detailed bear identification clinic, paired with a walkthrough of how to properly use bear spray, was eye- opening for me. I thought I could identify bears fairly well, but several tricked me! Up until this event, close friends and coworkers have probably heard me say that I’d never carry bear spray over a pistol, but having a guest tell their story about surviving a bear attack with nothing but bear spray on hand sure has me whistling a different tune as I’m knee-deep into my 2023 hunting season. Also, on the subject of important items in the field that make a hunt safer and more enjoyable, I put packs and boots near the top, which is why I was excited to have Mystery Ranch packs and Schnee’s boots involved in this event. I don’t like to put too much emphasis on gear because there are so many other variables to be successful, but I’ve spent more time testing boots and packs than any other equipment. They can really help or hurt your experience!

Sprinkled throughout the event, we explored new products that solve real problems, two of which really piqued my interest – the Guzzle H2O filtration system as well as Loft Gear, which is essentially a duffel bag with legs.


For as long as I can remember, my dad has said, “Water will be more valuable than oil one day,” and I couldn’t honestly count the number of man-made waterholes he’s created across the land he’s been involved with over the years. He’s right, though; it’s already happening. Think about how much we pay for a case of 12-ounce filtered water bottles at the store right now. When you consider the amount of water we should drink on a daily basis, it adds up quickly. Over 10 years ago, I began buying five-gallon filtered water jugs at my local grocery store as a means to obtain quality water, so I’m excited to check out their under-the-counter system as an alternative for our home.

What I’m most excited about, though, is their portable UV and carbon block water purification system. This provided clean, drinkable water for 40 people over the three- day event, directly from the stream running through camp. It pumps three-quarters of a gallon per minute and a five-gallon bucket in about seven minutes. The built-in battery will filter up to 35 gallons. This is the perfect solution for a base camp on your hunts this fall. I’m extremely impressed by this system and thankful to connect with people who have a similar mindset to my dad. Quality water is underrated when it comes to our time in the field and overall health, and this is a great step in the right direction.


I’ll admit that when I initially saw this setup, I hesitated to understand the reasoning. I have quite the collection of stereotypical duffel bags, which are only as nice as the zippers and wheels. The idea of adding foldable legs to a rolling duffel bag really had me tilting my head until I realized how applicable it was to my own lifestyle. Every night that I go out to shoot my bow, I use the tailgate of my truck, a trailer, a nearby plastic table, or any other surface to rest my gear as I send a few downrange. Some days, the ground is my only option. Similarly, when my team goes out to the range to shoot guns, we haul shooting tables and separate organizational containers to keep the ammo, spotter, rangefinder, tripod, bipod, sandbags, and other necessities protected. Being able to customize a duffel bag by hobby with separate compartments along the edge to stay organized without having to bend over to access it is actually quite attractive to me.

I’ve been attending outdoor media events for years and notice when the hosts go the extra mile. Having a setting that’s tucked into the mountains away from the rest of society certainly has its challenges, but you’d never know this was the first of its kind for Tread Agency. I am grateful for the invite and the opportunity to connect with the companies mentioned above, as well as Canyon Coolers, Montucky Cold Snacks, and the Montana Department of Commerce. It takes a quality team to create good energy and host this large of a group while making sure logistics are dialed and that you have the ability to pivot when the backcountry has other plans for you, such as six flat tires on the way to base camp. Well done, Tread Agency. Well done!