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Community Highlights: Meet Arizona Hiking Shack / AHS Rescue

Today we’d like to introduce you to Arizona Hiking Shack AHS Rescue.

Hello Arizona Hiking Shack, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
The Arizona Hiking Shack has been the valley’s go-to spot for outdoor adventure gear since 1972. Locally owned and operated, the “Shack” began in a 10′ x 20′ Miner’s line shack in the desert outskirts of Phoenix. It became a magnet for prospectors, dirtbags (rock climbers), hikers, backpackers, adventure junkies, and gear nuts and is staffed by those same gear nuts and adventure junkies. This is what sets us apart, technical knowledge and practical experience gained through years in the field passed on to our customers. By 2002 a movement of a few progressive and innovative professionals believed their resources were capable of doing more to protect the public concerning technical rescue and the industrial rope access industry. As an instructor and consultant, the Shack’s owner Dale Stewart played an important role in helping these visionaries design and build their technical rescue assets into some of the best in the country. AHSRESCUE.COM was created to help our government and commercial customers find the best training and equipment at the best prices so that they can do their jobs safely and effectively. The need to service, train, and equip these emergency services has become the standard and is more important than ever. There has been tremendous growth in the commercial and industrial fall protection and work access standards for arborists, utility Linemen, construction, and confined space workers.

In July 2011, we moved to our new 11,000 sq ft building in central Phoenix because the combined growth of the outdoor industry, technical rescue, and industrial rope access worlds needed more space. With this growth has come even more dedication to education, service, and the equipment lives depend on. Our training and classes Our reputation for extraordinary service and technical expertise has led to strong relationships with many public safety agencies, industry leaders, clubs, organizations, and city, County, and State Parks Communities. The Shack and AHS Rescue team is dedicated to getting you what you need for what you do, whether you work or play in the great outdoors. We are dedicated to sharing inspiration and safe, sustainable practices.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Providing cutting-edge service and being ahead of new developments and standards in any industry is a challenge. It’s these challenges that we thrive on. The Shack’s beginnings 50 years ago were rough and tumbled; by the seat of our pants, economic poker could have gone either way. But perseverance has paid off. There have been bumps along the way, but we have mostly used them as launching points for developing new strategies to evolve and change the dominant paradigm. For example, as big-box stores of cookie-cutter gear became popular in the outdoor industry, this caused us to identify and develop our unique areas of service, customer base, and product line. We provide training and equipment that isn’t found at this magnitude and variety anywhere else in the country and for a broad spectrum of people who work and play in austere environments. Of course, the last few decades of health, environmental, and public safety emergencies only made this need more apparent. We strive to stay ahead of the need regarding these kinds of issues and trends. An example of that would be when the current pandemic hit. We extrapolated possible outcomes and identified supply shortages as a very real concern. The owners, Dale & Irene Stewart, started ordering everything in quantity, making an economical switch from a supply and demand outlook, and we moved into more of a warehousing strategy. And low and behold, when cities realized they did not have anywhere near the supply they might need for a public health emergency, of things like long-shelf-life food, we had it. Surrounding municipalities were picking up pallets of it at the back door (which was a bit concerning if you think about it).

Another challenge as a locally owned and operated business like ours has been our relationships with suppliers. Unfortunately, the merchandising and supply system does not favor the mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar shop. The wholesale “deals” for merchandise go to the chains and corporate entities. But this has just allowed us to broaden our approach and outlook on the retail side of what we do. Time and again, our reputation, perseverance, and technical experience have proven to be the sustaining factor that brings our success. When it comes down to it, a positive attitude is the most important aspect of survival. The only constant changes, right?

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Arizona Hiking Shack / AHS Rescue?
The Shack’s number one goal has always been education. We have specialists in every department. We are also a full outfitting shop, providing all the equipment needed to work or play in the backcountry. Our success is based on service. We custom-fit every hiking boot, and every backpack is given an “under-load” customized fit to each individual before they leave the store. Our seasoned staff continually tests and uses the products we sell in the field. We carry top-of-the-line products in all our departments: Footwear, Backpacks, Clothing, Climbing, Tents, Sleeping Bags & Pads, Water Sports, Stoves, Emergency First Aid, Freeze Dried Food, Hydration, Water Treatment, Knives, Maps, Books, Survival, Bushcraft, Prepping and Prospecting. And if you want to try something out first, check out our rental department.

We specialize in areas:
• The largest climbing department in the country with rock, sport, industrial, arborist and rescue equipment. A knowledgeable staff bolsters this with specialists in all areas, an entire room of rope and cord, a room of rope bags and helmets, and a museum of historic climbing equipment that changes display every year.
• A full rental department with everything for Camping, Backpacking, Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Mountaineering, Climbing, and Hiking with great gear at affordable prices so you can outfit friends or try out the gear before you invest in purchasing it.
• We facilitate several training opportunities for professionals in Rope Access, Rope Rescue, Swift Water Rescue, and commercial and industrial fall protection and work access for Arborists, utility Linemen, construction, and confined space workers.
• Classes and private training for individuals and groups. Our in-store backpacking, Wilderness Survival, and paddling classes are trendy. We also hold seasonal clinics for Camp Skills, Bushcraft, and Survival at our outdoor classroom behind the Shack. We provide training to many organizations and companies, i.e., local school programs, BSA, summer youth programs, and companies with workers in remote backcountry locations.
• Custom Footwear fits using the Phil Oren Fit System. We can even manipulate footwear to your specific foot to help with problems. Some of our clientele choose only to get their hike and work footwear with us because of our expertise and have been doing so for generations in their families.
• Maps and books you can’t find anywhere else these days.
• We are also sponsoring and aiding in many yearly local cities and state-run events like the iconic Phoenix Summit Challenge and the Dam Good Run.

Oh yeah! And a huge shop floor packed to the ceiling with gear and equipment for hiking, backpacking, and recreating or working in the wild.

What do you think about happiness?
When someone comes in with an idea of what they want to do, we get to show them not just options of what to do it with but how and why each option works the way it does while adding the tips and tricks that go along with it. That look on their face when they have just gotten a quick education makes their idea even more feasible, possible, and positive than they originally thought and napping in the woods.


  • Gear is market priced. We work fair terms for many organizations.
  • Rentals vary. Examples: kayaks start at $35 per day which includes paddle, PFD and helmet. Backpacks and tents start at $25 for a 5-day rental. We advise reserving early, especially for holidays.
  • Classes start at $20 with privates and custom training available for quote.
  • If you are a member of any outdoor related club, co-op, climbing gym or outdoor organization we give an immediate discount, not one you need to wait a year to get.
  • Advice and/or a heap load of opinion is free. Coming in with anything other than a positive attitude might cost you.

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