Amazing winter fun gear made right here in Colorado
Everything you need for a great time in the snow
The Weinberg brothers, Caleb and Morgan, were building homes in Crested Butte. Then Wall Street melted down in 2008. “I didn’t have a house to build in the winter,” says Caleb, so the pair started Romp Skis in the garage and built eight pairs of skis. “We had fiberglass skills and I had all the construction tools,” says Caleb. Friends skied them during the subsequent season and a “great response” led to moving the operation into a stand-alone shop. The five-employee company made 300 pairs in the last year. “The majority of our business is custom,” says Caleb. “Customers range from beginners to lifelong skiers,” he adds, as well as corporate clients looking for a great giveaway or gift.
Pairs start at $850 retail
Made by Romp Skis, Crested Butte, www.rompskis.com
While the company dates back to the 1980s, UpSki restarted in Carbondale circa 2010 to make gear that allows skiers to ride the wind uphill with the help of a parachute-like canopy. “It’s a super fun sport,” says Director of Operations Kevin Passmore of upskiing. “The whole idea is we want to climb mountains with the power of the wind. It started as a way to get up and ski down, but it’s so fun to ski uphill, that kind of overtook going downhill. “The four-employee company also makes a line of bike accessories under the Defiant Pack brand, including the Gunslinger: a bag designed for carrying skis on a bike.
UpSki canopy: $2,600; Defiant Gunslinger: $85
Madden Patrol Backpack
Dan Madden started making backpacks in Boulder in 1974, and his eponymous brand was beloved by customers all over the world before it shut down in the early 2000s. Mike Valvano – who worked for the company in the 1990s – led a team that bought the brand in 2014, and Madden Equipment restarted production in Colorado with the very same machines used decades ago, now owned by Denver-based Stryker by Design. The current catalog is all legacy: The chairlift-friendly Patrol “is one of our original products,” says Valvano. “We didn’t change the pocketing at all.” After a year wetting its feet, the company is looking at a big expansion in 2016, with new products and more manufacturing partners. “You learn how to make the product again,” says Valvano, of year one. “You learn how to get the materials again.”
Patrol: $130 retail
Made by Madden Equipment, Boulder, www.maddenequipment.com
Bomber Hardboot Bindings
Jim and Angie Callen met at an alpine, or hard boot, snowboarding event, fell in love, and got married. In 2015, the couple bought the sport’s biggest U.S. manufacturer, Bomber Industries, and moved it from Silverthorne to Aspen. “We were looking for a way to sustain ourselves and make money with our passion,” says Jim. Bomber makes hard boot snowboard bindings – branded as Trench Diggers – a tuning system, and a power plate system that allows soft boot snowboarders to enjoy the control of hard boots. “It only takes one turn and people are hooked,” he says. “Our goal is to grow the awareness of the sport.”
Trench Digger bindings: $389 to $499 retail
Made by Bomber Industries, Aspen, www.bomberonline.com