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Made in Colorado: Winter Sports and Styles

Products to keep you warm and entertained this winter


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Steller Ltd. Neckies and Hoods

Linda Watts grew up ski racing, as did her husband, Troy, and their daughters followed in their tracks. “The business was basically formed by our daughters ski racing and me being a ski-racing mom,” Watts says. “It started out making Neckies for our daughters — and their friends, and their friends, and their friends.”

In 2014, she started Steller Ltd., her side gig (her day job is managing Ruby Jane and Valleygirl boutiques across Colorado) crafting fleece Neckies for her daughters and their teammates. Steller then launched The Hood, a standalone product that fits over a helmet, in 2017, and both products have won local followings. 

  • Price: $25 to $40 direct
  • Made by: Steller Ltd., Breckenridge

Hebe Headwear

In 2007, then-seventh-grader Justin Hebert, founder of Hebe Headwear, wanted to make a black, red and white hat to match his ski jacket. “I’m particular about what colors I wear,” he says. 

Hebert asked his mom to teach him to crochet, and she gave him a “Crocheting for Dummies” book and some helpful advice. “It just took off from there,” he says. “I’ve been selling hats since the seventh grade.”

After studying entrepreneurship at Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Hebert “threw caution to the wind” and launched Hebe Headwear in 2018. He crochets every hat himself, with his Colorado flag designs — often with a twist on the traditional colors — selling best.

Year one proved the concept. “I did extremely well,” he says. “There were a lot of hiccups in terms of having enough products stocked.” That means Hebe Headwear needs to hire some sewing help soon. “This business model of me making everything myself is not super scalable.”

Phantom Splitboard Bindings

Aerospace engineer and backcountry snowboarder John Keffler was skinning up the hills on a splitboard in the early 2010s. Up top, he’d connect the board’s halves for his downhill run, but felt his bindings left something to be desired. “He just never felt like a traditional soft-boot binding system was adequate for what he wanted to do,” Phantom COO Alex Gelb says. “He wanted something that was as efficient as possible.”

Using components made at machine shops and contract manufacturers on the Front Range, Keffler devised a system made with aerospace-grade aluminum alloys and an engineer’s focus on functionality. The splitboarding community has taken notice, and Phantom now supplies other manufacturers, like Denver’s Never Summer Industries, with components for their splitboards. For the 2019-20 season, Phantom launched the M6, a new and improved binding that’s more adjustable and streamlined.

The long 2018-19 winter drove sales, and Gelb looks for a repeat this season: “Short summer this year for sure. Hopefully, it’ll continue.” 

The SnowJack

After working in TV, Steve Bathje returned to the family business: R&R Precision Machining in Gunnison. He saw a need for a better snowmobile jack, designed The SnowJack, and started selling it in 2010. “I actually design it, develop it, make it, market it — I do it all,” he says.

Snowmobilers all over the world responded to the aerospace-grade aluminum and beefy design. Customers “love the heavy-duty-ness of it” compared with the competition, he says, and notes that he’s offered a one-year warranty on every SnowJack shipped. “Nobody’s ever taken me up on it,” he says.

The snowy winter of 2018-19 led to an uptick in orders, and Bathje sees more of the same in the forecast. “I’m expecting a good year,” he says.

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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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