Posted: November 01, 2011
Colorado cool stuff: Skis and ski furniture, goggles and outer gearBy Eric Peterson
Ben Anderson knew he wanted to make skis when he was 14. He was 20 when he started making them in his parents' garage in Evergreen, after a stint studying engineering in Washington state. In 2006, Anderson launched Icelantic, and the company instantly won notice for its innovative designs and stunning graphics. Its ascent has been steep.
"Going into a stagnant industry, we've grown by leaps and bounds," says Anderson, citing a 2010 production run of 2,800 pairs. "We've pretty much doubled annually."
Made at the Never Summer Snowboards factory in Denver and featuring different distinctive art by the same artist - Parr - every season (the 2011 theme is animals), Icelantic skis are the product of a strong team, Anderson says. "It's been fun to put together a group of my best friends and give them a platform to create." About $600 to $750 a pair retail.
Made by Icelantic Skis, Denver, (303) 670-6804, www.icelanticboards.com.
Bollé founder Steve Haber is an avid fisherman, leading him to focus on polarized sunglasses when he launched HaberVision in 2005 with a direct-to-consumer, online-only business model. "We were going to remove that margin so the consumer gets half-price," Haber says. "That's the same price we would have sold it to the dealer."
Besides high-quality polarized sunglasses, HaberVision makes polarized anti-fog ski goggles and the patented Eliminator Fan. When a sensor on the latter detects humidity, a fan flips on to dry things out. It's taken off in snowsports, especially snowmobiling, as well as the oil and gas and military markets.
"In 40 years in the industry, I've never had a product work so well, so quickly, without complaints," Haber says. Goggles: $40 to $75; $119 with Eliminator Fan (fan module only: $65). Sunglasses: $60 to $122.
Made by HaberVision LLC, Golden, www.habervision.com.
SKI-TEC SKI FURNITURE
"I've been skiing forever," Todd Bailey says. "I had a bunch of old skis in the garage collecting dust." About five years ago, he decided to do something about it and collaborated with his grandfather, Ken Gray, to make a chair.
Now he's got more skis than he knows what to do with and considers upcycling skis into chairs (and snowboards into benches) a hobby after his day job in website development. Bailey's warehouse is not what you'd expect. "It's usually got to sit on my patio for a while before it sells," he says. $200 to $300 retail.
Made by Ski-Tec, Denver, www.ski-tec.com.
FREERIDE SYSTEMS OUTERWEAR AND ACCESSORIES
Mike Collins made himself a webbing-based accessory to strap his skis on his back in Colorado's "slackcountry," hikeable in-bounds terrain not served by lifts. Last March at Wolf Creek, some people asked where he got his rig, and he started making the "Boot Pack 1" himself, first with a sewing machine from Target, then an industrial model, and then four contract sewers.
A few months later, he introduced Freeride jackets and sold out in a month. He then launched heavy-duty Prospect Pants, lighter, more breathable than Carhartt ("and made in the USA, not Mexico," Collins adds), and his best-selling products are unbranded camping straps and accessories.
"I'm producing here for a reason and on purpose," Collins says. "It would be easier for me to do this in China, but I'm not in it for the money. I'm energized that I'm creating products that are need-based - it's not just more junk." Jackets: $180 to $300; pants: $50 to $75; accessories: $30 to $35.
Made by COL TN 3 LLC, Leadville, (719) 966-7149, www.freeridesystems.com.
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