Posted: January 11, 2013
Colorado cool stuff: Skis, micropacks, snowboards, outerwear
Hot cold-weather gearBy Eric Peterson
After making his first pair of skis in 2009, Matt Cudmore today is “trying to keep up with orders – it’s a good problem.” Word of mouth pushed production to about 300 pairs for 2012, a tenfold increase over 2011. The secret is in the materials, including wood from Colorado, says Cudmore, some of it beetlekill pine.
“It’s super light,” he explains. “It makes a very poppy and super responsive ski.” It also makes for a good-looking one: “We don’t cover anything up, so you can see the wood. Every piece of wood has its own grain pattern. It’s like a fingerprint.” Cudmore quit his day job and went full-time with Meier in spring 2012, and moved Meier to a new facility south of Glenwood Springs. “I’m convincing the world, one skier at a time,” he says. $590 to $990 retail.
Made by Meier Skis, Glenwood Springs, (970) 366-1656, www.meierskis.com There is a dealer locator on the website.
Friends and product designers Jamie Marchbank and Glenn Schmierer launched Function at the SIA Snow Show in 2011 with “micropack” carrying systems for skis and snowboards. Avid backcountry snowboarders, Schmierer and Marchbank came up with the systems “out of frustration with what we do on-resort,” Marchbank says. “We hike to the top of every run no matter what.”
The ultra-small, ultra-light and ultra-durable nylon micropacks provide a simple way to strap skis or a snowboard to one’s back for the hike to the top, without unnecessary features. In 2013, Function will debut a backcountry backpack also centered around “extraordinary minimalism,” says Marchbank. “Everything is overbuilt. We’re trying to pare that down.” $39.95 retail.
Made by Function, Boulder, www.function-snow.com . Available at numerous ski and snowboard shops in Colorado.
After he had a hit with a plumbing product called LiquiLock, Adam Browning pursued a dream and launched OZ Snowboards in 2010. In its third year, OZ has three employees and shipped about 200 boards. “I try to do something different and use innovative materials,” says Browning, including slick wood veneers, lightweight honeycombed Kevlar cores, and bio-based epoxy resin.
The company’s flagship board, Varix, is so named “because Colorado has all kinds of conditions: powder, groomers, ice and crust,” Browning says. $549 to $1,000 retail.
Made by OZ Snowboards, www.ozsnowboards.com , Evergreen.
After twin brothers Pete and John Gaston graduated from CU-Boulder in 2009, they moved to Aspen with a plan to launch a technical outerwear company. “We started Strafe because most outerwear is made for mountaineers, not skiers,” Pete says. Their products include the one-of-a-kind Sickbird, a one-piece suit, and the Nomad pants and jacket.
“The Sickbird is what we are known for,” Pete says, describing laminated three-layer fabric that’s waterproof, stretchable and breathable. “A high-performance technical one-piece like that just didn’t exist.” Sickbird suit: $600 retail. Nomad jacket: $350; pants: $300.
Made by Strafe Outerwear, Aspen Highlands, (970) 429-8648, www.strafeouterwear.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