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Posted: June 01, 2011

Colorado cool stuff: Everything for outdoor fun

Eric Peterson


A lifelong boater and professional sewer, Sheri Tingey was dissatisfied with the quality of the packrafts - packable rafts - on the market, so she took matters into her own hands and launched Alpacka Raft in 2000.
"Those boats are made for floating on a lake," she says. "I wanted a river boat." Made from heavy-duty, double-coated urethane, Alpacka Rafts are designed to withstand the rigors of whitewater, but weigh only about 5 pounds and roll up to the size of a small tent.
"I'm a stickler about the boats being built to last," Tingey says. "I see no reason people can't use these boats for 20 years." $820 retail ($200 spray deck not included).

Made by Alpacka Raft LLC, Mancos, (970) 533-7119,


After their respective careers hit speed bumps, Jeremy Moore and Jeff Rotondo opened Purple Mountain Outfitters, an outdoor-gear store, in Woodland Park, then started coming up with ideas for their own line.
"Both of us have lived in the outdoors, and Jeff is a natural designer," Moore says. "We started designing for ourselves, then said, ‘Hey, let's take it to market." Launched this spring, the line is highlighted by the Dirtbagger Packtent, a heavy-duty backpack that unfolds into an 8'X10' tarp tent.
"It's your pack and shelter in one," Moore says. Also in the line: an ultralight camp chair, chalk bags and other camping accessories. Dirtbagger:
$249 retail.

Made by Off Route LLC, Woodland Park, . Also available at Purple Mountain Outfitters in Woodland Park.


After selling Atwater-Carey and waiting out a noncompete clause until 2002, Phil Carey started Carey & Co. (named for his great-grandfather's Scottish company founded in 1914) and began selling HelenBac first aid kits for backpackers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
"We try to offer a broad range of kits for everybody from the single outdoor use all the way up to the Base Camp model, which is for three to four people for up to two weeks," Carey says.
Assembled in downtown Salida, HelenBac kits include bandages, pain relievers and other medical essentials.
"We give users the basics so they can improvise what they need," says Carey, adding that the company owes its growth in recent years to Rescue Essentials (, supplying first aid kits to the municipal and police markets. $17.95 to $109.95 retail.

Made by Carey & Co. Ltd., Salida, (866) 711-4843, Also available at numerous outdoors stores in Colorado.


After acquiring Evergreen-based Trails Illustrated in 1997, National Geographic Maps spun off from the nonprofit National Geographic Society and set up shop in the Centennial State. Dan Ortiz, vice president of products, marketing and operations, says the company is distinguished by its relationships with the forest service and national park service.
"We're probably the only map publisher in the country that has developed these relationships," Ortiz says.
In March, National Geographic Maps released a National Parks Maps app for the iPhone and iPad, featuring 15 park maps users can zoom in to "a second level of detail" from Trails Illustrated's topographic park maps, says Ortiz.
"It's a heck of a value - for $5 you're getting over $300 worth of mapping," Ortiz says. Also new: a national parks wall map ($12.99) spotlighting every park in the country. App: $4.99 at the Apple App Store.

Made by National Geographic Maps, Evergreen, (303) 670-3457,
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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

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