Great made in Colorado stuff for the great outdoors
Tents, tipis, backpacks and fly fishing gear for discerning outdoorsy types
Bear Paw Wilderness Designs Tarps and Tents
After owning a construction company and a kayak manufacturer, John Stultz started his third business, Bear Paw, a decade ago. “I’ve always been a big hiker and backpacker, so I started making tarps,” he says. Stultz moved the company from Michigan to Colorado in 2009, and now makes a variety of tarps and tents (including ultra-light net tents) and custom gear for hunters and thru-hikers.
“We make a lot of different varieties,” he says. “Most manufacturers make only one net tent.” The strategy has driven triple-digit growth every year, but Stultz says he turns down a lot of work so he can travel to Central America and other warm-weather destinations in the winter.
Warbonnet Outdoors Camping Hammocks
After Brandon Waddy moved to Colorado in 2006, he was “looking for a business to start,” he says. “Hammock camping specifically I thought was going to explode.”
So Waddy bought a sewing machine, taught himself how to stitch together a hammock, and founded Warbonnet in Fort Collins in 2009. “I started making the stuff by myself in my one-car garage. I expanded into the sunroom and then the spare bedroom.” He moved the operation to Evergreen circa 2012 and has since grown the team to 11 employees to make hammocks and accessories, proving his original forecast correct.
“Business is booming,” Waddy says. “It’s a lot easier than tent camping. With a hammock, there are a million trees.”
$180 to $220 retail
Seek Outside Tipis and Backpacks
Husband-and-wife team Kevin and Angie Timm left their respective jobs in IT and real estate to start Seek Outside in 2010. “He came home one day and said, ‘We should make tipis,’” says Angie. The Ouray-based couple connected with former sewers for Marmot and Mountainsmith in Grand Junction and started making tipi-tent hybrids like the Cimarron, an ultra-light four-person model. Seek Outside has since grown to nine employees as the company now makes backpacks, stoves and tipis.
“We’ve grown tremendously,” says Angie. “We expect to hit the $1 million range this year.”
$300 – $750 backpacks, $300 – $2,000 tipis, and $400 – $550 stoves
Zen Tenkara Fly Fishing Gear
Karin Miller, a teacher, launched Zen Tenkara with fly-fishing guide Adam Omernick in 2012. For the uninitiated, tenkara is a Japanese angling style that uses a lightweight telescopic rod with a fixed fly line and no reel. “You basically have 24 to 28 feet of reach,” says Miller. “In Colorado, you have a lot of rivers and streams that are about 30 feet across, so it’s a perfect match.” Retailers resisted the affordable nature of tenkara, but it’s caught on as Miller and Omernick have worked overtime educating the market. The company makes its flies, fly boxes, and line in Colorado, and imports its rods, but Miller says a domestically manufactured rod is on the horizon by the end of 2016.
About $2 for flies, $30 for line, and $200 to $250 for rods