The state’s booming snow-sports scene has spawned an avalanche of locally made gear, blending style, ingenuity and the durability to tough out our most rugged terrain. Whether you’re a bunny hill beginner or a black diamond pro, here are some made-in-Colorado ways to gear up for every kind of powder day.
Colorado Skis & Snowboards
Born in founder Matt Cudmore’s Glenwood Springs garage in 2009, Meier Skis now has a devoted fanbase and a shiny new Denver factory. Here, customers can watch skis being made from local aspen and beetle-kill pine, get stats from a staff “ski-tender” (with beers to boot) and even create their own topsheet graphics.
Is it possible to make Colorado skiing even more enjoyable? The answer is yes, according to Wagner Custom Skis, which builds 100-percent-from-scratch skis to perfectly match your particular “skier DNA.” Taking the customer’s size, skill level and preferred terrain into account, the skis are formulated for optimal balance, control and comfort.
High Society Freeride Company, Aspen
Created by and for true disciples of powder, High Society Freeride Company was formed in 2003 and has been racking up industry awards ever since. In addition to their skis and boards, High Society also makes stand-up paddleboards — because who doesn’t need an excuse to come back in summer?
For founder Pete Wurster, the mountains are the best laboratory for new ideas. Since 1995, his board-only shop has focused on cutting-edge design for all terrains, including splitboards for backcountry riding. The handbuilt boards have a big following overseas but are made to shred right here in the high country.
“The toughest wool you’ll ever own” is the promise of this high-performance outdoor clothing maker that is pushing the limits of durability. Using proprietary materials and merino wool sourced from Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, Voormi makes every layer you’ll need to stay toasty, from high-tech hoodies and vests to heavy-duty jackets.
Protect your paws with a pair of these repurposed wool mittens, each one designed, cut and hand-stitched by textile artisan (and Colorado native) Jo Tucker. Available in adult and youth sizes, the mittens bear charming finishing touches (like vintage buttons).
Specializing in outerwear that stands the test of our wildest winter temps, Freeride Systems’ products are designed and tested at over 10,000 feet in elevation to ensure you’re protected from whatever the mountain throws your way.
With the help of their vintage knitting machine, the artisans at Akinz handcraft each cozy beanie sold at their Fort Collins Old Town store onsite. Select styles of the company’s leggings are also stitched with care in house.
You can buy jackets off the rack at J2 Softwear in downtown Salida, but why would you, when owner Julie Jackson will custom-make one for you? Her bespoke outerwear is a big draw and made to last a lifetime, often using the same fabrics as Patagonia and other big-league manufacturers.
Accessories & More
With more and more people flocking to the backcountry each year, state-of-the-art safety gear has never been more vital. Enter Boulder-based Backcountry Access, which specializes in avalanche airbags, transceivers and more, making it safer than ever to venture off the beaten track.
Fed up with bent and broken poles, the avid skiers behind Grass Sticks set out to find the perfect material for a more durable pair. The result? Bamboo, which is eco-friendly, tougher than aluminum and lighter than carbon fiber. Buzz for these bad boys is starting to build on the lifts.
For a sleeping bag that’ll keep you warm on the very coldest nights, look no further than Wiggy’s. Owner (and insulation evangelist) Jerry Wigutow invented a state-of-the-art fiber called Lamilite, which is engineered to withstand temperatures as low as –60 degrees. You’ll also find apparel, packs and even a wearable sleeping bag Wigutow developed for the U.S. Air Force.
Other Colorado Artisans Who Are Reinventing Products
Wind-powered soaperies, 3-D-printed watches, solar-roasted coffee — these movers, shakers and makers are harnessing our state’s greatest assets, plus their own creative ingenuity, to reinvent how we shop local.
Vortic Watch Company, Fort Collins
Inspired by the (nearly) bygone watchmaking traditions of the railroad era, Vortic incorporates 3-D printing to give a second life to vintage American timepieces.
Knotty Tie, Denver
Creativity rules at this made-to-order label, where designers collab with customers to make custom ties, pocket squares and other dapper accoutrements, hand-stitched by a team of skilled resettled refugees.
You may not be able to bottle Colorado sunshine, but these coffee connoisseurs have invented the next best thing: the world’s only commercial solar-powered roaster, which harnesses our 300 annual days of sun to roast the beans low and slow for a super-smooth finish.
Olio Goods, Denver
Working with a lathe out of her urban home studio, artist and designer Judy Gehrke-Gilbert has made woodturning into wearable art, with one-of-a-kind tassel necklaces made from horsehair and repurposed exotic woods like cocobolo, purpleheart and lignum vitae.
The luxe products at this all-natural microsoapery — from scrubs and salves to soaps and shampoos — are fueled by wind power.
Ranch Organics, Steamboat Springs
“Nature’s apothecary” is how Debbie Dygert describes her Elk River Valley ranch, where she sources the ingredients for her rustic-yet-refined bath products, from Sweet Grass Goat Milk Soap to Cedar Wood Barn Balm.
By Elke, Boulder
Vintage military packs, horse bridles and WWII-era suspenders are a few of the items that Elke Bergeron has used to handcraft her small-run leather bags. Each piece makes a modern statement while preserving the history of the original materials.