Christmas is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to start thinking about gifts for your outdoor lovin’ friends. Whether they’re hikers, climbers, skiers, snowboarders, or just general fans of nature, there are plenty of companies local to Colorado where you can find a fantastic assortment of presents that they’ll be stoked to receive. So, since we love shopping as local as possible, and since you may need a little help finding those great companies, we’ve worked hard to narrow it down to five, just for you.
To be clear, you don’t have to wait until Christmas to get some products from any of these companies, and you certainly don’t have to buy them as a gift for someone else. Consider doing a little shopping for yourself, you deserve it!
1. Alpine Start
Colorado: "can we get some snow?"
The weather forecast: pic.twitter.com/hE3zHrTa9N
— Alpine Start (@AlpineStartFood) December 3, 2021
Looking for a way to start your morning with a good quick boost of healthy caffeine? Ever been in the parking lot of your favorite ski resort and felt the need for a solid cup of coffee but not the willingness to spend $15 in the ski lodge? If you said yes to any of these questions, Alpine Start‘s instant coffee might be the best answer for you!
I don’t know if it’s fair to call Alpine Start instant coffee rather than good coffee that happens to be instant. If you don’t believe me, you should check out the reviews, they tend to agree. Plus, there are five different options for flavors, rather than just… coffee, including a dairy-free coffee + creamer instant latte and a dairy-free dirty chai tea instant latte (for people like me, that means a good day on the mountain without having to deal with the not-so-pleasant after affects of non-dairy-free creamer).
Alpine Start isn’t just an instant coffee company that tastes good, though. It’s an instant coffee company focused on outdoor adventuring. In 2015, the company was co-founded by professional climber Matt Segal through his search for a better alternative towards early morning coffee on high ledges, and the company was named after the strategy of starting longer alpine routes before the sun is up, sometimes as early as 11 p.m. the day before. They’ve also made a commitment towards running an environmentally friendly organization, as their climate neutral certification might tell you. Alpine Start is based in Boulder, Colorado, and you can find their coffee through their website, or locate a store selling their products near you.
You know what’s great? Having a sip of something a little boozy to warm you up after getting of the mountain from a day of shrdding. Also, sitting beside a fire at your campsite while sipping something with a good kick to it. Yeah, that’s great. If you plan to enjoy either of those activities in the future (I know I do), why not do it with a drink literally designed for those activities? That’s right, we’re talkin’ about Tincup Whiskey.
Founder Jess Graber began distilling whiskey in 1972, naming his company after the mining town of Tin Cup, Colorado. The town, located in Gunnison County on the western side of the Rockies, was named after the tin cups prospectors once drank out of and carried gold in. Apart from the history, Tincup stays connected to Colorado’s culture through its partnerships with some pretty solid organizations, like the American Institute for Avalanche Research, the National Ski Patrol, and the Vail Valley Foundation.
If I could give you an in depth educated liquor review, I would, but I’m not a whiskey connoisseur. All I can honestly tell you is that it’s damn fine whiskey made right out my backdoor. It comes with a little tin cup top, allowing you to take a sip with ease no matter how far away your campsite is from civilization, and the bottle’s hexagon shape means it stays put in backpack straps and won’t roll away if dropped. Tasty bev, looks sharp in liquor cabinet, highly recommend you pick up a bottle.
— TINCUP® Whiskey (@TINCUPWhiskey) May 6, 2021
Head to any ski resort, hiking trail, climbing gym, or pretty much anywhere else in Colorado, and there’s a good chance you’ll see someone wearing these locally made hoodies. These are so local, in fact, that they’re 100% made and sold under one roof, located in Leadville, Colorado. Want to order one online? Too bad. Want to find one in your local mall? Tough. Want to wander into the store in Leadville and purchase one then? No go, my friend. Melanzana‘s are sold by in-person appointments only.
Rarity, of course equal a good quality product (something I think is often forgotten) but I can confidently say Melanzana makes a hell of garment. I got my Melanzana around 4 years ago at this point, and it has stayed with me through thick and thin, suffering little to no damage. And it’s comfortable. Very comfortable. I’m quite literally wearing it while writing this.
The company began in 1994, when owner Fritz Howard moved to Leadville seeking a real mountain town to live and do business in. In 1997, the company got its first real physical location, renaming themselves from Eggplant Mountain Gear to Melanzana (Italian for, you guessed it, eggplant). They’re now located at 716 Harrison Ave, Leadville, where they’ve formed their homebase since 2008. If you’re interested in making an appointment to get your own hoodie, you can do so here.
4. Meier Skis
There are a lot of very great companies making very great skis in the great state of Colorado, and narrowing it down to just one is pretty difficult, but I think Meier Skis is especially unique. Their skis are made completely of American wood, focusing specifically on beetle-kill pine, and use a renewable epoxy rather than petrochemicals. They also utilize an entirely Denver-based work force, and for proof, you can watch them make the skis, start to finish, in their shop.
Speaking of their shop, take the trip to check out their skis in person AND have a beer at the bar made from ski cores, all in one go. Plus, you can experience an hour long tour of their factory for $20, giving you a look into the building process, a Meier Skis pint glass, and a complimentary drink.
The skis themselves are great, with plenty of options for all mountain or powder, and they have a ton of custom designs for each ski. Also, if you’re not a fan of their art or want something completely unique, you can add any existing, non licensed graphic to a pair for $1,049, create your own for $1,395, or have their professional designers create something based on images and ideas you provide them for $1,495. You can check out their skis and order them for yourself from their website, or you can head into their shop, located on South Broadway in Denver.
There’s still lots of potential for wet slides out there! Great time of year to film training videos, this one starring BCA sled ambassador Mike Duffy. Stay tuned! #backcountryaccess #sendandreturn #avalanchesafety pic.twitter.com/MTnTACr6VB
— Backcountry Access (@AvalancheSafety) May 21, 2021
If you plan to enter the backcountry, or you have a friend or loved one who plans to enter the backcountry, you better ensure it’s done so with the proper safety education and gear. Avalanches are a real danger, but, with a few visits to Backcountry Access‘s website, you can get everything you need to reduce that risk as much as possible.
Product wise, Backcountry Access has a solid variety. They make the BC Air Touring Helmet, climbing skins, great general use backpacks, and some sweet hats and t-shirts. At the same time, though, they’re making gear meant to protect us. Avalanche beacons, probes, and shovels are what most people probably know them for, but they also have avalanche airbags and BC link radios to help with communication in the wilderness. Basically, they have everything you’ll need to take you further from the resorts and into deeper, wilder snow, including snow study tools.
They also provide plenty of educational videos on their website relating to avalanche avoidance, avalanche rescue, and tutorials for their products, on top of providing a resource for individuals to find avalanche courses near them. To me, it feels like Backcountry Access really does care about keeping people safe while doing what they love. For example, back in May 2022, Backcountry Access was forced to recall several of their Tracker4 Avalanche transceivers relating to an issue with the switch plastics production. That’s a concern to everyone, but no injuries or fatalities were reported in which the Tracker4 was related, and they’re publicizing the issue, posting the recall alert to the top of their website and on their social media for everyone to see.
BCA TRACKER4 SAFETY RECALL NOTICE: CHECK FOR SERIAL NUMBERS STARTING 21H05 and 21H06. Backcountry Access, in cooperation with the U.S. CPSC and Health Canada, is issuing a voluntary recall of a small number of Tracker4 avalanche beacons: https://t.co/yMMEGg62dU pic.twitter.com/LNXf4j65Z6
— Backcountry Access (@AvalancheSafety) October 5, 2022