Adventure Gear Brands That Call Boulder Home

April 24, 2017

If you travel up and down Colorado’s Front Range, there’s one place that is unlike any other in this state's region— Boulder. For many years, Boulder was a little, dirtbagging, hippie college town that outdoor enthusiasts loved for it’s close proximity to world class climbing, mountain biking, skiing, road cycling, and other outdoor sports as well as its cheap rent and like-minded community.

Green Guru Gear was first established in Boulder during 2005 with a mission to create high quality, sustainable, adventure gear built out of upcycled materials like old bike tubes, neoprene from used wetsuits, and climbing rope.

Davidson Lewis, CEO of Green Guru, says that he got the idea for Green Guru by working his first job at a bicycle shop.

“I was tasked with fixing flat tires pretty much all the time,” remembers Lewis. “At the end of the day, I also had to take out the trash and couldn’t believe how many tubes we were throwing away daily. I then thought, 'Hey! This material is still good, so why is it being thrown away?' Mixed with some new materials they were perfect to be made into new gear keeping them out of the landfill and telling a story of their previous adventures.”

Lewis moved to Boulder in 2001, he believes that the success of Green Guru Gear is owed in large part to the adventure brand community in this small city. 

“Boulder is a great environment with outdoor brands,” says Lewis, adding that “the startup community has been great for networking and we have been able to land some great mentors.”

Here are 3 other adventure brands that call Boulder home.

Polar Bottle

Polar bottle has been keeping drinks cold for cyclists for over 20-years. Their founders— Robert Heiberger and Judy Amadible — first started out in a garage in Boulder crafting their iconic bottle that is engineered to keep liquids cold for long cycling trips.

That was in 1994.

Since then Polar Bottles has become a leading company in the sport hydration industry that is still focused on the philanthropy and advocacy within the cycling community, worldwide.

Exxel Outdoors

You may have not heard of Exxel Outdoors, but there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of one of their companies, like:

Kelty, Sierra Designs, Slumberjack, Wenzel, Ultimate Direction, or Mountain Trails.

All of these companies make high quality outdoor, adventure gear for every type of explorer. From high alpine mountaineering to car camping and everything in-between, you are sure to find something for your outdoor needs from one of Exxel Outdoors’ companies.

American Recreation Products was the original parent company of the above companies, but they were acquired by Exxel Outdoors in 2015. Instead of moving the new parent company out of Boulder, Harry Kazazian and Armen Kouleyan — founders of Exxel Outdoors — realized the company culture and growth potential they would have merging their brands in Boulder, Colorado.

Brett Jordan, President of Exxel Outdoors (former owner of American Rec) said in an interview, “the founders recognized that what runs any business is great people, and there are great people here. Even though they were buying American Rec., they chose to reverse integrate into American Rec. and move to Boulder.”

Sea to Summit

Sea to Summit got it’s name from the company’s founders being the first Australians to summit Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen via a new route in 1956, making them the first people to climb from sea level to the tallest summit in the world.

Fast-forward 61 years and Sea to Summit is one of the top companies in the outdoor adventure space that has its North American operations headquartered in Boulder, CO.

Tenkara USA

The name Tenkara comes from Japanese and is a method of fly fishing that only uses a rod, line, and fly.

Founder of Tenkara USA, Daniel W. Galhard, brought this method of fly fishing to the USA to give people another option for fly fishing who were interested in the sport, but thought that getting into it was too complex.

While still based in San Francisco, Galhard made a trip to Boulder in 2010. Like most people who visit Boulder, Galhard was immediately enthralled by the easy access to the mountains and social community.

“He liked that Boulder attracts people who are open-minded and interested in exploring different alternatives. Moreover, Boulder was home to a growing number of outdoor companies and had a thriving start-up scene,” says Randy Schofield in an article on Colorado Trout Unlimited.