Boulder-based adventure brands help amplify the local stoke

The adventure brands, along with the area’s local adventures, make for a vibrant local industry

By Tatyana Sharpton Jun 9 2020

With Boulder serving as the Front Range basecamp for all things adventure, it become home to a raft of adventure brands who nestled into it as homebase.

Just as many tech businesses have moved here in recent years to take advantage of the valley’s pressure-relieving natural beauty and work-hard-play-hard culture, these adventure brands pick Boulder as their home so they can live the life they sell authentically.

Adventure brands do well at amping stoke, aspiration and our wild hearts. For example, camping gear-maker Kelty, a brand within Exxel Outdoors, which calls Boulder home, describes itself as “instigator, spontaneous, adventurous, inspiring and fun & playful.”

We outline some of Boulder’s adventure brands below.

Green Guru Gear’s colorful bags as pictured on its homepage. Image: Green Guru Gear.

Green Guru

This Boulder-based designer of bike gear and outdoor + lifestyle bags and accessories makes everything from sustainable and eco-friendly materials.

Launched in 2005, Green Guru made its name by taking old outdoor gear like bike tubes and wetsuits that would otherwise wind up in landfills and transforming it into colorful products like backpacks, hip packs, saddle bags, and even six-pack insulated bottle holders that fit across the top bar of your bike.

The company builds its color block bags and accessories to fit nearly every nook and cranny of a bike, and also makes smaller pieces like ID card wallets, small zipper pouches, and climbing rope bracelets.

La Sportiva

While this Italian outdoor performance footwear and clothing company heads its operations from its Ziano di Fiemme, Italy, factory, the company chose Boulder as its US headquarters.

Best known for its mountain footwear, La Sportiva makes shoes meant for hiking, scrambling and climbing, and uses sticky rubbers, leather, mesh, and soft padding to create shoes perfect for a range of activities.

Just this year, Boulder-based Olympic climber Brooke Raboutou named La Sportiva as her official shoe while training and climbing, coming on board as a La Sportiva ambassador.

Polar Bottle

For over 25 years, this Boulder-based maker of insulated water bottles makes dishwasher safe, BPA-free plastic bottles that use an air barrier to insulate liquids and a foil layer to reflect sunlight. The coolest part — you can customize your own bottle.

Polar Bottle makes its bottles with materials sourced in Colorado from Low-Density Polyethylene and Thermoplastic Polyurethane. The bottles are freezer safe (as long as not more than ¾ full) and can also safely hold hot beverages. In 2018, Polar Bottle joined forces with Oakland’s HydraPak flexible water storage giant.

Some of Polar Bottle’s variety of water bottles, listed on its homepage. Image: Polar Bottle.

Exxel Outdoors

Originally based in Los Angeles, this outdoor recreation product company acquired several brands owned by American Recreation Products in 2015 and merged its brand operations into a Boulder hub.

From the Kelty Blog, on Kelty’s homepage. Image: Kelty.

Exxel’s identity claims to be for everyone from the “backyard camper to the high alpine expedition mountaineer” and its most popular Boulder-based brands include Sierra Designs, Kelty and Wenzel. More info on each below:

  • Sierra Designs: Founded in California in 1965, this camping gear maker now operates out of Broomfield, CO and creates equipment from tents and sleeping bags to backpacks and clothing. An advocate for social responsibility, Sierra Designs also partners with an array of nonprofits across the country that focus on sustainability and conservation, including AWExpeditions, and Black Girls Trekkin’.
  • Kelty: Kelty’s gear collections include those designed for cold weather, car camping, festivals and family camping. Its mission: spontaneous play.
  • Wenzel: Founded in 1887 in St. Louis by German native, Hermann Wenzel, Wenzel builds tents, sleeping bags and pads, shade and screen houses, outdoor furniture, backpacks, camping accessories, airbeds and rainbeds.


Founded in 1998 by shoe industry vet and obsessed cyclist Alan Romick who felt the need to combat discomforts of “sweat blindness, migrating sunscreen and odd sunburn patterns” on his head, Headsweats now boasts a line of washable, airlight and wicking hats.

Now going green by utilizing Repreve’s fibers made from recycled water bottles, Headsweats has sold over 1 million hats and leads in the triathlon, rowing, and adventure racing worlds with its headgear.

Nite Ize

First developed by a student at CU named Rick Case in the late 1980’s and grown to one of Boulder’s biggest outdoor brands of 250 employees and over $100 million in annual revenue, Nite Ize designs “inventor-driven” products that present solutions to people’s everyday needs.

Utilitarian products designed and manufactured by Nite Ize include gear for mobile phones, hardware such as bungee ties and key rings, and, most notably, LED lights and accessories.

Case’s first product in the 80’s as a student, a result of predawn backcountry skiing without a hand to hold a flashlight, grew out of using webbing and elastic to secure a Maglite to his head, which he eventually marketed to REI as a headband in 1991.

Scratch Labs

Dreamed up by sport scientist and cycling coach Dr. Allen Lim in response to a plethora of sugary and artificial-ingredient-laden products, Scratch Labs provides natural sports drinks mixes and snacks geared towards bikers and climbers.

Scratch Lab’s products include a hydration mix, a recovery mix, a sport superfuel mix, energy chews and bars, and cookbooks. The company also offers gear and accessories such as hats, shirts, socks and even onesies. Created with the purpose of supplying clean fuel, Scratch Labs’s recipes include real fruit as well as extra salt and electrolytes to help replenish those lost through sweat.

Slackline Industries

Slacklining, balancing on a narrow flexible piece of webbing normally strung between two trees, originated in the climbing world. Whether you’ve never slacklined or consider yourself a pro, Boulder-based Slackline Industries provides a range of products for an entire array of slackline styles with a goal of making the activity accessible to everyone.

All products have been tested and approved by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, and the company site also provides plenty of information about getting started, picking the right slackline, setup and even tricks.

Spyder Active Sports

Owned by Authentic Brands Group, the Boulder-born, high-end ski apparel brand makes a range of insulated clothes for cold and racing as well as accessories.

Launched in the late 1970’s from the kitchen of its founder, David Jacobs, by making ski race sweaters, the company has partnered with several other ski-based companies over the years, including an acquisition of Cloudveil Mountain Works, which manufactures apparel for the outdoors, snowsports, fly fishing and casual apparel markets.

Spyder holds a title of official supplier to the US Ski Team as well as the Canadian Alpine Ski Team.

Zeal Optics

An eyewear store selling its own brand of sport and fashion sunnies and snow goggles, Zeal Optics focuses on projects and partnerships that positively impact the environment.

Some of its partners include DZI Foundation, a foundation focused on giving back to the Himalayan communities such as supplying Nepalese porters with sunglasses, and Project 5480 which helps rebuild forests by planting 5,480 trees each year, a number based on the elevation of its Boulder headquarters.

Warren Miller Entertainment

Boulder-based film company features productions by Warren Miller, the late godfather of ski films, features many Colorado athletes and home country terrain.

Header Image: Boulder-based Spyder’s homepage image brings you right into its adventure vibe. Image: Spyder Active Sports.