Top of the Town 2022: Sports, Outdoors and Fitness
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Best local outdoor gear store
Although Mountainsmith has been designing rugged backcountry gear in Golden for 43 years, general manager Jonathan McFarland still encounters locals who don’t know the brand, which sells primarily through retailers, is based in Colorado. The company’s new headquarters and showroom near Washington Avenue, the city’s main thoroughfare in the foothills, will likely change that when it opens this summer. Passers-by can look through the windows of the historic building and see developers working on prototypes, coming to check out the latest releases and dropping off Mountainsmith gear for repair, which is free as part of the Forged for Life warranty. company. But Mountainsmith’s ties to the community go far beyond brick and mortar. The people and places of the century-old state have influenced its products for decades. —Jessica Larusso
gold garage sale
After finding an ’80s version of the brand’s ultralight chair at a garage sale in 2015, a fan brought the item back to the company’s former headquarters. Product developers were inspired to recreate the original design. Relaunched in 2017, the five-ounce roll-up nylon fabric sheet only needs two trekking poles to set up.
The Colorado Haute Route
Tour lumbar bag$80
In 1982, Mountainsmith founder Patrick Smith nearly got caught in an avalanche while cross-country skiing the high road from Vail to Winter Park. The experience inspired Smith (who has since left and started Kifaru, a Colorado-based hunting gear brand) to create a kind of fanny pack that can comfortably hold a shovel. Becoming the brand’s best-selling item, the bag is popular with hikers and fly-fishermen who appreciate the way it leaves the upper body free and distributes the weight to the hips.
The real Viking of hiking
Zerk 40 Backpack$220
Thomas Gathman, a former sailor turned professional hiker and Lakewood resident who describes himself as “half Viking, half thrill seeker and half bearded”, co-designed this pack to be lightweight yet durable enough for several weeks hikes. The result of two years and over 5,000 miles of testing, the Zerk 40 features a roll-top closure, straps with easy-access pockets for snacks and a cell phone, and weighing just 29 oz.
Local craft breweries
Examine the merchandise shelves of Golden’s Cannonball Creek Brewing Company, Fort Collins and Denver locations of the Odell Brewing Company, or Longmont’s Left Hand Brewing Company, and you’ll see Mountainsmith’s soft-sided coolers emblazoned with the logo of each brewery. According to feedback from brewers, Mountainsmith has increased the size of the Sixer (which it also sells in white) to fit six bottles, 12 cans or two growlers.
A veterinarian from Denver (WThe name of the pipe has been lost in time)
K9 dog pack$79
In 2019, Mountainsmith enlisted a vet to help update his decades-old pack of dogs. The doctor’s knowledge of canine anatomy informed features such as an adjustable chest harness and foam padding in chafe-prone areas. The vet also suggested storage compartments that weren’t so large that owners could easily overload their four-legged trail buddies.
Best ski area
With Colorado ski resorts in an arms race to install lifts and open new terrain to better accommodate their ever-growing hordes, only the Arapahoe Basin has instituted the nuclear option – capping visitor numbers on its mountain – to enhance the skiing experience. It all started in the winter of 2019 when, to reduce congestion, A-Basin bailed out Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, which offered guests unlimited days at the resort. Then, in March 2021, the mountain announced that it would limit the number of lift tickets sold each day and reduce the number of unrestricted season passes by 10% for the coming year. It worked. As of last February, the resort had 38% fewer ski days than in 2019, according to an article posted on the A-Basin website by chief operating officer Alan Dorothroth. To put that into perspective: the resort’s parking lots reached capacity once last season, and that lasted about 30 minutes. In fact, the mountain is launching wallet-friendly Fall Three-Packs ($99) and Fall Passes ($279) this fall to attract more skiers when the mountain is too empty. Lift tickets and season passes ($599) will still be limited, but those landing on the latter will receive days at Monarch Mountain, Silverton Mountain Ski Area and Bluebird Backcountry, as well as Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico and the new Bridger Bowl ski area. Montana. Sounds pretty epic to us. —Nicholas Hunt
Best Bike Shop
When the Kiefel family announced they were selling the beloved independent boutique they had operated for nearly half a century, Front Range racers braced for the worst. Would a new owner change things? Short answer: Yes, but only for the better. New bike boss David Dentry, who bought Wheat Ridge Cyclery in April 2021, immediately boosted the store’s online presence to allow customers to shop his inventory from the couch, a useful innovation during the pandemic. But Dentry has kept almost everything else the same, including the staff, a wise move given his industry acumen. For example, in May 2020, longtime general manager Steve Heal predicted that the pandemic would lead to bicycle shortages and moved quickly to secure several large shipments of two-wheelers and parts from manufacturers such as Trek, Specialized , Yeti and Santa Cruz. So while supply chain delays continue to hamper deals at other stores in the metro area, Wheat Ridge Cyclery remains well-stocked and well-run. —fiona murphy
1711 Sheridan Blvd, Suite A, Edgewater, 303-477-0793
2145 E. 120th Ave, Unit H, Northglenn, 720-638-8104
Winter outdoor gear
3440 Youngfield St., Suite 239, Wheat Ridge, 800-854-2072
Summer outdoor gear
3440 Youngfield St., Suite 239, Wheat Ridge, 800-854-2072
2501 Dallas St., Suite 258 (inside Stanley Marketplace), Aurora, 303-921-7017
92 Crawford Gulch Road, Golden, 800-244-5613
85 Parsenn Road, Winter Park, 970-726-5514
2714 W. 44th Ave, 303-495-6996
Hike within 90 minutes of Denver
18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, 720-865-2494
Local outdoor gear store
3936 Tennyson St., 303-903-8584
1630 Miner St., Idaho Springs, 303-829-5681