Basch: Regional pride captured in gear for outdoor lovers

  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear of Biddeford, Maine launched its lightweight Prism Collection in September. Courtesy of Jeremiah Watt

  • Corinne Prevot started headwear and accessory company Skida following requests for a ski hat she made for herself while cross-county ski racing at Burke Mountain Academy. Courtesy of Skida

For the Monitor
Published: 11/8/2019 7:10:12 PM
Modified: 11/8/2019 7:09:59 PM

The gift-giving season looms. Whether found under a tree or candelabrum, hung by the fireplace in stockings or just given where ever and whenever, outdoor lovers can always use more gear.

With an eye out for made-in-New England products, details and locally sourced materials, the region is loaded with sassy products produced by people with some fascinating anecdotes that may make customers appreciate their goods even more.

Colorful prints that take the drab out of winter are the hallmarks of Vermont-made Skida and its fleece-lined and cashmere headwear and accessories. The company, established in 2008, sprouted after founder Corinne Prevot sewed a warm sweat-wicking hat for herself while Nordic ski racing at Burke Mountain Academy. Others wanted them. She continued to make them while attending Middlebury College and named the company after the Swedish word for ski. Burlington based, Skida’s latest bold collection is inspired by Prevot’s late aunt Isle Prevot, a French Alps guide who spoke six languages. Though she perished in a 2003 Switzerland avalanche, her legacy continues to inspire her niece and others in the mountains. Adult hats tend to range $32-$36 with cashmere hats coming in at $68-plus.

The fingerless gloves called Wristies began 25 years ago when KK Greer, then 10, was tired of snow and ice going up her sleeve while playing outside. Her mother encouraged her to do something about it. Greer did. Now president of Wristies and CEO of Mill Direct Textiles and Mill Yardage housed in a Rollingsford mill since 2009, the gloves keep hands warm and fingers free during a multitude of outdoor and indoor pursuits from fall hiking to spring skiing. Made with a polyester fleece, Wristies and other accessories come in a variety of sizes and colors. Original adult Wristies run $14.75 to $18.25. They also have heated Wristies that fit a hand warmer into a nifty pocket for additional warmth.

BaileyWorks takes pride in making durable hand-stitched bags, duffels and totes “like they used to,” according to its mission statement. Formed in Portsmouth in 1993, the company is now headquartered in a Newmarket mill along the Lamprey River.

With roots steeped in California’s bicycle messenger culture, the company produces practical bags whether on the pavement or in the woods. The two-strap roll top Nomad ($135) water resistant backpack is a burly bag with a couple of large pockets on the outside with a front zippered pocked inside. There are two side pockets as well, one with mesh.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear is known for helping weight-conscious outdoor enthusiasts lose a few pounds during their endeavors by carrying its ultralight equipment. The Biddeford, Maine company produces backpacks, tents, stuff sacks and accessories made from a light, tough and waterproof composite used in high-performance sailing and the military. In September, Hyperlite launched its functional and sturdy Prism Collection for climbers and backcountry skiers. The snowy white alpine trio includes the 40 liter pack ($395) weighing under two pounds, a 5.4 ounce ice screw case ($80) and four ounce crampon bag ($50).

In an industry shaped by polyurethane and polystyrene, Grain Surfboards are hand-made with locally sourced cedar. Based in York, Maine, Grain’s boards tend to take about 50 to 60 hours to make with custom boards starting at $2,050. Ever get filled with envy seeing those wooden kayaks and canoes? Then build your own Grain wooden board with one of their kits that takes about 60-80 hours to do. Better yet, attend one of their four-day workshops in York or Long Island, N.Y. Grain’s even got a mini model-like wood surfboard kit ($35).

Parlor Skis got its start in an old Cambridge, Mass. funeral parlor before relocating to East Boston. Founded by a trio of New England college ski racing buddies, the independent custom ski makers churned out some 25 pair of skis in their debut and now say they’re the largest ski manufacturer in New England which is still small. Catchy graphics sizzle on their ready make skis ($975) while their snowboards ($850) have a wooden panel look. Customs are a bit more at $1,475 and $1,050, and begins with a fitting over the phone or in person with a founder. Skis take about two to four weeks to make. Build your own during their classes, and take them home, though probably not in a hearse.

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