It’s gear shopping time. With the oncoming winter and inevitable time you’ll spend on the mountain, guesses are you’re in the market for equipment that is both practical and makes you look sharp.
Truckee-based Gabe Young recently began Alpin Mountain Company, selling technical ski, snowboard and biking backpacks, to give Tahoe its own technical brand.
“People are interested in their own communities again — their own craftsmen and artisans. It ties into that and there’s also something nice about self-sufficiency and self-reliance of being able to make your own stuff. That appealed to me,” Young said.
His project consists of two main components: one he calls American made, and the other revolving around providing Tahoe with its own name brand for outdoor gear products.
Young places emphasis on durability and the fact that consumers enjoy American-made material.
“I’m trying to make a product that is the same quality of what you’d get from a large, name brand company: people pay a little more for something made in the community and get to know that person as a craftsman, an individual — that will appeal to consumers and it could gain a following at least in the Tahoe area,” Young said.
Growing up in Montana, Young developed a passion for skiing at an early age that has continued to influence the direction of his life. Spending time in his home state and Colorado as a ski instructor before attending the University of California, Santa Barbara where he tuned skis at an outdoor shop, Young identified a need within the skiing community: durable, reliable and practical packs to hold gear. Two summers ago he began designing and creating them on his girlfriend’s sewing machine.
“I just enjoyed the creative process and enjoyed building something that you could then use — a utility piece. I started getting more serious about it this spring,” Young explained. Thus Alpin Mountain Company was born, and Young looks to make it a leader in Tahoe ski gear.
Tahoe’s own brand
“The second part of the project is creating something that’s local, but will eventually draw attention from a larger audience,” Young said.
Alpin Mountain Company is a one-man show — Young creates the products by hand and ships them from Truckee, where he currently resides.
“The design comes from personal desires — what would I want from the gear that I’m using? Then I take all the gear and I use it, I find what works, what doesn’t and I modify from there. It’s a pretty organic process, and a homegrown effort.
“It’s all made to order. I do everything by hand, individually. It’s a long process. The benefit to it is that each thing has its own life and you can really maintain it.
“Being part of that process start to finish I’m able to, as a craftsman, really develop a relationship where I care about it being quality and I want it to last a lifetime for someone that picks it up. It’s kind of like a piece of art — I know it’s going to be judged and critiqued, and I want it to be the best it can be,” Young explained.
Alpin Mountain Company’s product line includes chest rigs and ski packs, in addition to bicycle-friendly packs that clip onto handlebars and bike seats.
To learn more about Alpin Mountain Company and order gear, visit www.alpinmountaincompany.com.