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K2 acquires Boulder backcountry gear maker
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K2 acquires Boulder backcountry gear maker

Backcountry Access's Float Airbags have become popular with out-of-bounds skiers.
Backcountry Access's Float Airbags have become popular with out-of-bounds skiers.
BOULDER― Seattle-based ski manufacturer K2  has acquired Boulder-based Backcountry Access, which manufactures avalanche beacons, shovels, probes, skins and backpacks.

Anthony De Rocco, president and CEO of K2 Sports, said in a press release Monday that  Backcountry Access “fits perfectly” with his company portfolio of brands that includes 14 others, such as Line Skis, Full Tilt Boots, K2 Snowboards, Ride Snowboards, Tubbs Snowshoes and Atlas Snowshoes.

Backcountry Access is committed “to upholding and furthering the skiing and riding culture, and ultimately serving the specialty retailer,” De Rocco said in a prepared statement. “It’s not just about selling products, it’s about furthering the passion and core philosophy we all share to enjoy snow sports whether you’re in bounds or out of bounds.”

While it will rely on K2 for accounting and logistics, Backcountry Access, which has 45 employees, will remain in Boulder and it will continue to do its own product development and marketing.

Founded by Bruce “Bruno” McGowan and Bruce “Edge” Edgerly in 1994, Backcountry Access made a name for itself with the Tracker DTS ― the world’s first digital avalanche beacon ― and more recently with its Float line, which is an airbag in a skier's backpack designed to inflate during an avalanche.

“There’s not much of a boundary now between lift access and backcountry. There are so many people chasing powder now who don’t understand the risks of skiing or riding in the backcountry,” McGowan said. “K2 Sports gives us a platform to innovate further on a product level while concurrently casting a wider net with our scientific research and snow-safety education efforts. We’ll be able to reach and engage more people with a hybrid effort of product innovation and snow-safety education.”

The acquisition shows that “backcountry is where the industry is going,” McGowan noted.

Backcountry Access products are sold in just under 1,000 retail shops in North America and in 27 countries worldwide but the pairing with K2 is expected to dramatically expand their reach.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

K2 Sports is owned by Jarden Corp. (NYSE: JAH), which closed at $53.59 a share on Monday.
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