Canada’s first craft outdoor gear alliance is rolling out a #ShopLocalBC campaign in which Kootenay makers step into the spotlight.

Since the new year, we here at Mountain Culture Group have joined forces with the Kootenay Outdoor Recreation Enterprise (KORE), Canada’s first ever craft outdoor gear alliance, to meet the local makers of everything from skis and boards to headlamps and backpacks. The purpose of the campaign is to bring awareness to the amazing outdoor equipment being made right here in the Kootenays and to touch on the importance of shopping locally. But we soon realized that this was about so much more than the gear being designed and sold from shops and homes in communities from Golden to Salmo: this was a people project.

The Kootenay region is a special place in the world where locals can easily balance work with lifestyle because the outdoors are so close at hand. That’s why there’s a burgeoning industry of designers and manufacturers of the gear we use while recreating here because the perfect testing ground is literally our backyard. Cam Shute of Darkhorse Innovations moved here decades ago so that he could test the gear he engineered on the mountains surrounding his home in Nelson. “Living in a place like Nelson is key to a lot of my work,” he says. “I can very quickly tap into activities so I can go from idea to prototype to testing in a very short amount of time.” That’s also why Jonathan Quarrie moved to Rossland: to design and build noboards that he could test on the slopes that are less than a 10-minute drive away.

Cam and Jonathan are the type of people who are the core of what KORE stands for: independent, local, craft gear makers who are passionate about what they do. Another individual we met while working on the #ShopLocalBC campaign is Dylan Bucher, the owner of Lynx Off Grid Technologies, which designs and sells some of the world’s smallest, most powerful headlamps. Dylan walks the walk: he lives on an off-grid property near Kootenay Lake and relies on solar panels to power his computer from which he runs his online store.

Like craft beer, craft gear is just better. Not just because it’s made by individuals with a passion for the products, but because those same individuals care about the experiences you’re having with those products. Jackie Brown and Christian Knowles, the owners of Ambler Mountain Works in Nelson are excellent examples because when they receive special requests regarding the toques, hats and slippers they design, they’ll go out of their way to make it happen. When we interviewed them, they told us a story about how a customer owned one of their hats and wanted to replace it with the same one. Despite the fact that particular design wasn’t available anymore, the couple went out of their way to create one. It’s stories like those that make you appreciate the fact that shopping locally for your gear is better, not only because the gear is excellent quality but because the experience of buying that gear from a person who resides in your region and who’s passionate about the product, is ultimately better.


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Throughout this campaign we’ll continue sharing stories like Ambler’s through this website as well as via our social media feeds and KORE’s. For more about the @ShopLocalBC campaign, visit:

About Shop Local BC
Funded by the Government of Canada and delivered through provincial and territorial chambers of commerce, the Shop Local initiative provides grants for programs and campaigns that encourage Canadians to shop local to help businesses navigate through and beyond the pandemic. The BC Chamber of Commerce is delivering the Shop Local initiative in British Columbia, ensuring that the program is inclusive, and funds are distributed equitably across seven economic development regions.

About KORE
KORE is an economic development and diversification initiative managed by the Kootenay Outdoor Recreation Society located in Kimberley, BC. It is an industry alliance of outdoor recreation gear manufacturers and designers in the Kootenay region and has brought together a network of 40+ craft gear makers and designers who have organically started up production manufacturing and designing within the Kootenays. KORE’s mission is to foster growth within the alliance through education, collaboration and connecting businesses to resources, grants, financing and capital, and to attract outdoor recreation product manufacturing and designers into the region to relocate or facilitate new entrepreneurial start-ups.