Editor’s note: This is part of The Know’s series, Staff Favorites. Each week, we will offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more.
If you’re looking for a place to buy backcountry ski or snowboard gear, maps, guide books, apparel and accessories where you will be served by experienced sales people who treat customers well, you won’t go wrong patronizing Bentgate Mountaineering in Golden.
The shop is located in downtown Golden at 1313 Washington Ave., just a block from the “Howdy Folks!” arch that tells visitors Golden is still a place “where the West lives.” Bentgate opened in 1994, across the street from its current location, and moved where it is now in 2004.
In the summer, Bentgate is a great place to buy backpacking and mountaineering equipment, hiking gear, apparel, trail running shoes and rock climbing gear. It’s all that in the winter, too, but it’s also a great place to buy or rent backcountry skis and splitboards, which are what snowboarders use to access the backcountry. Splitboards come in two pieces, one for each foot, so they can be used for climbing uphill. When it’s time to descend, riders attach the pieces to each other to form one snowboard.
“We love the community and we love the activities we do. We just like to put a good experience and treating people good at the top of why we’re doing this,” said owner Greg Floyd, 50, a former ski bum who started the shop when he was 23 because he didn’t like the attitude he encountered at some other mountaineering shops. “We don’t always get it right, but we sure do try to learn from our mistakes and put people first.”
Getting started in backcountry skiing can be intimidating even for longtime resort skiers.
“There’s such a wide variety of different types of gear made by different manufacturers,” said John Weir, Bentgate’s marketing manager. “We want to make sure we treat people with a sense that it is a confusing sport. Staying humble in this space is really important for our staff, and being welcoming to people coming in and learning.”
They do custom boot fitting and can modify the plastic in boots to better fit your feet. I once had alpine touring boots in which the unforgiving plastic pinched my ankle bones on a four-day hut trip until it left a painful bone bruise. The last day of that trip was excruciating. Boot fitters can re-shape the hard plastic to eliminate those pinch points.
“We do a lot of fitting and modification, especially in touring boots, working with different types of plastics that aren’t typically found in alpine boots,” Weir said. “That takes a lot of expertise in molding and shaping plastics as well as working with very unique boot systems. We kind of specialize in making the boots perform well, but also having a comfortable fit.”
Bentgate, which is closed on Saturdays in observance of Floyd’s religious sabbath, has a full-service back shop that does tuning, waxing, base grinding and repairs on alpine gear, snowboards, backcountry skis, splitboards and telemark gear. I’ve had them replace bindings on my mountaineering skis and my lightweight touring skis, and I’ve always been pleased with their work.
They carry all sorts of avalanche safety gear including beacons, shovels and probes, for purchase or to rent. And if you’re not a backcountry skier or a snowboarder, they rent and sell snowshoes, too.
“We saw a big increase in people looking to get out and do snowshoeing during COVID,” Weir said, “and continue to see the growth in that activity as more and more people look to explore and continue their hiking throughout the winter.”
Here’s another tip, if you get to Bentgate Mountaineering: Woody’s Wood Fired Pizza next door is fantastic.
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