Longer, warmer days and the return of patio happy hours mean another Coloradical summer is nigh. So, it’s time to pull out, dust off, and give your warm-weather gear a once-over before hitting the trail, rock, or river. Tune-up and repair what you can, and then turn to one of these long-standing local outdoor shops—all along the Front Range—to fill the gaps in your gear closet.

We chatted with their in-house experts to find out what makes their stores special, what gear they expect to fly off the shelves, and why they love summer in the Centennial State.

Jump Ahead:

1. JAX Outdoor Gear, Farm & Ranch

Inside an outpost of JAX Outdoor Gear, Farm & Ranch
Photo courtesy of JAX Outdoor Gear, Farm & Ranch
  • Established: 1955
  • Locations: Fort Collins, Loveland (east and west), Lafayette, Broomfield (plus: Cheyenne, Wyo. and Ames, Iowa)
  • Specialty: Started with military surplus gear (“the original outdoor gear,” says President Jim Quinlan) and morphed into offering top outdoor brands

Why it’s different: “We offer a selection of products unlike any other retailer,” Quinlan says. “In addition to the very best outdoor equipment, we offer fishing, hunting, hardware, and farm and ranch supplies. From lattes to shotgun shells, chickens to down sleeping bags—plus clothing to dress you from head to toe for any condition imaginable—JAX has you covered. While we offer the very latest in technical outdoor gear, including clothing and footwear, we have not forgotten our roots and still offer some great values in military surplus.”

Hottest gear pick for this summer: JAX carries the entire Gregory Alpaca line of wagons, gear boxes, gear totes, and smaller gear pods, which nest inside the bigger pieces.

Favorite way to play during a Colorado summer: “I love to be up in the alpine to take in wildflowers and the spectacular views,” Quinlan says. “Getting out in nature is soothing for my soul.”

2. Neptune Mountaineering

The shoe wall at Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder, Colorado
Photo courtesy of Neptune Mountaineering
  • Established: 1973
  • Location: Boulder
  • Specialty: Gear and apparel for climbing, hiking, camping, and skiing
The cafe inside Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder, Colorado
Photo courtesy of Neptune Mountaineering

Why it’s different: In addition to offering major outdoor brands, Neptune has a try-before-you-buy climbing wall, in-house cafe, and one of the biggest collections of mountaineering history in the world.

Hottest gear pick for this summer: The Nemo Tensor sleeping pad—which packs down to the size of a Nalgene and uses a baffling construction that’s quiet not crunchy, even if you’re a thrasher—will be a top-seller this summer, predicts Joel Nunez-Smith, Neptune’s marketing director. He also expects the waterproof 5 Watt Radio from Denver-based Rocky Talkie to be a hit with customers due to its longevity: The device lasts five days on a single charge.

Favorite way to play during a Colorado summer: “[I love] the access to a variety of outdoor sports and activities for all levels,” Nunez-Smith says. “From car camping to technical mountaineering, Colorado has it all, and we’re here to help everyone explore it.”

3. Bentgate Mountaineering

Inside Bentgate Mountaineering in Golden, Colorado
Photo courtesy of Bentgate Mountaineering
  • Established: 1994
  • Location: Golden
  • Specialty: Backcountry skiing and rock climbing gear and apparel

Why it’s different: “We are a community-focused shop,” says Ryan Mayer, who’s been Bentgate’s general manager for the past 13 years, “and we enjoy sharing our passion for the outdoors with our customers.”

Hottest gear pick for this summer: Mayer points to armless Ombraz sunglasses that fit well into a pocket and the Sonic Hoody from Louisville’s Rab, which he calls a “killer lightweight sun hoodie that comes in men’s and women’s varieties.”

Favorite way to play during a Colorado summer: “We love the long days and getting out after work to enjoy the ample outdoor activities around our home here in Golden,” Mayer says.

4. Wilderness Exchange

Inside Wilderness Exchange in Denver, Colorado
Photo courtesy of Wilderness Exchange
  • Established: 2000
  • Location: Denver
  • Specialty: Name-brand climbing, backcountry skiing, backcountry splitboarding, and backpacking and hiking equipment at a discount

Why it’s different: “Our mission is to make the outdoors more affordable and accessible by serving the community with knowledge, the best deals, and the best gear for their needs,” says Wilderness Exchange owner Don Bushey. “For 25 years, we’ve been bringing Denver the best deals on outdoor gear anywhere through our consignment shop and sample shop and by curating closeouts and factory seconds from the top manufacturers at below-retail pricing.”

Hottest gear pick for this summer: “In climbing shoes, brands like Tenaya that offer high performance with a more comfortable fit, are on fire,” Bushey says. “Patagonia continues to rule our softgoods business. Our customers understand the quality of Patagonia products and the brand’s environmental mission, and they want to support brands that support our planet.”

Favorite way to play during a Colorado summer: “There’s no other major city in the world that has the kind of access to the mountains like the Front Range of Colorado,” Bushey says. “Where else can you get off of work and go for a trail run, a mountain bike ride, or hop on a multipitch rock climb?”


Inside FERAL in Denver, Colorado
Photo courtesy of FERAL
  • Established: 2016
  • Location: Denver (plus: Grand Rapids, Mich.)
  • Specialty: Used outdoor gear alongside new options, plus a rental shop and gear and clothing repair services
A sign outside FERAL in Denver, Colorado, is very welcoming
Photo courtesy of FERAL

Why it’s different: “We actually focus on driving down prices with our used selection,” says FERAL founder and owner Jimmy Funkhouser. “We are also one of the few shops in the country that offers new gear, used gear, gear rental, and gear repair.”

Hottest gear pick for this summer: “At FERAL, we think the last best thing is still good enough,” says Funkhouser. “So, we don’t really push new trends in our community. We like slow fashion over fast fashion and using something for a decade rather than always chasing the new toy. What will be hot this season? Hopefully a renewed embrace of a circular economy that puts a disproportionate value on things that already have a little tarnish rather than whatever the industry is promoting as the new object of desire.”

Favorite way to play during a Colorado summer: “Colorado truly has some of the best weather in the country year-round,” Funkhouser says. “There’s always an escape route. Too hot in the city? Just head two hours west. Weather bad in the mountains? It’s probably sunny somewhere within driving distance.”