How the outdoor industry is stepping up to the Covid-19 crisis.

By Wendy Clinch •  Updated: 04/06/20 •  4 min read

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Fred Rogers


Nothing tells you more about a person or a company than how they respond in a crisis. And the health crisis we’re experiencing right now has demonstrated that people in the outdoor industry can be a pretty generous and caring bunch. Many have stepped up to aid their communities in all sorts of ways. So let’s take a look at what some of them are doing to help out during this difficult time:

As ski areas and restaurants across the country were ordered to close, many donated their remaining food to employees and local food banks. Breckenridge and Keystone, for example, donated about 13,000 pounds of perishable food to the Family & Intercultural Resource Center and the Leadville Community Food Bank, including vegetables, fruits, dairy, juices and prepared salads.  Killington and Jay Peak, both in Vermont, distributed food to help their employees make it through tough times.

When 13 employees at Sugarbush, VT, had gear stolen out of their lockers after the resort closed early, people stepped up to help. Within just a few days, a GoFundMe campaign raised $5,000 from 80 donors. Jason Levinthal, owner of Burlington-based J Skis and 4FRNT, offered to replace their stolen skis. Rossignol helped out with bindings. Anon donated helmets. Burton covered the missing snowboard gear, Julbo replaced goggles, and Win Smith, Sugarbush’s former owner and current president, made a generous personal contribution.

Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle has cut his salary to $10,000, and the company’s roughly 3,500 retail employees are receiving their regular paychecks under a catastrophic pay program. The sportswear company, headquartered in Washington County, Oregon, closed its brick and mortar retail stores on March 16 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

LLBean  is coordinating with MaineHealth to stitch and ship out 10,000 masks a day from its Brunswick, Maine manufacturing facility. and is using a distribution center to pack food for pantries.

Vail CEO Bob Katz is donating $1.5 million in immediate emergency relief grants that will benefit more than a dozen local organizations providing critical services in Eagle, Summit and Gunnison counties in Colorado.; Park City, Utah; Lake Tahoe, Calif.; Whistler, B.C.; Vermont; Stevens Pass, Wash.; and Jackson Hole, WY.  He’s donating an additional $1 million to create a new fund within Vail Resorts’ EpicPromise Employee Foundation, which helps the Company’s employees respond to unpredictable setbacks, including medical events. This fund will help meet the increased need for assistance due to the impacts of COVID-19, ensuring that the Foundation has the resources to address this challenge.

Shaggy’s Skis, a boutique ski manufacturer in Michigan, has turned over its ski production into the manufacture of  tens of thousands of protective face shields for those in hospitals, clinics, and labs.

• Outdoor Research, a Seattle company that produces outdoor, military, and tactical apparel, is now producing up to 200,000 masks a day for healthcare workers.


• Hestra, a Swedish glove manufacturer, has donated 38,000 pairs of gloves to Colorado first responders. The company, which recently relocated its US headquarters to Arvada, CO, donated nitrile gloves to be used by the City of Arvada’s first responders during the coronavirus pandemic.

• Vermont Glove has paused glove production to focus on sewing masks for health care workers.

• Merrell has donated 1,200 pairs of shoes and boots to local hospitals in Michigan.

• Goggles for Docs is working to get used or new ski goggles into the hands of healthcare workers who currently have no eye protection as they treat COVID-19 patients. This was spearheaded by Jon Schaefer, GM of Berkshire East in Massachusetts, which was the first ski area in the country to close for the coronavirus. The effort has really caught on. For example, Fischer Skis US, which distributes Uvex goggles and helmets, is donating 1,000 pairs of goggles to the effort. As of April 3, more than 7,000 goggles had been delivered to hospitals in 18 states. Got any extra goggles around? Send them along.

• Northeast Face Shield Project is a non-profit, volunteer effort working to produce and provide face shields to health facilities throughout the Northeast. The group was started by Matt Bramble, founder of Northeast Skiology, a Facebook group that focuses on skiing and weather. Bramble recognized the dire shortage for PPE with healthcare workers and tapped into his group to get the project off the ground. It has since expanded to include volunteers using 3D printers to produce the shield frames, along with a phalanx of volunteer assemblers and drivers. More volunteers and donations are needed, so please, go to their page and donate your time, money, or both.


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