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It isn't easy to start an outdoor gear brand. The competition is fierce, and customers notoriously particular. After you've designed something worthwhile, navigated the intricate supply chain of materials suppliers and production facilities, and come up with the cash to fun it all, you've got to find your audience. These are high hurdles for the small-scale maker, but newly launched Raide, which debuted with a backcountry ski and snowboard backpack called the LF 40L, appears to be clearing them.
Based in Carbondale, Colorado, Raide is the brainchild of Kyle Siegel, a multi-hyphenate whose work history includes engineering at SpaceX as well as a stint on The North Face's technical outerwear team. (He's also a fully certified ski instructor and is trained at the American Avalanche Institute's PRO 1 level.) "I'm a big gear tinkerer, it's kind of where my love for skiing and engineering intersect," he says.
Siegel also says that he's leveraged the skills he's learned from a diverse work history in building Raide. That includes an understanding of how factories and production calendars work and also how to visualize a new thing before it exists. Not to mention a tech engineer's attitude of being able to solve any problem he comes up against.
In Raide's flagship product, the LF 40L backpack, the challenges consisted of designing an ultralight pack for backcountry touring that didn't skimp on features, a bag that would appeal to a growing sect of skiers and snowboarders who care equally about efficient uphill climbing and sacrifice-free downhill riding. Gear for these types needs to be lightweight, Siegel believes, but not so minimal that it minimizes the experience. "I think the lightest gear often isn't enjoyable to use," he says.
At 1,090 grams (roughly 2 pounds 6.4 ounces), the LF is indeed lightweight for a 40-liter backcountry ski pack. Its capacity expands to 50 liters with a roll-top closure too, and serious weight watchers can remove the back panel insert and aluminum frame to bring it down to 900 grams (just under two pounds). The feat is achieved through the use of superlight, ultra-durable Dyneema fabrics—and Siegel's obsession (self-proclaimed) over every detail.
Still, the bag is loaded with unique features. There are ski bag standards, like a dedicated pocket for avalanche gear and strap systems for carrying skis or a snowboard uphill, though even these utilize smart design to upgrade the experience, like a cutout in the avy pocket to prevent a shovel blade from taking up excess space. The integrated helmet carry and stowable rolltop are highlights, as is an understated shoulder strap for quickly stashing gloves, though it's difficult to call out any one element when every detail appears so thoughtfully considered and executed.
Siegel says the LF 40L has already received high interest from guides and pros, and he's confident that despite the headwinds any new, small gear maker faces, quality design and attention to detail will help Raide find its following.
The Raide LF 40L ($399) is available for preorder now with delivery in November.