Climate change, wildfires, drought, constant increased mountain town development. These stressors are threatening our national forests—the places we seek refuge in the mountains, and where we, as skiers, spend most of our free time. These forests drive us as a mountain community and provide for a healthy ecosystem. But when that ecosystem is threatened, it takes collective action to bring about change. That’s where The Backwoods Fellowship hopes to lend a hand. This autumn, Zeal Optics, Weston, and Smartwool have teamed up with artist John Fellows for a unique collaboration of products to raise awareness for our public lands and help restore areas impacted by devastating fires, invasive species and development.
Forest conservation can seem like an insurmountable task, especially as the social media scrolls portray Lake Tahoe in flames or old growth forests being cut down in the Pacific Northwest. But small steps and community coalitions are at the heart of the solution.
“I’ve always looked at the forests as the gateway to the mountains. In search of powder, they almost always greet you at the start – bringing a feeling of peace and solace to every journey and a time for reflection,” explains Fellows. “We all need to do our part to help, and the National Forest Foundation is a great way to do so.”
Chartered by congress in 1992, the National Forest Foundation leads conservation efforts and promotes recreation on public lands—193 million acres of the National Forest system to be exact. In this case Zeal, Weston, and Smartwool are using proceeds from Fellows’ artwork inspired product sales to plant upwards of 40,000 trees across public lands.
“Partnering with Zeal Optics, Weston and Smartwool will amplify our mission of protecting the places that we love with the help of the outdoor community,” says Emily Olsen, National Forest Foundation Rocky Mountain Region Director. “Every purchase from the Backwoods Fellowship collection is an investment in your National Forests by restoring trees.”
Zeal is offering two goggles in conjunction with the Backwoods Fellowship. The Beacon goggle, as well as the new Lookout, which utilizes two new technologies. The Lookout includes Zeal’s patented Rail Lock System for easy swapping between lens as well as Observation Deck Technology, which gives a longer field of view down the slope from slightly tilting the lens. Both the Lookout and Beacon feature John Fellows’ artistic woodsy design on the strap and have a great vibe. For every purchase Zeal will plant five trees through the National Forest Foundation.
“Weston, Zeal and Smartwool share a common passion for backcountry lines in our National Forests and have worked closely together for years,” states Weston Marketing Director Sean Eno. While Weston is well-known around the snowboarding industry, their new Grizzly backcountry touring skis are also joining the collaboration. The Grizzly comes in variable widths from 112-120mm and get wider as the skis get longer, coming in the lengths 166 cm, 176 cm, and 186 cm. They have a rocker-camber-rocker profile with a medium flex and, like all products in The Backwoods Fellowship, feature unique artwork along the topsheet—for every pair of skis Weston will plant 10 trees.
Smartwool, whose Backwoods Fellowship Ski Sock will feature John Fellow’s Grizzly illustration, has committed to planting 10,000 trees as part of the partnership. “Smartwool is super proud to be working with our talented friend John Fellows again as well as teaming up with other Colorado-born brands in support of the places we get to play and explore,” explains Smartwool Global Creative Director Kris Fry.
Fry’s sentiments echo the need for larger brands to pursue conservation while producing products for the outdoors. Often times preservation of our wild places can seem like an uphill battle, but it just needs steady hands to continue the course and collaborative efforts such as these. “We are looking forward to growing this collaboration for many seasons to come.”