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Any mainstream ski brands still made in the USA?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I know K2 bugged out for China years ago.

 

I ton of brands are made in eastern Europe.

 

Any of the mainstream brands still made in the USA?

 

I'm not talking about boutique brands or small makers, the big ten or fifteen you see in the shops that are familiar to everyone.

 

-l2t

post #2 of 19

I believe the answer is sadly "no", not from the big guys.

post #3 of 19

I'm confused: has there ever been a "mainstream" US brand but K2 that is "familiar to everyone"?

Olin (RIP) had some brand name recognition in the 80s, and Volant's stainless construction was a big deal back when the industry went in big for capped ski construction later in the decade, but I even Volant didn't have "in every shop" distribution.

Line Skis has been an American success story, but K2 acquired them *because* they're a boutique brand.

 

I haven't observed the ski market over the last 15 years as closely as I used to while working in shops, but it is my general impression that American boutique brands like Line, Armada, and Fatypus have played an important role (one that goes beyond their relative size in sales numbers) in helping to shift the focus of the American market away from the racing & carver skis (that still dominate Europe) and towards the current focus on all-mtn & freeride.

 

Armadas, FWIW, are made in Austrian factories. It would appear that if you don't want to charge premium, hand-made pricing, you need to go where the factories are.

post #4 of 19

icelantic is making it's way into the mainstream, made in colorado

post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veloscente View Post

I'm confused: has there ever been a "mainstream" US brand but K2 that is "familiar to everyone"?

Olin (RIP) had some brand name recognition ....



Olin was THE hottest ski in the Midwest late 70s.  There was also Head, hart, and K2 of course ,all made in the US during the 60s and 70s.  All were familiar to 90% of US skiers in the late 70s.  But, after 1990, probably not.

post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

Olin was THE hottest ski in the Midwest late 70s.  There was also Head, hart, and K2 of course ,all made in the US during the 60s and 70s.  All were familiar to 90% of US skiers in the late 70s.  But, after 1990, probably not.

 

My bad to formulate that as a "has there ever" statement.

Should have stuck to "has there in recent memory..."

 

Hart had already faded to obscurity by the mid 80s, and since the Austrian takeover in the early 90s I've simply come to think of Head as an Austrian manufacturer, but you're 100% right from a historical perspective: they were major American players in the market before  then.

How quickly we forget...

post #7 of 19

Hart is amidst bringing production back into the US.  When they first came back a few years ago, they wisely opted to use other factories to get the ball rolling again.  China and Italy.  But now they are starting to produce new models out of Colorado and from what I hear, Washington soon.  They have a weak marketing department and will probably never be a major player again, but I'd argue they could still be considered a mainstream brand, to anyone that's been in the sport for a while.  Their offices are in Minnesota and I also heard they may be relocating to SLC.

post #8 of 19


Howard Head started a "mainstream" USA brand, as did HART, HEXEL, K2, OLIN and others.  They were all bought out, closed, merged, manufactured overseas, etc. 

 

It is a worldwide economy now.  Even if a ski was/were still manufactured here, the titinal, sintered bases, edges, core, etc. will likely come from foreign countries.  So if I buy an Icelantic ski this year in Colorado (really cool tops), or a HEAD here or in Europe, I am buying a product that will financially help many countries.  Where the tax on my purchase goes is another story.

 

What concerns me more than where something is made is the quality of the product.  In the 1960's "Made in Japan" was an other name for "junk."  Then they read Deming and Japanese quality kicked our ass for a while (the USA eventually caught up).  Early skis from China had issues, and many still do (put a true bar on the base of the skis being sold today and see how flat the bottoms are).  But some manufacturers will sell a quality product by letting the skis stay in the molds long enough, using better resins, tuning the bottoms better, etc. regardless of where the ski is manufactured.  Stockli is one example of a company that puts out a premium quality product*, and the others can be just as good if they want to.

 

* The stuff they manufacture on site, not what is sub-contracted.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veloscente View Post

I'm confused: has there ever been a "mainstream" US brand but K2 that is "familiar to everyone"?


Edited by quant2325 - 10/15/10 at 6:25am
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veloscente View Post

I'm confused: has there ever been a "mainstream" US brand but K2 that is "familiar to everyone"?

Olin (RIP) had some brand name recognition in the 80s, and Volant's stainless construction was a big deal back when the industry went in big for capped ski construction later in the decade, but I even Volant didn't have "in every shop" distribution.

Line Skis has been an American success story, but K2 acquired them *because* they're a boutique brand.

 

I haven't observed the ski market over the last 15 years as closely as I used to while working in shops, but it is my general impression that American boutique brands like Line, Armada, and Fatypus have played an important role (one that goes beyond their relative size in sales numbers) in helping to shift the focus of the American market away from the racing & carver skis (that still dominate Europe) and towards the current focus on all-mtn & freeride.

 

Armadas, FWIW, are made in Austrian factories. It would appear that if you don't want to charge premium, hand-made pricing, you need to go where the factories are.



There are good ski's made in the US that are priced competitively with the big name brands built overseas in larger factories.

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecimmortal View Post
There are good ski's made in the US that are priced competitively with the big name brands built overseas in larger factories

 

In all honesty, I was thinking more of some of the small custom builders like Wagner or Folsom.

Fatypus is made in CO & after a bit of froogling early season prices, in a sea of $900+ Volkls, Fatypus isn't going to rock the boat too much with $750 MSRP across their line, so I take your point.

Maybe it's more a question of buying Austrian fabrication expertise than hitting a pricepoint for companies like Armada.

Come to think of it, I've heard that Kastle builds their skis in the Head plant, & it sure doesn't make them any cheaper, so there goes that argument.

 

Icelantic has been mentioned: Any other shining examples of competitively-priced-US-handmade?

 

I ask not merely in the pursuit of pure knowledge, but also because my mission this year is to explore the strange new world of rocker & 100mm+ fatness, and most of the small American ski manufacturers I've encountered seem to have a lot to offer.

post #11 of 19

In response to the OP- I don't think so?  But I would actually reply, who cares???  If you want something made in the US there are tons of good options.  Some people just poo poo 'boutique skis' (I hate that term almost as much as 'microbrew') because they know nothing about them.  I have too many skis and tend to swap for new stuff often.  The  mass-made stuff like the K2s, Dynastar, Volkl, Line, etc.  have just been trickling out of my lineup the last few years.  It is contentious at best to say that boutique skis are better quality than mass produced, but in my experience I think they definitely are.  Some small US companies have seen massive growth over the last few years and are almost as recognizable as the 'big 10' or whatever, even though you don't see as many tourists skiing on them smile.gif.  Moment and Icelantic are two examples.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veloscente View Post

 

In all honesty, I was thinking more of some of the small custom builders like Wagner or Folsom.

Fatypus is made in CO & after a bit of froogling early season prices, in a sea of $900+ Volkls, Fatypus isn't going to rock the boat too much with $750 MSRP across their line, so I take your point.

Maybe it's more a question of buying Austrian fabrication expertise than hitting a pricepoint for companies like Armada.

Come to think of it, I've heard that Kastle builds their skis in the Head plant, & it sure doesn't make them any cheaper, so there goes that argument.

 

Icelantic has been mentioned: Any other shining examples of competitively-priced-US-handmade?

 

I ask not merely in the pursuit of pure knowledge, but also because my mission this year is to explore the strange new world of rocker & 100mm+ fatness, and most of the small American ski manufacturers I've encountered seem to have a lot to offer.



Ohhh Ohhh!  This is where the fun starts. 

 

Other brands to check out:  ON3P, Moment, Scottybob, Fatypus, and PM Gear.  You won't go wrong with any of those brands for quality and awesome design.  So, do you know what you are looking for in a rockered ski?  What do you want to use it for?

post #12 of 19



See: www.Exoticskis.com for the best list of ski builders on the net.  You will see five "domestic" builders (well, Ski Logik is based in CO but builds them overseas) just when you enter the site among the over 300 domestic and foreign builders listed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veloscente View Post

 

In all honesty, I was thinking more of some of the small custom builders like Wagner or Folsom.

Fatypus is made in CO & after a bit of froogling early season prices, in a sea of $900+ Volkls, Fatypus isn't going to rock the boat too much with $750 MSRP across their line, so I take your point.

Maybe it's more a question of buying Austrian fabrication expertise than hitting a pricepoint for companies like Armada.

Come to think of it, I've heard that Kastle builds their skis in the Head plant, & it sure doesn't make them any cheaper, so there goes that argument.

 

Icelantic has been mentioned: Any other shining examples of competitively-priced-US-handmade?

 

I ask not merely in the pursuit of pure knowledge, but also because my mission this year is to explore the strange new world of rocker & 100mm+ fatness, and most of the small American ski manufacturers I've encountered seem to have a lot to offer.

post #13 of 19


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hiplainsdrifter View PostSo, do you know what you are looking for in a rockered ski?  What do you want to use it for?


Looking for a ski for days that are too deep for my Watea 84s. We're talking mostly upper elevation & sidecountry use at resorts: I do a lot of my skiing with the family in tow, so all-day backcountry outings are not really in the cards for the near future.

In a good year I get a week+ in the Rockies and a week on the West Coast in addition to local skiing between VT & the Catskills (Big Sky & Mammoth are in the cards for this season).

 

Mostly I'm curious to try out recent designs like the Rossi S7 mixing rocker, reverse rise, and camber underfoot. 

I like the idea of a powder ski that can carve its way through mixed conditions & isn't totally helpless on the hardpack when you run out of fresh up top.

I don't know how the reality of these designs stacks up against the marketing hype, but I'm open to suggestions regarding what models are worth testing first.

post #14 of 19

I thought Head was still made in USA

post #15 of 19

HEAD NV is listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange.  They make skis for themselves in Europe and for others as well.  I dunno if they make any in China, but it wouldn't surprise me since most companies do now.  They are profitable, and very generous with their $ in the ski space in regards to signing stars to race with and endorse their equipment. 

post #16 of 19

In addition to those mentioned above i think these are also made in USA/Canada:

 

Moment

Prior

Praxis

ON3P

 

Im sure there are others.  For reasons well covered in other threads, I believe its important to support North American production-of anything. And yes i own volkls and rossis as well.  

 

 

 

post #17 of 19

Seems the question is 10-15 years late.

post #18 of 19
Quote:

Originally Posted by quant2325 View Post

In the 1960's "Made in Japan" was an other name for "junk."  Then they read Deming and Japanese quality kicked our ass for a while (the USA eventually caught up). 

 

Not exactly correct.  As much as I admired the man and his work, his ego was enormous and he steadfastly refused to acknowledge the work in Japan of Joseph Juran who was every bit as influential there as Deming.  I've attended seminars put on by both and they were both very informative but to hear Deming tell it, he single-handedly changed the manufacturing culture in Japan.  Juran's ego was no where near as big.
 

post #19 of 19

One argument for buying skis - or any other pricey product - made in the US by smaller outfits may be around customer service. This can sometimes be better when, for example, you are able to get an employee on the phone who can actually go out into the warehouse or onto the factory floor - or at least phone up his buddy there easily - and get you the product or information you need quickly and accurately. If I'm calling my US rep at noon Eastern time, guess what? Most of the employees in the China office are asleep; no one from the North American branch can call and ask a question. (As someone who works every day with offshore employees, I know what an obstacle this can be to getting issues turned around quickly.) Lots of people pay big money for Turner suspension bikes, for example, partly because when you call there you get one of a small handful of humans, who can actually make things happen and/or have a knowledgeable and helpful conversation with you about the product and its use. Someone can say, "yes, I have my hand on your new rear triangle right now, and we are shipping it out this afternoon." Obviously I'm not saying that you can't have good customer service for a Chinese-made product, or that a US-made product guarantees good customer service; I'm just saying that the more links there are in the chain - between the hands that make the product and the hands that answer the phone - the more likely that you are going to be an unhappy customer. That has been my general experience at any rate, not specific to skiing.

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