“Hike fast, ski faster” is the Strafe motto, and the lifestyle that owners John and Pete Gaston, 31, have embraced ever since they picked up the sport as kids growing up on the East Coast. The twin brothers spent their childhood traveling out west to track down the pow, and eventually ended up at the University of Colorado Boulder for college, where they spent their weekends commuting from the Front Range to Aspen for one sole purpose: to hit the slopes and hit ’em hard.
They were (and still are) obsessed with the Highland Bowl, a crown jewel for Aspenites looking to spin laps and earn their turns. Hike, rip, repeat. But with all that moving, the Gaston brothers realized their outerwear couldn’t keep up with the demands of the mountain. They needed better breathability, weather protection, insulation, and storage.
After embarking on a European ski trip while still in school (a little less than 10 years ago), they cultivated an obsession over the simple, sophisticated European ski clothing seen on the slopes, says Pete Gaston. It blew their minds, and they were immediately drawn to the idea of combining that aesthetic with technical mountain clothing for the “mountain-slaying individual,” whether it be for skiing, snowboarding, skinning, ski touring, hiking, or any other imaginable winter activity.
Enter Strafe Outerwear.
The brothers developed their first prototypes in 2009 and made their initial product offerings—technical jackets, pants, and one-pieces—a year later. What started off as an online business grew to an outpost at the base of Aspen Highlands in 2011.
“When we started Strafe, we wanted to be big-mountain free skiers,” says Pete. “And back then, there was definitely a baggier aesthetic because there wasn’t a lot of stretch in the fabrics that were waterproof. If you wanted mobility, your gear had to be a little baggier or longer.”
Gaston says the Strafe style is defined by unique form-fitting cuts, fun and vibrant colors, minimal pockets and seams, and the implementation of cutting-edge fabric technology like Polartec Alpha insulation (originally designed for the U.S. Special Forces). Just last year, they started producing their own waterproof, three-layer versions of the fabrics they’ve been using.
“We definitely hang our hat on the whole athlete-tested product development side of it,” Pete says. “We’ve made huge strides in the finishing touches. Choosing the right fabric or zipper is nice, but it’s really hard to get to the same level as all the other nicely finished garments out there. And in the last couple of years we’ve finally gotten there.”
Looking ahead, the outerwear company wants to expand into more non-skiing realms, something it has already dabbled in with its new mid-layers, perfect for taking on mountain terrain or simply running errands around town. Summer gear is next on the list.
In addition to the Highlands base shop, Strafe products are sold in select stores across the U.S., as well as in Canada, Japan, Austria, and Switzerland.
Right now, women’s products include the Scarlett Bib Pant and the Sunnyside Alpha Anorak Pullover, the latter named an editor’s pick by Powder magazine. For men, the Pyramid Jacket and Capitol Pant come out on top.
“At the end of the day, we want to make it so you’re not worrying about what you’re wearing at all,” Pete says. “You don’t even think about it. You just go skiing.”
Aspen-based outerwear company