On Monday, ski manufacturer K2 announced the acquisition of Backcountry Access (BCA), a Boulder, Colo.-based maker of backcountry safety equipment like avalanche beacons, shovels, probes, and backpacks.
BCA will be added to the list of K2 Sports' 14 other outdoor and ski industry brands, which includes Line Skis, Full Tilt Boots, K2 Snowboards, Ride Snowboards, Tubbs Snowshoes, Atlas Snowshoes, and more.
"BCA fits perfectly within the K2 Sports family of brands and rounds out our portfolio as we continue to grow our leadership in winter sports," said Anthony De Rocco, President and CEO of K2 Sports, in a release. "BCA is a leader in research, engineering and snow-safety education and has pioneered landmark backcountry safety equipment."
K2 Sports is located in Seattle, Wash., but BCA will not be relocating from its Colorado headquarters. BCA will rely on K2 for such things as finance, accounting, and logistics, but will still continue to do its own product development and marketing.
"Between the acquisitions of Ortovox, Pieps, and now BCA by major publicly traded organizations, it's clear that snow safety is now a very important part of the mainstream ski industry," BCA co-founder Bruce Edgerly told ESPN.com. "Our new relationship with K2 shouldn't change much here: the BCA brand will continue to thrive, the management team will stay in place, and we'll keep our HQ right here in Boulder. Now that we're no longer risking our homes to finance the company, you can expect a bold new set of product development and marketing initiatives."
K2 is one of many companies rapidly expanding into the growing backcountry market. Last winter's bleak snowfalls led to a 12 percent drop in ski and snowboard units sold at U.S. retail shops, according to Snowsports Industries America, but brands in the backcountry-specific equipment, like Dynafit, Voile, and BCA all reported double-digit growth.
K2 will be debuting a new line of alpine touring ski boots and splitboards at the upcoming SIA trade show in Denver later this month. Those products will hit retail shelves in fall 2013.
"With this acquisition, K2 makes a strong statement that backcountry is where the industry is going," says the BCA release. "They're also making a strong statement about responsibility: If you're pushing backcountry gear, you should also be pushing snow safety gear and education."
K2's McGowan added that safety in the backcountry will remain a company priority. "There's not much of a boundary now between lift access and backcountry. There are so many people chasing powder now who don't understand the risks of skiing or riding in the backcountry," McGowan said. "K2 Sports gives us a platform to innovate further on a product level while concurrently casting a wider net with our scientific research and snow-safety education efforts.