In 2007, snowboard photographer Kenton Carruth and Scott Robinson, both avid outdoorsmen, noticed a gap in the market. Not the action sports market that they were both entrenched in, but the hunting world. Carruth and Robinson had seen the spread of Merino wool through base layers and other products in snowboarding, offering a high-quality, high margin product, but the trend had not yet caught on in the hunting world.
“After testing various Merino wool products for our winter sport endeavors, we began trying them out in the fall during the hunting season,” says the pair. “We found that we could use these products for bow hunting in September, rifle in October, upland and waterfowl in November and December. The fabrics performed in all seasons and in all conditions. The fabric kept us warm in the cool mornings, cool as the day heated up and, amazingly, kept us completely odor free day after day, and hunt after hunt. However, we found that in many hunting conditions, we wanted our Merino layer to be on the outside but we were limited to black as the only color option. Finding the solution to this problem launched us on our journey.”
The duo created First Lite, which has focused not just on quality fabrics, but on crucial patented camo designs, and has rapidly grown its Ketchum-based line including a collab on next season’s MTN Approach base layer product.
This launch is a testament to not only searching within the industry for applications that solve problems, but using the lessons you’ve learned in dealing with action sports and applying them to a broader market. As anyone who has watched this season knows, it’s never good to have all your eggs in one basket and diversity can help mitigate risks for weather-based businesses.