Backcountry Banks on Wholesale for Private-Label Growth

Outdoor gear and apparel retailer Backcountry is making a move into wholesale.

The Park City, Utah-based business this week announced plans to sell its in-house designs at retailers beyond its national branded stores and e-commerce site. The 27-year-old retailer will bring the private-label “Gearhead”-inspired products it launched in 2018 to select U.S. retailers in fall of 2024.

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“Backcountry has made significant strides in creating an omnichannel experience for its consumers,” chief product officer Colby Black said. “In the past three years, we’ve opened nine brick-and-mortar stores and now we’re broadening our reach with wholesale.”

Black said the expansion would increase brand awareness and drive sales in key regions on products made for skiing, biking, climbing, hiking, fly fishing, and après ski. “We connect people to the outdoors by offering the best gear on the market and venturing into wholesale will further strengthen that mission,” Black added.

Backcountry attended the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City this week to connect with retail partners and online platforms. The first wholesale assortment for fall 2024 will include staples made for hiking, mountaineering and everyday wear, including its bestselling Backcountry Cottonwoods Gore-Tex jacket and a new Backcountry shell anorak.

“From the Wasatch Mountains in our own backyard to countless summits worldwide, the Backcountry team has built upon 27 years of mountain experience to design and create unique product in the marketplace,” added Colleen Burns, the retailer’s senior director of owned brands. “Thoughtful innovations and decades of expertise are intertwined within each product designed in-house.”

Burns pointed to collaborations with Gore-Tex, Pertex and Allied Down as key drivers for the in-house label, which “have been key in elevating our offering and pivotal in getting us to the point where wholesale is a natural step forward.”

Backcountry’s wholesale pursuit comes as companies look for growth beyond direct-to-consumer sales, according to reporting from wholesale management platform Joor. Its August study showed that 51 percent of brands selling apparel, footwear and accessories rank forging retail partnerships as their biggest priority, beating out the development of their own e-commerce channels or retail stores. Surveyed brands said they projected average wholesale growth of 27 percent during 2023.