Who we are
Backcountry UK are a small team of dedicated outdoor enthusiasts, our passion for ski and splitboard touring, hill walking, rock climbing, winter mountaineering and love of the great outdoors drives through everything we do and our work is no exception.
Having been based in Ilkley for over 30 years Backcountry UK have moved to the nearby town of Otley, our new premises is in a beautiful mill complex and has free parking right by the shop front. We currently only have two full time staff, directors Tom and Phil who are both very experienced boot fitters but also run the website, answer questions, test and range products and make the cups of tea! Alongside our two full timers we get part time help, on the work bench and with packing deliveries, from Tom, David, Pete & Tony as well as others.
Backcountry UK have a close working relationship with Al Powell of Alpine Guides. As one of the leading BMG ski guides and a well known mountaineer and athlete, Al provides us with a vital guides' perspective and forms an essential part of our test team which contributes to our technical knowledge and experience. In the coming seasons we are excited to be extending our support to other Guides, increasing our pool of experienced testers and our technical knowledge base.
Being so small comes with it's own advantages and challenges. It means that we have the freedom to range the equipment we rate and use ourselves and can react quickly getting special orders when customers require kit that we don't normally stock and that whoever you speak to you get the same consistent advice from an experienced person. It can also mean that in busy times it can be difficult to fit every one in so we run appointments for boot fitting and advice sessions and encourage you to book ahead to give us the best chance of being able to give you the time you need.
The past and the future
Backcountry UK first opened its doors 30 years ago, started by David, the business was initially called Base Camp which became very well known locally for quality walking, skiing and climbing equipment and clothing.
David gained a growing reputation for Ski touring kit and footwear fitting which put Base Camp Ilkley on the national map for all ski tourers and the long distance trips from every corner of the country and beyond became a pilgrimage for those looking for more adventure on their skis.
As the ski side of the business grew Base Camp was re branded as Backcountry UK reflecting the transition from a general outdoor shop to being Ski touring and Off piste / Freeride specialists.
There have been dramatic changes in retail over the past 15 years largely driven by the internet but also by the march of the large chain stores or "multiples" offering a different style of retail than the more unique small independents. As you look around the UK now, you can see that many of the established independent outdoor shops have now disappeared, unable to keep up with the change in shopping habits, competition and consumer demands.
And so we at Backcountry UK have also had to change what we do in order to survive in the modern market place. We decided to focus on the elements of our business that we knew were strong and dispense with the aspects that fell into the mass market. Our skills and reputation for boot fitting for skiing and walking and our attention to detail and advice on ski touring and off piste skis, bindings and equipment are the corner stones of our business and it is these aspects that we have focused on. We have stopped stocking outdoor clothing and accessories as these are widely available on line and in the multiples and we have concentrated on the skills that make us unique in the British market place.
After many years as the head of Backcountry UK David retired in 2016 and employees Phil and Tom took over the mantle. They decided to move from the old location at 13 Leeds Road to join their fellow business owners and friends at Ilkley cycles. This relationship worked well until sadly, in November 2017 Ilkley Cycles ceased trading. After a difficult but very successful winter season 2017/18 Wheelbase took over the 25 Skipton Road Building and Backcountry Uk found a fantastic new premises just down the road at the beautiful Wharfebank Business Centre in Otley.
As we look to the future we are dedicated to continuing to provide the best in footwear, fitting and equipment for our twin loves of backcountry snow sports and walking whilst maintaining our reputation for friendly and skilled service.
If you would like any advice or to know more about us and our services then please get in touch and we'll be happy to help.
Phil, Tom and the Backcountry Uk team.