Five years ago, Kevin returned from a few years teaching abroad, buzzing with a desire to invent something useful.
Following trusted advice that he would only find this thing, and sustain passion if he began with what he loved most, he returned to his favorite place to do his favorite thing–and skied pow in the Tetons.
Working in the ski shop at Grand Targhee, one of the snowiest resorts in the world, it quickly became apparent that ski masks were the essential piece of gear that most people wanted improved. Everyone knew that blocked breathing was uncomfortable, claustrophobic, and that trapped hot air created wetness, ice, and goggle-fog.
At this time, Kevin was also hyper-conscious about sun protection. At just 19, a melanoma was removed from his arm, and doctors advised that in order to continue a life outdoors, he needed to take sun protection more seriously than the average person. This included wearing sunblock on sensitive areas often. When he went west, Kevin already knew that the nose and cheekbones were particularly skin cancer prone.
From a life of skiing as a family, and 7 years of racing, Kevin also knew the nose and cheeks were the parts of the face that were getting frostbitten most.
Seeing thousands of skiers come and go, it became apparent that most skiers were committed to stretch tubes, and they were wearing them around their chins. Just about all skiers were leaving their noses and cheekbones uncovered to avoid blocked breathing. A bunch of Kevin’s buddies were snowmobilers, and they were doing the same thing.
A mask that worked with a stretch tube, that just covered the nose and cheeks would be perfect. People wouldn’t have to change anything they were already using. They could just add this little nose and cheek mask. A two-piece mask would also be more ergonomic and move with the face better.
With these experiences and ideas colliding, Kevin set out to design and produce a “smarter” face mask.
In Summer 2011, Kevin went home to NH and got to work on a patent and making prototypes.
He took his best designs to Titoune Meunier, of Wild Things Gear in North Conway, NH for advice. She thought Kevin was on to something, agreed to help, and after a couple months of trying different things, the first production-ready faceGlove emerged.
Kevin and his buddy, Josh Kunkel won the first ever Business Pitch Competition at their alma mater, Hamilton College, in 2012. Josh and Kevin raised some funds for the first production run, and they sent samples to guides in Alaska and Nepal for testing. Feedback revealed things to tweak, and the next run was even better.
For half a decade, and through 10 production runs, Kevin and some industry pros have been dialing in the cutting, sewing, and fit of the faceGlove. Having made several thousand units, outerU Gear, inc. is producing world-class facemasks in New Hampshire, USA. Guides who climb all over the world, including on Everest, and Denali, continue to be some of the best supporters of outerU and the faceGlove.
In September of 2017, Kevin won the Start Tank competition hosted by the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council with his presentation about outerU gear, inc. and the faceGlove.
Today, faceGloves can be purchased online, and in ski shops and guide shops across the country. Kevin works to expand distribution while developing new face protection solutions. He still makes each faceGlove by hand, with a few talented individuals, in North Conway, NH, USA.