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Steamboat Springs companies earn nod from Backpacker Magazine

— Two local companies were honored as 2013 Backpacker Magazine Editors' Choice Award winners.

The awards, which have been given out since 1993, honor the top products in the outdoor industry based on innovation, design, materials and performance.

Big Agnes won for its Scout UL2 tent, the company’s seventh Editors' Choice Award since 2004.

Sweetwood Cattle Co. won for the first time for its jerky, marking its inclusion into the outdoor industry.

The companies were two of 14 manufacturers to earn the recognition.

"It's our first award, and we're super excited," said Becca Fix, Sweetwood's general manager. "We're excited to see where it takes us. We were lucky to be included along the other companies. Anytime you're listed alongside Big Agnes, you feel lucky and know you are doing something right."

Sweetwood was one of two food companies to earn the designation. The product, offered in four varieties, uses whole muscle cuts for its jerky and all natural flavors.

She said the editor of Backpacker Magazine was introduced to the product at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market a couple of years ago. From there, she said Sweetwood provided Backpacker with plenty of samples, and soon they became a hit.

"There is definitely some hype with protein and the outdoor crowd now," Fix said. "People are looking for something to give them energy other than sugar."

The jerky is available at retail spaces throughout town and at http://www.sweetwoodjerky.com.

For Big Agnes, the award was the status quo. The outdoor company has found a niche in tents and sleeping bags and has become a favorite of Backpacker. Big Agnes has won Editors' Choice Awards from Backpacker in 2004, 2007 through 2009 and 2011 through this year.

The Scout UL2 tent is a classic A-frame wall tent or tarp. The single-wall tent uses trekking poles for support. The trail weight is just 1 pound, 9 ounces with a packed weight of two pounds.

"We know that a lot of people carry trekking poles when they are backpacking or hiking," said Len Zanni, a co-owner of Big Agnes. "There are other tents in this category on the market, but we figured we'd see how good of job we could do. Obviously, we're pretty pleased with the result."

The tent is available at http://www.bigagnes.com.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com