From Farm to Fashion: meet Cheri Sanguinetti

Excuse the stereotypes for this one, please:

Lots of girls grow up wanting to design clothes. Like boys and their dreams of becoming professional athletes, most of those

Cheri Sanguinetti, Cotopaxi apparel director

Cheri Sanguinetti, Cotopaxi apparel director

girls end up doing something more humble and ordinary. Of those who do enter the fashion industry, few actually design clothes.

Meet the exception to the rule: Cheri Sanguinetti, 33, apparel director for Cotopaxi and designer of the Bengal and Kusa jackets (better known in these parts at the Perfect Barn Coat and the Perfect Layer).

Sanguinetti grew up on a ranch west of San Francisco. Her first job out of college was in the western and equestrian boot division of Ariat. Since then, she’s worked for Marmot, Nike, and Columbia Sportswear, among others.

When she joined Cotopaxi as apparel director and founding team member in 2013, she was excited and ready.

“I’m an entrepreneur at heart. Self-starters are in my blood,” said Sanguinetti from the Cotopaxi offices in Salt Lake City, Utah. “To be apparel director here gave me the chance to really infuse the brand and not just go with the flow. That was a huge draw.”

Sanguinetti was a great fit for CEO Davis Smith’s vision of Cotopaxi:

“Cheri comes from the outdoor industry, but if you take one look at her you know she understands fashion,” said Smith. “The outdoor world is infamous for designing for men, and then shrinking and pinking the products to try to cater to a female consumer. Cheri’s vision for our apparel line has been refreshing, innovative and forward thinking. Her fashion sense is exactly what the outdoor industry has needed.”

Sanguinetti with coworker in China

Sanguinetti with coworker in China

The Bengals’ rustic yet refined look is due, not just to the styling, but also to the choice of fabrics and use of technology, explained Sanguinetti. She used Polartec Alpha insulation and lightly waxed canvas. “It breathes, so you don’t have to take it on and off. Maybe my farm upbringing sneaks into its styling. My niece does high school rodeo and she loves it.”

As for the Kusa, it was her idea to use llama fiber. It might seem like a no brainer, given that the company’s logo is a llama silhouette and two llamas (Coto and Paxi) routinely hang out and schmooze at Cotopaxi events. But the task proved challenging. Fine llama fibers are difficult to source. The Kusa uses product from Bolivian farms.

Sanguinetti likes that it’s more sustainable (and humane) than goose down. It doesn’t poke through like feathers do and performs better than wool, she said.

Keep up the good work, Cheri!

Check out the Kusa review here and the Bengal review here. Enter “nickernews” at checkout to receive 20 percent off.

No Goose in the Kusa

The Perfect Barn Coat just found its perfect layer, now making it a four-season jacket to love and adore. The perfect layer? The new, ultra thin Kusa jacket from Cotopaxi.

llama-outerwearThe reversible Kusa weighs just 15 ounces and has an attractive quilted stitching pattern on one side and is nearly stitch-free on the other. Its thinness, slick material, and simple design (no pointless pockets or cumbersome tailoring) make it great for slipping under the Bengal, aka the Perfect Barn Coat.

We’re giving away a Bengal at the Equine Affaire. Read giveaway details here.

The folks at Cotopaxi, a Utah company with a strong charity component, introduced a revolutionary new insulation fiber to the outdoor clothing world by using fine llama fibers from Bolivia. Llamas! Those loveable, protective camelids, kissing cousins of equids. Sure, folks have used llama fiber before, but not in this

1387880technique. The hollow llama fiber has been blended with polyester to create a fill that’s warm, light, and likeable. Who likes the idea of all those geese being slaughtered for goose down, anyway? Add human and sustainable to the list of pros.

Kusa’s sizing is user friendly. The jacket is unisex, styled the same for men and women, with four brass-colored side snaps that make it perfect for riding and for anyone who is standing and sitting and standing and sitting. The Kusa in men’s small and the women’s medium.

Enter “nickernews” at checkout and receive 20 percent off Cotopaxi items!

Read about Cheri Sanguinetti, the creator of the Kusa and Bengal.

Love the side snaps!

SPOT to the rescue (and for fun)

The move to Colorado means a few things change:

  • GEN3_leadI’m in unfamiliar territory.
  • I’m mostly alone while exploring on foot and horseback.

Just in time, the folks at SPOT have sent their Gen3 device with satellite service for messaging and tracking. We’ll be giving one away at the Equine Affaire. A $450 value.

I don’t plan on getting lost or needing help. Who does? I didn’t plan on getting in a wreck with Jolene this summer, either. If I’d been alone, it would not have ended as well.

SPOT is a fabulous option for so many of us who are out in the boonies with no cell service. (Despite what your cell company tells you, bad service happens more often than you’d think. And cell phone battery life can die quickly, especially when it is in constant search mode for reception.)

Extreme Tracking of an 11-mile trek near Mesa Verde National Park

Extreme Tracking of an 11-mile trek near Mesa Verde National Park

The SPOT unit is small and tough. It clips easily to a belt or can go in a pocket.

  • Press the message icon button to send an OK message via text message or email to whomever you list. (see below, screen shot of the text message I sent to my son. “Pretty Cause” is a name I gave our home here.)
  • Press the hiking boot icon to track yourself using Extreme Tracking. It’s a feature you will LOVE. You can choose the increments of GPS location: 2.5, 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes. I found 10 minutes to be a good stagger for riding. During this ride (see screen shot, right), we covered 11 miles over high meadow and through gullies of timber.

If you’re really in trouble, there are two options: by pressing the ‘give me a hand’ icon, a HELP message is sent to those friends and family listed in your account (via text and/or email). Or, use the SOS feature to get help from emergency services. SPOT has helped thousands in dire circumstances. Read this recent story of a outdoorsman boxed in by a wildfire.

Sign up to be a Remuda Reader and you’ll automatically qualify to win a SPOT Gen 3 unit with complimentary service (including messaging and Extreme Tracking) for a year. A $450 value.

Typical "Check In" message sent to family or friend

Typical “Check In” message sent to family or friend

Species Parade, Week Eight

Travel Utah roads and you’ll see all kinds of wildlife. Trouble is, they’re all dead. Given today’s driving culture, though, it’s not unusual to conduct species counts via road kills. UtahOutsider’s species parade count bumped to 51 with sightings of newly dead mammals along highways and byways.

The trek from northern Utah to southwestern Colorado (twice) certainly allowed us to see more, when we had a spare second. Read more about the move here. At higher elevations in both states (6,000 to 8,500 feet), you will see the gorgeously villian-esque Steller’s Jay. [To note, the bird is stellar but not Stellar! It was named after Georg Wilhelm Steller, an 18th century German birder.]


Yellow-bellied Marmot





Black Tailed Jackrabbit

Cottontail Rabbit

Mule Deer


82324-004-AE62C545Rock Squirrel

Brush Mouse


Canada Goose

California Gull


Townsend’s Solitaire

Townsend’s Warbler

Yellow Warbler

House finch

Red Shafted Flicker

IMG_1529Steller’s Jay

Clark’s Nutcracker

Tufted Titmouse

Black Capped Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee


Common Raven

Scrub Jay



Dark-Eyed Junco

Ringed Turtle Dove

Rock Dove

Western Kingbird

Mountain Bluebird


Rufous-sided Towhee

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker

Broad Tailed Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Chipping sparrow

Song sparrow

Black Headed Grosbeak

American Kestrel

Turkey Vulture

Prairie Falcon

Red-Tailed Hawk



American Robin

Common Poor Will

Common Nighthawk

Alder Flycatcher


What’s to Love about Utah

Over two years, I’ve enjoyed the heck out of Utah. Mostly, I’ve appreciated its expanse of wilderness. I’ve spotted my first bobcat IMG_1194(with kitten!), watched a badger move like a lightning-fast hovercraft, and witnessed two families of ravens grow from nest-building to fledged.

I’ve scaled a few peaks, hiked on red rock, and snapped photos of multi-colored prickly pear blossoms. Check out our facebook photos.

With a move to Colorado, I’ll look forward to being a part-time Utah lover. Here’s an off-beat tribute to what’s to love about the Beehive State:

People watching at airports can tell you a lot about a place:

LL Bean boots on a security table

LL Bean boots on a security table

— At the Portland, Maine airport, flyers are a mix of spiffy-dressed tourists and no-nonsense Mainers. Most everyone wears at least one item from LL Bean, an indication of their pragmatism and outdoorsy-ness. Some travelers appear fit. Some decidedly not.

[Does anyone else find this airport’s official name comical? Portland International Jetport. Non-stop to Paris, for sure. The federal acronym is PWM. My mom likes to say, Portland. Where? Maine.]

— At the Cedar Rapids, Iowa airport, flyers are friendly and overweight. Many are white-collar business travelers or fans of the University of Iowa, wearing black and yellow.

— At JFK, in New York, flyers speak scores of different languages, quickly, loudly, and behind expensive sunglasses or cheap replicas of expensive sunglasses.

But never have I seen more fit and adventurous-looking flyers than at the Salt Lake City airport. In the winter, baggage claim is

Workers and travelers at the SLC airport are a fit bunch

Workers and travelers at the SLC airport are a fit bunch

chock-block full of skis and snowboards. In the summer, scores of travelers pack fly rods and backpacks.

Whether local or from away, folks here love to get out.

Despite their animosity towards the federal government (the western states’ movement to turn U.S. lands over to state control was initiated by a Utah congressman), Utahns love their five national parks. (When sequestration forced the parks to close, Utah reopened them with state money and temporary workers. Way to go!)

Utah has more wilderness than all but two states and is ranked similarly when it comes to Utahns’ physical health. Read more here.

What’s not to love about that?

Read What’s Not to Love about Utah


What’s not to love about Utah

Read What’s to Love about Utah

There is no doubt that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has benefited society, in general, and Utah, specifically. The crime rate is low and people are nice. But from UtahOutsider’s perspective, certain traits of this majority (about two thirds of Utah’s population is LDS) leave me feeling unwelcome and downright cantankerous.

Smog advances in Salt Lake valley

Smog advances in Salt Lake valley

While Mormons say they have an appreciation for wilderness, their personal and policy choices belie the sentiment. The tradition of large families, for example, translates to rampant development. In Salt Lake and Utah counties, planners project farmland to be completely converted to housing developments within the next decade. The dreaded Inversion (in which cold, smoggy air hunkers down in the valley and creates poor air quality) gets worse every year.

But when you talk with Mormons about development and industry, a strange veil of denial and cognitive dissonance seems to descend upon them.

I asked an LDS stake president (similar to a bishop in the Catholic church) what he thought of the gung-ho extraction industry, specifically, the Kennecott mine which sits less than a mile from my Utah home. It is the largest open pit mine in the world.

“I don’t think I’ve ever considered the mine as something that will permanently be there and that now a mountain is permanently gone. And is that a bad thing, a good thing, or a neutral thing?”

1.5 million in the valley. Make that 3 million soon.

1.5 million in the valley. Make that 3 million soon.

This guy is a highly intelligent, successful man who likes to hike and enjoys the outdoors.

One of the pillars of LDS culture is obedience. Accept authority. Fall in line. Tough territory for this contrarian. But really, I think it stymies discussion and thwarts possibility for trickle-up change. Just ask Kate Kelly, co-founder of Ordain Women. Maybe I’m oversimplifying and confusing the Mormon majority with the Republican majority (although statistics show they are one and the same).

Maybe it’s the Mainer in me.

Mainers tend to operate within their means and have a keener sense of sustainability. They have learned how clear cutting and overfishing pays nasty dividends over time.

In Maine, there is more discussion (some would say rancor and intransigence), more retrospection, and less railroading (Utah’s legislative Republican majority is over 80 percent). Read one Mainer’s take: an op-ed by Uinta Brewing’s Will Hamill (a Maine native living in Utah).

Here, the enduring frontier mentality, along with the LDS culture, combine for a lethal mix for the environment: Get it. Use it. Toss it. Get more. Take a trip to the landfill.

Rio Tinto's Kennecott mine looms over Salt Lake valley

Rio Tinto’s Kennecott mine looms over Salt Lake valley

Sometimes in Utah, I want to scream, “Stop. Look around. Think!”

Mormons’ line toeing tendencies creep into every aspect of life, but perhaps most clearly in their diet: the Word of Wisdom is an LDS law that labels coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco as harmful. It was a well-meaning message of healthy living, written in 1833. It also said eat meat sparingly and don’t forget your fruits and vegetables.

But the message has been blurred and retooled. Vices sneak in. Energy drinks and sodas of all kinds pass muster even though we know these are far less healthy than coffee and tea. Pioneering Mormons didn’t know about prescription drugs either.

Addictions and depression abound in Utah. Did I mention the state has the highest suicide rate in the country?

Sometimes, I want to scream. “Stop. Think. Talk!”

Read What’s to Love about Utah

Visit UtahOutsider facebook pages.

UtahOutsider braves Outdoor Retailer

IMG_8872Attending the Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City is a bit like heading to the mall on Christmas Eve: be prepared for nuttiness and overstimulation.

Read about snacks we discovered at the OR.

Read about last year’s OR visit.

That said, the OR presents much cooler stuff than any mall. Outdoor recreationalists who manage to acquire a pass (most of the 27,000 attendees are retail buyers, about 600 of us are media) can be seen drooling at the quantity and quality of goods packed into some 1,500 exhibits.

If you’re interested in the next big thing, you’ll likely find it here in a small budget booth on the outskirts of the Salt Palace. Of course, the heavy hitters are here, too, with mammoth booths and big

Altra booth featured elite athletes in action above the crowds

Altra booth featured elite athletes in action above the crowds

budgets. The Keen booth, decked with multi-levels of perfectly refashioned, reclaimed wood, must have cost $100,000. The Royal Robbins booth hired baristas to serve free lattes around the clock. The Altra running shoe booth featured a 50-foot long, elevated treadmill and hired elite athletes to churn out miles high above the masses.

Here’s a quick review of items and companies that caught our eyes:

Of the scores of knife companies, Kershaw continues to be a favorite. Why? They understand carrying a knife is something women do, too. Kershaw is virtually the only company with an entire line of knives appealing to women for their sleek design, slim fit, and utility. No testosterone here. IMG_8871Check out the Leek review.

We visited with SPOT exhibitor Jon Butcher (no relation) about the ease and fail-safe elements of SPOT, the satellite rescue service in a simple orange and black device.. The service easily exceeds the capabilities of any cell phone app and makes trail riding, especially solo outings, exponentially safer. Read about this California hiker-turned-wildfire-survivor here.

One of the niftiest items that caught our eyes was the new Tread, a bracelet by Leatherman. Yes, you read correctly: a Leatherman bracelet. Call it a mechanical aesthetics. Call it a conversation starter. Call it the Tread. It was developed by Leatherman CEO Ben Rivera, after he was escorted from Disneyland for having a multi-tool in his pocket.

The Tread has a tiny knife hook that’s perfect for cutting baling twine, a flat screwdriver head for those Chicago screws, and a Treadbottle opener, of course. You can design your own, customizing tools and wrist size.

We met with Caroline Duell of Elemental Herbs. Duell developed Goop (a fabulous blend of olive oil, beeswax, calendula, comfrey, plantain, lavender, and yarrow) while working on an organic farm in California years ago. From there, she’s grown the company and the All Good product line, which includes sunscreens, lip balms, and pain relief spray. Goop was great after the recent wreck.

We visited with the folks at ThermaCELL about their remote-controlled, rechargeable, heated insoles. These thin, orange pads have us looking forward to subzero temps spent mucking stalls and hauling hay. Bring it on, winter! We will review ThermaCELLSs as soon as the temperature drops.

All Good Goop

All Good Goop

We talked with Davis Smith, the CEO of Cotopaxi. The folks at this Utah company (which sells direct to consumer and gives generously to charities) have agreed to giveaway one of their Perfect Barn Coats to a lucky subscriber at the Equine Affaire.

Additional shout outs go to:

Crazy Creek. We’ll be offering one of the Montana company’s camp chairs in an upcoming giveaway.

Adventure Medical Kits – They’ve developed a new line for humans AND their canine companions. It’s a welcome item, since most of us horse owners have dogs. Stay tuned for that giveaway, too.

CLB2gvFWoAAoEBHZootility – They’ve just moved to a new facility in Maine. The young company makes cool multi-tools that fit flat in your wallet. We have the new Headgehog, a comb, wrench, screwdriver, and bottle opener. It’s the cutest tool on the market, hands down.

Darn Tough. Other sock companies are just playing. Darn Tough socks, made in Vermont, have brilliantly survived rigorous testing through four seasons of hiking and riding. Read our review.

MG_9889We need our feet to stay happy and healthy. Darn Tough’s seamless, merino wool socks make it happen, breathable in the heat, cozy in the cold.

Read about last year’s OR visit.

Read more OR related content.

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