Innovation, Skiing & Snowboarding, What We're Made Of

What We’re Made Of: Reflex Ski Poles

The epic skiing and snowboarding available in the Sun Valley area has inspired entrepreneurs in the area for decades, from the founding of Scott USA in 1958 to Smith Optics in 1965 to more modern brands like Wolf Ski, 5B Ski Factory, Mountain Approach, and Research Design Skis. Originally founded in 1979, Reflex Ski Poles has had a resurgence after the brand was reborn in 2020, helping to fill the void left by so many of these iconic Sun Valley brands either leaving the area or shutting down altogether. Reflex has taken the passion of the rowdy, local ski community and channeled it into making the best ski pole in the industry, in what they refer to as “the OG ski town for OG skiers.”


The Beginning: 1979

The origins of Reflex lie in another Sun Valley-based company, Scott USA. It’s no surprise that Gus Verge, a Scott USA employee in charge of pole manufacturing, would find himself thinking about how to improve the ski pole. Though Scott USA founder Ed Scott invented the first aluminum ski pole and vastly changed the market, Verge saw a hole in the market for a ski pole that performed better and outlasted all others. He promptly left Scott and along with friends and die-hard skiers Dick Marshall, Roger Roche, and Lou Kreager, started Reflex and set out to make the world’s best ski poles. The four friends’ combined experience working for other outdoor brands and their years of skiing helped them craft a ski pole that soared to the top of the market in the ’80s and ’90s.

In 1986, Verge sold Reflex to Easton Sports so he could transition to working for Smith Optics; Verge ended up going back to Reflex in the mid-’90s for a bit before ultimately leaving the company again. Easton ended up letting Reflex go in the early 2000s, seemingly leaving behind this part of Sun Valley’s ski brand legacy.


The Rebirth: 2020

That is, until Verge’s son, Ben Verge, and friends spent years bantering and strategizing over beers about bringing the company back. The rebirth of Reflex came in 2020, the brainchild of Verge, Jack Weekes, Charlie Dunn, Sean O’Connor, Joe Marx, Clint Lightner, Joel Bernbaum, and Tim Carter. With just the founders as employees and with each of them working other, full-time jobs, reviving a ski pole brand might have seemed like a crazy thing to take on. But for these eight men, Sun Valley isn’t just their home; it’s a ski community, and one that they want to inspire. “Fire and foremost, Sun Valley is our home,” says Verge. “More than that, we have a great ski community here in the Valley, and that is essential to being a successful brand.”

A major impetus for reviving Reflex was seeing the void that brands like Smith and Scott had left in the area when they picked up shop for greener pastures. “Sun Valley has a long history of being a hub for innovation in the ski industry,” says Verge. “We really wanted to bring that back to our town. We love the ski community here, and it is important to us that our brand is skier-owned and -operated and that we create a good product we are stoked on.”

Reflex Today

Today, Reflex offers five ski poles: The Trombone adjustable ski pole and the Reflex Vol. 2 in versions The Wasteoid, The Diplomat, Tranquilo, and Fiero. The core principles and product of Reflex have remained the same as when it originated—ultimately poles are poles—but the biggest innovations have been in grips and what can be done with aluminum. Verge says Reflex poles are stronger and lighter than ever before, and the features of their adjustable poles make them stand out in the market; the company’s core values also distinguish them today. “A lot of winter sport companies have become just small parts of major corporations. They have become stale,” says Verge. “While there are plenty of options to buy ski poles out there, we hope that we stand out as a top-quality product that appeals to real skiers.”

As Reflex’s eight founders and employees split up responsibilities for the company to produce their poles, the hope is that the company grows and, down the road, gets to a place where it can employ more locals and create opportunities in the valley. “We are a group of avid skiers that want to create a product that we are proud of.”

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