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The Grateful Dead‘s influence knows no bounds, and that includes at the top of snow-capped mountains. The legendary band has teamed up with professional skier and artist Chris Benchetler for a a limited-edition collection with Smartwool.
Available starting today on the apparel brand’s website, the Smartwool x Grateful Dead capsule collection in collaboration with athlete and artist Chris Benchetler Smartwool x Grateful Dead Capsule Collection in collaboration with Smartwool athlete and artist Chris Benchetler features a range of mountain-ready essentials inspired by the legendary jam band. The collections includes Merino wool ski socks, crew socks, and a long-sleeved Sport 150 base layer top ($33 to $95), all featuring original artwork inspired by the Dead’s music and iconography. The odor-wicking Merino wool is breathable and helps to regulate temperature, so everything’s fit for carving up powder.
Benchetler’s designs include Dead & Co.’s trippy characters — think their rainbow-hued bears driving a VW bus emblazoned with the Lightning Skull, the dancing skeleton with roses, and more in the multi-hyphenate athlete’s intricate illustration style.
Benchetler tells Rolling Stone that the Grateful Dead “have really become a huge part of my world, both intentioned and unintentionally. My father always listened to classic rock, so the Dead made their way in and out of playlists,” he shares. “But then in my early twenties a good family friend, who was the quintessential Dead Head, always had them playing in his car jamming his imaginary keys on the dashboard. He then took me to a live show when Dead & Co. first started playing shows. After that first show is when I went in a more obsessive spiral understanding their true mastery of improvisation.”
The kaleidoscopic Smartwool line follows Benchetler’s short film, Fire on the Mountain, which debuted in 2019 and is narrated by ESPN commentator and former Hall of Fame basketball player Bill Walton.
Those who shop the collection will also score an exclusive Fire on the Mountain gift set with purchases of $249 or more. The limited-edition set includes a DVD of the movie, the film’s soundtrack on vinyl, and a 120-page hardcover book filled with behind-the-scenes photos and commentary.
Benchetler says it’s the Dead’s mastery of musical improv that inspired his film as well as other collaborations. In fact, the Smartwool collection marks the second time that the athlete has dreamed up Dead-themed designs. He created a limited-edition set of skis last year in collaboration with equipment brand Atomic and action sports media company Teton Gravity Research.
As far as his top Jerry Garcia & Co. tracks, Benchetler says he’s got “many.” In addition to the ever-evolving playlist “with countless live performances that I continue to add to, ‘Ripple’ is always a staple in my life,” he explains, “as my two-year-old calls it ‘his song’ and I play it on the guitar often.”
The collection is available exclusively on Smartwool.com.