Favorite Finds at Outdoor Retailer Pt1

You could easily get lost among the major players on the main floor of Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace Convention Center. The big guys like Mountain Hardwear, Teva, Black Diamond, Kelty, attract immediate attention from the buyers while the little guys in the Ballroom and the recently added New Exhibitor Pavilion get less love. However, it wasn’t long ago that Cloudveil and KEEN debuted on the fringes. The showcase for next year’s summer gear was literally bursting at the seams so the newbies had to go somewhere. You never know what you’ll find sitting vigil so smart buyers made sure to pencil in time to see those green brands.

THE BALLROOM

They’re not necessarily built for the trail but Rockport has joined with Adidas to create a footwear line that brings a bit of the outdoors to the city. The company is not necessarily small but they’re not huge in the outdoor market…yet.

No one ever said that bikes must be seen solely at Interbike in Vegas. Scott and a few others dared to spin their wheels at this year’s Summer Market. It makes sense. The commuter bike market has blown up. Clothing manufacturers like Gramicci and The North Face have added specific pieces just for this market of road cyclists.

Ah, the Packs

What you’ll see most at the Outdoor Retailer Show are packs- backpacks, dog packs, kid packs. You name it. What makes Mile High Mountaineering unique is that the company is comprised of three college-age tattooed white guys who decided running their own business would be better than working for someone. “We don’t want to wear a white collar,” they chant. The packs are innovative but the prices are high. The Salute34 on the lower left features a top to bottom zipper that makes it easy to access everything in your bag. You can even spread it out and use it as a climbing rope tarp. It retails for $200.

The LittleLife Animal Daysacks are a must for anyone with tots. Kids under three can’t wait to have you strap the ladybug, butterfly, shark or bee on their backs. They don’t even care that it has a detachable “rein” so parents can keep them on a leash. The stowaway rainhood completes the animal effect. The company also makes kid carriers and backpacks for older children.

Crazy Creek busted the camp chair market wide open but they’re not the only game in town. Comfortable, low profile for concerts, made of mesh to catch the breeze on those hot summer nights, backpack straps and a stash zipper make the Kelsyus Lounger a rockstar.

Sock manufacturers Darn Tough and FITS stayed inside and out of the way of their more recognized competitors in the center – Thorlo, Smartwool, Lorpen, Fox River- but they are no less durable or attractive. What’s more, everyone is starting to play with color and patterns for next year. It’s hard to tell the difference anymore between companies so your purchase will come down to price and style. Everyone features durable, technical fabrics and lifetime guarantees.

THE NEW PAVILION

OR organizers resurrected the New Exhibitor Pavilion to house 165 newcomers to the market. The last time they needed the tent it took a twist in the 1999 tornado that hit Salt Lake City. The homeless vendors piled into the main hall as those with bigger booths offered to share. Up until now, the convention center had just enough space not to need the tent. But with more than 1000 exhibiters attending it was finally time. The jury’s out as to whether the tent was helpful or lame. Some vendors bemoaned the pseudo banishment while others saw attention they don’t think they would have gotten if they had to compete in the main space.

Egos aside, popularity probably had more to do with the product than the venue. Geopalz, an inventive colorful pedometer meant to get kids walking and interacting seemed to be a hit with media and buyers. The more they walk, the more points they get and the more products they can purchase with those points.

One guy who was destined for disappointment at least had the courage to take himself seriously even if we didn’t.

Just that really is a sleeve for a water bottle on that girl’s neck. Believing that we all take a cold bottle and stick it to our neck when it’s hot, the ‘inventor’ spent his life’s savings coming up with this gem. Maybe you get it. But wouldn’t it just be easier to pour the water on your head?

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