If we had to sum up the 2015 Summer Outdoor Retailer Show in one word, it would be: stupendous! Although the I&T Today writing team covers more than a dozen high-profile trade shows and expos throughout the year, this is by far one of our favorites. Sit back and enjoy as we save you a lot of walking and give you a peek at Outdoor Retailer, Summer 2015.
First, let’s visit one of the hottest sporting crazes, Stand-Up Paddleboarding. Outside, we were mesmerized as chiseled athletes demonstrated their prowess in pools. Inside, we browsed all the cool gear that goes with your SUP. Dockslocks CEO Sean Carmichael and his crew from outside Orlando, FL, showed us how to lock your board. Kialoa Paddles came from the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon to discuss the passion and innovation behind their hand-crafted paddles that were first custom built for surfing and SUP legend Laird Hamilton.
For campers out there, all the major players were represented with large, colorful displays of everything you could need in the mountains. Packboat showed their folding two-person kayak that would fit in a compact car’s glove box.
OK, not the glove box, but definitely any trunk. From clothing, to backpacks, to sleeping bags, to tents, it was all there. A suggestion for next year? Have a Night-at-the-Museum raffle to stay at the show in one of the tent cities.
If paddling on water or kayaking isn’t your thing, there were lots of footwear brands represented. They included Ecco, Hoka One One (the hottest brand in the running world today), and even a company that makes connected, smart insoles. We tried out the One-Wheel, transportation gizmos by Inventist, and even saw one of the toughest looking E-bikes designed for rugged terrain made by Polaris. Hey, it is 2015, you know? There are a lot of fun ways to get around besides just walking, and they were all represented here.
Besides the extremely helpful staff and good natured exhibitors, we wondered about other trade show perks. Like food and drinks, for example. Outdoor Retailer had attendees covered: there were vendors throughout. We especially liked the handmade breakfast burritos outside the main hall. Later in the day, many exhibitors gave out beverages to the thirsty throngs. Fusion Jerky cleverly offered a local craft beer pairing with their various flavors of tender and moist jerky. It was a big hit!
There was a spirit of cooperative capitalism in the air as the snow-capped mountains formed a perfect backdrop to this iconic summer event. We can’t wait for the winter version of Outdoor Retailer Show, and in the words of Dean Martin, ‘Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow’!
By Charles Warner