While not the show it once was, there’s still plenty going on at ‘OR’
If you attended the Outdoor Retailer (OR) show in its heyday, seeing it now can be rather disheartening. Gone are the days where virtually every possible space of the Salt Palace Convention Center was covered with exhibitor booths, when some 20,000 outdoor professionals would crowd the aisles, and one would navigate the show floor by finding free breakfasts, dozens of happy hours (which all started promptly at 4 P.M.), and the best ‘swag’ possible. You’d then follow up a very long trade show day with brand-hosted parties that often brought in national talent (even acts as big as the Black Eyed Peas) and lasted far into the night.
While many of my longtime outdoor industry friends maligned OR this year, I took a fresh perspective and looked at it like it was a brand-new show. I also asked nearly every brand that I met with how the show was going for them and, almost universally, they said that while they were nervous to come in and exhibit, it had been a very positive show with great conversations all around. Most said that, as the industry has changed, shifted, and morphed, that there weren’t as many buyers there as there once were but that they’d had many positive conversations, particularly around partnerships and with media.
I can say that, for me as a freelancer and as Executive Director of OWAA, it was a great event that allowed me to get to meet a variety of smaller, often new, innovative brands and start up’s that I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to know if it were still the ‘old’ OR show.
- Steps walked by Chez on show days: 14,274 & 14,064
- Scheduled meetings: 23 (over two days attending), with many more informal ones
Here are just a few of the intriguing things I spotted at this show:
Longtime OWAA Supporting Group LOWA launched a new trail running line, the ATR Collection, which will be in stores in June (pictured is the Citux).
CampIt Ever Ready
A fun product for car campers, picnickers and families, the CampIt Ever Ready is a box that comes complete with everything you’ll need to cook and serve a meal for up to four people. Just some of the contents inside include a set of four Wheatstraw plates, cups, and bowls; eco-friendly recycled foil; first aid kit; two koozies; playing cards; leather utensil pouch; telescoping skewers; two rechargeable headlamps and even a small American flag.
Hüga Heated Cushions
Originally developed for outdoor restaurants to use during the pandemic, made-in-Maine Hüga Heated Cushions are rechargeable, water-resistant, portable, easy-to-clean and, of course, heated. There are three temperature settings that can range from 85-120℉ and the batteries can last from 6-10 hours.
Manufactured in Cleveland, the LAND Moto District is a two-wheeled electric vehicle that allows you to ride in four distinct modes: as an eBike (up to 27 MPH), as an eMoped (37 MPH), as an eMotorcycle (70 MPH) or in Performance mode for speeds above 70 MPH. Three battery types are available, with varying capacities for speed, duration, charging time and weight.
Athletic footwear company LANE–EIGHT is working to become the first performance workout brand that is fully carbon net zero. They state, “From sustainable materials to better manufacturing, we’re committed to making the best workout shoes for you and the planet.” Materials in their shoes can include algae-based midsoles, eucalyptus/cotton uppers, recycled plastic yarn and vegan suede.
While I’d certainly known of the Nite Ize brand for many years, I hadn’t realized the extent of their line until I had an opportunity to see it all at the show. Their line now includes products for waterproof protection, mobile phone mounts and accessories, hardware such as multitools and tie-downs, headlamps and lanterns, an array of illuminated bike and fitness products and various pet products.
Nordik Eyewear embraces a host of technological innovations for their ski goggles and sunglasses. For their Odin goggles, this includes a lightweight, nine magnet interchangeable lens system, dual lenses to better resist fogging, and Diamant™ High Contrast lenses to provide more clarity and less eye strain.
An Outdoor Retailer Innovation Award winner, start-up Opolis Optics impressed with their goggles and eyeglasses made with recycled plastics that are in, or would end up in, the ocean. They source the plastic to be reused and create jobs in Kenya, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
To use the RockPot cooking system, you heat the included stone RockPot Tablet over your campfire, you then place your prepared food inside the inner cooking pot, you place the heated table into the bottom of the cooker (using a hook that’s also included) with the cooking pot on top. You close the lid and let it cook for the desired amount of time. You can carry it with you as it’s cooking a meal then, once it’s done, open the latch and serve it up.