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Outdoor Retailer 2016 Editor’s Picks – Outdoor Retailer Inspiring Stories

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Read about the best Outdoor Retailer inspiring stories and learn how these companies are disrupting an industry. Photo Source: handshake.com

There are thousands of vendors at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market exposition.  And while it is easy to get lost in the crowd, some companies are so unusual that it is impossible not to acknowledge their positive disruption of the outdoor industry.  This week, Seattle Backpackers Magazine reviews four outdoor retailer inspiring stories and how these companies are changing the world for the better.

 

Outdoor Retailer Inspiring Stories
Photo courtesy of nuun.

nuun.  On the outside, Seattle based nuun (pronounced noon) is an electrolyte replace and hydration company.  nuun packs a complete electrolyte profile in a small tablet that is dissolved in water and supports active lifestyles.  Electrolytes play a key function in maintaining fluid balance, preventing muscle cramping, and aids in muscle contractions and movement.  Most electrolyte powders or pre-made drinks are packed with sugar, the innovative effervescent technology, plant-based ingredients, and lack of sugar in nuun makes it a disruptive force in the outdoor and sport performance market.

On the inside, nuun is just as disruptive.  From organizational culture to a well-developed social conscious; nuun shakes things up…sometimes, literally.  The organization embraces what CEO Kevin Rutherford describes as the nuun life.  The nuun life recognizes the individual and social benefit of activity and is dedicated to an active lifestyle in and out of the office.  This dedication takes the form of supporting employee activities outside the office and 5-minute workout sessions three times a week during the workday called the five minutes of fitness.

Outdoor Retailer Inspiring Stories
The staff and wonder dog Yukon at nuun taking five minutes to live the nuun life during work. nuun’s five minutes of fitness fosters social bonding and creativity while reducing stress and encouraging healthy living. Photo courtesy of nuun.

Social responsibility is a big part of the way nuun operates.  The nuun principles include clean product, clean planet, and clean sport.  The company supports socially conscious causes like The Conservation Alliance and other pro-green initiatives with financial donations from sales and volunteerism.

 

Outdoor Retailer Inspiring Stories
Photo courtesy of MiiR.

MiiR.  MiiR, another Seattle based company, makes outdoor bottles, bikes, and bags.  The company’s flagship store is in the trendy Fremont neighborhood known for microbrews and a giant troll that lives under the Aurora Bridge.  The products are elegantly designed, functional, and rugged. From the camp cup to the food canister to vacuum insulated bottles, MiiR has high quality containers for every aspect of your outdoor life.  MiiR also features a line of bikes for kids and adults.  The bikes are commuter style bikes great for getting to the office or a slow Sunday morning coffee crawl.

Outdoor Retailer Inspiring Stories
MiiR’s flagship store is also a coffee and beer house. Photo courtesy of MiiR.

Besides great outdoor products, what makes MiiR truly inspirational is the company’s commitment to making the world a better place to live.  Every MiiR product funds a trackable giving project as part of the product to project program.  The program is unique in corporate giving and allows customers to fully understand the impact of their purchase.  Simply register the MiiR product online and enter the product tracking code and you can track where and what project your purchase is supporting.  MiiR gives five percent of revenue annually to different giving projects around the world focusing on water, education, and bicycle projects.  These ventures have led to 55 water projects, over 4,500 bikes given, and the building of a school.  Come down to the Fremont store and enjoy a handcrafted Counter Culture Coffee or one of over 25 beers currently on tap and see what MiiR is doing to make the world a better place.

 

Outdoor Retailer Inspiring StoriesSherpa.  The character, strength, and generosity of the Sherpa people have made the exploration of the Himalayas possible.  The bravery and heroics of Sherpa guides is legendary, as is the economic challenges of the people.  The company Sherpa makes adventure gear for the exploration of the wilder places on earth.  The gear is designed and tested for Sherpas by Sherpas in one of the most extreme environments imaginable.  From trekking to alpine climbing, the gear is made to be bombproof, functional in movement, and provide state-of-the-art thermal and cooling qualities.

While the gear is amazing, the story behind the gear is what makes Sherpa one of the outdoor retailer inspiring stories.  The company was founded by Tashi Sherpa, nephew of Ang Gyalzen Sherpa, one of the original Sherpa on Sir Edmund Hillary’s famous Everest expedition in 1953.  Tashi Sherpa’s goal was to create economic stability and opportunity for the Sherpa that supported the recreational industry in Nepal and often lived in poverty.

Outdoor Retailer Inspiring Stories
Tashi Sherpa’s daughters are now guiding the business. On the right is Pema Chalmatsang-Sherpa and on the left in the green is Tsedo Sherpa-Ednalino, Chief Operating Officer. Photo by dutch franz.

Now, Tashi Sherpa’s daughters Tsedo Sherpa-Ednalino and  Pema Chalmatsang-Sherpa guide the company and employ over 1,000 skilled women to hand-knit many of the company’s signature products.  The company focuses on keeping things local, a large portion of Sherpa’s products are designed and manufactured in Nepal.  In addition to the economic opportunity Sherpa fosters, the company also supports the Paldorje Education Fund.  This educational fund allows disadvantaged Nepalese children living in remote villages the opportunity to attend school.  Find out more about how you can help support the scholarship fund and Sherpa’s innovative commitment to rural economic development and sustainable manufacturing at the Sherpa website.

 

Outdoor Retailer Inspiring Stories
Bedrock Sandals Co-founder Dan Opalacz and Chief Experience Officer Naresh Kumar. Photo by dutch franz.

Bedrock Sandals.  This Richmond, California company believes in big adventure and simple living.  Bedrock’s innovative materials and minimalist design is genius, giving you just what you need to explore the world.   Co-founder Dan Opalacz started making sandals while living in his VW van traveling the country in search of great outdoor adventures.  Co-founder Nick Pence is chief designer and heads Bedrock’s 1% For The Planet environmental non-profit.

The sandal design takes a disruptive approach to traditional footwear concepts.   Bedrock’s goal is to harness the natural human-inherited flow of movement.  They attempt to do this with a zero drop sole profile as well as creating a sole platform that provides comfort and grip across terrain without unnaturally forcing your feet out of alignment.  Bedrock attempts to design footwear to mold over time to your individual foot profile, not the other way around.  The sandals reflect the founders’ vision of harmony and simplicity.

While Bedrock’s sandals are innovative, it is the company’s commitment to simple living and building an awareness of social responsibility that makes it one of the outdoor retailer inspiring stories.   Many companies have corporate giving or sponsorship programs, but few show the personal commitment that Bedrock shows to making a difference in the world.  This philosophy is personified in Naresh Kumar, Bedrock’s Chief Experience Officer.  Naresh left a high paying software engineering job in Palo Alto to live the simple Bedrock life and raise awareness for social justice issues around the world.  Taking this mission and Bedrock sandals on the road, Naresh trekked 3,800 miles through five countries and three continents.  The herculean effort included a stretch of 280 miles on a broken foot.  The efforts of Bedrock and Naresh helped bring much needed attention to the issues of human trafficking and the economic exploitation of vulnerable populations.  Few companies are willing to put so much skin in the game to live their values.

Outdoor Retailer Inspiring Stories
A well-worn Bedrock sandal from Naresh Kumar’s 3,800 mile three continent trek. The ballistic insole of the sandal was rubbed bare by Naresh’s foot. Photo by dutch franz.

 

Outdoor Retailer 2016 Editor’s Picks – Main Floor Review

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Outdoor Retailer 2016
Outdoor Retailer 2016 Editor’s Picks from Seattle Backpackers Magazine. Photo by dutch franz.

The Outdoor Retailer 2016 Summer Market was a chance for some of the biggest manufacturers in the business to show what is new in the outdoor gear industry.  Read Seattle Backpackers Magazine Editor’s picks and get the inside scoop of what’s to come.

If you have never been to the Outdoor Retailer exposition,”OR” for short, then you can’t imagine the sheer size and volume of gear, clothing, and accessories available.  Being an OR virgin, I had not anticipated what I would find when I went to Salt Lake City for my first OR experience.  What I found was both inspiring and a little overwhelming as marketing and marketers attempted to define and shape the outdoor experience for profit.

The floor space at OR is mostly segregated by company size.  Large, or well-funded, companies have exhibits on the main floor.  Smaller companies, or companies that don’t want to spend the cash, have booths in pavilions adjacent to the main convention center.  This bifurcation of the industry seems like a natural place for me to segment my Outdoor Retailer 2016 Editor’s picks.  This review will focus on gear found on the main convention floor from mostly larger companies.  Since there is just way too much gear to conduct a comprehensive review, I will focus on gear that stood out as exceptional or unique.

Outdoor Retailer 2016 Editor’s Picks  

outdoor retailer 2016
Arc’teryx

Multi-Day Backpacking Packs.  Arc’teryx Bora AR50.  This pack is large, solidly constructed, and built to carry heavy loads a long way.  The revolutionary RotoGlide moving hip-belt allows the hip-belt to twist as your torso twists and moves up and down as you stride or ascend steep inclines.  The durability of the hard-plastic components is still suspect and needs testing, but the concept is revolutionary and could improve balance while reducing fatigue and lumbar and hip discomfort.  No other pack on the floor was thinking that far out of the box.

 

 

outdoor retailer 2016
Mountain Hardwear

Alpine/Mountaineering Pack

Mountain Hardwear continues to make the best expedition mountaineering pack on the market.  The South Col 70 OutDry Backpack is substantial and build to take a beating that only crampons and ice axes will give a pack.  The pack uses innovative OutDry construction that bonds a durable waterproof membrane to the main compartment so that your gear stays safe and dry in even the wettest conditions.  The pack keeps all the convenient features that mountaineers have come to expect and rely on.  My favorite feature is the outside reinforced crampon stash pouch.  This pouch allows me to quickly stuff my crampons into a pocket without fear of punching a hole through the pack, a simple design that has yet to be copied.

 

outdoor retailer 2016
Osprey Packs

Multi-Use Pack

Osprey leads the industry in versatile lightweight packs for trekking, day hikes, or trail running.  Osprey showcased a new ergonomic line of multi-use packs designed to be better fitting and functional on the move.  Osprey packs are full of features like Bio-Stretch technology, the Ergo-Pull hip belt, and the Airspeed suspension and spacer mesh harness system that will keep the load stable and comfortably positioned off your back while assisting in ventilation.  Many packs also include an integrate rain cover.  Osprey has a large selection of packs for all occasions, I recommend finding an authorized dealer and taking the time to find the right fit and features for what you like to do.

 

Outdoor retailer 2016
Hilleberg Tents

All-Season Tents

The best tents on the convention floor were made by Hilleberg.  Forget the more well-known tent manufacturers, Hilleberg makes the most bomb-proof, best designed all-season tents in the consumer market.  The tents are relatively lightweight and easy to put up, even in a storm.  The integrated rainfly allows you to pack-up the tent under the fly keeping the tent and you dry.  I also encourage you to take the Hilleberg challenge and try to rip a swatch made from the tent material. The swatches are cut nearly in half and you are challenged to try and rip the fabric further…good luck.

 

outdoor retailer 2016
North Face

Outdoor Clothing Systems

Nobody makes, or markets, an integrated outdoor clothing system like North Face.  From base layer to parka the North Face Summit Series uses high-tech material and design that ingeniously integrates each layer into a performance system.  Other expedition clothing companies attempt to integrate layers as well, but North Face simply does it better, and more importantly, they knew how to display it at the expo.  The Summit Series at the expo was on active manikins showing each layer as it would be combined and used in the outdoors.  Other manufacturers left the clothing on racks making it difficult to identify how the clothing systems worked together.  It may be only marketing savvy, but give it to North Face for helping customers understand how the clothing system is integrated into the activity.

 

Outdoor Retailer 2016
Garmont USA

Boots

Garmont is entering the U.S. market again with an innovative line of hiking and climbing boots.  The boot design breaks new ground with unique anatomical construction for greater comfort and performance.  Bigger toe boxes and heel lock technology add to comfort and the Intelligent Flex System accommodates natural forefoot flex and shin mobility.  Check out the entire line of hiking boots and fast hikers, Garmont has much to offer your outdoor pursuits.

Next week be sure to catch Outdoor Retailer 2016 Editor’s picks for the smaller innovative outdoor companies that are changing the industry.

Outdoor Retailer: Day Three Report

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Sasquatch leaves no trace – how ’bout you?

Here we are at the end of day three! The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market is winding down to a close, but not before y’all get the latest updates on the outdoor industry from SLC.

 

Events

outdoor retailer
Women Forum at the New Product Zone

This morning we sat down to learn about what’s new in female specific outdoor trends. Turns out, ladies these days are all about the “experience.” We don’t just buy a product— we buy the adventure that that product is going to allow us to have. These days, it’s not just about the jacket, it’s about the jacket we could be wearing while enjoying a beer after the morning’s summit push.

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Upward facing dog – SUP style

The paddle club was the place to be today with product testings, yoga sessions and casual paddles taking place all throughout the show. Yoga on the water after a day’s paddle? Sounds like a good deal to me.

outdoor retailer
Just your casual conference llama – can I get your business card? Coto the Cotopaxi Llama
outdoor retailer
Two goldens looking very official with their Outdoor Retailer badges

Outdoor Retailer wouldn’t be complete without a few of our favorite outdoor friends. There were plenty of canine product testers hanging out with their official “registered dog” badges.

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Peak Design Happy Hour

Peak Design hosted a great happy hour event while debuting some of their stellar new photography accessories. GoPro on the shoulder strap, DSLR on the hip— still plenty of hands to toast to a good show and strike a pose.

 

New Products

outdoor retailer
Brewing up the Black IPA by Pat’s Backcountry Beverages

It’s an age old struggle: less weight, less beer— more beer, more weight. The guys from Pat’s Backcountry Beverages just might have found a solution. Filter water from any backcountry lake or stream directly into their specially designed water bottle, add the “activator packet” into the separate compartment that you see in the above picture on the left, squeeze either the Black Hops Black IPA or the Pale Rail Pale Ale into the bottle (the pouches come in at 55g, while the bottle weighs 280g), then screw on the lid and pump the lid lever to start the carbonation process. Shake, and then wait for a few moments and, like magic, you’re enjoying a cool, carbonated beer. Tastes great, too.

outdoor retailer
The Lightwave Fastpack – these guys design by their slogan, “Light weight product, new wave design”

I stopped by to talk shop with the guys at Lightwave and Crux— companies that focus on backpacking and mountaineering products respectively that aim for a lightweight product without sacrificing functionality. With their Fastpack series, they cut out weight where you don’t need it for performance, like in the center of the hip belt, and focused in on the simplified essentials— like a back-panel that uses breathable fabric to keep you cool, while still maintaing maximum body contact points to help you more comfortably carry your load.

outdoor retailer
The brand new Bi-pod stove by Snow Peak

Psyched for that big pasta dinner at base camp with the crew after the day’s climb? Snow Peak has designed a great stove that allows for versatile cooking with maximum stability and a larger burner platform— the 7.5 ounce Bi-pod. Designed with telescope legs, the bi-pod can cook using two different sized fuel canisters and connects horizontally to the canister, improving stability. The burner platform is large enough to accommodate a large pot for group cooking so that you can share a meal with your hiking buddies. Coming in at 7.5 ounces and an MSRP of $89.99, the Bi-pod is a great, new versatile stove option.

 

Missed our Day One or Day Two Reports? Check them out to get the full Outdoor Retailer story!

 

Outdoor Retailer: Day Two Report

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Another day rockin’ the summer market

It’s the end of day two here at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City, and we’ve got all of your must-have updates coming in hot.

 

Events

outdoor retailer
The rock wall hosted by GoPro

Who doesn’t love filming their latest send to show off after a day of climbing? Well, GoPro had attendees hooked up in the Main Exhibition Hall to practice some epic roped up shots so that they’d be ready to impress their friends at the crag.

outdoor retailer
Timmy O’Neill and a rep from 5.11 Tactical talk shop

Timmy O’Neill was on the scene talking with folks about the new products coming out this season. Catch up with Timmy’s updates at the Outdoor Retailer site.

outdoor retailer
The Megaplex in SLC – host to the Reel Rocks 9 Sneak Peak

The highlight of the evening was a sneak peak screening of Reel Rock 9 – Valley Uprising, going out on tour Fall 2014. The film features the evolution of Yosemite Valley rock climbing and I can say that, even though it’s not too long now, it’s definitely worth the wait. Yosemite legends Lynn Hill and Dean Potter were at the showing to introduce this fantastic film.

 

New Products

outdoor retailer
Sierra Designs’ Mobile Mummy

The new product I was most excited about after today’s showing? This sleeping bag by Sierra Designs— the Mobile Mummy 3 season, 800 fill bag. The bag is designed to move with you, accommodating a wide range of sleeping positions comfortably. But the really cool part? The Mobile Mummy is designed to be a garment bag— unzip the bottom section of the bag, put your legs through, pin up the foot box so that it doesn’t drag and slide your arms through the holes at the bag’s shoulders— next thing you know, you’re wearing a down jacket. Slide your legs and arms back in, zip up and lay down— you’re ready for bed.

outdoor retailer
Workout Tank from L.L. Bean

This workout tank from L.L. Bean stood out to me as an awesome cross-over piece to cover all of your outdoor adventure activities. It features advanced wicking technology to keep you dry on those big mileage or high heat days and it features a built in sports bra— a great way to cut weight and simplify your clothing system whether trail running or thru-hiking.

outdoor retailer
Maple backpack back-panel from Granite Gear

Granite Gear is pushing backpack innovation with this maple back-panel. Used in a variety of their packs, including their multi-day options, the maple back-panel is still flexible while cutting ounces from your pack weight.

 

Trends

outdoor retailer
SUP Nation

By far the biggest trend sweeping the Summer Market? SUP, SUP and more SUP. The amount of Stand Up Paddle boards and related accessories showing at Outdoor Retailer is staggering. If you’ve never tried out the sport— now is the time— the market is hot and options are endless.

 

That’s all for now, backpackers! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Outdoor Retailer Report.

Outdoor Retailer: Day One Report

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Twice a year, every year, Outdoor Retailer hits Salt Lake City to showcase what’s new in the outdoor industry. Hundreds of retailers attend from across the country, and the outdoor market, to show off what they’ve cooked up for the upcoming year. Seattle Backpackers Magazine is here for the Summer Market to update you on all of the new products, events and trends you need to see.

outdoor retailer
Hanging out with Clif Bar – Free food, happy people

 

 Events

outdoor retailer
Prana Rejuvenation Room

Prana was on the scene hosting a Rejuvenation Room where Outdoor Retailer attendees could take a deep breath and get their yoga on.

outdoor retailer
Food Trucks at Outdoor Retailer

The food truck scene was thriving at OR— I counted seven different options in all and partook in some topnotch Korean Tacos from Chow.

 

outdoor retailer
Walltopia at Outdoor Retailer

A rock climbing highlight at the show— the Walltopia boulder allowed crag dirtbags and beginners alike to stop by and test climbing shoes and routes on the wall. With climbing legends the likes of Chris Sharma and Lynn Hill walking the show, it was nice to have the opportunity to brush up on your skills.

outdoor retailer
A pint with Keen

Keen was hosting this evening’s industry Happy Hour with beers on tap and plenty of good times to go around.

outdoor retailer
Osprey Party at The State Room

We finished up the night at The State Room in Salt Lake City where Osprey hosted its 40th anniversary party. The March Fourth Marching Band rocked the house and sent the industry home worn out and excited for the next day at Outdoor Retailer.

 

New Products

outdoor retailer
Osprey Aura 65

Some first looks from the first day of Outdoor Retailer: Osprey’s updated Aura 65 features a fully integrated back-panel that moves with your body better than ever before. One designer claimed that he had “forgotten he was wearing a pack” with it on, and I can attest to the comfort of the back-panel system having tried the Aura out at the Osprey booth.

outdoor retailer
GSI mugs and French Press mugs

GSI showed off their new color line of insulated mugs and French presses. For the ultralight oriented, but coffee addicted, Seattleite (a distinction that I find myself falling into), the GSI French press mug seemed like the perfect solution to all of our coffee versus weight problems.

outdoor retailer
The Keen Uneek Shoe

Keen is busting out with a new product called Uneek— and rightly so, due to its brand new two cord construction system that molds to your feet with an individualized fit. Could be a great new innovation for paddle sports and light day hiking!

 

More to come tomorrow from the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City, backpackers! Stay tuned!

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, Farewell

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Also see: Day 1 and 2

It was a little quieter at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013 yesterday as vendors started packing up their tents and PR teams boarded planes back to their respective corners of the country. But there were still friends to be found walking the floor and ready to share their passions and still plenty of cool stuff to see. We’ve had a blast at ORWM 2013 and hope you’ve enjoyed your exclusive peek into the conference with SBM! Many gear reviews to come! Thanks for sharing the adventure!

 

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SBM Editor Erika Klimecky (left) with Amelia of talesofamountainmama.com (right) and Kathy from adventuremom.tv

 

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The Teva boot in a block of ice! Cool!

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Wolverine threw a great party with Macklemore!

Outdoor Retailers Winter Market 2012 Review

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The most "outdoors" you can get while indoors!

You know that feeling after you’ve just finished a good, hard 4-day hike up into the mountains? Raspy lungs from the cold winter air, tired legs, muscles humming from all the walking, (perhaps a crick in your back from the weight of your pack) and most importantly, a rejuvenated spirit from the whole experience, right?

Another one is in the books. Outdoor Retailers Winter 2012 Conference has wrapped and the more than 21,000 attendees are breaking down booths and heading home. At SBM, we’d usually spend a 4 day stretch outdoors hiking up a mountain in the snow, but this weekend, we attended the OR Winter show and shook hands with many product manufacturers as well as the owners and employees of some of your favorite brands. Why did we go? We were interested in hearing the buzz around the industry as well as seeing the new product lines that will become available in the coming months! We’re excited to share those with you as they roll out. But there was so much more to it than just the gear. SBM was reminded why we love this industry so much and specifically why we make this magazine.

Here’s the “Best of Show,” SBM style,

Outdoor Retailers Winter Market
The most “outdoors” you can get while indoors!
Outdoor Retailers Winter Market
Sharing

We love sharing information about the outdoor community!

New Ideas! Sharing within the outdoor community has always been a touchstone for SBM. We’re so excited to see that the rest of the industry feels the same. This leads to new ideas, innovations and directions.

Outdoor Retailers Winter Market
Sharing!

The people are real and interesting and fun! As a side note, of all the world’s trade shows, this community is one of the fittest! So many athletes and well-exercised people out there! And they all do it outdoors, most of them in the wilds, like you and me!

Outdoor Retailers Winter Market
Real people

Giving back! So many of the product companies held promotions, raffles and giveaways to benefit non-profit organizations. Those organizations work hard to keep our wild places wild, our environments clean and our people educated about the outdoors. How can you not love that?!

Outdoor Retailers Winter Market
Giving back to non-profit organizations

We’re amped up by all the awesome people we met! We’re recharged, ready for the coming seasons out there, and already looking forward to the next one!

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