Outdoor Retailer Summer Recap
A few weeks ago (sorry for the delay as my travel schedule has been non-stop), I checked out the Summer Outdoor Retailer tradeshow, known simply as Summer OR, in Salt Lake City. After attending the Winter OR show I knew I had to make a trip to see the offerings presented during the summer show. The Salt Palace Convention Center’s halls, aisles, and even expanded outdoor tents were filled with stand-up paddle boards, hiking, fishing, camping, and adventure product. If you’re into outdoor activities, gear, and gadgets then this is the show to see, however its industry only, so here is an inside look at a few highlighted brands and products that caught my attention.
Almond Surfboards x Woolrich
Almond surfboards from Orange County teamed up with the American heritage brand, Woolrich Woolen Mills to put out a line of goods that ranged from beach blankets to surfboards. The boards were spot on with the gingham print. I especially liked the blankets and tote bags myself and plan on investing in a couple items from the collection.
Fjallraven, is an iconic outdoors brand that hails from Sweden, known for their outdoor essentials that includes tents, sleeping bags, jackets, and packs. I was impressed by the collection of bags. The waxed fabrics and leather details are top notch and durable. I just may need to pick up one of the kiddie sized backpacks once the niece and nephews start school. Their jackets have a classic and timeless design combined with the innovation of modern materials and production.
I first came across Athletic Recon at Agenda Long Beach and quickly came to find out that we have some common friends. The brand immediately struck a cord with me as it bridges the gap between performance wear and lifestyle apparel. The style is spot on, and it can be expected as the brand was founded by a co-founder of Paul Frank. Often there are times when you want to be able to hit the gym in your street clothes and vice-versa. With Athletic Recon’s military and surf inspired designs you can go from the beach direct to a Crossfit workout without worrying about looking like kook during the day. Expect to see more from this up and coming brand.
For those that know me well then you know I have a thing for bags and accessories along with gear and gadgets. Hex is one of those companies that I immediately liked when I first saw the brand a few years back. Now expanding their bag collection to include everything from camera bags to work bags the brand has offerings for just about everyone. The Supply Camera Gear Bag along with their Duffel bag collection stood out for me. The styling and materials used ensure great style and quality.
One of my favorite footwear companies is Freewaters. Super lightweight and comfortable shoes and sandals that also pack well and can be worn without socks. Perfect for those hot summer days. While in Hawaii, I had the unfortunate incident of having my last pair stolen at the North Shore, apparently I’m not the only one that loves these cool kicks. What caught my eye this time around was the collaboration with Channel Islands, one of the best if not the best surfboards on the planet. The new Tall Boy style, has a high-rise midsole for more cushion and a flex groove outsole for even more cushion and flex. There are so many options available for sandals from their super comfy Thermarest line to their full grain leather sandals, however their shoes shouldn’t be ignored. With many classic styles available it was hard to choose a favorite, but it was probably a tie between the new Gibson, with premium suede and a chukka style, and the new Reed style, with a denim upper. All the shoes can be worn sockless and are perfect for casual days at the beach, on a bike ride, or while traveling (the pack super well). Their female line of products are great as well.
Another one of my favorite footwear brands is Danner. Since 1932, they have been known for their superior leather boots, the company focuses on high-end material, comfort, and quality with their timeless designs. Each boot is handcrafted to ensure the best construction possible for a long lasting product. Whether you’re looking for work, hunting, hiking, law enforcement, military, or just boots for casual wear or while riding your motorcycle, Danner has something for you. I personally love the classic, Mountain Light hiking boot and pretty much the entire Stumptown Collection is amazing.
For a more casual look during the day, but with enough style and quality for evening wear OluKai is a good choice. The spirit of Aloha is at the core of the business with the company giving back to the community. With their commitment to quality the offer the shoes and sandals provide comfort, high-end materials, and lasting durability. The details is what separates this company from others and I especially like “drop heel” design to some of the shoes, so they they are easy to slide on and can be worn like a scuff, which is perfect for traveling – when you want to easily kick off the shoes and then slide them back on in a moment’s notice.
The original “Chelsea” boot maker, is Blundstone. This classic and iconic silhouette is a timeless design that has been around for over 100 years. Respect the originals. This deep mahogany color caught my attention.
Timeless and classic is often referenced when speaking about heritage brands. Filson is the epitome of Americana. I was excited to see the new collection of camera bags in partnership with Magnum photos. Award winning photographers, David Alan Harvey and Steve McCurry are two of the best to ever hold a camera and they helped with the design. With a lifetime guarantee, you know you can count on Filson’s products. The Magnum collection is beautiful to say the least. The weather-resistant fabric, rain-diverting gutter flaps, an understated appearance to deter gear theft, and modular padded dividers to keep items organized and accessible for use in the great outdoors.
If you’re searching for a well-rounded hiking pack that performs well and looks good, then Mountainsmith is the answer. For adventure photographers, Mountainsmith has a line of camera packs in various sizes made of weather resistant material and cutting-edge features. Each bag was built using real world feedback from professional photographers. The rugged bags are lightweight and durable for the long treks outdoors to find just the right photo spot. The lens packs are great for added protection for that expensive glass.
During the tradeshow, I tested out the Spectrum camera pack and it was the perfect travel companion to fit one camera (tested with both a Canon 5D MkIII with smaller lens and Sony A7) with a few travel necessities such as sunglasses, windbreaker, and mophie power pack, with a little leftover space for other items. The pack was lightweight and comfortable despite the hours wearing it throughout the day. It also easily fit under the seat on the plane for quick storage and accessibility. This particular pack fits up to a 15″ MacBook Pro as well.
If total protection for your gear is what you desire then Pelican is the answer. Best known for their ultra protective gear cases that are crushproof and watertight. What I was interested to see in person was the new line of luggage. The ProGear Elite luggage features a comfortable retractable handle, TSA approved combination lock, stainless steel hardware, recessed press and pull latches, watertight O-ring seals, and is guaranteed for life. The luggage is also available in three sizes and in multiple colors along with an optional enhanced travel system. Surprisingly the luggage is also lightweight and I would be interested in doing a full test and review on the product to see how much gear really does fit while making the 50lb weight limit of most airlines.
As you can tell I’m really into bags and anything that has to do with functionality and design as it serves a purpose. Timbuk2 has done an amazing job at creating bags for all occasions for everyone. They simply have too much to show here. Their Agent collection and Especial collection caught my attention. The Agent collection is full of sleek and stylish bags for everyday use. Made with durable fabrics such as tarpaulin will keep your valuables safe inside. With options from an awesome Dopp kitt to wheeled luggage this was my favorite offering from the brand. The Especial collection is made for those that commute by bike. Each bag was designed with a bicyclist in mind. There were options for cases and innovative attachments to secure your bag or pack to the bike itself as well. The Distilled collection was also nice as it is made to age well over time to create a nice patina to the materials including the leathers used.
Ogio has been around for a long time and makes every type of bag imaginable. The new All Elements pack caught my attention as it is a completely waterproof pack that is great for kayaking/canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, snowboarding to keep your valuables safe and dry or could be used post surf session to place your wetsuit and keep your car dry.
For an option to keep your valuables safe and secure using the latest technology and innovation then PacSafe is the answer. This company prides itself in its anti-theft technology. For those that travel and want piece of mind their bag collections feature eXomesh Slashguards – which are built into the fabric to protect thieves that often will slice your bags open to get into the contents inside, interlocking zipper pulls – to deter thieves as it keeps your zippers locked together in place rather than an easily pulling one apart to slide open and reveal the valuables, puncture resistant toughzip – to keep the zippers secure even if someone tries to use a sharp object to jam into the zipper to open the bag, RFID blocking pockets and material – keeps your sensitive information safe from RFID readers, and many other security features from buckles to locking cables.
PacSafe’s camera catalogue is deep with packs, bags, cases, and accessories each in different styles and colors. The bags are also designed to not look like traditional camera bags to further deter thieves. I was impressed by the styling and options available. This was my first time to really see this brand up close and personal and I look forward to giving them a try for some future photography travel adventures.
Being outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite music on hand. Ecoxgear is no stranger to the website as I featured the EcoRox a few months back. I was interested in seeing what new products the company had to showoff and was not disappointed with the offerings. The EcoStone is not only a bluetooth speaker and speakerphone, but is also a floatable and waterproof device that has a 12 hour battery life. I specifically like the battery meter and integrated subwoofer and LED flashlight.
Portable power has become a necessity especially when traveling, enjoying the great outdoors, or simply away from power outlets. Goal Zero has a complete line of portable power, solar panels, solar kits, lighting, and accessories.
The new Venture 30 Recharger can power your phone, camera, tablet and more to keep the adventure going. It is solar ready and waterproof in use! It’s also powerful enough to power a phone two to three times off one charge, a tablet once, and is also portable for lightweight travel. Another great feature is the ability to charge two devices at once. Their is also a built in LED flashlight.
I was especially excited to see the Sherpa line of Power Packs. The Sherpa 50 is a lightweight power supply to keep laptops and tablets charged up anywhere you go. Yes I said laptops! There are only a small handful of products that I have seen that have the ability to fully charge a laptop device, however to power a MacBook Pro you would need the slightly larger Sherpa 100. Both are compatible with Goal Zero’s portable solar power for an on the go recharge. I haven’t had the chance to test out the products yet, but look forward to the opportunity to do so especially for on location photography / videography projects with timelapse.
I’m a huge fan and supporter of Mophie. Their cases and juice packs have saved the day on several occasions. During this long day (got up at 5am to catch the earliest flight out to Salt Lake City) at the tradeshow, the new Mophie Juice Pack Plus kept me charged throughout the entire day. With up to 120% extra battery life you can’t go wrong. Especially when the case is impact-resistant, slim, and light-weight. I also like this particular color combination with the pop of orange. As with all of Mophies charging cases, their is a standby switch so you can select when the right moment is to use the extra power as well as an LED indicator to show how much available power is left in the case. With USB charging you can simultaneously charge both the case and the iPhone.
You can’t spend a day outdoors without having some vital water, but it often sucks to drink it warm. Hydro Flask provides an insulated solution for all your beverages (even beer) – the new beer growler holds up to 64oz of tasty goodness. The bottles use BPA-free materials, food grade stainless steel, and offer a lifetime warranty. To top it off the company has a 5% Back commitment, which gives 5% of the net profit of any bottle sale to the consumer’s chosen charity.
I was able to test one out and even after a hot day spent in the car the bottle kept my ice water cool and drinkable. Now all I need is their new vacuum insulated pint to keep my beers cold during Football season along with the new sports cap for those long work out sessions.
I’m still craving the creamy, delicious bites of the Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups that I was able to sample. Justin’s is known for their all-natural nut butters and peanut butter cups. With flavors such as maple almond butter, chocolate hazelnut butter, honey peanut butter, vanilla almond butter, and more how can you resist? On top of that the peanut butter cups that I crave are USDA-certified organic and all-natural. I was also told that white chocolate will be available soon! You can taste one for yourself at select retailers such as Whole Foods, Target, Kroger, Publix, and more.
Pistachio Chewy Bites
Keeping with the food theme (can you tell it’s lunch time), Pistachio Chewy Bites offers tasty and healthy treats. They are heart-healthy, 100% all natural, gluten and dairy free, low in sodium, GMO free, vegan and a great on-the-go protein snack. They also have no cholesterol, zero trans-fat and are a good source of dietary fiber. These nutrient-rich snack bars provide a great balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat for sustainable energy. However, my favorite offering was the dark chocolate covered Pistachios. I could of easily eaten an entire bag.
Whether camping, traveling, or simply too lazy to cook, Bridgford offers ready to eat sandwiches with a 3-year shelf life! This packaged meal doesn’t require any heating or water to eat, simply tear it open and dig in. I tested out the Beef with BBQ sauce and French Toast and must admit they were pretty tasty for packaged food. The samples I was given came in handy on a long road trip where stopping wasn’t an option. I may need to stock up for future trips and will be sure to try out the other flavors such as Italian Sausage and Cinnamon bun.
A new area, called Venture Out, made its debut to Outdoor Retailer and featured emerging brands that cater to the growing urban and lifestyle trend that has influenced and invigorated the modern outdoor movement. This was possibly my favorite area of the show featuring many of my favorite brands. Below are the companies that displayed within this new space.
Poler, is one of those brands that encompasses the modern outdoor movement. They have made significant strides in connecting the lifestyle and urban fashion world to the great outdoors not only helping to provide great products to the ever evolving young adventurer, but also help to bring urban dwellers out to see nature. They are definitely one of my favorite brands that I will continue to support.
Iron and Resin
One brand that makes me want to finally invest in a motorcycle to be able to go out and explore is, Iron and Resin. This brand ties in the surf, moto, and outdoor cultures together, while producing high-quality goods with great style. I suggest browsing their site and checking out their Freedom to Roam collection and accompanying video as it may just inspire you to explore and just have fun.
A staple in American heritage apparel, showcased their collection of surf inspired apparel, a few classic styles, and their own whiskey. You can’t go wrong with a Pendleton shirt or beach towel as it will last forever.
Here’s a little history lesson courtesy of Surf Pendleton –
In the late ’50s, before the wetsuit was invented, an early California surfer wore trunks and a Pendleton shirt over a layer of petroleum jelly to stay warm on the waves. On shore, surfers wore the same Pendleton shirts over khakis, and a fashion trend was born. In the ’60s, a group called The Pendletones (later known as The Beach Boys) made the California surfing scene – and their favorite surf shirt – famous. Their uniform was a blue and charcoal plaid Pendleton shirt, now known as the Pendleton Board Shirt.
Another classic American company to display within Venture Out was Timberland. Their rainwear HyVent Baker Mountain Field Jacket stood out to me for it’s ability to keep you dry while looking good. A classic field jacket with a modern twist.
Nothing beats happy hour and a free cold brew. Thanks for the caffeine fix, Cafe Mugshot, super good.