Every tradeshow has its fair share of good times but not many are as fun as Outdoor Retailer (OR) and the Snowsports Industries Association’s Snow Show (SIA) . OR and SIA are a snowports enthusiasts candy store – the top brands from all over the world convene in Salt Lake City and Denver to brag about their newest product innovations. Everything is faster, stronger, and better looking – kind of like our generation. On that note, here are some of the highlights from this winter’s OR and SIA.
For the lay outdoors-person, the words “fat tire” conjures images of tasty beverages. For the hardcore, it refers to bikes with fat tires that are meant to tread over snow. “Fat bikes” are apparently on a trajectory to the next big thing, but at roughly five grand a pop, it might take a while before the trend hits mainstream.
Companies like Northern Lights, Crescent Moon, and Louis Garneau make running snowshoes for runners who need their fix, even while it’s snowing. Slip on your favorite long distance kicks and all of sudden, the snow stands no chance at slipping up your steps.
Outdoor Industries Association Breakfast with Majora Carter
Majora Carter is a hero in the outdoor movement. If you already know who she is, you’ll know she is a urban revitalization strategist and host of the public radio show, Promised Land. If you didn’t know that, it’s ok because now you do. Majora is speaking here at the OIA (stand for Outdoor Industries Association) breakfast on converting slums into parks – one of the things she did early on in her career, using a $10,000 grant from the USDA to turn a vacant lot bordering the Bronx River into a $3 million dollar lush public park.
They say the best way to win over a man’s heart is through his stomach. Clif Bar is a great friend of this motto – feeding crowds of hungry showgoers who pass by their booth. One great strategy to ensure a fill-up on carbs, protein, and fiber, is to make a clean sweep from left to right, starting at one end of the booth and working through all the samples to the other end. THEN, after you’ve reached the other end, go the opposite direction, getting seconds of everything you just had. By the time you’re done, you’ve had a great free lunch and are energized for more gear gawking.
How’s this for an idea – a Swiss Army Knife for kids. It’s kind of brilliant if you think about it; there’s a series of lessons a parent can pass on by trusting their child with something dangerous (think about the first time you got to drive a car). While the knife itself is designed with safety features to prevent injury – like a rounded blade and an auto-stop latch to prevent the blade from landing on a finger – it really offers a parent the opportunity to pass on a cool gift and a wise word.
Just a testament to how light these jackets are, this balloon somehow got cut from it’s display and it went straight to the ceiling. Good thing this didn’t happen at the demo, otherwise, some lucky skier would’ve gotten a free Montbell puffy!
There’s no better way to relax in between appointments than to hide away in your own little nest. This hammock, called the DoubleNest from Eagle’s Nest Outfitters has an underquilt (called the Vulcan) and a top quilt (called the Ignitor) to combine into a sub zero sleeping system. Add a tarp, like the HouseFly to keep out the drafts, and suddenly, it can replace a full-on tent/sleeping bag combo.
These are called the Vagabond. Basically, they’re like shoes, but they’re really sandals in disguise. Super light (around an ounce) and stink resistant.
Nothing like some b-boys to show off the capabilities of Vibram’s Five Fingers. Without all the bulk and unnecessary foam of regular shoes, these b-boys are able to avoid their toes from dragging. Now we just need to balance out the scene with some break dancing females.
As I got off the escalator to walk out of the show floor, I happened to glance downstairs to see this Big Foot guy giving away swag, as well as uncomfortable hugs. The swag was ok but not worth the hug so I passed.
The Conservation Alliance and KEEN brought the Northern Lights to right outside the tradeshow floor. The sign mentions some of the accomplishments of the Alliance, such as saving over 42 million acres of wild lands (roughly the size of Wisconsin), stopped or removed 25 dams, and purchased nine climbing areas. Thanks Conservation Alliance!
Wolverine brought in Macklemore and Ryan to perform at OR for a show called Rock the Outdoors. The rumor goes that Wolverine booked Macklemore before his single, Thrift Shop, blew up the charts, so in a way, they lucked out. This particular show was hot at times and mellow at others – but that could have been a contact high from all the smoke. Either way, fun performance.
Apa Sherpa is arguably the most knowledgeable climber of Everest of all time – 21 ascents in all (currently record holder). At age 12, his father died, leaving him as the man of the house to take care of his mother, two sisters and three young brothers. He worked as a porter for mountaineering groups but wasn’t allowed to climb to the summit until 1990. After that, he bagged ascent after ascent until he became the unequivocal record holder for the world’s tallest peak. Today, he spends his energy raising awareness for Climate Change in the mountain communities. What an awesome guy!
Chris Fanning, Director of the Outdoor Foundation, explains the role of the Foundation to a group of elders from the local Latter Day Saints church. The beauty of the outdoors is that it cannot be held from anyone – doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or what you believe – nobody can stop you from enjoying the outdoors.
Every day, when entering and exiting the Snow Show, you get to see this friendly blue bear peering inside to see what all the ruckus is about.
Here’s the same blue bear, but outside. In this pic, he’s pooped out a fully grown person. Is that Sean McCoy – one of the editors at GearJunkie?
One of the best parts of going to these types of events is all the swag they give out. Here, a group of SIA show management toss out gear to the crowd below. They threw our skis, tent poles, and ice axes (totally kidding – they threw out things like shirts, beanies, and water bottles)
The day came to a close at Winter Park in Colorado. At this point, some folks were on a plane to Germany for another outdoor tradeshow called ISPO. But not this guy – two weeks of waking up early, walking show floors, and subsisting on a diet of free samples was enough. Time for me to GTFO!