Summer ORShow is one of the best weeks of the year, and each time I attend one of the Markets, I get a little bit better at navigating the floor, meeting the right brands, and hearing stories I want to share. With UintasHike16 just before this year and the regular Hikerchat after, it was a great vacation from everyday life.
Day 1 is often a hectic scramble to get in the doors and this time was no different – while one area was open, the guard at the entrance I was trying to use would not let us in even though it was after 9:00. Oh well. I made sure to keep my second appointment slot open, which worked out well, since my 1st appointment and I were both a little tardy – it was worth waiting though, as Timex has a beautiful analog fitness watch available. Yes the Metropolitan is analog, which I strongly prefer. Meeting up with Opinél, Bounce, and Simple Squares was great, in that I got to meet some of the folks behind the UintasHike16 partnership. If you thought you knew ENO Hammocks, get ready to be amazed, they have some great offbeat new products coming out, still within their hanging out ethos. Mountain Hardwear once again treated us to a sushi lunch (though I’d prefer something else, of course) – their return to a more hardcore mission is welcome and awaited – their new gear is killer! Jeff and I went to the Catalyst Case booth together to thank them for their hike partnership and had a blast – their reps were crazy fun.
Day 2 started off with a poignant and inspirational breakfast speech from Florian Schulz and then it was right into it, with meetings starting at Merrell (cool new Tough Mudder gear but also a whole new urban line as well). MiiR (great new camping gear and commuter backpacks), Oru Kayak (covet, covet, covet), and Igloo (so many cool new products, who knew they were going in such an inventive direction?) was followed by a visit to KEENFest for lunch and a guerrilla stickering of their van (see the Midwest Basecamp sticker just up and to the left of the “Live” in Live Monumental?). Hopefully they’ll leave it on, haha.
Visits to hike partners TravelChair and Mountain House were part of a lazier afternoon, but it finished strong with some great new things seen at Outdoor Research, Gregory, and Scarpa (ice climbing boots!).
Day 4 started off auspiciously with a meeting at Mishmi Takin, a Florida based company that is looking at weatherproofness in a whole new way, really exciting stuff. Camp Chef is another company that kind of blew my mind, with new camping stoves and some amazing backyard kitchen stuff as well. A forthcoming inflatable kayak sample from Innova should have us paddling happily for the rest of the summer, and I’m hoping to get out during the winter as well.
A pilgrimage to the Mecca of TNFLocals was one of the highlights of the show – super exciting to be in The North Face booth and get the skinny on upcoming releases as well as some reinterpretations of old faves. Not so sure about their new urban camping effort, but I think I’m just not the right audience, maybe a bit on the mature side, haha. Really happy about our continuing partnership.
Motorola Solutions have some really innovative and fun products in the pipeline, things that both I and the kids will love, so that’s a promising start for them. Body Glove was a blast from the past – surfing in Huntington Beach as a kid, they were one of the cool brands to wear for sure. Great to see they’re still at it, but now expanding into SUP and fun stuff for the whole family. Wenzel Tents has some amazing car camping tents with unique features and it’s cool that Exxel (their parent company) has the largest sleeping bag factory in the US. Looking forward to working with them for sure. Crag hoppers was a big surprise (our friend Paulina says she thinks of them as “Dad clothes) – they have some well-priced and functional (yet old man stylish haha) clothing I’m looking forward to checking out.
Outdoor Retailer is really unusual in that, while it’s a week of deep immersion in the outdoors world, it’s also unreal and one is left in a haze, wondering if it actually happened. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet old friends, make new ones, and hear some amazing stories.