Day 2: more appointments, more people, more products (what’s not to love?). An early breakfast with the inspirational and very funny polar explorer Eric Larsen, put on by the Conservation Alliance was a great way to start the day. If you ever have the chance to hear him speak, definitely do so. Super sad that he might be the last person to reach the North Pole on foot (it’s melting something fierce up there).
Onto the floor we go – right off the bat, I met Paulina! She of the Little Grunts – we ended up running into each other a lot and then finding the best happy hours together. She’s kind of like a live action video game, high energy and all over the place. Fun.
First up, group presentation by Osprey Packs: I’ve been a fan on the side for a while (I don’t own one of their packs, but Laima does), so it was very cool to see what they have now and what’s forthcoming. Definitely a fan of the Zealot and their luggage (rolling duffels are awesome if you have to check baggage, get from the car into the hotel, or any other time you’re moving lots o’ stuff). Also super excited that they have kid-specific packs.
Timex: Long, long time fan of this brand (anyone else remember “Takes a liking and keeps on ticking?” Now, more appropriately, it’s #MyExpedition, at least for outdoor folks.). With a Timex on my wrist, I was excited to see what they had going – the Ironman One GPS+ is a mini mobile device on your wrist, allowing you to listen to music, get messages, all with an included 3 year ATandT plan. Pretty cool.
Sierra Designs was one of the most surprising brands I visited – not one that comes to mind immediately (and I’m really not sure why), their raingear is so well thought-out, love their sleeping bags, and their new tents are brilliant in their simplicity. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try their gear out in the field soon. They also had the Whack-A-Mole game set up at the booth, very popular stress reliever indeed.
Timberland (remember them?): to me, this brand was first work boots, then urban rappers, and I never really thought of them as a serious outdoors company. Turns out that Timberland has a wide range of products (including apparel), and their designs are, while understated, thoughtful and, apparently, functional. Hoping to put some of these to the test to see if they are more than an urban brand. The fact that they have a broad kids’ selection is nice as well.
To me, Kelty has long been like the Kmart of the outdoors: solid, reliable, not sexy, light, or cutting edge, but products that worked as they were supposed to and you didn’t think too much about them. Their new gear, however, is definitely moving in a new direction. They’ve taken some old faves, tweaked or updated them, added some new lines, and are looking to break out of their old ways without alienating anyone. Looking forward to including them in our upcoming adventures.
Have you heard of Wenzel? I hadn’t, but I’m so glad I got to visit their booth – while they have a wide range of products, it was their family-centric gear that makes me want to try them out. They are also reasonably priced, which is never a problem in the outdoors, right?
Native Eyewear: so bummed I didn’t videotape this meeting. Their CEO is so passionate about the brand and where it’s going – biodegradable resins anyone? New products, can’t wait to see their ski goggle design – a true grassroots, dirtbag type company that is staying true to its soul and making quality stuff that works well and looks good.
Unrelated to meetings, but an integral part to the show is stopping at the Darn Tough booth to enjoy soft serve maple ice cream with bacon bits. Yes please. Also good to have while on the way to the first of several happy hours (see previous post for more of the blogger’s good life).
The evening’s entertainment was the KEEN “Live Monumental” party, celebrating new national monuments and urging the decision-makers to keep ’em coming (can’t have too much nature protected, that’s for sure).
Hanging out with Paulina and new friend Jess of You Did What With Your Weiner was a great way to cap off this day for sure. Good food and beer, signing petitions, and having t-shirts made for us was a good time.
More FaceTiming on the way home meant I got a little family love and could rest easy for Day 3.