My name is Scrappers and I give like two tiny shits about new outdoor gear. No offense to the industry, but I like thrift shopping more than shopping for new stuff. I found an old tan & orange cooler on the way to Outdoor Retailer branded "Lil' Oscar" and I love it more than any new gear in the world. For reals, I feel actual love for this cooler named Lil' Oscar, but I feel zero warm feeling about a lightweight sleeping bag that I can walk around in on the top of some expensive mountain.
So with that in mind let me tell you all about this year's Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.
I've got some more beans to spill. I just learned about OR, the world's biggest outdoor industry trade show, a couple months ago. This thing has been going on for like a jillion years, but since I give two tiny shits about new gear I'd never heard of it. So without any expertise, I'll be your personal tour guide to the show.
Let's start from outer space and move in on this thing. We've got planets full of dusty nothing as far as the eye can see, but this one blue & green planet we call Earth has life. Let's skip the lush steamy jungles, the deep epic oceans, the forests full of misty giants, let's skip everything awesome on this planet and go to some freezing city in Utah called Salt Lake. Why? Because they've got a very big convention hall and all your favorite outdoor brands are showing off their stuff there.
In this convention center there's one great big giant room that takes about two days to walk up and down every isle. Here you'll come across The North Face, Patagonia, and all the big & little sister brands who are making the most money and driving the development of the highest tech stuff. It's pretty cool.
Across the hallway from the big giant room there is a smaller hall full of mixed brands that don't seem to have much in common. You'll find some rad wooden sunglass company like Proof next to some army surplus brand. It's weird, but such a random mix that it's fun.
All the brands that I know and follow are in a smaller section called "Venture Out". This is the section with the good coffee. The section with people I've see at my secret river swimming spot before. People like me (aging hipsters) who are working very hard to make their dreams real.
Oops, more beans to spill. My media badge was denied by the convention since I lack traditional media credentials, so the fine folks at Nau clothing snuck me in with one of their exhibitor badges. We made a rad new project with Nau that will be out this fall and we debuted it at OR in their big metal a-frame. Nau makes clothes that don't fuck up the world. You know like smart eco-friendly clothes that don't make you look like a douche. I'll just say it once. You should buy their stuff. It's the best. Also, it's pronounced "now".
Here are some other brands I saw at the show who make stuff I love.
Pro Tip: pretty much every booth hosts a Happy Hour around 4pm till closing. So make sure you're at a booth full of folks you actually like talking to when that happens. MiiR hosted a good happy hour featuring these perfect reusable beer can/cups. Hopefully we'll see more of those at events and less throw-away cups.
One of the last things I saw at OR was the bathroom. Like everything else at the convention it had an official sponsor, but I'd never heard of the brand. I said to myself "This piss is proudly brought to you by the fine folks at Stay Wild magazine".
Maybe we'll go again? I'm pretty sure we won't. Instead we're going to take what we learned and put it into making our EXPO a jillion times more like Lil' Oscar than like OR.