My name is Scrappers and I’m learning to love the outdoor industry. Keep in mind, I’m an outsider and never want to lose those credentials. Every time I’ve been to the world's largest adventure gear convention, Outdoor Retailer (OR), in Salt Lake City I feel like I’m crashing some rich kid’s birthday party. But fuck it, they’ve got good cake and I’m a fat kid with a big mouth.
This time around I hitched a ride to OR with the fine folks of North. North is an ad agency that makes the best ads for outdoorsy clients like Stanley, Clif bar, Anchor Steam, Granite Gear, Columbia, and other brands I actually use. North has given Stay Wild magazine a ton of support simply because they believe in the idea and want to help it grow. North and Stay Wild are adventure buddies standing outside in the dark holding storm-proof matches over our heads laughing as the crazy world spins us around. It’s weird and beautiful. Deal with it!
When I’m at OR I’m looking for the rare 2% of stuff that’s actually awesome. 98% of OR is a big budget pissing contest between the outdoor industry leaders and brave entrepreneurs with wacky innovations. Here’s the 2% of stuff I saw and loved the heck out of:
Woolrich: Their towel game is strong! Their shoes & boots game is stronger! Their apparel is strongest! It’s tricky being like over 180 years old, because you have to be true to your roots, yet reach the kids in order to stay in business. But they’re pulling it off. For example the collaboration Woolrich is doing with Almond Surfboards looks like classic 50’s surf culture and the emerging PNW surf culture at the same time.
Alite Designs: The future is going to be awesome when Alite’s new line comes out. They improved on the butterfly chair by making it taller and stronger while staying super collapsible, light-weight, and affordable. Their tent folds up like a light reflector (photography assistants are going to love this). The backpacks are dope (more on that in the next issue of Stay Wild)! The meadow mats they’ve been putting out got a billion times better by having one fold up to be a tote bag and another propping up, so you can watch the ponytail-waggers bounce by you on the beach.
Stanley: Nice Jugs! Really though, Stanley's water jugs are nice and if you’re car-camping, bouldering, or partying you should have one of these jugs. They totally come apart, so you can clean the margarita mix out of the spout (for some people this is all they need in life).
Iron & Resin: Their made-in-the-USA clothes are solid. Not just the construction, but the personality is a solid three-way hand shake between surf culture, motorcycle culture, and wood-fired pizza culture. They really do care about culture. For example they came to do this trade show, but organized a party and motorcycle ride for Salt Lake locals along with The Stockist and ourCaste. You know it’s a real thing when over 100 motorcycle show up.
Sanuk: Utah has some weird shit going on with booze regulations. It’s very superstitious. Like some bars mix their drinks behind a tiny curtain, so the drinker won’t know how to go home and make a weak ass Moscow Mule on their own. So when Sanuk, makers of the beer coozie flip-flop and other cool things, teamed up with Stone Brewing to have a simple happy hour they had some crazy impossible obstacles to overcome. My friend Ethan Anderson who works for Sanuk (and has turned me on to Wet Magazine and the book Be Here Now) said, “The obstacle is the way”, so with that Zen-like approach they made history and legally served Stone in Utah for the first time EVAAAR!!!
HippyTree: I’ve loved this brand for a long time because I relate to their fuck-it-we’re-doing-it-our-own-way attitude. That’s why the collaboration backpack they made with JanSport is so interesting. It looks just like HippyTree, but has the easy no-biggy functionality and affordability of a backpack you can pick up at any Walmart. I think HippyTree did JanSport a favor on this one because if JanSport came out with this bag on their own they’d get soooo much shit for jumping on the #campvibes bandwagon.
Nau: The finest in socially and environmentally responsibly made fancy clothes just gets better with each new season. I can't wait to wear this reversible jacket on my chill & chilly morning bike commute to the office (I'm part office jockey part wild animal).
BioLite: You already know how smart their phone-charging wood-powered stoves are, so you should be squiring cupcakes into your pants now that they’re making solar powered stuff.
IndoSole: Conventions suck a bruised banana! They just do, so don’t fight me on this. Ok? But IndoSole, makers of reused motorcycle tire tread footwear, makes convention life lovely. They serve the best slow drip coffee and love to elevate the conversation with the good work they do.
Timbuk2: By focusing on their manufacturing and offering custom-made-in-SF bags they’ve brought a new breath of life to the convention. They even had a nice lady from their factory set up sewing bags for people at the convention. Stay Wild had one made and we’re going to give it away on Instagram soon! Timbuk2 and our magazine are planning some events, so if you like bike rides and art shows you’re in for a treat, especially if you live in Chicago, Denver, and Toronto.
Proof Eyewear: We love their wooden frames, but are super excited to see their new line of recycled aluminum frames.
DUMB STUFF: My favorite stuff at OR is the stuff that should never be made. Somebody was like, “What if we just wrapped shoe soles onto our feet with alien tortillas” and somebody else was like “Here’s a million bucks to make it happen.” Better yet, some problem-solver was like “Snorkeling masks need to fog up more and make people look like Hannibal Lecter with a big dildo coming out of his head.” I seriously heard these masks come with blue tooth. DUUUUMMMMBBBBBBB!!!!!!!!!!!!