Outdoor Retailer: The Wrap-Up

Associate editor Shannon Davis shares remembrances and reflections on the circus that was Outdoor Retailer 2009.

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After four days of moseying inside the vortex of the outdoor industry, we’re going to switch to ambling. Moseying is bad for your knees. Otherwise, it’s been a great show.

In the OR Daily, the show’s morning paper, they printed attendee response to the question “How would you describe the mood on the tradeshow floor?” They fell into three buckets: optimistic, conservatively optimistic, and conservative. I’d add “smart”: Manufacturers are figuring out how to weather the times and offer quality products at price points the cash-strapped hiking masses can afford.

We’ve seen a ton of great-looking $100 waterproof/breathable jackets (look for a Field Test in a spring issue). There was also an uptick in family camping innovation, like a sleeping bag from REI that adjusts from baby to elementary-school-kid sized and car-camping kitchens, chairs, and cook kits. Perfecting green and recycled materials continues to be huge, particularly in footwear and hydration. These will all guide our coverage in the coming year as we look to bolster our boot, pack, bag, and tent reviews.

But let’s talk about my favorite four pieces of swag:

1. A 100% polyester T from the American Hiking Society. It’s got a great logo and commemorates 2009’s National Trails Day. It’s in old-school heather and already feels worn in.

2. Soto (who has a stove featured in our recent canister stove field test) gave me a tiny contraption that turns your normal lighter into a full-on torch. It makes the lighter waterproof, too.

3. Patagonia Footwear’s Tsali, a secure-feeling trail runner that weighs just 9.5 ounces.

4. And here’s the best one: A friend of a friend pulled some strings, and I got a surprise email from The Canyons Resort in Park City, saying “Your 50-minute, deep-tissue massage has been scheduled for 4 p.m.” How awesome is that? Hope they don’t mind me showing up sweaty from mountain biking the Mid-mountain Trail all afternoon.

I love the outdoor industry. Until next time, Salt Lake!

—Shannon Davis

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