Hot/Not | Gear sales trends at Denali in New England

Find out why travel apparel is hot and big backpacks are not at this Connecticut retailer.

Established in 1994 as Trailblazer, the Connecticut chain rebranded as Denali last year. Now with seven stores along the state’s shoreline as well as in Rhode Island, this outdoor retailer serves New England’s hikers, runners, climbers, campers, and travelers. 

Amy Parulis, Denali’s community relations and events manager, culled a list of what’s trending and what’s not from three of the store’s buyers. Here’s what they have to say. 

What’s hot in stores right now?

  • Birkenstocks are back. They are fashionable, comfortable, and might just be the oldest footwear brand in the world with a history dating back to 1774. To many people, Birks never really went away, but they are making a huge comeback.
  • The Travel department is a hot spot. Customers are traveling all over, from U.S. National Parks to safaris in Africa, and everywhere in between. Hardgoods by brands like Eagle Creek are doing well. In apparel, customers are looking for clothes that will travel and pack well.
  • KÜHL outerwear has really taken off in the last year. It looks good and performs really well in the New England climate.
Denali’s travel department, where you can find backpacks, duffels, and other travel accessories, is a hot spot. Courtesy

What’s not so hot?

  • Sales of larger technical backpacks have slowed down. It seems that less customers are going out for longer backpacking trips. More of them are going on day trips or car camping. Because of this, Denali has seen an increase in popularity of the smaller 20- to 25-liter packs.
  • Along the same lines, sales of stiffer/heavier hiking boots are down. Even those going out backpacking are opting for trail runners and light hikers.
  • Dresses have slowed down quite a bit as well because women nowadays prefer for shorts and pants.

Do you want your store to be featured in Hot/Not? Just shoot us an email at