Issues

Year in review: Our top stories of 2021

A look back at our top ten stories in a year of acquisitions, IPOs, and other big industry news.


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On Friday, Dec. 24, we’ll be closing our office for the year, resuming coverage on Jan. 3. Before then, we wanted to take a look back at some of the most popular stories we published over the last 12 months. 

The outdoor industry showed serious growth in 2021, even through the second year of a pandemic and significant supply chain disruptions. Several companies went public, others were acquired—and even our own parent company saw some new additions and changes to its corporate structure. 

Our most-read stories of the year, listed chronologically below, highlight the most important issues we faced as an industry in 2021. As we head into 2022, take a moment to remember all that happened during this last eventful year.

Pocket Outdoor Media acquires Outside Magazine, other key brands
Feb. 26 — Pocket Outdoor Media (parent company to OBJ, Backpacker, and more than 30 other brands) acquired several new properties to boost its overall portfolio, most notably Outside magazine and Outside TV. The acquisition capped a busy period for the company, which later in the year rebranded to Outside Inc.

Eagle Creek to cease operations by year’s end
June 9 — Legacy backpack and luggage maker Eagle Creek announced its impending closure in 2021. The brand was founded in 1975 and was purchased VF Corporation in 2007. VF Corp. told OBJ that the brand “no longer made strategic or financial sense” to support. The decision was met with disappointment by the industry. 

Former Colorado Mountain Club HR director charged with felony stalking and voyeurism
July 26 — For more than a decade, a registered sex offender led the Colorado Mountain Club’s (CMC) finance, technology, and human resource departments. In July, we reported on multiple employee accounts of Chun Min Chiang offensive and illegal workplace conduct, which included secret recordings, stalkings, and more. In March 2021, Chiang was arrested. Police said that following a six-month investigation, they found Chiang in possession of 13,000 videos secretly recorded in restrooms, fitting rooms, under desks, and in private residences; and 200 images and videos of suspected child pornography and exploitation.

Patagonia pulls gear from Jackson Hole retail after right-wing fundraiser
Aug. 19 — Patagonia pulled all of its gear from JHMR retail outlets after resort owner Jay Kemmerer held a fundraiser for the right-wing House Freedom Caucus. The California-based brand said it has a “commitment to using both our business and our brand to advocate for our strong priorities.” JMHR responded with a statement about its own environmental priorities and actions.

The first all-Black American expedition of Everest begins
Aug. 25 — A team of athletes from across the United States announced itself as the first all-Black American expedition to attempt an Everest summit. Full Circle Everest will begin its ascent in 2022. Of the more than 10,000 summits of Everest that have been completed, only six climbers have been Black.

Solo Stove acquires Chubbies, expands ‘Solo Brands’ portfolio
Sept. 2 — Fire pit maker Solo Stove enjoyed significant growth in 2021, and reorganized its company as it acquired a few new brands. After purchasing shorts brand Chubbies, “Solo Brands” was formed as a holding company for the brand’s new direction. Solo leadership said the time was right to build a lineup of related businesses ready for the future of direct-to-consumer commerce.

Former VF Corp. executive acquires Eagle Creek
Sept. 8 — Former VF Corp. executive Travis Campbell purchased Eagle Creek from the conglomerate after VF’s announcement that it would shutter the brand at the end of 2021. Campbell took control as the sole owner and plans to help the company progress in a new direction, including further expansion into direct-to-consumer sales. Campbell was clear that he intends to honor the legacy of the brand while updating its commerce strategy. 

On Running goes public
Sept. 15 — Swiss-based footwear company On Running went public, raising $746 million in its IPO with an estimated valuation of $7.3 billion. The company’s first day on the New York Stock Exchange saw shares jump $11, or 45.8 percent, to $35 at market close.

Solo Brands IPOs
Oct. 28Solo Brands also went public this year. The company’s initial valuation landed at more than $2.1 billion.

Helen of Troy acquires Osprey
Nov. 29 — Colorado-based Osprey Packs announced its sale to consumer-goods company Helen of Troy, which also owns Hydro Flask. HoT leadership said Osprey will help strengthen its outdoor portfolio, better positioning the company in a growing adventure market.