Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Day 2 dawned hot and hazy, with smoke from the Oregon fires raising air quality alert into the moderate range. But that didn’t stop attendees from taking to the water and trails to test out the latest in paddlesports and cycling gear.
Show directors expected a bigger retail turnout today, but most exhibitors didn’t seem to feel that panned out. Still, everyone we spoke with seemed please with the show overall—with the venue, the outdoor format, the social distancing, and the authenticity all being key elements that have attendees jazzed.
Education sessions were pulling in small but engaged groups of attendees. The sessions all had an intimate feel, with lots of interaction, questions, and comments from the audience, as moderators passed the mikes around encouraged a free exchange of ideas (more on education sessions below).
Retailer hot takes
“I’m a total newbie to trade shows and this industry. I opened my shop four months ago during the pandemic and 90 percent of the stuff I ordered I never saw in person, so it’s been great to see these brands and products. To get out of my bubble and meet a lot of retailers who are successful has been really encouraging and inspiring. I’m learning about different strategies and seeing what’s possible.” —Mandela Echefu, Owner, Wheelzup Adventures in Cumberland, Md.
“I haven’t written any orders yet, but I will before it’s over. I decided to bring in a raft company, Aire, so that’s new. I like this show. To me it feels like Outdoor Retailer thirty years ago in Tahoe.”—Ed Mcalister, Owner, River Sports Outfitters in Knoxville, Tenn.
Exhibitor hot takes
“I love the event atmosphere and location. Retailer traffic has been a little slow, but we’ve talked to a few quality people and some new people, which has been good. And we’ve written a few orders, which is even better. That’s what we’re here for. I believe this will be a good venue for hard goods.” —Dave Cozzone, Vice President, Princeton Tec
“The quality of the connection has been great. Traffic may be a little bit on the lighter side, but I think the show has a lot of potential. It’s run really well. It’s just been good to connect with the community again. It feels authentic and it feels fun and the vibe is right. Our main purpose here was to showcase the new bike products we have coming out in the fall. We have some really good leads to follow up on.” —Supriya Limaye, Chief Officer of Fun, Peak Design
Hot new products
There was plenty of new gear on display at Day 2 of the show. Here a few of the fresh, innovative goodies that caught our eye.
PURTREK Trek Pole and Water Filtration System
Ever looked down at your trekking poles on the trail and thought, I wish these did something else? Apparently, the people behind PURTREK—based in Ogden, Utah—did. The company’s Trek Pole & Water Filtration System, new this spring, combines traditional hiking poles with a built-in water filter for rehydrating in the backcountry. We stopped by PURTREK’s booth for a quick demonstration. More info on the product can be found on the company’s website.
Cotopaxi has officially announced its first fully sealed waterproof jacket, the Cielo ($145-155), available in men’s and women’s. The move marks a step forward for the Salt Lake City-based brand, which until now has only offered water resistant options in its outerwear line.
Personal heating brand Ignik is coming out with its first fire can, simply dubbed the FireCan, this fall. The design is inspired by a traditional “groover”—an ammo can repurposed as a portable toilet in the backcountry. Ignik founder Graeme Esarey explains the design process like so: “We started looking at groovers and thought, here’s this ordinary object—an ammo can—that has been reimagined to perform this really hard job. Why can’t we take the same concept and bring it into our word of personal heating?” In addition to being compact and durable, the FireCan is capable of sending up flames two feet high, and is completely forest-safe (i.e. fire ban approved) due to the foldable legs that raise it off the ground. Available this fall exclusively at REI, with wider distribution to follow in Spring ’22.
Education sessions continued today with topics deeply relevant to hardgoods dealers: “The Pain Points of Paddle Shops,” “eBikes: Finance, Government Engagement, and Takeaways for New Retailers,” “Five Ways to Grow Online Sales,” and more.
Show director Kenji Haroutunian told OBJ that he’s already gotten an outpouring of appreciation from retailers due to the sessions’ intimate nature. Rather than jam-packed conference rooms, the education sessions at The Big Gear Show have so far been small and casual, with only a couple dozen attendees per event. That has given retailers time to ask lots of questions, Haroutunian said, engaging with presenters in deeper conversations than they might otherwise get.
First time around the block?
Over the course of the day, we ran into several exhibitors who are brand new to the industry, making themselves known at trade shows for the first time. Here are a couple of the standout companies we interacted with.
Minnesota-based bikepacking brand Cedaero, founded in 2017, is a company of “adventurers, nomads, bike nerds, and gear junkies,” according to the team. The crew drove cross-country in a repurposed ambulance to make it out to Utah for the show this week. Bike-mounted bags and other travel accessories make up this quirky company’s wares. Check out the goods on Cedaero’s website.
Michigan-based startup GiantMouse came to the show with some of the most beautiful Danish-designed camping knives we’ve ever seen. Featuring both fixed blades and foldables, the company hopes to make a name for itself in a product category where legacy companies like Filson control much of the game.
As of the morning of Day 2, the company hadn’t written any orders. “We just came to meet people and get our name out there,” said founder and CEO Jim Wirth. “For us, this show is all about raising awareness of the brand.”
Reducing plastic bottle use (and show-goer thirst)
Plastic Impact Alliance members are out in full force across the show. Sporting PIA signs and YETI water stations, these champions of sustainability are doing their part to reduce single-use plastics while keeping people hydrated at the same time.
Catch up: Read our Day 1 recap of the Big Gear Show here.