Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2014 Summer Outdoor Retailer Recap

The Outdoor Retailer Show is the largest trade show of its kind in the US. Housed in the Salt Lake City Salt Palace, the show spans an amazing 820,000 square feet of floor space and hosts over 1,400 vendors and 25,000+ total attendees. The American Alpine Institute attends the OR Show to preview new product for the next spring and summer seasons for its retail shop and program equipment needs. We also present the annual Guides Choice Awards to the manufacturers of gear that our guides have reviewed and voted on as being gear that is innovative, durable, functional and of excellent quality.

This year there were five awards issued to the following brands and products: 
  • C.A.M.P - Tricam Evo 
  • Delorme - inReach Explorer 
  • Mammut - Courmayeur Advanced Pant 
  • Salewa - Pro Guide Boot 
  • SteriPen - Freedom
Brett Merlin of CAMP accepting the Guides Choice Award from
AAI Director Dunham Gooding for the Tricam Evo.

Delorme's VP of Marketing, Kim Stiver accepting the Guides Choice Award for the inReach Explorer
Mammut's Territory Manager, Jeff Krahenbuhl (Left) and Sales Representative Kendall Dewey (Right) during the award ceremony for the Courmayeur Advanced Pant.
Salewa's Eric Henderson accepting the Guides Choice Award for the Pro Gude boot. 
SteriPen President Neil MacKay receiving the Guides Choice Award for the Freedom water purification device.
Read more about the 2014 Guides Choice Award winners.

OR is a lot more than just buying and selling. Every year these thousands of outdoor industry professionals use OR as a time to come together to converse, collaborate, and find ways to benefit the consumer and the environment through educational sessions, meetings and the occasional cold beverage. While at OR we use the opportunity as guides to talk to product developers about their existing products and how they can be made better, or even present ideas for new products. On several occasions product improvements have been made based on product development meetings between AAI and company designers.

AAI Equipment Services Manager Richard Riquelme (right) reviews stove testing results from Denali with SOTO's Tomo Sekiguchi (left) and Hioroshi Yamamoto (standing)
Even the isles at the show are often filled with people and conversation, and they are well sprinkled with outdoor industry notables (here, Lynn Hill in a discussion outside the Patagonia booth).
Typical hustle and bustle of the show floor.
Around 5:30 each day, business slows and little bands and beer come out.
OR is all about the new gear that will be coming to market the following year. Over the course of the show you will always find a few new and intriguing items mixed in with all of the other things that have not been changed. Here are just a few of the cooler things that we were shown.

CAMP's new assisted braking belay device the Matic features very smooth rope feeding and has a clutch that locks the device off if the belayer pulls the lowering lever too far back. This safety feature helps to eliminate the potential of a climber being dropped if the belayer panics and pulls back too far on the device. The Matic is equipped with a soft grabbing stainless steel rope cam. When loaded suddenly a small amount of rope is allowed to slip through as the cam starts to pinch the rope. This reduces impact forces on your anchors and allows for a softer catch as well. The Matic should be available spring of 2015.
The CAMP Matic assisted braking belay device.
Every year single rated ropes are getting skinnier and skinnier. This year Beal debuted their 8.5mm Opera rope. Rated as a single, twin and half rope the Opera is sure to bring versatility to the alpine climbing wold where snow, rock and ice are all likely to be encountered. It is not decided yet but while speaking with Fred Beal at the show, they would like to make it available in 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100 meter lengths! With a 5 fall rating, Unicore technology, and only weighing 48 g / meter the Opera will prove to be a very versatile rope.
Beal's new skinny triple rated 8.5 Opera
Julbo is bringing the 80's back thanks to AAI Guide Liz Daley. On a trip to France she requested retro shades with modern technology, and Julbo is delivering. The Cortina is part of their new Heritage Collection. With Spectron 3 lenses and available in a fun variety of colors you can look rad in the backcountry and around town.
The Julbo Cortina is bringing back the 80's but with modern technology.
Outside of the showroom floor there are endless opportunities to take part in special events, fundraisers and attend some pretty amazing parties. This year myself and Richard received a special invitation to the grand opening of the new Petzl North America location. The facility was specially designed with the environment in mind. It is located within minutes of mass transit, making it very easy for employees to leave their cars at home. The facility has state of the art energy limiting technology, and approximately 25% of the energy consumption is offset from a solar array located on the new warehouse roof, with the intent to be fully solar run in the coming years.

It is obvious walking through the front door as to where you are.
Petzl athletes, employees, key dealers and friends enjoy the wide open and bright atmosphere.
Petzl's new state of the art automated product picking machine
The new facility is home to Utah's tallest climbing wall, standing at 55 feet tall.
A dyno competition that paired Petzl pro athletes with mortal humans entertained spectators

Outdoor Retailer is always a very rewarding experience. From the people that you meet to the new gear the you get to preview, you always come from away from the event super excited for the coming year. Now the countdown begins until next OR.

--Jeff Voigt, Guides Choice Manager

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