Outdoor Retail Show 2015

The 2015 Outdoor Retail Show (ORS) was a blast, as always. At least that’s what my “reps” tell me. I wasn’t able to attend the festivities this year, however my marketing team of Tracy, Susan, Jim and Bailey represented us in force.

The show always begins with Outdoor Demo Day, where attendees get to paddle the massive variety of kayaks, SUP’s and other water craft on the Pine River Reservoir. Tracy took lots of photos to give you an up close view of Demo Day. Cameras aren’t allowed in the Salt Palace where the indoor displays are, so we don’t have any pics there. Here is a panoramic view of the outdoor event taken by Tracy while paddling a Sea Eagle Razorlite.
Panorama view of ORSHere’s a shot of our “reps” … Jim is the tall guy in the back, Susan is on his left and Tracy is holding Bailey, who. ‘paws down’ had the most fun at Demo Day.
Portable Kayaks Reps at ORSNext is a photo of some of the Sea Eagle kayaks that were available to paddle. The green boat behind the 393 Razorlite is the new TC16 Inflatable Travel Canoe. Both boats are framed entirely with hard, drop stitch material to make them the firmest inflatable boats on the market. Drop stitch material is what enables manufacturers to make inflatable stand up paddle boards (SUP’s) that you can stand on. You can see a couple SUP’s in the photo as well.
Sea Eagle kayaks at ORSSpeaking of SUP’s, this next photo shows what some people are capable of doing while riding a stand up paddle board. I’ll let the picture speak for itself.
Hula Hoop on stand up paddle boardAlthough they aren’t quite as adventurous as the ‘hula hooper’, Jim and Bailey are shown in our next pic paddling a Sea Eagle NeedleNose SUP.
Jim and Bailey on Sea Eagle NeedleNose SUPThe Innova line of kayaks has been a great seller for us over the past several years. In the next picture you can see most of their product line including the Sunny, Safari, Helios, Twist and the Swing series.
Innova kayaks at ORSInnova introduced a new product at the show this year. It’s an inflatable fishing kayak that’s called the Halibut. It has a really comfortable raised seat and a hard floor with a variety of other fishing related features. It’s expected to be available early in 2016. Look for them on PortableKayaks.com.
Innova Halibut inflatable fishing kayak at ORSI couldn’t resist posting this last photo. It’s Bailey checking out the action while riding in the front of a Sea Eagle Razorlite inflatable kayak. I hope you enjoyed the photos. The Outdoor Retail Show (ORS) is always lots of fun.
Bailey riding in Sea Eagle Razorlite

How to Build a Doggie Deck for an Inflatable Kayak


Lots of kayakers like to take their dogs along in their inflatable kayak. Most of the better brands can handle the dog’s toenails, as we have addressed in previous articles, but there are some considerations as to where and how the dog might like to ride along. One of our very creative customers, Jim Jones, has taken his dog’s preferences into consideration when building a “doggie deck” for his Sea Eagle 300x Explorer kayak.
Bailey Doggie Deck
We’ll let Jim explain it to you in his own words, including his construction directions …

“Like many people I enjoy taking my dog with me when I go kayaking. My dog, “Bailey”, loves the water. He loves to swim and to ride in the kayak. His preferential spot on the boat is up front of where the two inflatable side sections come together. This provides him a commanding view (and keeps him out of the way from the stroking paddles). There is a soft canvas deck joining the two sides. It is designed for dry sack storage. This is made from a high quality fabric which can easily withstand any damage caused by his toenails. However, in rough water, rapids or surf it is unstable making it very difficult for him to stand and balance. Solution: A Doggie Deck.”

“Doggie Deck” Construction/Directions: (Note: All materials are readily available at Home Depot or a similar type store)

1. Cut a 1/4” piece of paneling to the shape of front section of the boat. I chose the 1/4” to keep it light weight. Even though the 1/4” is somewhat pliable it will be strengthened when the rubber decking is attached.

2. Waterproof paneling with several coats of high quality varnish.

3. Attach rings. (See Picture 1 Below.) The screws that come with the pictured rings are somewhat longer than 1/4” and will have to be nipped off in the back to prevent puncturing your boat.
Doggie Deck 1
4. Cut rubberized top surface. (See Picture 2 Below) Home Depot has several products to choose from, such as rubberized door mats, rubberized table covers for workshops, etc.. I chose a rubberized interlocking (looks like a giant jigsaw puzzle) mat that can go down in a child’s playroom. The material is sturdy and the set comes in a variety of colors.
Doggie Deck 2
5. Attach rubber mat to board. (See Picture 3 Below) I used 3M Paper and Vinyl Spray Cement. I have now used the deck on lakes, rivers, and in the ocean. So far this cement has worked flawlessly.
Doggie Deck 3
6. To attach the deck to the boat (See Picture 4 Below) I have tried several products. I have found a rubberized tie called “Gear Ties” work best. They are waterproof, easy to fasten and unfasten and are easy to cinch down. (Note: Ties are not shown in picture).
Doggie Deck 4
7. Next add dog, add water, have fun.

Another advantage to the ‘doggie deck’ is that it gives Jim a firm place to mount his GoPro camera to the front of the deck. (Click here to see the GoPro Jaws Clamp Mount that Jim uses. It’s available on Amazon.com.)

Jim says that “The GoPro is positioned on the front of the deck, so it is out of Baileys way.” “Although, I have several movies going down rivers with an occasional panting dog tongue moving across the top of the screen.”

Jim also owns a Sea Eagle Fast Track 385ft and is in the process of building a deck for that kayak as well. As the shape of the nose is different on the 2 boats, the decks are not interchangeable.
Doggie Deck Bailey
You can see that Bailey loves the deck. Jim mentioned that when paddling with friends, whenever their kayaks get close, Bailey often jumps from boat to boat, but he really prefers to ride majestically on the firm platform that the deck provides.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to build your own deck for whatever brand of kayak you own. Thanks to Jim Jones for the pictures and the creativity!

Clean Trails

During our recent visit to the Outdoor Retail Show in Salt Lake City, we became acquainted with an organization called “Clean Trails”. Their message is simple … “What if everyone picked up just one piece of litter?” By encouraging people to care for their favorite outdoor spots and pick up after themselves and others, we will all benefit from the ‘clean trails’ left behind.
Bill & Steve from CleanTrails.org
The group was started by hiking buddies Steve Jewett and Bill Willoughby after noticing more and more trash being left behind on hiking trails. What started out as a good natured “game” of picking up pieces of trash and ‘calling out’ each other if they “missed” one turned into a community effort with fellow hikers.

Clean Trails is now a sustainable nonprofit organization with a board of directors and a lofty goal to eliminate waste on all trails on public lands throughout the United States. By creating a national system of outdoor stewards for our wild places, they hope to free those places of litter and trash. In all actuality, the goal is reachable if each and every one of us does our part, one piece of trash at a time.

Clean Trails Trail Box StationOne of their efforts, the ‘Trail Box Project’ (shown in the photo) is a long term plan that will aid hikers in picking up and disposing of trail trash. Click here for Trail Box details.

I spoke with Steve at the show and he emphasized that the group focuses on all types of “trails”, waterways included and how their goals can be reached by helping outdoor lovers become more aware of the small things that can be done to accomplish the larger goal.

Here are some of the group’s objectives:
* Create a national network of trail stewards by 2015.
* Advocate for “Leave No Trace” and enjoying nature responsibly.
* Create awareness of the evils of trash on trails.
* Develop an educational program to eliminate the disposal of litter in our wild spaces.

To learn more, visit their web site … CleanTrails.org. And next time (and every time) you’re hiking or kayaking, pledge to pick up just one piece of trash on your trail.

Outdoor Retail Show 2014


One thing for sure is that you will get some walking exercise when you attend the Outdoor Retail Show in Salt Lake City. The 2014 event was no exception. The Salt Palace, where the indoor portion of the show is held, is huge. I’m not sure of the exact number of exhibitors, but all 515,000 square feet of the building was full of manufacturers of outdoor products. In fact, the show has grown so much that there are 3 giant tents, called the pavilions, that house several more exhibitors across the street.

This is the third time we’ve attended the show in the past 6 years, the last time being 3 years ago. Some things have changed but, for the most part, you’ll find nearly anything and everything that has to do with outdoor recreation. Most of the manufacturers that attend are from the hiking, camping, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and outdoor shoes and clothing areas. You do see a few fishing and hunting booths, some outdoor related toys and some hard to categorize niches that fit into the general ‘outdoor accessories’ area.
People at ORS
Our main purpose in attending was to visit with the manufacturers we’ve been dealing with over the past 8 years, Sea Eagle boats, Innova kayaks, WindPaddle sails and Cannon paddles. All these companies have a variety of new items for 2015 that we were excited to see. Sea Eagle and Innova will be introducing new kayaks that we had a chance to paddle at the Demo Day that opened the show. WindPaddle has a new Bimini sun shade as well as a new design for their sails and Cannon is introducing an adjustable length kayak paddle and some new paddles for kids. You can check into PortableKayaks.com to see these new products as they become available. You can also e-mail us at hillstores@aol.com and we’ll keep you informed.
Paddlers at ORS
We’re always looking for new and interesting outdoor products that will fit into PortableKayaks.com and our Hill Stores Amazon store. It’s going to take some time to evaluate all the new items we found, but we’ll be sure to write about them here and let you know if we’re adding any travel chairs, hammocks, custom made backpacks & carry bags, camping dishes or anything else on our long list of potential new products.

Of course we managed to take advantage of the free food (Vasque Boot’s pancake breakfast, Keen’s Shoes Keenfest Lunch and various ‘happy hours’ and snacks throughout the day). We also accumulated a collection of swag that ranged from the usual t-shirts & hats to mini-clips & straps to free sunglasses. I was also lucky enough to win a Zippo Rugged Lantern at their spin & win wheel.

All in all it was a fun and productive trip. Looking forward to the next time.

Take a look at this ‘wrap up’ video that was produced by the outdoor retail show …

Outdoor Retail Show Demo Day 2014


Every year in early August, outdoor retailers and manufacturers of outdoor products descend on Salt Lake City for 5 days of madness that is the Outdoor Retail Show (aka ORS). There are actually two Outdoor Retail Shows a year, the Summer and Winter versions, but for kayak sellers like me, the Summer show is the one I attend (although, I do like snowshoeing).

The first day of the show is always “outdoor demo day”, which is just like it sounds, a chance for attendees to paddle various products such as kayaks, stand up paddle boards and anything else that floats. It’s also an opportunity to display related items such as tents, dry bags, energy bars and GoPro cameras just to name a few. This year it was held at Pineview Reservoir. Even though Pineview is quite a ways from Salt Lake City, the choice was a good one because of the nice beach area where the various booths were set up. My wife and I were one of the select group that got to come in the night before for a “glamping” experience sponsored by Barebones, a company that sells tents and camping equipment.

Stand up paddle board makers were out in force at demo day. The growth of recreational SUP’s has continued since they first came on the scene about 6 or 7 years ago. If this show is any indication, it looks like the sport will continue to be strong. My wife had a chance to paddle for the first time and did quite well on both the Sea Eagle NeedleNose and the Naish Alana Air inflatable paddle boards. Another board that caught our eye was the SOL paddle board made by a small company from Telluride, Colorado that’s run by a couple of young entrepreneurs who have been designing and making the boards for a couple years. Tracy, our designated “paddle tester” is shown in the picture putting the SOL through it’s paces.
SOL Stand Up Paddleboard
My main focus for demo day was to paddle some of the new inflatable kayaks that will be introduced by our main product lines, Sea Eagle and Innova. I also paddled a few of the older kayaks such as the Innova Sunny and Helios, since I hadn’t had a chance to paddle them in previous shows.

Innova has added a longer version of the Swing 1, called the Swing Ex. It’s made to be faster and carry more gear for longer trips. It will be available in 2015.
Innova Swing EX
Sea Eagle had their new 300x inflatable kayak at demo day. It’s a solo version that’s been added to their Explorer line, which are designed mainly for whitewater but do very well on flat water, too. The 300x is available now at PortableKayaks.com.
Sea Eagle 300x inflatable kayak
I also had a chance to paddle a prototype that Sea Eagle brought along. It’s made totally of drop stitch material, sides, bottom, etc. It’s very light and, due to the firm drop stitch material, very fast. It’s so new that it doesn’t have a name and Sea Eagle is still testing it to determine whether it will be added to their line next year. Personally, I think it performed well and has some promise.
Sea Eagle Drop Stitch Kayak Prototype
Throughout the day we wandered through the booths, sampling various energy and snack bars. One, from a company named Chapul, was made of “crickets” (Yes, I said “Crickets”) that were actually pretty tasty. My favorites, though, were the Pistachio Chewy Bites(made with pistachios and cranberries) and some bars made with chia seeds (Chia Bars).

In addition to “grazing”, we talked with a variety of reps and made plans to visit their booths inside the Salt Palace over the next 3 days. More about that in our next article.

You can get a feel for the demo day activities in this ‘wrap up’ video that was produced by the show …

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