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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …