Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 Report (2 of 2)
Part 2 of our coverage at Outdoor Retailer up in Salt Lake City last week. If you missed it, go take a look at our adventures through the never ending aisles of gear in Part 1 of our Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 Report.
Day 2 (Thursday) continued:
Moments after walking into the Timbuk2 booth, we were greeted with a warm reception. This classic and ubiquitous American brand was celebrating its Silver anniversary, yep, that’s 25 years in business. We were invited to the celebrations, and managed to get some face time with founder Rob Honeycutt. We look forward to following up on their offer of a shop visit, so you can stay tuned for that in the not too distant future.
Talking to Timbuk2 humbled us in their productivity. An expertly crafted U.S. made messenger bag takes them 12 minutes to make. TWELVE MINUTES. No corner cutting, no cheating, just next-level efficiency.
In celebration of 25 years in the biz, Timbuk2 is re-releasing some old brands under the direction of the capable, hilarious and insightful hands of Greg Bass.
Boreas is making waves with a few new products this summer, namely their Bootlegger series that launched on Kickstarter, which was funded to nearly 1500% of their goal. The bootlegger is a four piece modular pack system built on their “Triple Tramp” suspension system.
In addition to the suspension unit, customers get a daypack, a dry-bag, and a hydration pack all for $199. Seriously. Easily one of our top 3 favourite carry collections at the show.
Shop Visit: Gregory Mountain Products
When you are a bag geek, you tend to flock to other bag geeks. Our quick drop-in visit at the Gregory booth turned into a 45 minute conversation about the state of the industry, materials, design, everything. Wayne Gregory himself came out from some hidden back room and rubbed shoulder with us. It was amazing to get Wayne going, his wealth of information flooded over us to the point we decided he would be a great candidate for a more in depth Carry Conversation.
In order to continue the conversation, we were invited to take a tour of the Gregory facility. Of course we said yes! The next day we found ourselves weaving deep through Salt Lake City in Product Designer, Mark Thibadeau’s truck.
Upon entering, we were greeted by a great old pack from Gregory past. How many generations of labels can you see? Bonus points: which generations?
Also featured is the infamous backpack strap yoke. It was made from leather, which after a long day of hiking would imprint on your shirt. That way, everyone would know you were carrying a Gregory Pack walking around camp, which became a bit of a hallmark, for better or worse.
We learned a bit about the “Gregory way” to create new product, choosing trims, making custom hardware.
Tools of the trade. This screen is called a Cintiq, from Wacom. It’s a really powerful platform for design, which is like a giant, sensitive iPad. We want one. Bad.
I hope one day my pack wall looks like this.
Out from the stack emerged some great products, as well as some strange ones. This particular pattern sells like hotcakes in Japan.
We were also lucky enough to get a peek into the development and sample making lab, which contained everything from ancient snap presses to state of the art laser cutters.
Before we left, we discovered the shelves containing boxes and boxes of labels – here are a couple of my favourites. The Gregory Label is likely 5th generation, as I was informed by my Japanese collector friend.
We are elated to say the acquisition of Gregory Mountain Products by Black Diamond in no way has diminished the vision of the brand. The folks at Gregory repeatedly mention the Quality Assurance lab as one of the great benefits to the quality of their product. The Black Diamond QA lab increases the ability to batch test, stress test, and quality control Gregory products.
A special thanks to: Mark Thibadeau, Brad Meyer, Rebecca Larsen, John Sears, Wayne Gregory and Andy Yorkin.
Day 3 (Friday):
Mile High Mountaineering
We’ve seen the MHM Switch before, with a long snaking zipper that creates an S across and around the pack, giving the you a million ways to get at your gear.
When you do, the pack acts similar to a panel loader, giving the user unobstructed access to the main compartment and smaller pockets.
We’d love to get our hands on it for a more thorough shakedown somewhere down the line.
Combat Flip Flops
We were excited to run into Griff, owner of Combat Flip Flops. Hanging with the Nemo tent folks, Griff’s intention with Combat Flip Flops was to retool factories in Afghanistan from making combat boots to making Flip Flops to help keep jobs reliant on military occupation alive by helping their industry. The footwear product looked great, but we were more interested in a product he was touting called the Claymore.
The Claymore is based on the actual claymore mine bag, which is considered single use. This bag holds an iPad really well, has an understated look, and will be coming in multiple colors soon. I really liked the Velcro silencers and extra snap security. Combat Flip Flops – “Bad for running, worse for fighting”.
When you are at OR as working media, the forbidden fruit is Arc’teryx. Just inside their bright Apple-store-esque booth, are bright, shiny and expensive things that beckon your gaze and tempt your lens. A knee-high perimeter wall guards against riff-raff and ‘NO-PHOTOS’ signs abound. We knew this, so planned accordingly by making arrangements for a visit well ahead of time. Walking into their lair with a camera was greeted with what I will describe as “welcoming suspicion”. A bit like bringing a microphone to a drug deal. Regardless, we made it in.
Immediately we discovered the beautiful new collections using AC2. The fabric, we were told, is a lot like their super high end stuff but focused on a more attractive and approachable price point while still delivering the same performance as their high end products. The AC2 collection was no compromise when it comes to fast, light, and durable.
While not intended to be used as a dry bag, the packs are Every Day Waterproof. The bag was all seam sealed construction, just don’t go calling returns because you brought your laptop scuba diving. Packs featured “one pull” opening systems that even with gloves is a treat to use.
The roll topped Alpha FL 45 pack is an award winning, tech filled Dreamliner for only $199, and at 680 grams, an ultra light choice for the alpinist in your life. I would even consider it for lightweight backpacking.
Next we caught a glimpse of the duffels in their carry line. The Carrier duffels come in various sizes 35, 50 and 100L, come fully seam taped and cut from the same cloth as their Alpha FL pack. They can be carried as a backpack or on the shoulder. Versatility, simplicity, quality just like we expect from Arc’teryx. Coming Spring ’14.
While leaving the show, we noticed a company called All-ett (get it?) who were touting they make “the World’s Thinnest Wallet”. Making a wallet light is a noble cause and these folks have nailed simple-US based construction from light materials. Tech data on their site puts the lightest of the bunch (the nylon sport wallet) in at 0.7 grams, but because physics exists, I think they meant 7 grams.
We are currently testing a Leather Sport Wallet and are interested to see how leather that light and thin can hold up to daily use. We’ll get back to you with a full report!
That’s a wrap.
Above are some shots we nabbed, exposing some of the culture of Outdoor Retailer.
Though the trip was exhausting, we’re absolutely looking forward to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2014. Maybe we’ll even swing a trip back for OR Winter Market, coming up in January 2014.