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Industry

Outdoor Retailer Carry Awards :: Summer Market 2015

by , August 15, 2015

Drum roll please. Before we conclude our coverage of the Summer 2015 Outdoor Retailer, there’s one last order of business – the second annual Outdoor Retailer Carry Awards. Three highly coveted awards which we here at Carryology bestow upon the crème de la crème of the carry scene at OR.

Reaching a consensus amidst the hundreds of bags we saw over the course of OR was no easy task. Heated conversations with words that would make our mothers blush. Endlessly cross-checking our collective notes. Turning down the occasional bribe. Phone calls back to Carryology HQ. The odd fistfight – and this was all before last call.

But when the sun finally rose over the Salt Palace Convention Center on the final day of OR we had the names of the Summer 2015 Outdoor Retailer Carry Award winners. Three brands that in their respective ways impressed our carry-hardened OR contingent. Three brands that pushed the boundary for what we admire in the carry world up another notch. Three brands that made us seriously consider swiping one of their bags when no one was looking. So without further ado…

Best Carry Innovation

Given to a company whose product demonstrates a unique perspective into the future of carry while being cemented in the reality of today’s needs. Not simply a new perspective, this product will be truly innovative, merging a widespread need with innovative construction and smart layout in a crowded market space.

Granite Gear for their Lutsen Series multi-day packs with Re-Fit system.

Granite Gear

The sheer amount of adjustability and resulting comfort built into every multi-day pack we saw at OR made us want to quit our day jobs and take off on a trek of indeterminate length into the nearby Wasatch Mountains. But amidst this sea of adjustability, seeing the design cohesion behind Granite Gear’s Lutsen Series actually had us cooing oohs and ahhs in unison.

Sure, the Lutsen Series hip belt is adjustable from 28 in – 40 in, the 55L pack just tips the scale at 3 lbs, and the entire pack can be adjusted in seconds, but it’s the design ingenuity that allows for this. The entire frame utilizes an injection-molded polycarbonate frame sheet with integrated air channels which then line up with the dual-density molded foam back panel. This two-part system is then stitched behind a stretch mesh system. It’s a beautiful system that results in a ridiculously lightweight, breathable frame system with exceptional adjustability. We’ve seen a lot of innovations in pack suspension systems at OR but the Re-Fit system of Granite Gear’s Lutsen Series goes back (pun intended) to the very structure of the frame. Hats off to Michael Meyer and his team.

Rising Star

Given to a new or smaller company who is making strides in the carry world with a new and pioneering product or series of products. The winner of this award will stand out at the show as a pioneer, worthy of our collective respect. We fully expect the winner of the Rising Star Award to be growing their “booth footprint” at future shows, and will be keeping close tabs on them as they do. Their product needs to be more than socially relevant. It needs to be constructed with deliberate attention to detail. We’ll be picking at stitches and talking denier!

Alchemy Equipment

Alchemy Equipment

The most dangerous place to be at OR? Alchemy Equipment’s booth. Of all the booths at OR Alchemy Equipment’s was one of the smallest (we saw a company selling insect-infused trail bars with more space – delicious for the record) but constantly overflowing with clientele. You faced a serious risk of being trampled by the crowds gone mad with the designs of Alchemy Equipment if you even so much as stopped to admire the tactically embossed nylon interior of their new dopp kit.

We’ve talked a lot about Alchemy Equipment on Carryology in the past few months and by all indications they’ll be the subject of even more proses on this site as well as our deepest bag desires. They continue to blend technical materials and a classic silhouette with Carryology-approved function. They’re set to release a number of new packs that pick up where their current packs left off. And their team Campbell Junor and Frank Spiewack are some of the most genuine people we had the pleasure of talking with at OR. Just remember, we called Alchemy Equipment’s meteoric rise on Carryology first.

Best in Show

Given to the company with the best product. The product needs to set us on our heels, make our hearts skip a beat and make us fall in love. We expect this product to be under lock and key after hours and during the show, as its admirers will be many; all will be hatching capers to covertly attain it. Whispers will be heard in the halls between designers and attendees alike about its glory; sinister sizzling to copy it will rumble deep in the recesses of the Salt Palace and after hours at the bar.

Boreas Gear

Boreas Gear

We visited Boreas Gear in the number one spot at 9 a.m. on the first day of OR. We left 60 minutes later with an intense sense of the focused design, precise innovations, and inspiration behind their lines that was unmatched for the remainder of OR.

It’s not just one or two bags in the Boreas collection that kept clearly appearing in our hazy OR dreams, but the collective Boreas line. Though they’ve introduced a number of new lines at OR including bags for the business traveler and light daypacks, each new bag is aesthetically unquestionably Boreas. Yet most importantly they remain approachable. You don’t need to have a history of mountains climbed and intense travel adventures across the world to appreciate a Boreas pack, just a desire to get out and see something new. And it’s this idea that really resonated in their new bags.

Their packs wowed, their designs turned heads, they’re pushing a bunch of new bags (and even a tent) but they remain the most on point and inspiring company at OR. Cheers to Tae Kim and the entire Boreas team. The next round’s on us.

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