Ever see one of those old westerns that showed a locomotive get started? The wheels start out moving really fast, and then slow down as the train starts creeping out of the station, but then starts picking up steam and getting to a good speed fairly quickly. That’s how the Outdoor Retailer show is starting today. There’s a lot of activity when you look around the streets. Crates are being moved, signs are being posted, and you can see the restaurant and bar owners just salivating over the potential business for the week. But, right now, most of everything that’s going on is basically background noise. It’s the roadies putting the stage set together. The real meat and potatoes isn’t going to be ready until tomorrow. But, we did get a sneak peek at a few things this evening when we went to a reception hosted by Verde PR and Consulting. Verde represents such companies as Osprey, Tilley, Metolius, Terrasoles, Julbo, and a few others. They held a nice social event at the Hotel Monaco where they had some of those different companies represented to provide some basic information. There wasn’t a lot of detailed material available at the event for me to bring back to the hotel room and transfer to the site. They wanted to keep tonight’s gathering informal and distribute more stuff throughout the week. Even so, we got some good basic information on new products, and the new directions some companies are taking in the coming year.
Tilley Endurables was the first group that I talked to at the reception. They were a friendly bunch and seemed quite pleased by the review done earlier in the year by Woods Monkey on a couple of their products. I’ve been aware of Tilley’s great reputation and large customer base in the past, but I never found one of their products that I thought would fit me. Oddly enough, they had some of their new products for Autumn 2009 and Spring 2010 on display, and I actually saw two right away that really tickled my fancy. If you’ll look in the picture, the one on the top right hand side is their new Outback model. It’s made of waxed cotton duck with an SPF of 50. I gave it a couple of turns in my hand, and I was impressed with the build quality. It feels like a good hat for autumn to help shed the rain and dew. The hat in the middle is their new Eco AirFlo model. It’s claim to fame is being made of completely organic products if I understood correctly. As I mentioned, I’ll get more detailed information later in the week. Also, I’ll get some better shots of the products as well. I didn’t want to lug the flash around this evening. But, I want to make sure to mention another new product due out this fall for Tilley, and that’s their Montanna. If you’ll look to the far right of the picture and on the bottom, you can see most of it sticking out from behind the sign. Basically, it has that “Indy” look to it. I like that one a lot. Tilley had several other new products and we’ll bring more info about them to you this week.
Next, we had the chance to talk to a couple of folks from Osprey and they showed off some of their new packs that are coming out in the near future. A couple are new, and a couple are re-designs. The really big news for Osprey is that they are introducing a new line of hydration packs in a wide assortment of colors and sizes. They are making the official announcment tomorrow and will be providing specific information. My understanding is that they will also have some of those new hydration products on hand for us to inspect and try out. We’ll make sure to follow up on that line as well, later in then week.
Point6 was there as well with a wide variety of socks fashioned to fit the specific sport in which the adventurer is engaging in the outdoors. Their market niche is blending the best synthetics with the reliable qualities of that old standby, wool. In that same arena, we also took a look at some of the offerings available from Terrasoles. They had a good assortment of footwear that’s specifically aimed at being that truly comfotable and unique outdoors shoe. Each set is made from different materials including canvas, leather, and other, and each has its own look and appeal. For the camp shoe afficionados in the audience, their products are certainly worth a look. We talked with the rep about getting a pair or two of their demo items just to get an impression of their comfort and build quality. I’m sure we’ll have that done a few weeks after the show is done.
I also spoke with the rep from Julbo . Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell them that I was familiar with their products, but it was interesting to learn that they have been in the eyewear business for over 120 years. Based out of France, they offer their products for sale online. At the reception, I had a chance to look at a couple of their new lines. One that I thought was especially appealing was a new model for their Zebra line. I believe the one I saw was designed for women, but it was an attractive set of glasses. The lenses are actually photochromatic, which basically means that the lenses can lighten or darken depending on the amount of sunlight. The frames are flexible to ensure a firm grip and to keep them from sliding, and the lenses are also treated with a fog-resistant coating for those times you start generating some heat during your exercise!
These are just some of the companies we visited with tonight, and as mentioned, not a lot of detailed specs were available to bring to you. But, all of that will come in time. And, just like that locomotive getting started out of the station, I’ll make sure to post a lot of pictures of the newest gear to hit the shelves so you’ll have some good information and a head start on the rest. Tomorrow is the first full day, so we should have a bunch of material to present to you. From what I’ve seen so far, there’s a lot of great stuff debuting this year!