Our Everyday Adventures

We are not adventurers by choice but by fate – Van Gogh

SnowSports Industry Association Trade Show (SIA Show 2012)

Post by:  Jake

Last weekend I attended the 2012 SIA show in Denver.  I’ve been to several “Outdoor Retailer” sporting goods trade shows, but this was my first SIA show.  About 1/5th the size of the OR show, the SIA show focused only on winter sporting goods; Snowboarding, Skiing, Backcountry gear, Nordic gear.  The trade show follows a similar format to the OR show, several days of trade show expo, followed by a couple days of “on the snow demo” at Winter Park resort.  About 900 brands were present at the show, displaying all their new gear for the 2012/2013 season, and while the sheer quantity of gear was overwhelming, when I broke the expo floor into market segments (snowboarding, skiing, backcountry, ect…) it was much more manageable to make my way around from booth to booth to learn about all the new gear that interested me most (mainly downhill and backcountry ski gear).  I did make it into several outerwear booths as well, including Adidas Outdoors, Arc’Teryx, Patagonia, and Mammut, just so I could check out their new Gore-Tex Active Shell pieces, some of which were available now, while some would be available next fall.  If you’re curious about Gore-Tex Active Shell, check out my earlier review on that here.  While the Arc’Teryx, Patagonia, and Mammut pieces were certainly cool, the more surprising, or enlightening? brand was Adidas Outdoor.  WAY different than what you may expect from the soccer and football company, Adidas Outdoor is an offshoot brand under the Adidas umbrella that launched their first pieces last fall.  Fresh on the market, you’ll only be able to find their gear at specialty outdoor retailers as opposed to the big box stores where your likely accustomed to finding Adidas gear.  I’m most excited about their Gore-Tex Active-Shell pieces, super high breathability, waterproof, guaranteed for life, and packed with features you won’t find in most Active-Shell pieces from other brands (like pockets!).

Another super innovative piece of gear I saw at the show came from Voile’.  You’re probably familiar with Voile’ as creators of some of the first split board backcountry snowboards, and shovels, avalanche probes, and other backcountry gear.  In fall of 2011, Voile’ debuted one of the most unique pairs of skis I’ve ever seen.  A high end downhill all mountain ski bread with a waxless nordic cross-country ski.  A full feature downhill ski combined with the fish-scale traction patch underfoot you’d see in a cross-country ski.  Ideal as a telemark ski for a ski-patroller or anyone else that wants the ability to go from downhill skiing to instantly climbing without the added step of putting skins on the skis.  Although you can’t climb as steep of slopes as you could with skins, the ability to rapidly transition to climbing is invaluable to some people.  You won’t be able to put your hands on a pair of these skis till next fall as this years lot is already sold out across the US, but when they do become available again, don’t expect them to stay on the shelves very long.

After the trade show, I attended one of the outdoor demo days at Winter Park Resort where I was able to try out several new pairs of skis that will be available next winter.  My favorites came from the company DPS.  Launched in 2005, DPS is one of the many modern boutique ski companies, but what makes them unique is their cutting edge carbon fiber based skis.  Super light underfoot, performance is uncompromised.  I skied a couple variants of the Whaler ski, both in a 99 and 105 underfoot, and while the 105 handled like your typical all mountain powder ski on soft snow, I was surprised how well it carved on the hardpack.  I can’t wait to give them another go someday; perhaps I’ve found my new backcountry ski!!!


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Summer 2011 Outdoor Retailer Show

Post by:  Jake

Well Veronica and I are back from a great week down in Salt Lake City where we attended the Summer Outdoor Retailer sporting goods show.  It’s a bi-annual event that brings over 1,300 exhibitors and tens of thousands of attendees.  Product designers, retail store buyers (everyone from the giants like REI to your local specialty shop), and working media all converge at Utah’s biggest indoor venue, the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City.  Exhibitors of all sizes are excited to showcase their next year’s products in prototype form, and dozens of brand new companies are hoping to catch the eye of a prospective client.  The venue is massive; however this year’s show was still too large for just the convention center.  Outdoor pavilions were setup this year which allowed a couple hundred additional exhibitors.  The event kicks off with an Outdoor Demo day where attendees can experience firsthand all the latest and greatest land and water toys.  As always, the stand up paddle boards were a huge hit!

Our heads are still spinning with all the gear talk that took place over the past few days, but in the coming weeks we’ll work on editing the videos we took and will be posting those as they are ready.  Check out our experience at last winter’s Outdoor Retailer show here.

Some of the highlights of this summer’s show were running into the Mayor of Salt Lake City as I locked up my bike one morning.  I rode to the show and searched and searched for a bike rack, seeing another attendee locking up his bike I asked if there were any racks around or if we were allowed to just lock up our bikes anywhere we pleased?  He stated he was the mayor and said it was unacceptable to not have bike racks down there and that he’d look into it soon.  That just goes to show you, it’s a small world and you may never know the power your comments might have.  Another highlight was running into legendary climber Chris Sharma (he’s got his own Wikipedia page!).  Very cool guy and looked just like he does in all the movies. go figure?  Oh yeah,  and all the new products were pretty cool too!  We’ll get into those later.  For now,  enjoy the quick video I put together as a brief walkthrough of what the Outdoor Retailer show is like in a nutshell… Lots of people, massive amounts of gear, and oh yeah, happy hour starts at 3:30 sharp every day.

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Gore-Tex Active Shell

Post by:  Jake

Here’s the first of the video interviews from the Summer Outdoor Retailer show.  I apologize for the lousy audio.  I was filming with a GoPro, in tests the audio turned out fine, but there’s a bit more noise at the OR show.  I added some comments to help explain the key features Andre is talking about.  Basically, the new Gore-Tex Active Shell is SUPER light and SUPER breathable and is made for high energy single day pursuits.  Enjoy, and let me know if you’ve got any questions.

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Paragliding Adventure in Salt Lake- Our First GoPro Video

Post by:  Jake

Veronica and I just got back from the Summer Outdoor Retailer sporting goods show in Salt Lake City.  We’ve interviewed dozens of companies about their newest innovations and products and will be uploading photos and videos and a thorough show review over the next several weeks (lots of video editing to do).  We were pretty impressed at the new product innovations we saw and can’t wait to share them with you.

On our first day in Salt Lake, Veronica and I drove out to Point of the Mountain, just south of Salt Lake, for a paragliding adventure.  We purchased some 1/2 price vouchers off PlanetGear.com to go paragliding with Cloud 9 Toys but we both agreed after the adventure, it would easily be worth full price.

Before arriving we checked out some “not so great” youtube videos, and still didn’t have a great idea what to expect.  We showed up at 7:15 a.m. with eager smiles on our face.  We were greeted by several excited Cloud 9 guides, and quickly filled out lots of we-will-not-sue paperwork.  (That always inspires a lot of confidence right?)  Paperwork signed, we walked out to the edge of the launch area, a flat topped plateau with a steep grassy slope dipping to the south.   Several other paragliders were spread out along the edge of the slope.  Some were launching, some were setting up, some were simply waiting for wind conditions to pick up to extend their loft time.  Watching the pilots walk off the plateaus edge and start gliding effortlessly quickly calmed any nerves we had.  It appeared simple, graceful, and almost elegant.

Our turn came and our tandem pilots quickly, yet thoroughly, explained all the gear and the whole process from take off to landing.  It sounded simple enough,  ”just walk off the edge, sit back, and relax.”  Sure enough,  it was that simple,  yet a completely exhilarating experience.   The wind conditions weren’t perfect and we quickly lost elevation, landing in about 3-minutes following the easy take-off.  Our guides said it was too quick and wanted to take us up again,  we didn’t argue.  By the time we got back up to the top (shuttle truck), conditions were near perfect.  Veronica’s pilot needed to take one more client out that day, so they only spent about 10-minutes in the air during the second flight  My pilot was done for the day and wanted to spend a full 1/2 hour up.   We ended up riding the thermals efficiently and landed in the exact same spot as we took off.

A perfect new experience, and outstanding adventure.  We HIGHLY recommend paragliding if you’ve never done it.  We can’t speak for all companies and locations, but in our experience, it wasn’t “scary” in the least bit.  We always felt completely safe, yet had a huge adrenaline high during the entire flight.   If you’re looking for something new, give it a shot!  Check out the video,  this is our first video upload so if you’re having issues with it, check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2l6gut6VkM

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Paragliding Adventure!!

Post by:  Jake

Last night, Veronica and I took advantage of a deal on PlanetGear.com and booked two paragliding packages down near Salt Lake.  We’ll be down there for the Outdoor Retailer show in a couple weeks so we thought, “Why Not?”  Jumping off a HUGE cliff with an already open parachute?  Sounds a lot safer than jumping out of a perfectly good airplane thousands of feet off the ground and hoping that your chute was packed properly!  I’m thrilled for the new adventure, while Veronica says she’ll need A LOT of convincing.  Going tandem with an instructor sounds like about all the “convincing” she’ll need as she probably won’t have much choice once the instructor starts running toward the cliff!

Has anyone else ever been Paragliding?  What’s it like?  I’d LOVE to hear anything you have to say about the experience as this will be our first time jumping off anything higher than a small bridge.

PlanetGear.com is a new site, similar to TheClymb,  they offer huge discounts for a short period of time on a very limited amount of stuff, then a few days later the inventory changes up a bit and the sales start again.  Just like TheClymb, they offer a $10 referral credit once your friends makes their first purchase, but in addition to you getting $10, your friend also gets $10 off their first purchase.  Not too bad.  In addition to gear and apparel, PlanetGear often has deals on vacation packages and adventures (like the paragliding thing Veronica and I just signed up for).

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Our Next Tri and Summer Outdoor Retailer Show

Post by:  Jake

Apparently we did catch the Tri-bug because today Veronica and I signed up for our next sprint triathlon.  The Bountiful Reverse Triathlon on August 6th.  It’s a unique reverse sprint-tri where you start with a 5K run followed by an 11-mile bike and then a 350-yard swim through a pool.  The pool swim has me scratching my head as apparently it’s held in an indoor 25-yard pool in a “snake style” fashion.  All competitors jump in the pool following their bike ride, and we’ll all swim down one lane, cross the line, back down the next lane, and so on 14-times.  With a cap of 400 participants, and the swim coming at the end of the race, hopefully the pool won’t be too terribly crowded.  

We signed up for the Bountiful tri just outside of Salt Lake City because we’ll be down in the neighborhood that week anyways for the Summer Outdoor Retailer ShowThe Outdoor Retailer Show is a bi-annual outdoor industry gear expo that hosts over 1,000 sporting good manufacturers and vendors.  We’re excited to participate in the event again this summer.  You can check out our show review from the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show here.  Sporting goods manufacturers consistently debut their newest and most innovated products at the OR shows,  We’d LOVE to hear from you about what brands interest you most, or if there’s any questions in particular you’d like us to ask any brand at the show.

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Winter Outdoor Retailer 2011

Post By: Jake

Veronica and I just got back from attending the Winter Market, Outdoor Retailer (OR) trade show on January 18th-22nd in Salt Lake City. The event, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is basically a giant industry trade show for all human powered sports.  Hundreds of vendors and thousands of attendees are spread around a seriously huge convention center.  There’s 2 shows a year:  the Winter Market, which previews the latest and greatest gear for the upcoming Fall and the Summer Market, which previews the latest gear that will be available the next spring.

The show kicks off with an outdoor demo day–an opportunity for attendees to demo the latest winter sports gear.  This year’s outdoor demo day was held at Solitude Ski Resort. With approximately 1,200 ski-able acres, over 2,000-feet of vertical drop, an average of 500-inches of powder each season (that’s over 41 feet!), and plenty of high speed lift capacity, Solitude is an undoubtedly good choice for skiing near Salt Lake City.  And we were not disappointed! Ten inches of fresh powder greeted us the morning of the All Mountain Demo.  Run after run of fresh, untracked powder!  Lake affect snow rocks!  After a few runs we hopped on the shuttle bus bound for Solitude’s Nordic Center where we got to demo a great set of Atomic nordic skis and Solomon’s Vitane 9 and Active 9 boots. The Atomic skis that we tried performed very well.  Veronica found the Vitane 9 boots to feel great both in flex and all around performance, while I found the Active 9’s to be a bit lacking and on one foot they were downright uncomfortable.  Following the Nordic Center demo, we headed back down to the alpine area for a few more runs.  Even at 2 and 3:00 in the afternoon, with hundreds of other OR participants on the mountain we were finding large untracked stashes of powder!

The next four days of the OR show consist of “The Big Show.”  Over 900 exhibitors packed into the massive Salt Lake City Salt Palace Convention Center all prepped to talk product with retailers, media, and bloggers.  Needless to say, we were a bit overwhelmed.

Veronica and I wandered aimlessly, stopping by booths of well known brands and brands we’d never heard of.  Each of the vendors excitedly spoke with us about their latest innovations and explained to us why their products were #1.  Surprisingly, some of our favorite products were made by a few of the smaller companies that we’d never heard of: The Bamboo Bottle Company, Alpacas of Montana, and Hydro Flask.

The Bamboo Bottle Company is in the final stages of developing a unique twist on a familiar product:  a glass water bottle with a protective bamboo sleeve.  Although, not the lightest water bottle on the planet, the durable glass internal bottle guarantees a fresh clean taste safe from BPA’s and other potentially harmful chemicals.  Meanwhile, the bamboo sleeve protects the glass and allows either hot or cold drinks to be handled with ease.  Perhaps the greatest benefit of the Bamboo Bottle is its environmental impact.  By using environmentally friendly components to build the bottles and by reducing landfill waste from disposable water bottles, this is one of the most environmentally responsible products we’ve ever seen!

Alpacas of Montana had one of the more crowded booths at the OR show–probably due more to their namesake than the new product line on display as they had two live Alpacas at the show!

While the extremely cute Alpacas drew people in, the product line was none-the-less equally impressive:

  • Alpaca fiber is naturally hypoallergenic and very durable.
  • It is warmer than sheep wool and more luxurious than cashmere.
  • Alpaca clothing is strong, resilient and has more thermal capacity.
  • Alpacas are the most diversely colored livestock with over 22 natural colors, so products can be dye and chemical free.

Although it costs more to process the Alpaca fiber for production, the final products were surprisingly cost-comparable to other similar products on the market. Keep an eye out for the 8 different styles and types of alpaca socks as well as some super cozy yet very high tech alpaca base layers that should all be available from Alpacas of Montana in the next couple months.

The Hydro Flask booth was one of Veronica’s favorite vendors, while initially I passed it off as “yet another metal water bottle company.”  My opinion was completely changed, however, after I got home and tried the bottle out for the first time!  The Hydro Flask bottles are all vacuum insulated stainless steel bottles.  While stainless steel is nice because it doesn’t affect taste and is inherently BPA free, my initial reaction was that it makes for a pretty heavy water bottle.  That was, until I used it for the first time!  Without much thought, I filled the bottle with piping hot coffee one morning and brought it to work.  It tumbled around my truck then sat on my desk for a few hours before I cracked into it.  I opened it up, poured myself a cup of coffee and nearly burned my mouth. To my surprise, the coffee was still just as hot as when I poured it in a few hours before!  Nearly instantly I started thinking about the MANY new uses I have for this bottle:  A hot beverage hours into a snowshoe trip; a warm drink throughout an entire day of skiing; boil some tea in the morning and stash the bottle in your pack for a nice treat at the summit of a mountaineering climb, or pitch 3 of a long ice climb!  Hot cocoa all day long while ice fishing!  The bottle’s weight seemed of little importance as I started thinking about all the applications.  Put simply, Hydro Flask provides all the benefits of a traditional Thermos without the bulk and weight.  Plus, it works equally good (if not better, according to their website) at keeping cold beverages cold.  Ice cold drink on a mountain-bike ride around the Moab dessert anyone?

Walking around the OR show was fairly overwhelming at times, but talking with all the vendors who were all so passionate about their products was definitely a lot of fun.  One of our biggest highlights of the show came on Friday night.  We met up with all the W. L. Gore folks at the GORE-TEX® brand booth to share some laughs and talk about some of the new products coming down the pipeline.  The soon-to-be released GORE-TEX® Active Shell.  It’s insanely light and the most breathable waterproof fabric ever to be made, while still maintaining the “Guaranteed to keep you dry promise”.  Marketed to the niche ultra light and fast crowd, it’s not quite as durable as GORE-TEX® Pro-Shell or Paclite.  It’s built for extremely high energy single day pursuits such as long trail running and endurance cycling where every fraction of an ounce counts, while high performance is still a must. It’s not for everyone, but if you need the absolute finest for extreme single day pursuits, keep your eyes peeled for new GORE-TEX® Active Shell pieces coming from Adidas, Arc’Teryx, TNF, Millet, and Mammut.

After learning about the new GORE-TEX®  Active Shell, we got together with the W.L. Gore folks and drove over to a friend’s home.  Several local friends and several W.L. Gore folks enjoyed some local pizza, Montana beer, and great conversation.