The 2014 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market wrapped up this past week, and once again, there are plenty of positive signs in this crazy world of outdoor recreation. Held at Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace Convention Center, Outdoor Retailer (OR) is the twice-yearly gathering of the movers and shakers of the outdoor industry. Everyone from small individual shops to major regional chains converged on the Salt Palace to preview next season’s product lines presented by national, regional and even some local brands. And being the end of January, this most recent OR featured, of course, the products that will flood the industry come the winter of 2014/15.
There are a few constants at the Outdoor Retailer convention – crowds, slow-walkers, and Salt Lake City’s disturbing air quality. But beyond the manageable hassle of the few unavoidable flaws of OR, it truly is an inspiring display of the continued innovation and forward thinking of the outdoor industry. With each season, and each round of user-inspired improvements, gear for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and Nordic skiing gets lighter, tougher, and better suited to meet the demands of serious nature-jocks.
Jans Descends on OR
Ten locations in Park City and our proximity to Salt Lake City allow us here at Jans to converge on OR in force. Everyone from the President and General Manager, to experienced buyers, to nerdy website writers head down into the valley to negotiate finances, finalize large-scale product orders, and ask too many questions about small details of the gear.
OR is a reminder that even in this age of video conferences, and advanced technology, the landscape of the outdoor industry is still shaped by face-to-face meetings and hands-on involvement with the products. It is proof that when it comes to gear designed for the outdoor lifestyle, there is no substitute for personal experience with the products. Here at Jans we want to know everything about a piece of equipment before we trust it to meet our needs out in the elements, and we only feel comfortable recommending a product to our customers after we’ve personally engaged with it.
2014 Winter Market Highlights
So what were some highlights of the 2014 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market? Dakine backpacks and luggage remain as well designed and stylish as ever. Arcteryx clothing looked great as always, and the Jans buyers had their work cut out for them finalizing one of our largest and historically most productive orders. And if fancy sweaters are your thing, Dale of Norway showed a unique line of classic performance ski sweaters.
Hestra unveiled a large number of new color schemes for their legendary ski and snowboard gloves, showing that even after 78 years of manufacturing the focus is still on innovation. Marmot, meanwhile, showed their complete confidence in the new Polartec Alpha insulation, relying on its superior warmth and breathability in a wide range of their puffy jackets. This innovative new insulation was originally designed for U.S. Special Forces who needed a higher level of temperature regulation from their gear. Leading the field in terms of performance and versatility, Polartec Alpha insulation provides warmth for your resting periods, and plenty of air circulation and breathability for when the action picks up.
For all the tech-oriented Nordic skiers out there, Madshus unveiled their new “empower Smart Ski.” With a computer chip in the ski itself, the Smart Ski can be synced with an app on your smart phone or tablet to provide detailed statistics about your Nordic skiing. From the flex of the ski, to the wax that you should use, the Madshus empower Smart Ski is sure to help even recreational Nordic skiers take their skiing to the next level. And on top of all of that, the Smart Ski app allows skiers to share their data with fellow Nordic enthusiasts through social media.
All of us here at Jans survived yet another Outdoor Retailer convention, and now the buyers have weeks of scrambling ahead of them to meet a huge number of order deadlines. As the manufacturers in this industry continue to make impressive advancements in their gear, it’s hard not to get caught up in the building excitement for the 2014/15 winter season. Here’s hoping it’s an epic one.
Nate Tomlinson, Content Writer