An endless sea of tents and banners have filled the halls of the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, and it can only mean one thing. Outdoor Retailer is in town.
And even though inversion has left the air outside a dismal haze of yellow smog (with that distinctly nauseating odor of sewage), inside everything is fresh, new, and beckoning to buyers from all over the world. From skis and boots, to t-shirts and novelty hats, hundreds of companies have come to Salt Lake City to unveil their 2014/15 winter line-ups.
The corridors between tents are narrow and crowded, and everywhere watchful vendors linger and solicit. Hired models strut around the openings of their booths wearing form-fitting baselayers, and handing out shwag. They’re the Sirens of O.R.
Wandering the convention center, these could be the streets of a Disney World version of ancient Arabia. If someone snatched a loaf of bread and took off running, it could all very quickly turn into the opening scene of Aladdin. But behind the heavy-curtain walls, gathered around tables and tucked away in makeshift showrooms, orders are being written, accounts established, and thousands of handshakes are transferring millions of dollars.
The Marker/Volkl Tent at OR
Somewhere buried deep in the hottest wing of the building, the Marker/Volkl tent is hosting multiple fast-paced and animated meetings. And while it’s possibly the result of people’s desire to make good on their arrangements, and evacuate the balmy, 100° sweat-fest, more than likely, it’s the excitement being generated by yet another Marker breakthrough in ski binding technology. Prominently displayed on a stylized slot wall, sits the first ever alpine ski binding indemnified for AT soles.
Named the Lord S.P., this truly unique multi-purpose binding is the first of it’s kind to address the need for safe and reliable compatibility between alpine bindings, and the AT boots that so many skiers use as their daily ski boot. It is a dream come true for ski patrollers and resort employees all over the country, and a welcomed measure of safety for the growing boot-pack and sidecountry community.
The New FlyLow Line
Out in the relative cool and calm of one of the Salt Palace’s winding corridors, the FlyLow tent is drawing a crowd. More and more people have heard of this Colorado based ski apparel company, and the sneak peak of next years winter clothing line is creating buzz.
Designed for skiers that spend as much time in the backcountry as they do inbounds, FlyLow has added a unique, retro-flair to their technical outerwear. The message at the FlyLow tent is loud and clear: being a serious backcountry skier is no longer synonymous with being a fashion-less granola.
Not that the gathered crowd is a bunch of fashionistas. Down near the far end of the tent a group of crunchy bros lurk around, trying to score free “Ski Bum” trucker hats. They’re the old guard of loyal FlyLow customers. But they’re also an impressive sign that FlyLow has managed to add some style to their clothing line without losing their backcountry clout.
Impressive, lavish, overwhelming. The Outdoor Retailer Convention is a grand display of the outdoor industry’s continued innovation and development. Each season brings new products that ensure the progression of the sports we love, and that we can’t believe we ever lived without. A new season of gear is in the works, and now the daunting task of choosing the best is left in the trusted hands of the Jans Buyers.
Nate Tomlinson, Content Writer