Unlike most every other week of the year, this one has been on the road: from southwestern Colorado to Denver and then west to Elko, Nevada. If the trek were a constellation, it’d be the Winter Triangle.
At the Outdoor Retailer in Denver, we go to network, to connect, to be inspired, and to research and learn.
Networking and connecting:
The average individual at the OR is white, urban or suburban, Type A, and often male and focused on adrenalin-fueled activities (kayaking, snow boarding, mountain biking, rock climbing, etc.). We like to remind companies that our demographic – educated, engaged horse owners and riders – are some of the most impressive and real outdoorsmen and women.
If outdoorsy-ness where graded, horse owners would top the list. No question. We’re at it daily, doing barn chores, tossing hay, breaking ice of water troughs, moving horses from pasture to paddock, mucking manure. These chores don’t wait for sunny Saturdays or when the wind is right.
That’s the message we bring to OR vendors and reps. Read more about that here.
Some companies get it. We visited their booths to give thanks and catch up on their latest developments:
We chatted with these companies about connecting more with the horse riding community:
VanDoIt – affordable, custom vans.
Zippo – nifty, rechargeable hand-warmers
Haiku Bags – pretty, durable handbags made from recycled bottles
Perhaps more than any other commerce sector, the outdoor industry is working towards social, cultural, environmental, and political goals that line up well with a lot of our readers. The industry and its companies generally advocate strongly for access to public lands, sustainability efforts, conservation, and, Made in America efforts. We welcome this cohesive mission.
Some of our new favorites:
Alpine Start, a new Colorado company, makes a delicious instant coffee. Better (smoother, richer, with no tangy aftertaste) than Starbucks’ Via. Plus, you don’t need hot water to mix it. If the hot version is any indication, this will be a go-to, yummy iced coffee go-to item this summer.
For years, Darn Tough had a single sock designer. She cranked out lovely, colorful styles for hundreds of varieties. Now, the Vermont company has a team of designers. Bright, funny, delicate, bold, traditional, muted – you will now find all takes available in a dizzying array of styles. Guaranteed for life.
Good to Go – a fast-growing Maine company offering gourmet camping food. We’re looking forward to reviewing their menu soon.
Klean Kanteen now has a no-leak, travel mug. It comes in fun colors, too. Get purple, so your sons don’t steal it.
We love the Platypus vessels for long rides in hot country. Better than water bottles, they fold up when empty and squeeze well into saddle bags.
Nite Ize makes easy-on, easy-off, dog collars for those late night walks.
Zuke’s – speaking of dogs. This Durango, Colorado dog treat company is a perennial favorite for my four-legged friends.
Duckworth – this Montana company believes clothing should be an investment. Pricey stuff but well worth it. The wool blend Vapor tee is handsome, utilitarian, great for road trips and camping (wash it at night, wear it the next day). Read review.
Outdoor Retailer Inspiration?
We heard great presentations by Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, author Kevin Fedarko, photographer Pete McBride, US Senator Michael Bennet, Outdoor Industry Association’s Amy Roberts, and Conservation Alliance’s John Sterling.
The current leaders in Washington D.C. are pretty interested in shredding regulations to protect wild places. This billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry is fighting back. Said Sterling: “Our industry has come together like I’ve never seen it before to protect public lands…this is a fight, folks, but there is good news out there.”