SALT LAKE CITY — In addition to the cool new products from scores of companies at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, the four-day event brings thousands of convention delegates to Utah who infuse millions of dollars in much appreciated funding into state and local coffers.
This week, an estimated 22,000 manufacturers, retailers and suppliers have converged on Utah and those visitors will generate more than $20 million in direct delegate spending to Salt Lake City and the state.
The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2016 runs through Sunday at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The event is the state's second largest annual convention.
The outdoor recreation economy is responsible for 6.1 million direct American jobs as well as $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue and $39.7 billion in state and local tax revenue, according to the Outdoor Industry Association Recreation Economy Report.
“Outdoor recreation is essential to the American economy with over $646 billion in spending on gear, vehicles, trips, travel-related expenses and more,” said Outdoor Industry Association executive director Amy Roberts.
Outdoor enthusiasts spend an average of $458 per year on outdoor-related merchandise, according to an association study.
Total visitor spending figures are based on surveys of convention delegates conducted by the University of Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Surveys conducted by the bureau over the past five years indicate the average delegate spends $930 while attending a convention in Salt Lake City.
While the winter market is closed to the public, the event is a showcase for new and improving products, technology and gear — virtually everything an outdoor enthusiast could think of.
Among the latest innovations is a new ski-proof composite sole by well-known sole maker Vibram. The firm's founder, Vitale Bramani, is credited with inventing the first rubber lug soles for shoes that were first used on mountaineering boots.
Their latest sole innovation is a rubber composite called Arctic Grip that prevents slipping or skidding even on wet, slick ice. The new sole technology is expected to be available on footwear in the fall, said Vibram spokesman Yann Schoenhagen.
The company allowed people to test the soles on an ice walkway set at its display on the main floor of the convention center.
Meanwhile, a couple of local companies were among the firms displaying technology advances — one in skis, the other in high-tech power chargers.
Salt Lake City-based DPS is one of numerous ski manufacturers at the show. The company is among the few whose products are designed and manufactured in the U.S. — specifically at its West Valley City facility.
Founded in 2005, the company combines carbon-fiber technology and unique shaping to make high-end skis that are now sold worldwide.
"(The technology) increases responsiveness and edge to edge engagement, so it makes the highest performing ski out there," said Mackenzie Jones, DPS dealer services manager.
The skis range in price from $795 to just over $1,200, she noted.
For those outdoor enthusiasts who want to take their technology with them, Bluffdale-based Goal Zero has an array of portable power and charging solutions that "allow people the freedom to take all of their tech equipment into the outdoors," said applications engineer David Rosner.
The company designs everything from solar panel arrays to mini-chargers for mobile phones, tablets or laptops, to a larger power charger capable of powering a home refrigerator in the event of a power outage.
"You can keep things charged, keep their lights on, keep the music going or keep the party flowing and just have a great time in the outdoors with technology," he said.
Camping has truly gone high-tech.