Just about everything new coming out this fall for outdoor recreation is more, and not necessarily meaning the price.
The word from the Outdoor Retailers Summer Market this year is simply "more" . . . more comfortable, more durable, more dependable, more appealing, more user-friendly, more colorful, more uses, more delicious, more breathable, more sizes and so on.Which isn't all too surprising considering there are more than 800 manufactures competing for buyers out of more than 2,700 booths covering more than 300,000 square feet in the Salt Palace, all displaying more than a zillion items, from zipper pulls to paddle-less kayaks to tents with tinted windows. Also, there are more Utah companies - 38 in all - in this year's show.
This is, as Jeff Blumenfeld, president of Blumenfeld and Associates, points out, "The largest specialty outdoor industry trade show in the world."
The four-day show will have an economic impact of around $14.6 million.
This is the third year the summer show has been in Salt Lake City. And, said Blumenfeld, "We intend to have a long-term stay here in Salt Lake. We do need more space, so the announcement to expand the Salt Palace was good news. This is an outdoor show and it fits into the outdoor setting here.
"How long we stay will depend on what the market tells us, and right now it tells us it works."
To anyone touring the show there were three areas exhibiting broad interest - paddle sports, climbing and, as always, footwear.
It was impossible to pass more than two booths, and often not even one, to see a wall of one-of-a-pair shoes, boots and sandals. In many cases the footwear was represented by companies more recognizable for other products, such as North Face (tents, parkas and sleeping bags) and Salomon (ski gear).
Paddle sports continues to be a rapidly growing area of recreation.
The reasons, said Jens Laipenieks of Northwest Kayaks out of Redmond, Wash., range from the self-gratification that comes from providing the power to the quiet solitude it offers.
"What we're seeing is paddle sports moving inland. It's moving from the coastlines onto the flat waters on lakes and rivers. It's a way of getting up close and personal with the wilderness," he added.
Climbing is also growing, one reason being the number of personal indoor climbing walls being introduced into private homes. Another is the continued flow of new equipment. Back in the 1970s, people climbed in hiking boots and denims. Now there are special climbing shoes, climbing clothing and even his and hers climbing gear.
Chisco, a Salt Lake-based company, has made a big business of watch bands, wallets and key chains. Popular watch bands include patterns of the wind, water, Indian rock art and the sun, moon and stars. The latest introduction, said founder Beirne Chisolm, is a variety-pack of four fleece bags for everything from jewelry to cell phones to cameras.
Hobie presented a sit-on-top kayak that uses twin underwater sails to push the boat using pedals instead of a paddle.
Kelty showed buyers a new tent with a window that gets darker under intense sunlight and lightens as the daylight lessens.
The Vector Wristop Computer by SuuntoUSA will not only tell time but also is an altimeter, barometer and compass.
The StreetPilot GPS from Germain is a portable mapping system, which weighs less than a pound and can pinpoint the exact location of a person anywhere on earth - anytime and under any weather con-di-tions.
St. Moritz will introduce two new titanium sport watches for around $100 each. Each weighs less than 35 grams.
Big this year is the use of recycled products to make clothing. Earth Ragz introduced a whole new line of clothing and blankets made from recycled fibers.
Mountain House introduced three new main free-dried courses for hikers, including vegetable lasagna with vegetables of eggplant, zucchini, spinach and carrots in tasty Italian sauces with noodles and cheese. For dessert it offers Neapolitan ice cream and ice cream sandwiches.
All of this coming in the fall collection of new recreational products to buyers.