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Outdoor Retailer Show

Outdoor Retailer Show

August 11, 2015

Last week I flew down to Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer (OR) trade show.  It’s a big show, around 25-30,000 attendees, and it’s mostly a venue for outdoor product retail stores to connect with their suppliers: i.e. makers of tents, kayaks, SUPs, stoves, backpacks, fishing gear, etc. However a portion of the show is devoted to “sourcing,” where designers like us can connect with factories, fabric mills, and hardware makers.   I was on the hunt for new fabrics and hardware to use in bags/apparel, and also looking for a welding factory to help with some new bag designs in the pipeline.

Here’s a couple shots of the show.  I could’ve easily spent another day there just geeking out on all the cool camping gear and bags.  No time for that on this trip though.




Found some cool urethane fabrics to use in a future iteration of our drybags.


A wall of buckles.


Spent a lot of time flipping through wall hangers and swatch books like this one.


Some highly abrasion resistant yarns


Got to meet James Rittenhouse, the inventor of MOLLE Stix.  Awesome product, thank you sir!!


This is another of James’ inventions.  It’s a single buckle that you can pull and to release as many additional side release buckles as you want simultaneously.


Also visited with another of our hardware vendors to check out some new products, like this heavy duty buckle (700+lbs).


And this sewn-in magnetic closure they’re working on.


I really enjoyed the trip to OR, well worth the time/money.  It was also cool to run into so many other Hood River/White Salmon people either in their booths or walking the halls.  My buddy Rob was nice enough to let me crash on the couch in his hotel room.


New Wedge & Frame

Last week, Lee mounted the rapid prototype of our new wedge/frame and loaded up his Backcountry 35s with logs (38 pounds per side) and took them out for some bumpy high speed riding.






Everything held up great.  Can’t wait until we can get these things into production.

Here’s a new latch we’re looking at for the wedge mount system.  It can accommodate a padlock, and would be anodized black.


Fabric Creation

The apparel project is finally back in motion.  We’re working with a product development company in Portland.  We were so incredibly frustrated with our inability to find a fabric that we liked that we’ve decided to create our own 3-layer fabric from scratch.  Which means literally selecting a yarn, a weave, a finish, a membrane, and an inner fabric.  We’ll be working with a mill to design a new material from the ground up, which should be interesting.  By doing that we can specify the abrasion resistance, the waterproofing level, the breathability, and any other features we want. The initial fabric design brief will look something like this.

Main Body Fabric

  • Waterproof (20,000+)
  • Breathable (highest possible MVTR)
  • Highly abrasion resistant, holds up in a crash
  • Heavyweight, won’t flap in wind
  • Comfort, Stretch
  • Moisture Management & Antimicrobial Inside
  • Reflectivity (ideally invisible)

High Abrasion Areas

  • Superfabric at shoulders, knees, elbows, hips, butt, calf, shin
  • Inside of pant leg: leather or similar material for heat resistance, abrasion, and bike contact.

Armor Liners

  • Mesh, good airflow
  • Anti microbial
  • Moisture management

Inner Rain Liner & Outer Rain Pant

  • Waterproof/Breathable
  • 2 or 3 Layer
  • Lightweight
  • Packs small when not in use
  • Inexpensive to replace if damaged


  • Mesh, good airflow
  • Anti-microbial
  • Moisture management

Summer’s flying by.  I’ve been feeling a strong urge to get out and do some riding.  Planning a local trip of some kind next week.  Not sure exactly what or where, but something involving dirt, tents, and motorcycles.

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