Earlier this month, I attending (my first) Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was traveling alone, wasn’t sure about my exact role while at the show, and didn’t really know what to expect because the Twitter and Instagram feed from last year felt like not many attendees had the time/energy to update often (except Jam Media Collective, they do an awesome job covering the show, in my opinion).
Now I know why.
Outdoor Retailer (#ORShow) is just as exhausting as San Diego Comic-Con…and maybe even more because I was working in a booth, walked a ton (one day I did 16 miles!), and because it’s so new and different. Also, not all brands are thrilled with having photos taken of their products and because I didn’t have a media badge, I was out of luck getting any sort of special privileges.
What was my favorite part of the show? Meeting more of my internet friends!
I was able to finally put voices to the friends I’ve made through blogging, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s so interesting being surrounded by people who are not only thrilled about being outdoors, but enjoy talking about ethically-sourced down, the nuances of posting to Instagram, and don’t ask questions when you grab a Snickers bar before a long hike. Seriously, these are my people.
Other highlights of the show:
- Working the KEEN sandal sale — KEEN was selling their CNX sandals for $30 (such a steal!) and I had the opportunity to learn how to use Square on an iPad. It may sound silly, but I’ve been wanting to see how the system works and I love how easy it was to use!
- Going to the Teton Sports showroom for #HikerChat on Friday morning — I love the #HikerChat Twitter chat and it was interesting to be sitting in an office with 3 other people during the chat. We didn’t talk too much since we were feverishly typing and trying to keep up with the notoriously fact-paced chat…I ended up sprawling across the floor as I tried to catch up on questions and cool off after an extra-warm walk from the convention center with Adam (@ThatOutdoorGuy).
- KEENfest! – I knew it would be awesome, but being inside the tent and seeing all the awesome things going on and meeting people (over free food) was fantastic. This is where I first ran into Jeff and Joan (@TheSocalHiker and @JoanEHester) and Katie and Laurie (@katieboue/@themorningfresh and @laurietewksbury)! I scored an awesome sling made out of a parasail, dove into the photobooth with some new friends, reconnected with some of the folks from the Bridge to Nowhere hike from last year.
- Fangirling over my favorite brands… — Now, this probably sounds super silly, but seeing some of my favorite brands “in real life” was super thrilling for me! And knowing that there were real-live people standing in those booths who probably shared the same level of love for that brand was just too much for my little gear-loving heart. A friend and I hunted down the TICLA booth (and I just about died when the founder said, “Campfire Chic? I know exactly who you are”), I tried to keep a straight face (instead of sporting heart-eyes) as I traipsed past the Arc’teryx booth, gawked at the upcoming line of beautiful SUUNTO watches…you know, totally normal reactions.
- …and discovering new-to-me-brands — My Miir water bottle and Vim&Vigr compression socks are two of my favorite things I picked up at the show (and I picked up a TON of stuff). There are so many cool products and cool people at the show that it’s hard to remember everything, but trust me…there are some cool things that will be popping up here soon enough and I’ll give you the low-down at that time.
The highlight that almost killed me?
A super-secret hike with fellow members of the Mountain Adventurers team! It was super-secret in the sense that I received an email that pretty much said, “you’re going on this strenuous 6-mile hike. Bring a headlamp and 3 liters of water.” Hiking with strangers at an unknown location and I can’t bring a friend? Okay, I guess that’s cool.
My sea-level lungs got the best me of as we made our way up to Lake Blanche (trail information here) but I made it (thanks to Jordan, Kristie, Adam and the others for sticking with me!) and after a few photos we used our headlamps to race back down to the trailhead. While I would’ve skipped the hike if I had the opportunity to look up the details (2,500 feet elevation gain!), I’m glad Teton Sports kept me in the dark and I tagged along.
I’m really thankful I was able to finally attend #ORShow and see what actually happens at the show. I hope to have the opportunity to attend the winter show even though snow is pretty much my Kryptonite (I hate being cold and wet…which is snow, right?).