Leading up to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, SNEWS is previewing new trends and products you’ll see at the trade show in Salt Lake City, Jan. 22-26. Today, we take a look at some of the latest in adventure travel gear. All these stories also can be found in the print or digital flipbook edition of our Planning Guide.
The travel market is maturing, and by that we don’t mean it’s getting older — rather, it’s becoming more nuanced and adventuresome.
“Consumers today are looking for more authentic experiences, which include both culture and nature,” said Shannon Stowell, president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association. “They’ve done Vegas and Disneyland; now they’re looking for more experiences than actual stuff.”
That entails abandoning the beaten path, whether it’s to find an obscure hike noted on a local blog instead of in a guidebook, taste regional cuisine on a small town farm or admire architecture that hasn’t been buffed and polished for crowds.
The adventure travel market grew by 16 percent in 2011, a rate four times greater than the general travel market, Stowell said.
And the outdoor industry is paying attention. Given the extra effort it takes to get to these destinations, adventure travelers need comfortable, lightweight and rugged gear to maneuver with ease. Sound familiar? Outdoor brands such as Osprey, TimBuk2 and Deuter have been meeting similar demands for years, so moving into the adventure travel category presents a natural growth opportunity.
“Adventure travel is no longer fringe,” said Candyce Johnson, vice president of merchandising and marketing for Eagle Creek, which has been targeting the category a little longer than some of its peers. “Not only is it well established in the outdoor industry, but is also gaining traction with mainstream consumers.”
To that end, brands are looking to hit that perfect blend of outdoor function and urban travel style. These consumers don’t want to look like college kids leapfrogging from hostel to hostel with big backpacks, many manufacturers and marketers told us.
Yet they want that ability to carry luggage on their back if necessary — whether they’re rushing through and airport or making their way to an out-of-the-way hotel.
>> “On board and on body” is the mantra for TimBuk2’s new Aviator travel series, available as a 20-inch pack/suitcase (MSRP $179) or a 25-inch pack/suitcase/roller (MSRP $249). Everything is stowable and strippable, so the bag’s interior can be one large, strap-free space or accessorized with included dividers for organization and straps for attachments and carrying. The laptop pocket fits up to a 17-inch Macbook Pro.
>> Building off its ultralight Ozone rollers, Osprey introduces a backpack function to the line with the new Ozone Convertible 22-inch (MSRP $299) and the 28-inch (MSRP $329). The key is comfort and support. A spring-loaded mesh back keeps the user’s back protected from the wheel and handle structure, saving significant weight from all the padding that would otherwise be needed. And there’s no skimping on the hip belt for added support. The 22-inch comes in at 6 pounds, 2 ounces.
>> “To roll or not to roll,” has been the question for many adventure travelers when choosing luggage, but brands at this Winter Market will show how their products can do both. Briggs & Riley brings its BRX Exchange Rolling Backpack (MSRP $350), the wheels of which can be concealed when carried as a pack.
>> Patagonia expands its Black Hole 45-liter travel duffel to include wheels (MSRP $299) and introduces the Black Hole Snow Rollers, 167 and 190 cm, (MSRPs $299/$329) for skis and snowboard transport. As collection’s name implies, the bags feature large, open storage, which is handy when traveling with bulky winter gear.
>> When it came to designing its roller/pack combo, Deuter envisioned adventure travelers switching often from rolling to carrying. Hence the new Helion 60 and 80 (MSRPs $269/$289) allows users to get out the shoulder straps yet still roll the bag.
>> The new Eagle Creek Morphus Convertible 22 and 30 (MSRPs $395/$470) can be carried seven different ways, including rolled and by backpack. And instead of small extra pack to detach, the entire main compartment can fully zip off the wheelbase to serve as a significant extra pack, while another durable inner shell, behind, pulls out for continued use of the roller. All that for not a lot of weight too — coming in at less than 8 pounds for the 22 and less than 10 pounds for the 30.
>> Kelty debuts a new line of adventure travel luggage based on an expandable, interchangeable, and detachable exterior wheel base to suit various types of trips and loads. The Ascender 22 (MSRP $349) can expand out and up, and travelers can increase their versatility with additional water-resistant and sport oriented bags (sold separately) that work with the same frame.
These are just a few of the new products to debut at the show. Be sure to check out many more new products and trends in the O.R. Daily, published live at the show, and available digital format each following day of print on SNEWS.