Kelty expands into the CBD market

The camping brand is vying for a slice of the $4 billion American CBD market with a new line of pain relief products geared toward outdoor enthusiasts.
Kelty CBD product line against white

Market research indicates a "big overlap" between outdoor industry consumer and CBD users, Kelty general manager Russ Rowell told SNEWS this week. Courtesy.

Market projections indicate that now is a very good time to get into CBD, and Kelty seems to have taken notice. The Colorado-based camping brand, owned by Exxel Outdoors, launched a new line of CBD products yesterday—a collection of sprays, lotions, and salves billed as recovery tools for outdoor activity.

Available online only, the new product line takes advantage of what company general manager Russ Rowell says is a "big overlap" between outdoor industry consumers and CBD users.

Why CBD?

"Walking the floor of Outdoor Retailer last winter, I came across a massive selection of CBD players," Rowell told SNEWS this week. "We started doing research into typical CBD customers and found that there was a lot of crossover with outdoor customers. That's when we started thinking about how this could play for our brand."

Kelty leaders opened discussions with a pharmaceutical producer of cannabinoid products, e2e Pharma, based in Arizona. After reviewing e2e's market research, Rowell concluded that CBD products made sense for Kelty's brand, especially given the company's decades-long history of category expansion.

"Kelty started as a pack manufacturer, then expanded to sleeping bags, then tents, then camping furniture," said Rowell. "It’s a different kind of brand play, getting into this market. But we've always been about that."

Formulating the product

Rowell and his team worked with e2e to formulate six products for the new line, combining CBD with ingredients the FDA requires for use of the phrase "pain relief" in product marketing.

"Most CBD products you see on the market use words like 'soothing.' We wanted to gear these toward outdoor athletes for recovery, so we designed the formulas around the FDA regulations for pain relief," Rowell said.

The line includes products for muscle and join pain, sunburn relief, and itch relief, as well as an antibacterial spray for cuts and scrapes.

"Backpacking is one of the most strenuous activities you can do," said Rowell. "It was really important to us that these formulas are effective."

Two people jumping in the water with the slogan "Built for Too Much Fun" across the top of the image

Kelty is marketing its new CBD line as a set of recovery tools for outdoor adventurers. Courtesy.

Market competition

So far, Rowell knows only one other legacy gear manufacturer that has begun flirting with the CBD market: Spyder.

"It's a little different than ours," Rowell said. "They partnered with a CBD company in Colorado called CBD Universe. [Spyder] isn't formulating its own stuff, as far as I know. They're just licensing their brand to be used in a line of third-party products."

Also different: Spyder's CBD products don't appear to pass the FDA's bar for pain relief. The descriptions of the Spyder products market the effects as "cooling" and "soothing."

At the end of the day, Rowell said, Kelty's push for this new CBD line came down to instinct. He had a gut feeling, at the last in-person Outdoor Retailer, that the industry is headed in this direction.

"I saw all those people flocking to the CBD products at OR," he said. "That image imprinted itself in my mind. It's like anything that has now become mainstream. It starts niche. I remember when camping micro-chairs were the same way. Now, of course, they're everywhere."


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