Of 242 entries for the fourth-annual 2009 OutDoor award, nine were chosen for gold medals signifying what the jury considered innovation and excellent design.
At the ceremony July 16 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, a standing-room-only crowd listened for an hour as each of the 63 runner-up products and the company's team was called up to the stage one-by-one to receive a plaque. Then came the awarding of the gold medals in seven categories.
Golds were awarded by the judges using criteria of innovation, design, workmanship, materials choice, function, sustainability, trendsetting and brand value.
"One thing became very apparent in the 63 awards that were presented in this competition: Design, coupled with innovation, is still the essential principle in the outdoor industry. Product design is becoming more sophisticated, the workmanship of the products and the overall level of quality have improved significantly," said Mark Held, executive director of the European Outdoor Group, in a statement.
Apparel/Helmets/Shoes: Elia women's helmet for sport climbing, Petzl (France)
Apparel/Helmets/Shoes: Island MFS Active trekking shoe, Meindl (Germany)
Backpacks/Travel luggage: Altra 65 backpack, Arc'Teryx (Canada)
Backpacks/Travel luggage: Manta 25 hydration pack, Osprey (U.S.A)
Mountain-climbing equipment: Contact crampons, Black Diamond (U.S.A)
Camping equipment: Scutum Ultraight tent, Vaude (Germany)
Sleeping bags: Bloody Mary bag, Valendre (France)
Accessories: Aqua Yak waterproof dog backpack, Berghund (Germany)
Products with high ecological and sustainable value: Blue Beech sleeping bag, Vaude (Germany)
Winning products will be posted soon at www.ifdesign.de/projects_outdoor_index_d.
SNEWS® View: Interesting was that a SNEWS editor who was hoofing it to the awards ceremony, bumped into Black Diamond CEO Peter Metcalf about three halls away yakking with another. When we said where we were going, he said, "Sure, I'll come." When his company was announced -- and the announcer even said his name -- he looked around stunned and leaped to attention to get the award with his European team. Of course, any award is shown off gladly by companies, and we know the industry appreciates the time and effort that went into this project and the awards for the attention it draws to the industry. But we will admit that spending an hour ticking off the endless names of 63 companies, their products and teams, and then waiting for each to go collect a plaque (to the same clip of Academy Award runway music each time) was a bit much. Unfortunately, that meant that the SRO crowd had thinned considerably before it was time for the gold medallists. Perhaps next time, organizers can put up a wall of photos and names of the finalist products for all to look at, while just announcing the top products, giving each their moment of fame and recognition.