Erron Sorensen Q&A: Brunton President sees portable power extending outdoor trips

Smartphones replace bulky cameras; tablets offer lightweight reading options; lighting extends the evening and GPS can steer you deeper into the wild.

More consumers are escaping to the outdoors with their electronics.


While that may sound like an oxymoron, the reality is that smartphones, tablets, lights and GPS devices are helping consumers stay outdoors longer, according to Brunton President Erron Sorensen.

Today’s smartphones have higher-quality cameras to capture memories without a bulky camera; tablets offer lightweight reading options; lighting extends the evening card game and GPS can guide people deeper into the wild.

That’s why portable power — to keep these devices going when away from the wall socket — is becoming a hot item at outdoor retail.

Sorensen tells us where the category is heading, including new technologies and opportunities for families to convince the tech generation that they can spend a few more days at camp.

Some say the outdoors should be about escaping the electronic world. What’s your counter-argument? 
I fully support their viewpoint, however, we see many people who want to take some sort of power out with them so they can stay connected, go farther or in general enhance their outdoor experience. Our goal is to help people get out and stay out longer. We think we can do that if we remove that feeling that they need to turn back to get connected. As a father of three tech-savvy kids, I keep thinking about how having some of the conveniences of home for the evenings and early mornings at camp can lengthen our camping trips and allow us to have more fun as a family outdoors. As an industry we have tried for years to convince people to come outdoors, and I think we are making a shift to ask outdoor lovers to stay out longer.

What do you see as the fastest-growing electric devices that people are bringing outdoors?
From a pure numbers point of view, the smartphone is No. 1. We saw a study the other day that 56 percent of Canadians have a smart phone and 70 percent would trade their TV for it. But beyond the phone and tablet, you have GoPro, which has changed the way we share our experience with others. There are also many products that enhance your safety and locatability that we think can really make the experience safer. We look at it in three segments: products that make you safer, products that make the outdoors more fun and products that allow you go farther and experience more.

Solar, lithium, hydrogen … there are a lot of options in the portable power world — is there a clear winner, or do they all have their advantages and disadvantages?
I think each has a place depending on the duration of your trip and what powered items you want to bring. We love solar as a passive power generation option — if you have a base camp and power storage system that allows you to set it up and make power, it is great. We love hydrogen and lithium for its on-the-go nature that allows you to keep charging while you are experiencing the outdoors. Our key mission is, we don’t want people to have to be in the power management business on their trip. Meaning, we don’t want people stressed about charging this or moving that or going without. We want power to be as easy and reliable as it is at home.

Hydrogen is particularly new to the scene. Where do the opportunities lie there for outdoor purposes?
As with any technology, you will see the fuel cell become smaller, lighter and more powerful. We are working on some next-generation products with our developers that have the potential to really change the portable power world. We also are inspired by the potential for fuel cells to reduce the impact on the environment as the technology offers great efficiency and gives our customers the opportunity to invest in reliable and renewable power source.

What's your industry's definition of the outdoors? Where else are people demanding portable power beyond backcountry and camp?
We are pretty broad here; we feel like if you leave the house, car or office you are outside of the normal power grid and a portable power solution can make your day better. In the end we all demand power all the time, we have just learned to go without. We feel like when people grasp how easy it is to stay charged the locations and uses will be as varied as the people who use it. It will be fun to share in the experience.

--David Clucas


Image placeholder title

Brunton Powers Forward With Expanded Solar & Portable Power Collections

Media Contact: Turner PR | Samantha Bonizzi | 212-889-1700 OR Booth: 13009 BRUNTON POWERS FORWARD WITH EXPANDED SOLAR & PORTABLE POWER COLLECTIONS (Boulder, CO) July 3, 2015— Outdoor equipment brand Brunton has used technology to enhance the outdoor more


Outdoor Retail Gear Trends: 2016 portable power

Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 5 – 8.  Whether your customers are professional photographers, serial selfie-takers or they’re looking to keep more


Kat Schoewe Q&A: Today’s female outdoor enthusiasts aren’t looking for ‘me-too’ product

Having spent eight years leading the outdoor design group at L.L.Bean and doing what she loved, Kat Schoewe never thought she’d leave. But in 2009, when the challenge came from Under Armour to “build a design team that could innovate in the outdoor space,” she tells us she more


Q&A: Howler Bros.' Rick Wittenbraker

From hook-and-bullet users to urban adventurers, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor brands and retailers to expand their categories and customer bases — and they should, says start-up specialist Rick Wittenbraker, but not at the cost of their authenticity. The former more


Q&A: Big Agnes' Sally Gentling

Sally Gentling was raised in Colorado by a couple of outdoor enthusiasts. So after studying design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in southern California, she was ecstatic to find a path where her love for the for the outdoors could result in a career more


Gregory Miller Q&A: Find out how to get outdoors more with the entire family

Think back to your earliest outdoor memories — those images that have stuck with you and encouraged you to keep heading out in the rain, snow or shine. They likely involve parents, grandparents, siblings or cousins. They introduced you to nature, educated you about the land and more


Tae Kim Q&A: The importance of outdoor information and inspiration

Talk to Tae Kim for a few minutes, and we guarantee you’ll be inspired to get outdoors more. Kim, part of a growing group of urban outdoor gear designers — many of whom can be found in Outdoor Retailer’s Venture Out section — says living in a city “is a lame excuse for being more


Q&A: REI's Susan Viscon

Earlier this year, REI launched its new in-house brand Evrgrn — a collection of lifestyle/urban outdoor products in the realm of what showgoers see at Outdoor Retailer’s Venture Out section. Leading the charge as well as REI’s merchandising efforts, is Susan Viscon, an 18-year more

Brian Thompson, general manager of ExOfficio.

Q&A: ExOfficio's Brian Thompson on managing the people and processes behind the products

There’s a background story to every piece of new gear you see at outdoor retail. There are tales of design concept, manufacturing and marketing, right down to how the company hired and kept the employee who came up with the next great idea. Bringing all those pieces together is more