Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2014 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 6 – 9. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.
Ultramarathons, Ironmans and 24-hour races abound. With athletes running longer and deepening their sense of responsibility both to health and the environment, the hydration industry has set out to expand and diversify its product lines.
Trail running continues to grow in popularity, as evidenced by the increase in participants and races all over the country. Hydration brands have been responding by creating bottles that are larger, but lighter.
At Summer Market, Nathan Sportsreleases a suite of bottles, the Shot Series (MSRPs $15-$22)with a wide screw top and a second nozzle in various sizes. The double-layer bottles provide insulation and the largest size of the suite — 1.5 liters — holds three-quarters of the amount of water necessary to drink in a day. Nathan’s other new release, the Vapor Program (MSRPs $10-$15), is a handheld series that is run-balanced, lightweight, and triangular-shaped.
Runners don’t want a lot of weight or clutter, so Hydrapak introduces its Stash Collapsible Bottle collection (MSRP $18). The 750 milliliter containers are sturdy when filled thanks to a TPU construction, and when emptied can collapse down to just two inches high. They nest together for efficient storage.
Orange Mudoffers a new handheld (MSRP $40) with a dual-retention system so the bottles better stick to the hand. Hydro Flask’s sports cap can pop onto standard and narrow mouth bottles, resulting in better insulation and easier flow.
Although many brands noted the long-distance run trend, retailer Ron Lewis, manager of Indianapolis’s Rusted Moon Outfitters, is not convinced that market has limitless growth. “I just don’t think it’s going to breed,” he said.
Health and wellness awareness is driving the industry, as consumers are more conscientious of their consumption and concerned about proper hydration. It’s opened the doors for hydration brands to move from catering to hardcore athletes to serving a mainstream demographic. As buyers grow wary of the effects of one-time-use plastic water bottles on the environment, reusable bottles have seen increased popularity. In response, brands are curating an increased assortment of designs and colors to meet the call for individualization. Nalgene, Klean Kanteen and Nathan all boast color updates to existing lines. However, brands also noted that they have seen an increasing demand for simple designs.
“Complexity is not resonating with consumers,” said Jim Frazier, vice president of design and development at Nathan. “Purity of water, of materials, is rising.”
Innate Gearlooks to cater to new segments — millennials and urbanites — and increasingly is focused on creating products that are aesthetically pleasing, functional and affordable. The brand recently launched the Lineo Plus Vacuum Bottle (MSRP $24)with thermal and push button lids to protect against environmental pollutants, a concern for city dwellers. Avex is releasing the Mixfit Shaker Bottle (MSRP $8.99),which is leak-proof and offers easy mixing and hydration. Both Katadynand MSR are offering gravity filters to address the growing consumer concern about clean water. Katadyn’s Gravity Camp, a six liter, and Base Camp Pro, a 10 liter (MSRPs $90/$100)both offer a four-times faster flow and a longer life. MSR’s AutoFlow Microfilter(MSRP $120)offers an update on an old design with a new pre-filter and a more durable and lightweight design.
Hydration is exploring new frontiers this season as well. Kids’ lines are launching to great responses and brands are making vessels for liquids other than water — beer and coffee. Avex promotes its no-spill, AutoSeal lid as kid-friendly, along with fun, glow-in-the dark artwork in its Freeride (MSRP $14) bottle. Innate Gear debuts two new coffee cups that feature a dual hardness silicone technology. And Stanley introduces two new coffee containers — the Classic Vacuum Travel Press (MSRP $35) will insulate drinks for four to five hours and is leak-proof and packable; and the Mountain Vacuum Coffee System (MSRP $60),offers similar perks but in a 1.1-liter size.
Even more popular than coffee seems to be a move into the microbrewery industry. Hydro Flask features two insulated new pints (MSRPs $22),both in the brand’s signature powder coat. The pints offer extra grip and a specially designed lip meant to enhance the flavor of the beer. Innate Gear offers 32- and 64-ounces Craft Growlers (MSRPs $44/$50) that a brewer would use and Klean Kanteen unveils 40- and 64-ounce growlers (MSRPs $45-$50) in their stainless steel and dark amber coat.
As hydration continues to reach more and more categories, brands emphasized the importance of retailers cross selling products. Hydration is on everyone’s agenda, but consumers sometimes forget to consider hydration when they show up at a store to buy shoes, Ultimate Direction Brand Manager Buzz Burrell said. It’s a good opportunity for an add-on sale.
These days, hydration is for everyone – from the ultramarathoners and cyclists to the soccer moms and lawn mowers.
For new hands-free hydration products and trends, check out our Gear Trends coverage on day packs in the Day 4 issue of the O.R. Daily.