Outdoor: Did you hear?...

Vaude shelved in U.S. -- for now, AHS and Cascade Designs relaunching National Trails Fund, Uncle Sam approves $21 million for Polartec garments, Timberland kicks off Community Builders Tour, UD founder lands at Nathan Performance, plus much, much more...
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>> Auf Wiedersehen Vaude -- for now. Ever since Vaude and Windsong terminated their all-too-brief distribution relationship in a less than smooth manner, Vaude has been working on trying to re-establish a distribution foothold in the United States, which didn't get finalized. That means Vaude will not exhibit at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market this year. And it may mean Vaude's absence from U.S. soil might turn into a protracted one. When we asked CEO and founder Albrecht von Dewitz at the OutDoor show in Germany recently how distribution negotiations were going, he told us, "We will not make any move until all the details are worked out to our satisfaction." Dewitz hinted while at Friedrichshafen that the company might not be exhibiting at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market this year. SNEWS® View: SNEWS® has learned that the company has been in discussion with a former rep for Vaude based on the East Coast who has indicated a willingness to become the company's U.S. distribution arm. Clearly, all the details have not been ironed out yet, likely because Vaude might be asking too much of the U.S.-based distribution firm. According to past distributors, including Windsong, Vaude has historically exhibited an unwillingness to invest much of the company's own money for establishing and marketing itself in North America. Instead, it relies on the distributor for marketing work and investment. That kind of approach just isn't going to fly with the U.S. dollar currently so weak against the Euro, making margins thinner than the edge of a razor, especially while a company gets a foothold. At some point, Vaude might need to look in the mirror and realize that while it is a renowned and go-to brand in Europe, the brand name means very little here in the United States; if the company wants to make a name for itself here, it will need to do so by putting its own shoulder behind the effort.

>> Three properties within Alaska's Wood Tikchik State Park have been purchased by the Southwest Alaska Conservation Coalition for salmon conservation and public recreation thanks to donations from Columbia Sportswear, Orvis and Woolrich. Those donations were pooled with corporate, non-profit and federal funds, and then matched by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The land parcels total 261 acres of critical salmon habitat on the Agulowak River and Lake Nerka and cost $614,000. The land is being donated to the 1.6 million acre park. Two of the tracts are on the Agulowak River, a pristine spawning river for up to 300,000 sockeye salmon. An additional 1.2 million sockeye pass through the Agulowak in route to the spawning grounds higher in the Wood River watershed that include a series of five glacier carved lakes and their tributaries. Together, the properties will help save spawning habitat for an additional 600,000 spawning sockeye, chinook, chum, coho and pink salmon that use the Wood River system. "The Southwest Alaska effort is a new approach to conservation because donor funds are preventing damage to intact salmon rivers, not fixing damage already done," said Pat Galyan, former owner of Galyan's sporting goods store and now a volunteer leader for The Conservation Fund's involvement in the coalition. "This way, the money goes so much further than if you're trying to repair mistakes. Once Americans know that small targeted investments can protect a large priceless region, they will follow Woolrich's and the other donors' lead." The Southwest Alaska Conservation Coalition (www.swakcc.org) includes a variety of local native corporations, national and Alaskan corporate donors such as ConocoPhillips, Inc., General Communications, Inc., Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, fishing tackle suppliers Normark Rapala and Pure Fishing. Non-profit funds for the coalition came from the Nushagak-Mulchatna Wood-Tikchik Land Trust, Vital Ground Foundation and Wildlife Forever. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation provides a 1-to-3 match to all the funds raised and congressional funds are sought annually.

>> American Hiking Society (AHS) has entered into a partnership with Cascade Designs to relaunch the National Trails Fund, designed to provide financial support to hiking groups, land trusts and other non-profits to establish, protect and maintain wilderness foot trails. Originally created in 1997, the Fund awarded $196,000 in grants to 42 projects between 1998 and 2001. It was suspended for three years and is now being relaunched with financial support from Cascade Designs. In 2005, the Fund will award $20,000 in grants, ranging from $500 to $10,000 per grant. AHS is currently accepting grant proposals for projects in 2005. Eligible applications must include one of the following goals: build new trails; improve existing trails or trail facilities; mitigate the impacts of outdoor recreation on the natural environment; purchase trail lands; or build public support for a specific trail. Grant application information is available on American Hiking Society's website at www.AmericanHiking.org. The National Trails Fund is supported exclusively by individual and corporate donations. More information on how to contribute to the Fund is available by calling Darren Schwartz at AHS, 301-565-6704, ext. 212, or via email, DSchwartz@AmericanHiking.org.

>> The U.S. Congress has approved $21 million for Polartec garments for the U.S. military in the 2005 Defense Spending Bill. Included in this funding is $1.5 million to continue research and development of electronic textiles for the Army's Combat Casualty Care program, which provides remote physiological monitoring of soldiers in combat. 2005 Polartec programs funded include the Army Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS), the Marine Corps Mountain Cold Weather Clothing and Equipment Program (MCWCEP), and the Navy Air Warfare Center's Multi-Climate Protection System (MCPS). In addition to this congressional funding, the Department of Defense has recently approved a U.S. Army Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) that calls for 400,000 sets of silkweight Polartec Power Dry shirts and pants for use as a base layer. This program represents a movement within the military toward the use of technical next-to-skin fabrics that increase comfort, safety and performance for soldiers in the field. The $1.5 million grant for Combat Casualty Care will be used to continue efforts to design electronic textiles for the U.S. military to monitor and transmit soldiers' pulse, blood pressure, body temperature and location back to military medics responsible for their well being in the field. It is expected that the Combat Casualty Care program will save lives by enabling medics to quickly evaluate a situation and focus their efforts on the soldiers who need attention the most.

>> With the assistance of many key sponsors including REI, Coleman and Jansport, the Continental Divide Trail Alliance (CDTA) told SNEWS® that the group will realize a banner year on the CDT with over 586 miles of improvements. Significant work will be accomplished in New Mexico to identify the southern terminus and to scout over 100 miles of potential routes blocked by non-federal lands. In Montana, over 50 miles of new routes have been identified in the Beaverhead National Forest to remove the trail off motorized trails, and planning continues to identify over 90 miles of new route in the Pike San Isabel National Forest in Colorado to define a non-motorized trail. To learn more about the CDT and to offer your assistance, contact Bruce Ward at 888-909-CDTA or go to www.CDTrail.org.

>> High Gear has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association to become an official supplier of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team. The two-year agreement gives High Gear exclusive worldwide sponsorship in the sports instrument category, and calls for High Gear to produce electronic watches, altimeters and heart rate monitors for athletes, coaches and sports science staff.

>> Timberland, on July 24 in Philadelphia, kicked off an innovative grassroots tour of U.S. cities that is intended to unite local residents, community organizations, key corporations and select retailers around the concept of empowering the community through service. The "Community Builders Tour" will travel to New York and other major U.S. cities throughout 2004. In each city on the tour, hundreds of volunteers will join hands to strengthen the community by renovating parks and schoolyards, cultivating community gardens and rebuilding playgrounds. Service projects will be tailored to the needs of each particular community, with the ultimate goal of enriching the lives of the residents who live there. Each service day will culminate with a celebration including a touring vehicle featuring live entertainment and information about local community organizations. One of the celebration's highlights will be the showcase featuring a pair of Limited Edition Timberland boots designed by a local artist. Service will be organized in conjunction with City Year, a national youth service corps group and long-time Timberland partner. For more information, click on www.communitybuilderstour.com.

>> Conrad Anker has signed on to endorse McNett products including ReviveX brands. According to the company, Anker approached it about representing its product. Anker has reportedly been using ReviveX on all his outerwear, boots, sleeping bags and tents and Seam Grip to seal seams, repair tears, patch holes and modify gear. Anker will be sharing his expedition gear preparation secrets at two events at the McNett booth during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. He will use actual gear from expeditions to show how McNett products were used to maximize performance and keep gear going under expedition conditions. The one-hour clinics will be Thursday, Aug. 12, at 4 p.m. and Friday, Aug. 13, at 3 p.m.

>> Outdoor Industry Business to Business Group -- the team that has been developing XML standards for our industry if you haven't been reading your SNEWS® or simply can't remember what you ate for breakfast -- is meeting at Summer Market and invites any company to attend. The group's agenda for the meeting is demonstrating the Montrail/Wildcat-developed XML demo, xCBL explanation, and updating 2004 goals. The meeting is at 7:30 a.m. in the Montrail Booth on Friday, Aug. 13. Retailers will be provided vendor escort from the main entrance of the show to the Montrail booth.

>> As part of ITW Nexus' 25 Year Side Release Buckle celebration, a panel of outdoor industry "Legend Judges" have been selected to pick the winning packs in ITW Nexus' "Oldest Backpack" contest. The contest, which began at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2004, will conclude with the winners announced during a party at the ITW Nexus booth on Friday, Aug. 13, at 5 p.m. The legends' panel (worth stopping by just to view the gang all hanging together) is: Skip Yowell, co-founder of JanSport; Dana Gleason, founder of Dana Design and current owner of Mystery Ranch; David Mydans, senior product designer for REI; Mike Pfotenhauer, founder and owner of Osprey Packs; and Dick Tracy, the inventor of the side-release buckle.

>> Ultimate Direction co-founder Bryce Thatcher, who sold his company to American Recreation Products and Sierra Designs in 1999 and parted ways with that company in 2003, has landed as of July at Nathan Performance, which makes running accessories such as reflective gear, carrying cases and bottle-carrying systems. Thatcher is now director of design and will help with the company's imaging and direction. He told SNEWS®, "I am quite excited to be back in the business." He and Nathan (www.nathansports.com) will be at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. Thatcher can be contacted at runmts@ida.net.

>> The OIWC (Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition) has elected three new members to the association's board: Berne Broudy, Jill Bongiolatti and Amy Luther. The addition of Broudy, Bongiolatti and Luther brings the board's total to 17. Broudy is a full-time freelance writer and photographer contributing to a number of publications including SNEWS®, GearTrends®, Ski Press Magazine, Canoe and Kayak, AMC Outdoors, Backpacker, Ski, Vermont Life and Backcountry Magazine. Her photography can be viewed on her website at www.authenticoutdoors.com. Bongiolatti manages the recruiting process for Burton Snowboard's five brands in the action sports, footwear, apparel, protective equipment and optics markets. She has been instrumental in the formation of the OIWC Eastern Chapter in New England. Luther is the women's gear buyer at Backcountry.com.

>> G3 has hired the company's first sales manager and locked onto some new rep agencies. Paul Blunden, the former sales manager for Italian footwear manufacturer Kayland, has relocated from St. Sauveur, Quebec, to join G3 as its first dedicated sales manager overseeing North American and international sales. Now for the new reps. In the Northwest region, Pinnacle Sales will represent G3 in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. In the Rockies, Scott Sutton partners with Kirk Haskell. Haskell will oversee accounts in the Southern Rockies, Roaring Fork and Grand Junction areas of Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Sutton will manage accounts in the Colorado's Front Range, Northern Mountains, Summit and Vail Counties and Wyoming. In Canada, Richard Haziza, responsible for sales in Alberta and British Columbia, has re-named his agency to Namaste Trading Group Ltd. and has hired Mark Davis as sales associate. They will service G3 dealers throughout Western Canada.

>> The National Ski & Snowboard Retailers Association (NSSRA) has appointed Roger Kahn as director of development for the association. He will work with NSSRA to identify issues of interest to all retailers and represent these issues to the ski and snowboard industry, and work to increase NSSRA membership. Kahn was the owner of Porter's Ski & Sport, a small chain of ski and snowboard shops located at North Lake Tahoe, which he sold in 2002. During his 30-year ownership of Porter's, Kahn served on a number of industry panels and was a long-time executive board member of the Sports Specialists Ltd. buying group. Kahn can be reached by e-mail: kahnroger@hotmail.com.

>> TFO, a leading manufacturer of OEM hydration bladders will consolidate manufacturing and distribution in Rochester, N.Y., effective Aug. 23. Design and Development offices will remain in Logan, Utah. The TFO customer service number remains 888-463-5394. The new TFO address will be: Pactech LLC, Attention: TFO Customer Service, 1999 Mt Read Blvd., Rochester, NY 14615. New product and development inquiries should be directed to Dennis Brown at dbrown@tfoinc.com or Curtis Anderson at canderson@tfoinc.com.

>> Blademaster (division of Guspro) of Chatham, Ontario, the manufacturers and distributors of Blademaster Custom Radius skate sharpening equipment has acquired all the existing inventory, raw materials and technological properties of Superfeet's Superfit Boot Expander Program. Superfeet will retain the rights to its Superfit brand. Superfeet will be shipping all open orders up to the end of August. As of Sept. 1, Blademaster will assume responsibility for all sales, servicing and warranty work for the program. Jeff Gray, manager of technical services for Superfeet, will be in the Blademaster booth for upcoming fall and winter trade shows to help with the transition process.

>> Nextec Applications Inc. has named Peter Santoro and William McCabe co-CEOs. Santoro has over 17 years of corporate development, operational, investment banking and business start-up experience. McCabe has over 33 years experience in the textile and apparel sourcing industries in North America -- 18 of which he spent in the outdoor and golf industries developing and growing brands such as Serac, Difini Golfwear and Sun-Ice.

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