Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2015 Preview: Adventure travel gear

Catering to adventure travelers and luxury loafers. Get a preview of adventure travel gear to hit retail shelves next year.
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Leading up to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2015, SNEWS is previewing some of the top trends and new products you’ll see at the trade show and All Mountain Demo in Salt Lake City, Jan. 20-24. Find this story and more in our O.R. Daily Day 0 Preview edition.

It’s a common conundrum: As the adventure travel industry grows, defining the customer gets tougher.

After all, global adventure destinations saw more than 1 billion arrival days in 2014, according to the World Tourism Organization, a number that is expected to nearly double in the next 15 years.

On one end of the spectrum, old-school adventurers can be somewhat enigmatic by definition. By “getting away from it all,” they purposefully seek to do things on their own, travel to difficult-to-reach places and often use their own transportation, equipment and training to get there. They aren’t exactly a marketer’s dream.

And then there are the “glampers,” the newbies to the market who pay porters to haul their wine to a tent already set up for them with a cot, hairdryer and all.

“I’m not sure there is a lot of difference between luxury and adventure travelers,” said Jon Neff, co-founder of Grand Trunk, a luggage company based in the Chicago area. “My wife and I were at an amazing hotel in Mexico after we got married, and in came a couple with Osprey rolling duffels. They obviously weren’t short on money and it was interesting to see them with Ospreys instead of the traditional suitcase.”

No matter where you are on the spectrum, Neff said, you probably want less gear to carry. Travelers of all types want one set of equipment to get them from point A to point B without clothing changes, unpacking and repacking. They want their gear to blend in with their environments without losing any functionality. In short, everyone wants versatility, the buzzword that dominates the marketing of new products this year.

>> Expanding into campus and travel lines, Granite Gear introduces the 38L Jackfish backpack (MSRP $90), which offers an alternative top loading compartment, a hideaway hipbelt with pocket and a dedicated computer sleeve. It’s made of durable Repelaweave fabric with a Taurpalite bottom.

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>>Eagle Creek’s new EC Lync System (MSRPs $255-$280) is designed to simplify the transition from airplane to mountain trek with its collapsible luggage line, which the company calls a bag, backpack, duffel and stuff sack in one. There are removable straps, lockable zippers, and a three-step transformation from airplane bag to trail-worthy backpack.

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>> With a detachable daypack that is roughly the size of a medium hydration pack, the Osprey Ozone Convertible is really two backpacks in one. When combined, it can haul a weekend’s worth of gear. When separted, it serves as a separate bag for base camp and a day trek.

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>>E-Case eSeries 9 and 9.5 If your customers are river rats or just like being wet on vacation, check out the E-Case eSeries 9 and 9.5 (MSRP $30), waterproof bags that still allow use of one’s phone. The touchscreen-compatible protection also provides full headphone use, all while fitting the latest generation of larger iPhone 6s.

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>>Grand Trunk’s new Adventure Travel Organizer Modules (MSRPs $16-$100) sound fancy, but in reality, they represent simple functionality at its best. Compression cubes, toiletry bags and travel document organizers are scalable, collapsible and waterproof, serving true adventurers and luxury loafers. The ATOMs have some enhancements, too. The Explorer, a large toiletry bag, comes with an LED lighting system, so you can pretty much freshen up whenever, wherever.

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>> Now owned by luggage leader Samsonite, Gregory will likely make more adventure travel forays. Its lightweight Stash Duffel (MSRPs $69-$99) has backpack straps, an internal stuff sack and comes in sizes ranging from a 1-pound, 5-ounce overnight bag to a 1-pound, 14-ounce 115L beast. Its internal and external pockets are made with travel in mind, and it’s a pretty simple process to cram it into an overhead bin.

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These are just a few of the new products to debut at the show. Be sure to check out much more new and trends in the O.R. Daily, Days 1-4, published live at the show, and available digital format each day of print on SNEWS.

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