The hottest new gear from Outdoor Retailer's 2015 Open Air Demo

Inflatables, modular kayaks, electric motors and other new gear seek to make things easier outdoors.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

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. 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.

There was a lotof buzz at yesterday’s Open Air Demo up at Pineview Reservoir, and it was not all metaphorical. There were drones skimming the water, stand-up paddle- boards with electric motors, electric fat bikes and something that looked like a cross between a Segway and a skateboard skimming the sands. Is this the future of the human-powered outdoor industry? Perhaps.

 Photo by Andrew Bydlon

Photo by Andrew Bydlon

Seattle-based ElectraFin, exhibiting at its first Outdoor Retailer, offered up a motorized solution that made sense to paddlers at the Demo. The portable electric motor for a SUP, which maxes out at 5 m.p.h. and retails at $1,699, attaches to any paddleboard with a U.S. fin box. But instead of being used simply as a lazy way to SUP, the device has found adherents in outdoor enthusiasts who use it for practical applications.

 The ElectraFin SUP motor.

The ElectraFin SUP motor.

“We have seen a lot of interest from anglers who use it to match current when trolling, and we have one customer who uses it to reach a difficult-to-access surf break,” said Marimar White-Espin, ElectraFin’s director of business development.

Electric bikes have certainly been making inroads with cyclists. And with a bill in the California legislature figuring out how they can be regulated and allowed on bike paths, they will become more prevalent. Polaris, a company not normally associated with Outdoor Retailer, was at the Demo making hesitant attendees believers by putting them on its new fat-tire e-bikes.

 Polaris Nordic electric bike.

Polaris Nordic electric bike.

“Usually something that’s offbeat like electric bikes, you think of it as a fly-by-night thing, but to see a big company like Polaris getting behind it and putting in that level of commitment, you have to be convinced there’s a market,” said Rick Thompson of Western Expeditions in Sandy, Utah, who took the Nordic, which retails at $4,799, for a spin.

Even skateboards got in on the electric action. A crowd gathered around Boosted’s booth, looking to try out the 2,000-, 1,500-, and 1,000-watt motorized boards. “It’s an emerging market. We opened up 59 new dealers this year,” said sales director Cody Dumont, who had just come from exhibiting at the X Games and was headed to Surf Expo after OR.

 Boosted boards.

Boosted boards.

The most attention was around the OneWheel, a motor-powered ball with foot stands, which retails at $1,499. Retailers were riding the toy all over the beach and seemed to be having fun. Asked whether it really qualified as outdoors, the company pointed out that it was fun and speaks to those millennials the outdoor industry so badly wants to engage.

 OneWheel

OneWheel

“It really resonates with the younger generation and it gets them outside. It’s an ultimate expression of outdoor fun. You get out on grass or sand and push it to the limit,” said Blake Crowe, prototyping design engineer, who explained that it also connects to an app that tracks data.

When it comes down to it, many attendees said they welcome an easier and more accessible outdoors.

“We are looking for things that are more accessible for all ages and all abilities. There are plenty of people trying to do lightest, fastest. And that’s great for one demographic, but it’s also important to find something that can get the whole family playing,” said Steve Hitchcock, executive director of the nonprofit UpaDowna, which is dedicated to getting more people out and enjoying the outdoors.

 Photo by Andrew Bydlon.

Photo by Andrew Bydlon.

There were plenty of companies looking to make the outdoor experience more accessible without an electric motor at the Demo, too.

Colorado-based Kokopelli Packraft brought its fun and very functional inflatables to the show. Boats like the self-bailing Shredder, which retails for $999, stuff down to the size of a sleeping bag and weigh less than 10 pounds, making it easy to take on adventures that would otherwise be limited by the size and complexity of standard boats.

 Kelley Smith with Kokopelli Packraft - Photo by Andrew Bydlon

Kelley Smith with Kokopelli Packraft - Photo by Andrew Bydlon

Norwegian brand Ally, a part of Bergans, has found the same type of success with its packable canoes, including a 16.5-foot boat that retails for $2,150 and was originally designed to be hauled into the backcountry in planes. “The main draw is ease of travel and storage,” said Keith Patterson, vice president of sales and marketing at Bergans USA. “But we are also seeing an uptick in urban areas, where people are pressed for storage.”

Ease of storage and transport is also the name of the game at Point 65, a Swedish brand that creates modular kayaks that click together like giant legos and were designed to fit in the trunk of a Prius. Even better, that modular system can be used to instantly change a boat from a single to a tandem, a big plus for families. At the demo, the company even put eight of the middle modules together to create an eight-person version of its Tequila boat.

 Point 65's modular kayak - Photo by Andrew Bydlon.

Point 65's modular kayak - Photo by Andrew Bydlon.

“Retailers love it from a logistics standpoint. Instead of full boats, these come in easy-to-store-and-stack boxes. It’s very efficient,” said Richard Ohman, Point 65 founder. “And when it comes to consumers, we thought transport would be most important and they certainly like that aspect, but they mostly like the ability to change from solo to tandem.”

 Point 65's modular kayak - Photo by Andrew Bydlon.

Point 65's modular kayak - Photo by Andrew Bydlon.

Of course there’s no way to talk about the beach, a trade show and fun without mentioning koozies and Yeti showed up with the best koozie this industry has seen to date. The cooler brand’s Colster is a $30 stainless steel koozie that not only will hold a can or bottle, but also keep it cool. Now that’s one piece of gear that will segue seamlessly from the beach at the Demo to the halls of the Salt Palace.

 Yeti Coalster

Yeti Coalster

-- Doug Schnitzspahn

Related

Cemetery Point Named as Site for Outdoor Retailer 2015 Open Air Demo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Cemetery Point Named as Site for Outdoor Retailer 2015 Open Air Demo Flexfitjoins forces with Outdoor Retailer, signing on as title sponsor SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. – May 6, 2015 - Outdoor Retailer announced today that it will host the Open Air Demo, ...read more

OAD Poster

THE things to do at Open Air Demo and Outdoor Retailer

True Hero is proud to be a part of a lot of great events at both Open Air Demo and the Outdoor Retail Show. Check out where we will be and what you should be doing! Open Air Demo (OAD) August 4th – Open Air Demo Games 8:00am-1:00pm We are happy to announce that True Hero will ...read more

New Media Preview Gives Journalist First Look at Innovative New Products and Gear at 2015 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE New Media Preview Gives Journalist First Look at Innovative New Products and Gear at 2015 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition new Pitchfest program and winner highlighted at Media Preview San Juan Capistrano, CA, June 1, ...read more

OUTDOOR RETAILER AND ADIDAS OUTDOOR ANNOUNCE FINALISTS FOR THE 2015 OUTDOOR INSPIRATION AWARDS

OUTDOOR RETAILER AND ADIDAS OUTDOOR ANNOUNCE FINALISTS FOR THE 2015 OUTDOOR INSPIRATION AWARDS SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. –January 8, 2015– Finalists for the fifth annual Outdoor Inspiration Awards were selected and announced today. The Outdoor Inspiration Awards, presented by ...read more

Silvershield graph

Microban, Leader in Antimicrobial Product Protection, Debuts New Technology for Apparel and Footwear at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2015

Recycled Silver-Based Product Provides Increased Durability and Odor Reduction HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (January 19, 2015) – Microban® International, Ltd (www.microban.com), the global leader in built-in antimicrobial product protection, is reinforcing its commitment to the outdoor ...read more

Image placeholder title

The OIWC and Four New Brands Added to the All Star Line-Up for the Shmooz at Outdoor Retailer

The OIWC and Four New Brands Added to the All Star Line-Up for the Shmooz at Outdoor Retailer OIWC, Bemis, EMU Australia, Deckers Brands, and eVent Fabrics Say Yes to the Shmooz MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (December 21, 2015) – This season, the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition ...read more

The OIWC and Five New Brands Added to the All Star Line-Up for the Shmooz at Outdoor Retailer

The OIWC and Five New Brands Added to the All Star Line-Up for the Shmooz at Outdoor RetailerOIWC, Bemis, EMU Australia, Deckers Brands, eVent Fabrics, and Pjur Active Say Yes to the Shmooz MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (December 28, 2015) – This season, the Outdoor Industries Women’s ...read more

OutdoorRetailerSummerMarketLogo

Outdoor Retailer to stay in Salt Lake City through 2018 with new dates

Outdoor Retailer is staying in Salt Lake City through 2018, albeit with some date changes. Show and city officials announced the decision Monday that will keep Summer and Winter Market where it has been for the past 19 years. As previously announced, Winter Market 2016 moves up ...read more

Outdoor Retailer Open Air Demo

Outdoor Retailer announces new features for summer Open Air Demo

New offerings include a "Retailer Exchange" between Surf Expo and Outdoor Retailer. Outdoor Retailer is adding new features for paddlesports vendors and retailers to this summer’s Open Air Demo, which will return to Jordanelle State Park. The show announced Friday that it will ...read more