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Introduction to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008

Mike Martin gives us the skinny on what to expect from's coverage in the coming days.

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by Mike Martin | 2008-08-05 00:05:00-06

Introduction to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008 - 1
The Three "Backpackaneers." From left: Mike Martin, Don Wilson, and Will Rietveld walking through downtown Salt Lake City on their way to a previous Outdoor Retailer show. We will NOT be bringing coats for the summer show.

Once again, I find myself in a frenzy of preparation for the upcoming Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City. I'm in the midst of a daily stream of emails and phone calls with vendors and fellow Backpacking Light staff as we schedule appointments, sift through hundreds of press releases proclaiming the (supposed) greatest new outdoor gadgets, and organize our show coverage. This show will be my fifth for Backpacking Light, which I suppose makes me a veteran. Still, rather than becoming jaded, I look forward in anticipation as each show gives me an unprecedented opportunity to see the latest new gear, but more importantly, also gives me a chance to renew relationships with vendors and staff.

"I love you, man."

It may not be evident to our readers, but our staff is far flung and relies on electronic communication for much of our contact and planning. Strange though it may seem, over the years I've developed close friendships with people like our Senior Technology Editor, Roger Caffin, whom I've never actually met in person, and our co-founder Alan Dixon, whom I've only ever met during these shows. Our biannual convergence on Salt Lake City for Outdoor Retailer is one of the few times I can enjoy the company of fellow staff members - even if it's at a time of sleep deprivation and caffeine-fueled late night editing.

The Crew

This show, I'm very pleased to welcome longtime member and University of Utah student Ryan Gardner to our crew. With a notepad, camera, and shiny new media badge in hand, Ryan will be joining Will Rietveld, Janet Reichl, and myself as the on-site editorial team. The four of us will be doing the groundwork at the Salt Palace, while being supported off-site by much of the remaining Backpacking Light staff - Chris Townsend, Steve Nelson, and Alan Dixon are all writing articles remotely; Ken Knight, Don Wilson, Cat Jasins, and Rick Dreher have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that our article production runs smoothly; Jared Schlender, our resident "home page artist" has created another wonderful banner for the event; while Addie Morstad and Gisela Krack are the lone guardians holding down the fort every day back at Backpacking Light headquarters in Bozeman.

I owe this off-site group a very special thank you as they have signed up to experience the thrill of the long hours, technical snafus, and time pressure of Outdoor Retailer without the drudgery of actually having to see cool new gear, visit with staff members, or meet industry players. To this group (and anyone I've inadvertently missed), thank you all - the show would be impossible to produce without your support.

In addition to our editorial team above, Ryan and Stephanie Jordan, Sam Haraldson, and Nicole Chilton will be joining us in Salt Lake City. Our magazine is, after all, an outdoor-related business. Ryan will be focusing on new product development and business partnerships; Stephanie will be sourcing materials for our in-house brands; Sam will be buying merchandise for our gear shop; and Nicole will be working on ad sales and wholesale distribution of Backpacking Light books and magazines.

Gear Coverage

Much of our planned content this time is in the form of Product Roundups - shelters, stoves, raingear, etc. We thought this format would provide better information to our readers by showcasing similarly grouped products together to make it easier to compare new offerings. Of course, there are also several promising products that deserve attention by themselves or don't fit into a particular category, so be ready for some surprises.

This year we are covering new sleeping pads that dramatically improve warmth per weight and comfort per weight ratios with new pad technology. We're also expecting to see the world's lightest canister stove (purported to be fifty-three grams) as well as a reduced-weight version of one of the "integrated stove systems" introduced last year. Highlights of our Shelter Roundup will include a sub-two-pound double-walled tent and an eighteen-ounce Tyvek tarp tent. On the apparel side, we're planning rainwear and footwear comparisons, as well as writing about new garments from Western Mountaineering, Integral Designs, Rab, and others.


Finally, the European OutDoor trade show was held in Friedrichshafen, Germany in July. This show precedes Outdoor Retailer and, as such, is the venue for many new international product introductions. Chris Townsend attended OutDoor this year and has shared his impressions of that European experience in contrast with the distinctly North American Outdoor Retailer. He'll also give readers a glimpse of some of the gear that we've been missing here in the States.

Thanks for joining us again. I don't want to give away all the secrets we have planned for the show, but this brief introduction will hopefully whet your appetite for more from Outdoor Retailer. Please check back throughout the next week, as we'll be publishing new content daily as the show unfolds.


"Introduction to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008," by Mike Martin. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2008-08-05 00:05:00-06.


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Introduction to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008
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Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: stale news on 08/30/2008 15:40:47 MDT Print View

Hi Guys-

To those who've stated that they are disappointed with the coverage (as opposed to the publishing schedule) of our OR articles, I'd like to know specifically what you thought about the following articles:

Plush Pads
Lightweight Rainwear
Hot Stoves
Lightweight Footwear Roundup

If you didn't like those articles, well, then I guess we'd like to hear what we can do better next time. If you did enjoy those, then stay tuned for similar articles on Shelters, Sleeping Bags, Apparel, and Packs that are forthcoming. BTW, as John S. suggested, the plan for the next show is to offer a mix of quick blog-like dispatches along with more comprehensive articles...

Thank you for your feedback.



Edited by MikeMartin on 08/30/2008 15:43:36 MDT.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: stale news on 08/30/2008 17:05:36 MDT Print View

I don't have any problems with any of the already published articles. I guess the major concern was a question of timing. I don't know what the intentions are but I can imagine that if you intent to publish 3 or 4 more articles, the last one will be published in a couple weeks time which is about 4 or 5 weeks after OR took place.
If others are like me, they want to know as fast as possible (for some strange reason since nothing will be available till spring next year :-) ). I search where ever I can and know other sites and blogs where info about OR can be found. If I don't find it here, there still a chance that I will read about it somewhere else. Certainly after several weeks.

I like the idea of more comprehensive articles and understand that it will take more time to write them since you will need to make a synthesis of all sorts of information. The downside of such articles is that expectations about the articles grow e.g. more in dept info or analysis. I guess sometimes this can be delivered but not always.

Edited by Woubeir on 08/30/2008 17:06:44 MDT.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Introduction to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008 - Stale news on 08/31/2008 08:12:41 MDT Print View

John, you should go into politics! :-)

Also, even has videos of the Outdoor Market!

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
stale news on 08/31/2008 09:06:46 MDT Print View

I think the tag line of "stale news" is an interesting one. We're talking about backpacking gear here. It's not like the info will be out of data a month from now, especially given that most of the products from OR won't be available til next spring. So I definitely come down on the side of preferring more depth and a longer schedule then the other way around. Besides as several posters have noted other blogs covered the show and provided the immediate info similar to what BPL did last year. Personally I have no problem going elsewhere for that info. I want expertise and depth from BPL as I think they uniquely have the staff to provide it.

Mike asked for some comments/criticisms/suggestions of this years OR coverage so here are a few of mine.

The pad story was a blog style report. I didn't get anything from this that wasn't covered in the press release. That being said the neoair is probably one of if not the most anticipated product at OR for the BPL crowd so I think this had to be written.

The one thing you always question in a lighter weight pad is durability and I would have appreciated the initial impressions of the neoair on that topic. At last year's OR when discussing the clearview, I believe the author questioned the rep about durability who responded by saying that the pad is easily patched. That was helpful in forming initial impressions of the pad, that were validated by BPLs later full review. So I was disappointed that the same was not done for the neoair.

I thought the rain jacket write up was ok. In some ways this article is a substitute for not having an up to date state of the market report which would be more useful. Ideally I'd like to see that updated SOM. Then the OR coverage would be a spotlight style review of any new/modified products that might contend for a top spot once a full review had been done.

I have the same comments for the shoe article with one addition. I have a terrible time finding shoes that fit. This is a particular problem as most of these shoes need to be mail-ordered so trying on many pairs is difficult. So I would like to see BPL try to describe the fit of the shoes. Factors like width of the toebox and heel and overall, amount of arch support, and perhaps a few others would be useful.

Finally the one potential revolutionary thing to be announced at OR seems to be the ion mask technology and in many more ways then shoes. It seems this is worth a separate write up at some point.

That's my opinion anyway. Thanks for listening.

p.s. It's interesting how the internet has created the requirement for journalists to respond immediately to questions/feedback/complaints from their readers. In the old days you'd just write a letter to the editor and never expect a response. I think the interaction is a positive development but it must take up a lot of time that could be spent writing.

p.p.s The real problem I have with BPLs OR coverage is that initial forum posts from staff led me to believe a lot more content was coming a lot sooner then the reality turned out to be. This seems to be standard procedure for BPL. It's far better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way round.

John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
stale news on 08/31/2008 11:11:25 MDT Print View


Yes, you deserve some feedback, and I appreciated the review of the upcoming sleeping pads. Particularly significant to me was the description of the modified dye cut which results in a more favorable R rating for the Thermarest pads. A Western Mountaineering representative advise me of the same recently and suggested that the women’s pad would provide increased warmth because of the slanted dye cut of the pad absent on the men’s. I didn’t understand this but your article clarified it as well as notifying me that this cut would be incorporated into the men’s pad along with other modifications that would make the pad lighter. This is just an example of some good news from BPL reporting which was indeed appreciated.

It would have helped if BPL would have provided a pre-show syllabus of BPL’s strategy of coverage revealing that reports would be released over a period of several weeks giving the reporters time to write detailed critical articles of the gear at the show. I don't recall that BPL outlined beforehand that the news would be time-released over a period of weeks. I thought that BPL coverage was over and done with but now that I know that there is more to come and the reason for it, my disappointment is abated and I understand why the limited coverage thus far.

Additionally, since there is more to come from BPL, I hope that you include lots of photos of the gear, especially the shelters. You know that “a picture is worth….” I am looking forward to these articles. Thanks,


Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: stale news on 08/31/2008 12:04:40 MDT Print View

I guess my disappointment in the Outdoor Shows coverage was that I really wanted to get a glimpse of the shows as they were happening, like BPL used to do for the last few years. One of the most valuable views into the shows that I've had over the years at BPL was getting photos of gear. As it was, this year I kept waiting for the short reviews to show up, found nothing, and so closed the BPL window and looked for the news on other sites, like Lighthiker and Spadout. Kind of silly, I thought, since it is here at BPL that I want to learn about those things. Even today, years after they were published I still go back to old reviews and photos of gear to think about and compare gear. The photographs are what make it most worthwhile, such as last winter when I was looking around for winter tents and brought up a search for the Mountain Hardwear Bunker 1. This year the shows have ended and I feel I've learned nothing about the shows from BPL.

Though I do agree with John that the upcoming articles will probably fulfill that need for more information.

I also realize that trying to keep up to-the-minute reviews certainly must be exhausting! The shows are exhausting enough in themselves!

Ryan Hutchins
(ryan_hutchins) - F

Locale: Somewhere out there
OR Forums on 08/31/2008 15:59:03 MDT Print View

There are forums for past OR shows, which seem to keep all the info consolidated. Any reason for the change on this?

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: stale news on 08/31/2008 16:08:38 MDT Print View

Perhaps another thing that I liked last year and seems more difficult now, is immediate interaction. I remember that during past shows, because the reports were published during the show, questions could be asked to the BPL team which then could go back to the reps on the floor. The current format doesn't allow this I think (or at least not as easily).

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: stale news on 08/31/2008 17:32:41 MDT Print View

Tom wrote:

"I remember that during past shows, because the reports were published during the show, questions could be asked to the BPL team which then could go back to the reps on the floor."

You know I had forgotten this, but you're absolutely right. That was very cool/useful and is an excellent point on the side of more timely reports. It was like having our own representatives at the show rather than just reading reports.

Edited by nschmald on 08/31/2008 17:33:44 MDT.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
stale news-Introduction to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008 on 09/02/2008 06:49:33 MDT Print View

Hi all,

This link to a bunch of short revirews was posted on a different thread and I want to add it here.

Short reviews from the Summer-ORS-2008

Seems that Patagonia is coming out or coming back with its Wool #1. It would seem that this new item might have attracted enough attention to get some kind of notice by