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"The outdoor sector is proving to be a lighthouse in a stormy economic sea"
By all accounts, despite the economic downturn, the outdoor industry is booming. This is the message we got from most outdoor retailers and companies at the 16th OutDoor Show at Friedrichshafen, Germany. The theory is that whilst people may skimp on holidays abroad, whether you live in Germany or Scotland domestic trips to your local mountains and crags are good value and if you are in the outdoors you need equipment, services and consumables.
"Observers hope that the Brits might stay away from holidays in Mallorca or the Canary Islands due to budget reasons this summer, and would perhaps prefer to climb Ben Nevis or stroll through the Lake District, or take part in activities at home which outdoor equipment is badly needed. It will be the end of the summer before we can prove this theory right."
Hmm, maybe Markus isn't familiar with our wet summer weather, not that it has been bad this year for retailers due to good winter conditions earlier in the year and an OK summer,Sue at Joe Browns reports:
"Business is very good at the moment, we are up on this time last year. Traditionally Joe Browns has always done well in recession, and this one is no exception. Some people are looking for a good deal, but mostly people are looking for the for the best kit for the job. It's noticeable that people are not buying anything frivolous, not as many impulse buys."
Outdoor companies are showing no slowing down when it comes to innovation too. At the OutDoor Show the aisles were awash with new products and innovations, and not just seasonal colour changes. Most aren't major leaps but more of a gradual evolution in design and the adoption of new materials and production techniques. See below for the some examples of recent innovations with the OutDoor INDUSTRY AWARDS, and Jack Geldard and Kevin Avery's round up: New Gear at OutDoor - Friedrichshafen
Jonathan Petty of Patagonia, Alpinist Matt Helliker, UKC Editor Jack Geldard, Kevin Avery UKC Gear Editor, Bindi Kaufmann, Jess Rudge and Carleen Rayner of Chase PR, Alan James Director of UKC and Clive Allen of Ascent Marketing.
This buoyancy is good news for many reasons, for us as consumers we will continue to get the high quality and innovative equipment that we need to enjoy the outdoors, with lots of choice and at competitive prices. Importantly the outdoor industry employs thousands and as far as we know there have been no major layoffs in many cases the opposite. Profits have to be healthy to drive innovation and investment.
This economic stability in the face of a wider downturn is also important for UKClimbing.com. An outdoor media's revenue is from advertising, without it we would cease to exist. Without an outdoor media outdoor enthusiasts would have nothing to read, get inspired by, watch and look at, and outdoor companies would have a harder time promoting their gear and services. Marketing budgets in the outdoor trade still appear to be healthy despite being the first business expenditure to be cut in an economic downturn.
Below is a video of marketing at the OutDoor Show. Trying to get the attention of visitors as they arrive, and yes, as well as turning shower heads on themselves it was raining as well!The 16th OutDoor Show at Friedrichshafen, Germany was the biggest ever with nearly 20,000 visitors and over 800 exhibitors. This was the first year that the whole UKClimbing.com team were there, not just one of us. Kevin Avery our Gear Editor and Chief Editor Jack Geldard visited companies to look at new gear and report back, Alan James our Director and myself were there to introduce companies to UKClimbing.com and explain how we can help market their products. It's a real social occaision as well but the purpose is for companies to showcase their gear to retailers and take orders for the 2010 season. Spotlighted at Friedrichshafen also is 'best of show' also known as the The OutDoor INDUSTRY AWARDS which are a design innovation awards judged by a jury from the International Forum Design based in Hannover, Germany.
This year there were 242 entries and 63 products were awarded prizes with nine entries honoured with a GOLD award for special achievement in terms of design and innovation.The products entered were judged in the following categories: Apparel/Helmets/Shoes, Backpacks/Travel luggage, Mountain-climbing equipment, Camping equipment, Sleeping bags, Accessories, Products with high ecological and sustainable value and Material innovations. The nine Gold awards are described below, but check out Gear News at UKClimbing.com for more new products, many from British companies, in the next month or two.
The OutDoor INDUSTRY AWARDS
A helmet just for women from Petzl, a souped up 20 year old hiking boot, a dog backpack, the latest rucksack from the design guru's at Arc'teryx, a stainless steel crampon from Black Diamond, a lightweight backpack with an integrated drinking system from Osprey....read on to see the Gold winners of the OutDoor INDUSTRY AWARDS.
The ELIA helmet was specially designed to meet sports women's needs. Its OMEGA hand-band system makes it easy to put it on and take it off, while maintaining a snug fit at the same time - even for women with ponytails. Jury's assessment: "This product is a real innovation: the first climbing helmet that has been specially developed for women. It is extremely lightweight, also fits snugly on small heads, doesn't ruin your hair and even looks good, too.”
A trekking shoe that has been successful on the market for the past 20 years, but has also undergone regular development and improvement. At the core of the innovation is a rear-ventilation and cushioning technology, a new foam design, improved lacing elements, a new foot-bed technology, high moisture absorption as well as extremely quick-drying material. Jury's assessment: "This shoe is a classic, a tried-and-trusted product. It is only the regular, small, smart, technological innovations that make it one of the market leaders year after year.”
02. Backpacks/Travel luggage:
The ALTRA 65 is designed to accommodate weekend trips with lots of luggage or longer trips with little luggage. The back panel laminated directly into the backpack places the load close to the back. The rotating disk for the hip belt affords the user a large range of motion. The shoulder system can be individually adjusted with ease. The backpack can be accessed from the top or through the long, all-round zipper, which is also well protected by the harness system. Jury's assessment: "This backpack refines an existing concept to provide a significant advancement in performance: a new-and-improved hip belt, better ventilation, greater flexibility and stability as well as great design all go together to make it a winning product.”
03. Mountain-climbing equipment
Contact is a 10-point crampon that's convincing across the board: stainless steel and new geometry make it more lightweight than ever, it is extremely durable, the points stay sharp longer and it makes considerably fewer cleat marks. Jury's assessment: "These crampons are simply great for hiking over the ice on a glacier. The combination of successful design and functionality is perfect.”
02. Backpacks/Travel luggage:
Osprey Hydraulics is a new line of backpacks with a drinking system. The anatomically formed, easy-to-fill, antimicrobial Nalgene reservoir is fixed in the frame and can be easily inserted even when the reservoir is full. The reservoir is stabilized to prevent it from bulging out and keep it close to the back. The constant pressure also makes it easier to drink when the reservoir is only half full and minimizes any water sloshing from side to side. Jury's assessment: "The problem of integrating the drinking system into the backpack has been solved in an innovative way. The very lightweight design, outstanding fit and good ventilation are what make this backpack stand out from the competition.”
02. Camping equipment
The ultralight tent has been designed to accommodate two people with luggage and weighs in at a mere 1050 g, a feat achieved by the use of a single-pole design and ultralight material. To make optimum use of the space available, the interior tent is asymmetrical; there is plenty of room in the apsis for equipment. Thanks to the ultralight power frame, the tent also has a very stable stand. Jury's assessment: "This tent must be the lightest tent currently available on the market. It's very easy to set up and affords ample protection, even in bad weather. Simply ingenious.”
05. Sleeping bags
Thanks to its innovative collar system, the Bloody Mary is a sleeping bag for any time of year. One zipper makes it possible to choose from three different sleeping "temperatures”: with a completely closed collar, with a half-closed collar or without the collar at all for warmer temperatures. This absolute featherweight comes in at a mere 1140 g on the scales. Jury's assessment: "The Bloody Mary is an extremely high-quality, very durable, well-designed product. Thanks to its adjustable, removable warm collar, the sleeping bag can also be used simply as a blanket - and that makes it the perfect choice for the summer.”
Now every dog can carry its own food and equipment right along with it. The contents always stay dry, even in bad weather or after a spontaneous leap into the lake. The material is extremely robust and resistant to abrasion. During the breaks, the packed pouches can be quickly removed from the ventilated carrier frame - so the pooch can take a load off its paws and relax. Jury's assessment: "A technically sophisticated and very well-manufactured product and really practical at the same time. On the one hand, the dog can carry its own blanket, food, etc., and then you can even use it to carry the dog - a real innovation in its own way.”
07. Products with high ecological and sustainable value
Blue Beech sleeping bags are produced using only sustainably won materials: 50 percent of the filling consists of Tencel, with another 50 percent out of recycled polyester microfibre. Tencel is won from wood and is 100-percent biodegradable. The combination of Tencel with the microfibre creates a positive sleeping climate, which is particularly important for people with sensitive skin or allergies. Environmentally friendly production and maximum low emissions are guaranteed for the entire manufacturing chain. Jury's assessment: "In this case, the very deliberate decision was made to keep each and every element of this sleeping bag absolutely as environmentally friendly as possible. And that is certainly worth an award in itself!”