Summer 2022’s Outdoor Retailer Show was the final time for the event in Denver, Colorado. Beginning in January 2023, the outdoor industry’s largest retailer showcase returns to Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Summer OP Show brought forth many of the outdoor industry’s top brands, from Hydroflask to Osprey. It also attracted new smaller brands to the event, like Fore Winds camp stoves.
This show was the first OP since the pandemic began where it felt like the industry was about to reemerge and unveil new gear for 2022-2023. This year’s exhibition had more company, energy and crowds than recently. Other events and exhibitions also took place outside of the Denver Convention Center this summer.
There are always trends in the outdoor industry and this summer OR show was no exception. Here are a few top trends that have popped up at OR this year that will likely make their way to outdoor stores in your area soon.
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Everywhere you turned this year there were coolers. High-end coolers that promise hours and days of ice storage are nothing new. This summer, however, a growing number of companies are getting in on the action, particularly with a foray into vacuum-insulated drinking vessels and related products.
From Dometic to Orca, coolers have been hot this summer. Even Hydro Flask, known for its water bottles, is getting in on the action with new portable coolers in colors for day trips and beach vacations. For under $100, these coolers will keep drinks and food cool for around 36 hours.
Orca showcased a new 40 quart fixed sided cooler available in a variety of colors for the weekend warrior or tailgate expert and Truma showcased its new C60 portable fridge freezer.
Continue reading: Hydro Flasks for the cold, the hot and the cozy
For years, van-lifers have been posting photos of life on the road on Instagram, but now the industry has caught up with them. Vans decked out for life on the road with the latest gear parked around the Colorado Convention Center.
The OR Summer Show featured an entire van zone dedicated to van life and the overlanding experience. From Vandoit, a custom van company, to Lippert, a brand that makes overlanding racks, hitches, coolers and tents, the Overlanding division is growing.
Even the Overland Journal, a publication dedicated to the Overland lifestyle, was there and reported on the topic of life on the road.
When Van Life and Overlanding first came out, there were many do-it-yourself or DIY conversions that involved drivers figuring out how to fit what they needed into a van.
Now some companies are pre-manufacturing entire vans for those who want to hit the road. There were even local OR rental car companies like Dave and Matt Vans to promote the on-the-road lifestyle and help people dip their toes in this outdoor retail trend.
Continue reading: A drive along the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway
Outdoor companies like Patagonia have been at the forefront of sustainability for years. At Outdoor Retailer, however, the sustainability trend seems to be in full swing this summer.
Everywhere renewable processes, materials and promises to the environment have been made.
For example, Helly Hansen presented its new outdoor collection, including the Odin 9 World 3.0 Jacket with the new recycled material Ocean Bound. This material is made from recycled waste such as bottles and fishing material and is reclaimed from the oceans. Helly Hansen breaks down the trash into pellet form, which is then processed into recycled yarn that goes into Ocean Bound products. At least 50 percent of the product consists of recycled materials.
Other companies, from Osprey to Mammut, showcased products with similar sustainability efforts. This movement is not a new trend, but a growing trend as more and more outdoor companies embrace sustainability as a way of doing business. By buying such products, you can do your part to help the environment this season.
Continue reading: A look back: foot fun with sustainable Fulton insoles
It may be a niche industry but insect protection was a growing sector at this year’s OP. Several booths displayed a specific type of sustainable insect repellent or technology that keeps these pests away.
Thermacell had one of the largest booths with the motto “Turn it on… mosquitoes away”. The company offers high-tech fuel-powered and rechargeable battery-powered mosquito repellents.
Other more traditional companies like Bug Soother MAX showcased a natural mosquito repellent that is safe for the whole family. Sawyer Products also had their products on display. Well known for its global clean water and filtration efforts, Sawyer has been manufacturing insect repellents since 1988. Their latest insect repellent is made from picaridin, a synthetic replica of a natural solution derived from pepper plants. It’s also safe for the whole family (pregnancy included), durable and gear safe.
There were plenty of other stands, like the Bug-A-Salt toy, with natural or family-friendly defensive options. In this case, this gamification is another unique aspect of this trend.
When camping, mosquitoes and other insects are often small things that can cause significant annoyance, so it stands to reason that the demand for accessible solutions is high. This outdoor retail trend also appears to be moving away from DEET products towards more high-tech options or natural alternatives such as those offered by Murphy’s Naturals.
Continue reading: Ticked off: Protect yourself against Lyme disease
The tech trend runs through almost every other trend we’ve seen at the OR Summer Show. Technology drives virtually every market, from clothing to backpacks. And while technology is a ubiquitous trend in the outdoor industry, this year we’re taking it a step further.
While giant tech companies like Garmin were showcasing their high-tech watches that can track everything from your pulse ox readings to heartbeats per minute, this type of technology is becoming more and more integrated into products these days.
From BloqUV incorporating UV technology protection into its clothing to protect people from the sun’s rays, to Karmik Outdoors using QR code stickers to help locate lost gear, there’s a trend that technology is trending with our outdoor pursuits becomes one.
Given how much people love to track activity and analyze data, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this trend is taking deeper root in the outdoor industry – chances are that any gear you buy this season buy, will contain some smart technologies.
What do you think of the outdoor retail trends above? Have you noticed them or others in the outdoor community? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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