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Kicking Off Outdoor Retailer Summer 2018: Urban Packrafting, Demo Day, and More

Nothing says OR has begun like a multi-sport urban adventure, 8:00AM beers (or hop-tea*), gear demos, and a discussion hosted by an industry vet.

By: Liam McNally + Save to a List

Packrafting with Kokopelli and evo

To kick things off, we started the morning the day before the show with coffee, bagels, and a quick introduction to evo's flagship store in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood. There we learned a little bit about the history of both evo and Kokopelli Packrafts, got our bikes fitted, grabbed a helmet from Sweet Protection, packed up our rafts and hit the road to head towards Denver's Platte River.

I'd never packrafted before and had no idea that rafts could be so small and light. I was seriously blown away that this little backpack I was wearing contained a boat that could carry me AND my bike down a river. 

Just for full disclosure, the beaches of the Platte - nor the Platte itself - are exactly "wild and scenic." It's a very urban river, but we brought along a trash bag to snag some litter, cracked open a few morning Melvins or HopTea* to get things going, and we were all smiles as we set off down the river.

*I'd never heard of this stuff, but the official consensus of the group was "it's actually pretty good!" which is about as good as it can get for an alternative beverage like this if you ask me. It's basically non-alcoholic beer + tea + LaCroix. I really enjoyed it!

My raft held up extremely well! We strapped our bikes straight to them and still fit comfortably inside. They're super maneuverable and fun and took the mini-rapids in stride (or in paddle?). I'd be stoked to take one of these into the backcountry to float around alpine lakes and rivers.

Thanks to Meteorite PR, Kokopelli, and evo for a fun morning!

Photos by Mike Eisenbrown


Demo Day

I didn't spend a ton of time at Demo Day but here are a few highlights:

I was pretty impressed with these headphones and they solve a very real safety issue that I’m familiar with. Rather than speakers that plug into your ear, the Aftershokz use vibration to stimulate your bones, delivering sound internally for "unrivaled situational awareness and comfort." That means you can hear the music loud and clear but still hear everything else around you perfectly well. These would be fantastic for road biking! The only downside was at higher "volumes" you could feel the vibration on your skin, which was a little annoying.

I’ve been a big fan of Mountain House for a while and at their booth I tried some of Mountain Standard's snacks and seasoning. I loved their salsa and I tried some of their seasonings for the first time loved them, too. They’d be a great addition to give any backcountry meal (or frankly at-home meals) a kick of flavor. 

The last thing I took a quick peek at and can’t wait to learn more about at the show is the Costa x Bureo collaboration. They’ve made sunglasses out of recycled fishing nets. How cool is that?!? They look great, too (check their site for more, I didn’t get any photos on site). 

Happy Hour at Wayfinder Co-Op

To cap off the day, we stopped by a happy hour at Wayfinder Co-op, a co-working space and co-operative primarily hosting outdoor companies and brands. The space is open and light and just from a quick talk with one of the co-founders Joe Ewing, I can tell it’s a collaborative environment. 

The highlight of the night was a quick Q&A with Dan Nordstrom, CEO of Outdoor Research. If there was one thing I took from him it’s that the internet will never completely takeover outdoor retail shopping. Humans want to touch products and they want to engage with people with expert knowledge in-person. His take is that as e-commerce, digital marketing, retail, and brands evolve, hybrid shopping experiences will develop...think: online inspiration, browsing, and shopping combined with the in-person experience of retail and specialty retail stores without the "guilt" that sometimes comes with browsing at your local retailer to decide what to buy, then finding and purchasing it elsewhere online. Good food for thought for virtually anyone in the retail and digital marketing side of the industry. 

Thanks to Verde PR for hosting the event!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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