Outdoor Retailer: Condensed Overview

Outdoor Retailer came, and then it was gone, nearly as fast as that.

My first OR experience was a collision of ideas, free beer, and networking. The week started on Tuesday where I attended Camber Outdoors “Pitchfest.” Pitchfest exists for female entrepreneurs to get their product/business in front of a board of influential members in the outdoor community. Each finalist had five minutes to give their pitch, and then the panel questioned them for seven minutes.

Following Pitchfest, I went to join my fellow Outdoor Women’s Alliance team at The Front Climbing Gym for a Wine, Dine, and Climb event.  The keynote speaker, Shelma Jun of Flash Foxy, made a group of us wonder how much more effective it would be if she were speaking in front of mixed company. Her speech essentially reinforced ideas we’ve been thinking and talking about for months. (It also lead me to dive deeper into the role female-only organizations are playing in the outdoor world…more on that later.)

Two out of town friends, Sara and Emma, stayed on my couch for the week. We woke up early on Wednesday to attend the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) breakfast, with former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel speaking, as well as Alex Honnold, Cedar Wright, and Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

Some clips from the breakfast:

Sally Jewel: “There’s a lot of problems with [President Trump’s] review…President Trump is putting himself on the wrong side of history. If he acts to revoke National Monuments, he will go down as one of the most anti-conservation presidents in the history of this nation. Our National Parks, our National Monuments, our public lands are what helps make this nation great.”

Gov. Steve Bullock: “Transferring those lands out of public hands would be damn foolish, not only for today but for future generations as well.”

The breakfast left me in a sober mood. Starting in 2018, Outdoor Retailer will no longer make it’s home in Utah due to our government continually refuting the value of public lands, which lead to outrage in the outdoor industry. At the OIA breakfast, despite the recent tension between Utah and the outdoor industry, terms like positivity, graciousness, and opportunity, created a theme that was easy to track throughout the week.

I spent a good amount of time wandering around the floor, checking out new products, and making connections. I quickly realized, though, that Outdoor Retailer exists for companies to meet with other companies, for contracts to be formed, and for new relationships to be forged. Though I fell into the latter category, I often felt out of place.

After speaking with Sarah Smith, founder of The Dyrt, I realized this feeling is normal, and almost essential when first attending OR. In many ways, it helps fuel you forward. For me, it projected some future goals, like coming to OR as someone in the outdoor industry. I can’t, however, expect that to happen overnight.

OR has an exhaustive, infectious energy. I volunteered at the Gregory Packs booth, and was constantly ferrying people to and from meetings. We had a steady stream of vendors, exhibitors, buyers, guests, and non-buyers, coming by the booth asking to speak with so-and-so, wishing to drop off business cards, or asking if we had anything for free. OR was capitalism at work.

This is a compressed version of Outdoor Retailer. It doesn’t include the panels, the This Land is Our Land march, nor can it honestly capture the post OR exhaustion. These topics will all come later, as they each deserve their own space.

Overall, I am so thankful for my first OR experience. The generosity shown to me from professionals in the industry, the connections with media I formed, and insightful conversations for a path moving forward were worth every hour of sleep I lost.

Cheers to OR January 2018 at it’s new Denver home.

 

Review: Scarpa Boostic

My first pair of climbing shoes were Scarpa’s, and after my La Sportiva Solutions took their last route, I decided to go back to my climbing roots.

When I tried on the Boostic’s, Scarpa’s “premier weapon for everything past the vertical,”  they reminded me of the La Sportiva Miura’s I had a few years back. The fit is similar, maybe a bit wider, with about the same downturn in the toe, giving it the aggressive feel for steeper routes.

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And true to Scarpa’s claims, the Boostic’s are a powerhouse. I’ve climbed nearly every type of route in them. Sandstone, granite, limestone, multi-pitch, traditional, sport, and bouldering. Disclaimers: I would not recommend these shoes on sandstone, multi-pitch, or trad! At the time I didn’t have another pair of shoes that would fit the bill.

The Boostic is a stiff shoe. I’ve been climbing in these since last November and they still have barely any give. This is my main issue with the shoe. After climbing in the Solutions and getting used to a softer rubber, using a stiff shoe feels uncomfortable and unstable to me.

Honestly, I’ve been waiting for these to blow out so I can go back to the Solutions or the Miura’s. This is also because for me and my feet, La Sportiva’s provide the best fit.

With that being said, I do enjoy wearing these shoes indoors. They are true to size, and when I’m climbing in the gym, I can usually keep them on for multiple routes before I need to give my feet a breather. Because they’re not as downturned as other aggressive shoes like the Instinct, or 5.10’s Hiangle, it’s much easier to smear in these shoes. However, I wouldn’t trust them too much. I tested them out on granite and it didn’t go very well.

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If you’re looking for a stiffer shoe with a good edge, the Boostic is a great shoe. I’d definitely recommend these shoes to someone who’s looking for their first aggressive shoe. It’s the perfect amount of downturn to feel like you’re one with the rock.

Retail for $180, but you can find them on sale for around $110.

Midweek Round-Up #2

Who says you can’t have a midweek round-up on a Friday?

For the first time ever, a group of badass lady setters are coming together to create a space for women to learn the art of route-setting. From the founder: “SheSets intends to create an environment where women are taken seriously, where expectations of women are high, and where women don’t have to fight the urge to grow.” The weekend takes place in Loveland, OH, and has a variety of pay options. Check it out, http://www.shesets.com/

REI’s #forceofnature movement. This year, REI has made a commitment to grow the presence of women in their advertisements, and provide better and more technical options for women in the outdoors. You can check out their movement on any social media outlet with the hashtag mentioned above.

Isaac Lowe-Anker, son of Alex Lowe, and adoptive son of Conrad Anker, is not only an adventurer, but also a talented artist. Check out his IG @iloweanker for beautiful pen and pencil artwork.

The IFSC heard us! Two weeks ago, the International Federation of Sport Climbing announced they would start charging viewers to watch the World Cup Series for $20/month. I don’t even pay that much for Netflix. Of course, climbers everywhere took a stand and protest signs were prominent at the first IFSC World Cup of the season. Shortly after the IFSC released a statement rescinding their decision to charge. Keep climbing free!

Gear Review: Patagonia Super Alpine Bib

Patagonia’s Super Alpine Women’s Bib is the bib to end all bibs. Made specifically for big (or small) mountain adventures in the worst conditions, the alpine bib delivers with thoughtful specifications, like the two-way full-length side-zips and drop seat configuration.

I bought the alpine bib’s with my first touring set-up. I was working at a gear shop at the time and wanted to outfit myself with the best gear. For me, Patagonia almost always falls into that category. Besides their ethical code of conduct for every part of production, they strive to take care of the planet, and create killer products that last as close as you can get to a lifetime.

Back to the bibs: 100% nylon Gore-Tex that doesn’t suffocate the user, and easy-to-access zippers make it hard to overheat. I’ve used these bibs as low as zero and as high as 50 and haven’t had issue at either end. I love the snap closure at the top zip which allows for a large air vent, or the ability to pee without shedding every layer. The shoulder straps are easily adjustable by shifting the cross strap at the back or through the hook-and-loop Velcro at the front.

There are two pockets on the front of the pants that are great for holding snacks or a cell-phone, although if I put my cell-phone in the right leg pocket while the pants are vented, it creates an uncomfortable pull across the thigh.

Although I’m not yet into serious winter ascents where I need crampons, the bottom of the pants are heavily reinforced to prevent tears from crampons or skis.

I’ve had these pants for three seasons and haven’t found a single issue with them. The bib is low enough to be comfortable, but high enough to keep powder out on waist-deep days.

Five stars, would recommend.

Review: Wasatch Backcountry Skiing App

I am a die-hard lover of the paper version. I’ll take a book over a kindle, a newspaper over an online edition, and a map over an app. Generally. However, the Wasatch Backcountry Skiing App is a game changer.

The Wasatch Backcountry Skiing App takes it’s parent paper version and turns it into an interactive technological map that can be zoomed in/out, turned, and oriented either in the direction of travel or north.

One of the best features of the app is it’s GPS component. As long as your cell phone has battery life, you can track your progress through a blue dot on the app. With the GPS, you can also find your elevation, longitude/latitude, and compass degree. This has helped me figure out where the skin track is supposed to be, and has allowed me to get a better idea of where I am in the backcountry.

Because of the improved GPS accuracy, you can search for a location in the Cottonwoods and choose it as a destination. The compass then incorporates a blue arrow that points you in the direction you wish to go.

The App also features an “Email Current Location” option so you can track your own progress, or alert friends/family members of your most recent location.

Some other great features are the shading of slopes steeper than 30 degrees, and route finding capabilities.

The only downfall to the app is the inability to get your bearings once you’ve zoomed out. However, the app is best used as a companion to the Wasatch Backcountry Skiing Map.

I highly recommend this app for its ease of use, slope shading, and GPS features.

You can purchase for either iPhone or Android through the App store for $12.99.

For further information, check out the developer’s webpage here.