The Best of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2015

Brandon Gracey
February 5, 2015

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2015 has come and gone, and we had the chance to head out to Salt Lake City to check it out. At the world's largest trade show in the outdoor industry, 1,036 brands were battling for attention in a sea of over 20,000 attendees. Here are a few highlights from the four-day event.

The Best of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2015

Best Product Focus: SuperFeet

How do you one-up yourself after last year? Stick with the theme and add some color. SuperFeet, a brand that makes high performance insoles for everything from dress shoes to hiking boots, launched their REDHot insoles at ORWM this year as a throwback to their first product, orthotics for ski boots. Last year, SuperFeet raffled off a carbon mountain bike in conjunction with their new CARBON lightweight insoles. Since REDHot insoles were designed for winter sports footwear like ski and snowboard boots, they raffled off skis. A great example of maintaining focus on the product while bringing people into the booth.


Best Koozie: OluKai OluKai is a footwear brand with Hawaiian roots that prides itself on offering style, durability, and comfort. They took the same handcrafted approach they apply to their shoes and applied it to that most common of trade show giveaways: the koozie. I've got more koozies than most guys (actually we all have more koozies than most guys...if that's possible), but OluKai's leather koozie wrapped around a hot cup of Kona coffee was a game changer.


Best Booth Draw: Royal Robbins You went out to Red Iguana last night. You waited in line for an hour in the cold, and you caught up with some mole and a few Presidente Margaritas...completely forgetting that you had a 9:00 AM meeting the next morning and wouldn't have the time or patience for the Starbucks line at the Marriott. Enter: Royal Robbins and their espresso machine.


Best Floor/Innovative Booth Design Feature: Ahnu In an ocean of concrete floors and threadbare carpeting, the mysteriously--and invitingly--soft floor at the Ahnu booth made it a frequent stop throughout the week for most attendees. I don't have a photo for this one, but major points go out to Ahnu for giving attendees a great reason to stick around. To this day, I have no idea what that floor was made of, but it was one of the best investments at the show and a great example of thinking out of the box with booth design.

Best Show Special: Sherpa

I'm partial to anything that wins me brownie points when I get home0--especially when I arrive back and tell my better half I had a great day at Snowbird to wrap up the week. Handing over a Sherpa Nangpala Hooded Down Jacket as a peace offering was all it took for her to forget that I'd been in the best snow on earth a few short hours ago. I'll spare you the details on what a great deal it was, but my Uber bill from SLC was higher. The Handshake crew all grabbed one, and most considered a second.

Best All You Can Drink Beer Cup: Hydroflask While other water bottle brands may have been giving out drinks and water bottles, Hydroflask came out of nowhere at this year's Winter Market with Hydroflask pint cups, free beer, and a live DJ. Bonus points for the by-the-front-door location, where you could grab a pint for the road and a lasting impression of their brand.


Best Context: Osprey Packs Apologies for the blurry photo, which doesn't do this idea justice. Osprey Packs makes backpacks for long treks and travel, and they did a great job of contextualizing the use of their products. In this case, it was the idea that you could carry enough gear for a long backpacking trip in one of their packs, and still bring it onto the plane as a carry-on. To drive the point home, they had a makeshift plane in their booth, with overhead bins featuring their packs. Brilliant.


Hope those ideas proved inspiring for your next trade show. If you have any questions or happened to be in Salt Lake City this year and have more to share, let us know in the comments. For more ideas, check out some of our observations at last year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.