Overwhelming. This is the best word to describe my experience at the recent Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Denver, Colorado. The event takes place in a large convention center in downtown Denver and brings together exhibitors representing a broad variety of outdoor markets including trail running, camping gear, climbing, hiking, and water sports. I spent July 23-26 at the convention representing the American Trail Running Association (ATRA) at our display in the non-profit section. This was my first time at the convention in Denver and it was a fantastic opportunity to meet so many like-minded outdoor enthusiasts, fellow mountain runners, and overall creative and energetic people. There were many exhibitors and not enough time to see them all, but here are a few fun finds which will inspire your outdoor soul.
Rite in the Rain
Watch the video below and see the magic of waterproof paper! Rain Writer is based in Tacoma, Washington and develops notebooks with a unique all-weather paper. The entrepreneur of the company, Jerry Darling, developed the product almost a century ago for the logging industry. Currently, the company continues to perfect the water-proof coating on the paper developed years ago. For me as a writer and traveler, this paper is exactly what I need to pen my thoughts in inclement weather conditions. I can be out in the snow or rain and still write without worrying about my notes washing away, or the paper warping and crumpling. Where was this paper during my college years in rainy Portland?
Lily Trotters Compression Socks
Lily Trotters are stylish, comfortable, and quality-tested compression socks and sleeves designed for female athletes. Lily Trotters are also are known for their fashion, which is not usually found in compression products. Although these products are marketed toward women, I was not the only male athlete to try on a pair and love them. I always wear quality compression products on long flights to help my legs overcome jet-lag. They can also be used for recovery, or in racing to get extra blood flow to your legs. As my colleague Nancy Hobbs said when she first put the socks on, “I feel as if my legs are being hugged.”
Xero Rox Mat
This bumpy pad was designed by the team at ATRA member Xero Shoes for foot strength, balance and massage. When you step on the plastic “rock bed,” the different heights of bumps stimulate the nerves on your feet, as well as massage them. Anyone looking to transition to zero-drop or lower-drop shoes should consider using this mat. Zero-drop and lower-drop shoes require foot strength, which this mat can help develop. For me, this product is a great way to transition into the lower-drop Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger, which is soon to be one of the shoes in my rotation. The new prototype of this Kiger is incredible and thanks to the Xero Rox Mat, my feet will be strong enough to wear it when it’s released.
Skinners has developed an awesome footwear product that fits somewhere between a shoe and a sock. Skinners have anti-abrasive polymers on the bottom, which protect your feet from sharp objects and rough surfaces. When I first tried the product, it was at the Skinner booth where they had a carpet of LEGOs. I stepped on the pieces and felt no pain whatsoever. Skinners are also water-wicking and feel as comfortable as wearing a standard sock. They can be used in many different scenarios, such as at the gym for strength training, on a walk or short run on non-technical trails, on a plane, or walking on a riverbed over rough rocks. Best of all, they store in a suitcase just as easily as socks.
Return of the Trailbego
Lastly, for the first time in many years, ATRA member NIKE TRAIL RUNNING was an exhibitor at the Outdoor Retailer. The Nike Trail Team, led by Pat Werhane, parked their iconic, 70’s retro, blast-from-the-past Winnebago, also known as the Nike Trailbego, in its booth space inside the convention center. Nike’s lineup of next year’s trail shoes were displayed on a table fashioned from a wooden door complete with hand-drawn designs of the familiar Swoosh, mountains, and single-track trails. The updates to the Kiger and Wildhorse models are fantastic. I liked the flexible mid-foot material and wider fit on the new Kiger, which I look forward to trying out on the trails in 2019. Aside from the shoes, the Trailbego was a big hit for convention goers. Attendees stopped to take selfies in front of the RV and walk inside on its 1970s plush orange shag carpet. It’s now on my bucket list to road trip in the Trailbego with the Nike Trail Team.