[please login to make this ad block disappear]
Love it or hate it, SUP has become big. It’s easier to get in to than kayaking: you need less gear and there’s no need to learn any eskimo rolls. Fall off and climb back on, easy as that. SUP is also quite versatile. From fitness paddling on lakes through paddling easy whitewater up to surfing huge ocean waves, it’s all possible.
Originally, the SUP movement was evaluating from the surfing industry, but this year we see more kayaking companies jumping on the bandwagon for a piece of the cake: Native, Liquid Logic, Hurricane and Jackson Kayak have entered the market and you can expect more to follow soon.
Whether it’s worth it remains to be seen. Many people I talked to expect the hype to die within a few years, but it’s also very possible that SUP is here to stay. Time will tell.
Ladies and Kids Gear
I noticed an increased attention for ladies outdoor wear and gear.
Kokatat has traditionally led the way for female paddling gear, and Jackson Kayak sparked the trend for kids boats, and we now see more companies joining in: Pyranha, Palm, MTI, Stohlquist, and Astral, to name a few.
The skirt is being re-discovered for outdoor sports as well. There were a couple of brands that offered outdoor sports skirts, and one of them even makes ‘Running skirts for pregnant women’. Skirt Sports was the most visible of the female outdoor wear companies, also because they organized a fun ‘Skirt Chaser’ competition at the outdoor demo. And it’s not just women wearing outdoor skirts….
Finally, GoGirl was admitted to the US market this year, which gives a whole new meaning to the word SUP (stand up peeing) :)
There also seems to be a trend toward specialized dog gear, ranging from rain jackets to PFDs. D-fa from New Zealand presented some good looking dog PFDs in all sizes. Some may find it silly, as dogs can swim very well even without a PFD, but PFDs will certainly increase endurance and improve flotation in whitewater.
This was also the year of brands missing at OR. That’s what we said last year and the year before, but it looks like the list is getting longer each year. Jackson Kayak was doing its first trade show at OR, but that didn’t weigh up against the list of companies that I was hoping/expecting to see, but didn’t have a booth in Salt Lake City this year:
- BIC Sports
- Clear Blue Hawaii
- H2O Paddles
- Johnson Outdoors
- Kayak Session
- Mitchell Blades
- Paddler Magazine
- Peak UK
- Sea Kayaker Magazine
- Seven2 Paddles
- Shred Ready
- Ty-Warp Paddles
- Valley Seakayaks
- VOZ Sports
- Werner Paddles
The large list is partly caused by the slowing down of the economy and the high booth prices at OR, but it also has a lot to do with the timing of OR. OR used to be held late August, but this time it was mid July, which is probably great for general outdoor brands and apparel manufacturers (gives them more lead time to produce the gear they sold), but for paddling brands it is very unfortunate timing. Kayak retailers have to be in their shops in July.
The discussion about OR timing has been going on for some years now, but with the show now taking place in July instead of August, Canoe Kayak Magazine took the opportunity to initiate a ‘North American Paddlesports Tradeshow’ for 2010. The show will take place in Minneapolis in September 2010. CKM held a little public meeting about the subject in the Paddlers Zone during the show, and the meeting became as loud as one would have expected.
We’ll have to wait and see which companies go to which shows next year. Some of them will probably go to both, and some of them may go to neither of them. In Europe, a similar concept of a separate paddling trade show (Kanumesse in Nuremberg) is working very well, and it is even attracting a growing number of participants from North America. Then again, in Europe, many paddling shops are concentrating on paddling only (at least for summer sports), whereas it looks like retailers in North America also focus on other summer outdoor sports, so many retailers may be annoyed if they have to go to Salt Lake City and to Minneapolis.
Full versions of the OR Daily newspapers, with lots of interviews and background info, are linked to from Seanymph’s PaddleBlog.
As always, we took loads of photos of new products. Below is a list of our photos per brand.
- Photo impressions from the Open Air Demo (many different brands)
- Current Designs
- Delta Kayaks
- Emotion Kayaks
- Hurricane Kayaks
- Immersion Research
- Jackson Kayak
- Liquid Logic
- Mad River Canoe
- Native Watercraft
- Paddlers Supply
- Palm Equipment
- Predator Helmets
- Riot (yes, they’re back)
- Venture Kayaks
- Wilderness Systems
- WRSI Helmets