The summer 2022 Outdoor Retailer Show marked the last time for the event in Denver, Colorado. Starting next January, the largest retailer showcase in the outdoor industry will make its way back to Salt Lake City, Utah, for 2023.
The summer OR show brought out many top-name outdoor industry brands, from Hydroflask to Osprey. It also attracted new smaller brands to the event, such as Fore Winds camp stoves.
This show was the first OR since the pandemic’s start, where it felt like the industry was starting to emerge again, revealing new gear for 2022 into 2023. This year’s exhibit had more companies, energy, and crowds than recently. More events and exhibitions were also taking place outside the convention center in Denver this summer.
There are always trends in the outdoor industry, and this summer OR show was no exception. Here are a few top trends that popped up at OR this year that are likely making their way to outdoor stores near you soon.
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Everywhere you turned this year, there were coolers. High-end coolers offering promises of frigid ice retention for hours and days are nothing new. However, this summer, more and more companies are getting in on the action, specifically with a push toward vacuum-insulated drinkware and related products.
From Dometic to Orca, coolers were hot this summer. Even Hydro Flask, known for its water bottles, is getting in on the action with new carryout coolers in colors for day escapes and beach vacations. For under $100, these coolers offer around 36 hours of chilly beverages and food.
Van lifers have been posting photos of life on the road on Instagram for years, and now the industry has caught up with them. Vans decked out for life on the road with all the latest gear parked around the Colorado Convention Center.
The OR summer show featured an entire van zone dedicated to van life and the Overlanding experience. From Vandoit, a custom van build company, to Lippert, a brand making racks, hitches, coolers, and tents for Overlanding, the Overlanding space is growing.
Even Overland Journal, a publication dedicated to the Overland lifestyle, was onsite sharing the life on the road theme.
When van life and Overlanding first hit the scene, there were a lot of do-it-yourself or DIY conversions where the drivers would figure out how to build what they needed into a van.
Now some companies are prefabricating entire vans for those looking to hit the road. There were even rental van companies onsite at OR, such as Dave and Matt Vans, to promote the on-the-road lifestyle to help people dip their toes into this outdoor retail trend.
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Outdoor companies like Patagonia have been on the front lines of sustainability for years. However, at Outdoor Retailer this summer, the sustainability trend seems to have hit full steam.
Everywhere you looked, renewable processes, materials, and promises were made to the environment.
For instance, Helly Hansen unveiled its new outdoor collection, including the Odin 9 World 3.0 Jacket featuring its new Ocean Bound recycled material. This material is made from recycled waste, such as bottles and fishing material, and is reclaimed from oceans. Helly Hansen breaks down the garbage into pellet form, which is then made into recycled yarn that goes into Ocean Bound products. At least 50 percent of the product is composed of recycled materials.
Other companies, from Osprey to Mammut, showcased products with similar sustainability efforts. This movement isn’t a new trend but is a growing one as more and more outdoor companies are looking at sustainability as a way to do business. By buying such products, you can do your part to help the environment this season.
It may be a niche industry, but insect repellent was a growing sector at this year’s OR. Multiple booths showcased a specific type of sustainable insect repellent or a technology that will keep those pests away.
Thermacell had one of the largest booths with the motto “turn it on… mosquitoes gone.” The company offers high-tech fuel-powered and rechargeable battery-powered mosquito repellent devices.
Other more traditional companies, such as Bug Soother MAX, showcased natural mosquito repellent that is safe for the entire family. Sawyer Products also had their products on display. Widely known for its global efforts in clean water and filtration, Sawyer has been making insect repellent since 1988. Their newest insect repellent is made of Picaridin, a synthetic replica of a natural solution derived from pepper plants. It’s also safe for the whole family (including pregnancy), long-lasting, and gear safe.
There were many other booths, like the Bug-A-Salt toy, with natural or family-friendly repellent options. In this case, this gamification is another unique aspect of this trend.
When camping, mosquitoes and other insects are often one tiny thing that can cause a considerable nuisance, so it stands to reason that the demand for accessible solutions is high. This outdoor retail trend also seems to move away from DEET products to more high-tech options or natural alternatives, such as those offered by Murphy’s Naturals.
The technology trend is woven throughout almost every other trend we saw at the OR summer show. Technology is driving practically every market, from clothing to packs. And while technology is an ever-present trend in the outdoor industry, this year, we are seeing it go a step further.
While giant tech companies such as Garmin were showcasing their high-tech watches that can track everything from your pulse-ox levels to heartbeats per minute, that sort of technology is getting integrated into the products more and more these days.
From BloqUV incorporating UV technology protection into its clothing to keep people safe from the sun’s rays to Karmik Outdoors using QR code decals to recover lost gear, there is a trend of technology becoming one with our outdoor activities.
Considering how much people love to track activities and analyze data, it should not be a surprise to see this trend taking a deeper root in the outdoor industry — odds are, whatever gear you buy this season will include some smart technology.
What do you think about the outdoor retail trends above? Have you noticed them or others in the outdoor community? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.