Five Great Things From Outdoor Retailer Winter Market

 Outdoor Research. Debuting our shiny new booth.

Outdoor Research. Debuting our shiny new booth.

The Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow. A reunion of summer camp proportions for folks in all arenas of the outdoor world; suppliers, non-profits, guides and athletes, manufacturers, retailers, PR folks, sales reps, writers, and event organizers interested in all things that relate in every way to skiing, climbing, hiking, running, fishing, yadda yadda. Its the twice yearly opportunity to debut everything shiny and new: innovations to rock our adventure worlds, colors that will make their mark on our future closet palettes, expressions of artistic celebration for the places and adventures we love... The "#ORSHOW" is a four day extravaganza of meetings, education, selling, way too much coffee and way too little sleep.  Each show reveals something that, despite the long hours and sensory overload, sticks in my mind long after the last stretch of red carpet has been rolled up and the final crate of mannequins has been packed away. From the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012 show, here are my top 5 things of 9 (the other four are coming later):

1. The OIWC's Breakfast and Awards Presentation. Powerful words from award winners Karen T'King (Pioneering Woman Award) and Liz Stahura (First Ascent Award), their presenters, Steph Davis and Julia Day and sponsor presenters, Audrey Hicks and Maile Buker were enough to fill the inspiration and motivation buckets, but the bucket filling didnt stop there. To be in a room so jam packed full of strong, motivated, and active women and men who together all support gender equality in the workplace was incredible. Moments like this feel like progress and hope grows for better opportunities for all of us in the future. Karen hit it spot on commenting, "Whether we succeed through rebellion or nurturing, well, that's probably best saved for cocktail conversation". I'd have to say its a little of both, and we could use more of both.

2. Hugs. Lots of hugs. Squeezy ones. Tall ones. Short Ones. The kind that sway back and forth. Ones accompanied by giggles. Some that smell of shampoo, clean laundry, or dawn patrol. Hugs that lift you off your feet. Ones that ooze friendship and love. They are good. All of them. Every single one is unique. Every single one feels wonderful. And if you are in any sort of hug deficit, the tradeshow is the ideal place to fill up your reserves. The show can be tough. Nonstop meetings start at 7am, followed by dinners that revolve around work and then post dinner events that end late that are also mostly about work. Coffee is one way to get through it all. But the real secret? Hugs. Nothing refills my stores of happy and energy faster or better than all the hugs. This is the absolute best part of the show, hands down. More, please.

 Gelato. A great lunch option. Just bring a friend. 

Gelato. A great lunch option. Just bring a friend. 

3. Men With Appetites. Now, don't get the wrong idea. I like food, but alas, my food shelves fill quickly. Even my ice cream shelf. Sigh. Its such a shame to waste tasty morsels of culinary goodness, especially a two-egg-with-bacon breakfast. Luckily, in this industry heavily weighted towards the male gender, its pretty much an absolute that meals will be had with men who double as skiers, alpinists, ice climbers, etc. and who require copious amounts of food to sustain their fuel stores for those sports. Its so great because I can order whatever I want. They order what they want, (and maybe they even order an extra waffle for the table - awesome). I eat a little of what I order, grab a bite of what they have - sharing is caring! - and then leave the rest for them to consume in preparation for whatever adventure they've planned next. Its great. Very rarely does a plate get cleared that isn't fully cleaned of the last crumb even though I dont have to do the cleaning.

4. You too can be a save-the-world scientist.  Before an unfortunate experience with a chemistry class in college, I entertained the idea of being a park ranger, veterinarian, or environmental biologist. Alas, it was both my first and last chemistry class. Luckily, Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation can provide me or you the opportunity to contribute to scientific research that effects the places we love to play and the species who inhabit those places even if we dont have the letters P, H, and D at the end of our names. The organization is built on the brilliant idea of providing opportunities for the average hiker, climber, and bird watcher to tap into their inner field researcher by collecting samples while out hiking/climbing/calling to birds. The samples are provided to researchers matched with the hiker/climber/birder who are doing specific studies and need an inexpensive way to gather data. Not that I ever really need an excuse to get out there, but the idea of my adventures having a value beyond my own personal satisfaction and enjoyment makes it all that more meaningful.

 Yes, please.

Yes, please.

5. Boots.  They are the one girly impulse I cant help. Ariat Boots sprung into my life a couple years ago at the show. Speed walking from one corner of the convention center to another, I was stopped dead in my tracks by beautiful creations of leather, wood, rubber, and color. Holy smokes, sister, brother. Since, the Little Green House has acquired two pairs, and I'm not ashamed to admit a third pair  are now on their way to join the party. The most comfortable post-climbing footwear and the only things that didn't make my feet hurt standing day after day at the show. Their upcoming fall selection is no exception, with gorgeous new styles to satiate your inner cowgirl, city girl, English countryside girl, or climber girl. Call this a shameless product plug, but you'll probably also call me to dish how much your feet love you after you get a pair.