The outdoor industry is constantly innovating, whether it’s integrating more sustainable materials and business practices, or developing new technology to keep people safer in the outdoors. And when it comes to keeping current on the growth and creativity taking place in the industry, there’s no better place to get a glimpse of the big picture than at the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show. From keeping it green, to lightening the load, take a look at five takeaways from this year’s show.

  1. Gear is getting even lighter: It’s true. Companies like ChacoMountain Equipment and POC debuted soon-to-be-released products that sacrifice ounces, not comfort. Keep an eye out this year for a lightweight boot line-up from Chaco, a durable Kinesis Jacket from Mountain Equipment designed with a super lightweight Helium 30 fabric, and POC’s latest freeride/all mountain helmet: the Obex SPIN, set to be released later this year. The helmet features some of the safest protection technology with a featherlight feel.
  2. Companies are creating “greener” products: Green is in, and more and more gear companies are striving to take their environmentally-friendly status up a notch. On the eyewear front, Zeal Optics launched new products at the show (like the Crowley) designed with a plant-based frame. The Snow Shed Wax Co.  continued to highlight their dedication to using water-based, non-toxic and biodegradable ingredients for their non-stick top sheet spray. Flowfold displayed repurposed high quality fabrics in their line of unique bags and accessories, and Seek Dry Goods  highlighted water-based inks and responsibly sourced garments. And best of all, more companies are making more products safer for consumers and the environment right here in the good ol’ US of A.
  3. Startups are on the rise: New and younger companies are gaining traction across the outdoor industry, especially those focused on creating tasty backcountry compatible food and beverages, like Cusa Tea and Alpine Start, both out of Boulder Colorado, and Good To-Go of Kittery, Maine.
  4. No snow doesn’t equal no fun: As I walked around this year’s show, my ears kept falling on phrases like “I know it’s not great for the environment, but…[fill in non-snow related activity here] has been nonstop awesome.” And “with the lack of snow on the trails, the [trail activity of choice] has been great!” Long story short, while this winter has been tough for the die-hard skiers among us, we’re all still out there getting after it and playing outside in so many other ways (i.e.,biking, hiking, climbing).
  5. Year of the female: Women-owned and operated businesses are here to stay, especially Coalition Snow — a women’s-specific gear company based in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area. When it comes to women’s-specific gear, companies like Coalition Snow don’t “pink it and shrink it.” Instead, they’re designing high quality skis, snowboards and splitboards to meet the needs of women, and the #SisterhoodOfShred community is loving it!