The Outdoor Industry Is Going Everywhere

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Denver, CO — This is the year there could be no doubt that outdoor tipped its cool factor. The hipster ratio at the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show, the largest U.S. trade show for the outdoor and winter sports industries — held seasonally in winter and summer — was as high as Brooklyn, Portland or Milwaukee. Over and over again I heard that the majority of what is sold at that show won’t be to scale mountains but rather to walk dogs, run from the car to the mall, etc.

In its first year in a new city, the show drew 7,400 buyers and 1,000 brands from over 60 countries, indicating that the industry continues to be invigorated.

Consumer lifestyles are moving outdoors, creating great changes for the business landscape. Another driving force in the industry’s growth is the volume of outdoor products being used indoors. In fact, “outsidesy” is quickly becoming the new “outdoorsy,” a trend we predicted would happen more than five years ago.

“Getting more people into the outdoors responsibly is always the goal, because that means more people falling in love with and advocating for public lands, and these awe-inspiring places,” said Will Egensteiner, senior gear editor for the popular consumer publication OUTSIDE.

Egensteiner believes the industry as a whole has the ability to enact change. “There’s been a lot written about the economic clout the outdoor industry wields, and everyone from the OIA (Outdoor Industry Association) to mom-and-pop stores have shown they’re willing to make noise about issues affecting the industry and the things we hold dear. With proper organizing and mobilization, the industry could really throw its weight around for the better.”

Here are some of the new trends that impact outdoor and indoor lifestyles. They are relevant to any natural products retailer who wants to add another product line or partnership to their business.

Athleisure makes room for “Workwear”  

Dickies, Walls, and Carhartt are pushing further into the outdoor space, and traditionally outdoor companies are meeting them. Patagonia has its own workwear line, and Outdoor Research is launching a ski jacket that is built to a workwear look, even if you’d never use it for that.

Embracing all body types

There are so many more options for people of all body types and sizes beyond the zero-percent body fat uber-athlete. More people (and a broader range of people) can drive that demand with increased accessibility in gear. 

Sole searching

The outdoor industry knows how to treat your feet. Most of us spend a lot of time on our feet (walking trade shows isn’t easy), so footwear that provides comfort and stability is always important!

Whatever the weather, Cougar’s doesn’t let Mother Nature dictate your style or sacrifice fashion for protection. These boots are weather-proof but not weather-dependent — meaning, you’ll look good, rain, snow or shine.

Aetrex has a new industry-altering digital foot scanner, the iStep, which will bring even couch potatoes into stores solely for this amazing experience. As Matt Schwartz said, “Feet are like snowflakes…each one is unique.” This 3D technology immediately designs to your specific foot type and footwear style.

I read that Oprah cannot get enough of Emu Australia slippers and now, neither can I! Handmade in Australia, EMU uses craftsmanship, with quality in mind, to create world-leading slippers. With colors inspired by the Australian landscape, this company crafts fashionable slippers the whole family will want to wear and show off.

Old Friend Footwear is inspired by the relationship many have with their pets and “feels” the relationship we have with our slippers is no different. Just like your favorite four-legged friend, Old Friend provides slippers that make you feel safe no matter where you are.

Sockwell makes it easy to look chic while pampering your feet with compression offering a variety of therapeutic solutions including diabetic friendly, bunion relief, sport compression, and everyday essentials. Looking chic while taking good care of your feet impacts the rest of your body, causing feelings of well-being.

Eco-awesome finds

The outdoors are calling…for help! More and more companies are proving that making a good product that is also good for the environment is easy and “eco-trending.”

Haiku’s eco-conscious collection recycles plastic bottles into adventure bags made for everyday use. From small to large travel bags this collection is an eco-friendly way to make sure you’re packed for any adventure while also giving back to the environment at the same time.

Coral Isles Sunscreen protects you and coral reefs too. Sunscreens on the market claim to be “coral-safe,” but Coral Isles actually is, thanks to a natural formula that contains no coral-harming chemicals like zinc or titanium dioxide. Protect your skin and one of nature’s most precious ecosystems.

Using the same material found in the soles of footwear, Nikwax strengthens where it’s sprayed to make any fabric water-proof yet still washing machine friendly so you won’t have to throw away your water-ruined wardrobe. Simply spray it on your clothing, shoes and accessories and never worry again about not having an umbrella.

Adventure with ease

We’re not all cut out for the “outdoorsy” lifestyle. Luckily there are plenty of products on the market ready to assist with your adventure needs.

You can make fully cooked meals in minutes without a microwave, oven or stove. O’Meals uses a heating pad technology to heat and cook home style meals using only liquid. No more rubbing sticks together, lighting matches, starving because you don’t have the appliances you need to cook or having to catch dinner on your next outdoor adventure. You can enjoy O’Meals when you are on the go in a minivan, sailboat, on a mountaintop, glacier or even at home watching TV.

Ladies can avoid unforgiving bathroom conditions on runs, hikes or camping trips with the TinkleBelle, a funnel-like product that allows women to go conveniently crouch- and hassle-free.

Sprigs exercise and travel gear provides genius innovation to ease your workouts and adventures while never losing style. Their line of outdoor products, consisting of everything from armbands to innovative jacket carriers, allows you to focus on your adventure instead of where you’re going to put your coat, jacket or any other valuables.

When it comes to chafing, people chafe in different spots for different reasons, sometimes even depending on the weather. Body Glide anti-chafe balm saves your skin in all the right places by providing a barrier to rubbing and friction that injure skin and irritate the body. It has no fragrance and is invisible on your skin, making it the preferred, all-day solution to prevent irritation, chafing, and abrasive burns.

Adventuring outdoors is nothing if you can’t see the beauty in front of you.

We wear glasses, goggles, and eyewear to protect our eyes from getting dry and blurry —  but what happens when the eyewear that’s supposed to protect our eyes, impairs our vision? Sven Can See is the leading visibility safety product that provides instant anti-fog/frost relief in all temperatures.

ReadeREST allows you to keep your glasses off the ground and securely attached to your shirt. No longer will your expensive eyewear get damaged from falling. With ReadeREST you can “rest” assured that you will be stylish while holding onto your favorite frames.

Winter fashion & innovation

There are so many styles to help you stay warm and on-trend even in the snow.

Kari Traa, three-time Olympic medalist in freestyle skiing, continues her success off the course with her athletic brand. Inspired by her own ski gear that she customized herself, her winter wear line merges functionality and style through the use of fun patterns and top-quality fabrics. You can tell this line is going to be a winner because it was created by one.

German headwear company Earebel is making its U.S debut. These hand-made knit hats use Bluetooth technology to keep your music playing so you no longer have to worry about tangled headphones. Don’t see a style you like? No problem, you can order your own knit set and create your own.

The next Outdoor Retailer event will be held July 23-26, 2018 in Denver.


Nancy Trent is a writer and speaker, a lifelong health advocate, a globe-trotting Nancy Trenttrend watcher and the founder and president of Trent & Company, a New York-based marketing communications firm with an office in Los Angeles. Trent & Company grew out of Nancy’s personal commitment to helping people live longer and healthier lives. A former journalist for New York magazine, Nancy has written seven books on healthy lifestyles, serves on the editorial boards of several magazines and travels around the world speaking at conferences and trade shows on trends in the marketplace. She is a recognized expert in PR with more than 30 years of experience creating and managing highly successful campaigns. Nancy can be reached at (212) 966-0024 or through e-mail at nancy@trentandcompany.com.  You may also visit http://www.trentandcompany.com.

NOTE: WholeFoods Magazine does not endorse any specific brand or product. Always seek the advice of a medical professional before adding a dietary supplement to (or removing one from) your daily regimen. The opinions expressed in bylined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher.

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