Greetings from … Huntsville!
While the rest of the BackpackingLight team was travelling to Salt Lake City today in preparation for Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, I spent the day 45 miles North of Salt Lake City at the Open Air Demo in nearby Huntsville, Utah. Open Air Demo gives show attendees the opportunity to try paddling, navigation and climbing equipment in an outdoor setting, while giving makers of bulky equipment like tents and vehicles, as well as smaller vendors who may not have a booth at the main exhibit, a venue to show their wares.
This year’s show is bigger than ever with over 1100 exhibitors at Outdoor Retailer, and nearly 100 at Open Air Demo. Most of the products shown are aimed at mainstream (read “heavy weight”) outdoor activities. While walking through the booths today, I was struck by what a small minority backpackers are in general, and lightweight backpackers are in particular, in the outdoor community. Nevertheless, I saw a number of exciting new lightweight products including a potentially revolutionary Personal Locator Beacon, innovative tent designs, and lightweight sleep systems.
Open Air Demo’s location at Pineview Reservoir provides the perfect setting to test paddling gear.
New Satellite Personal Tracker from SPOT.
It’s about 95 degrees in the sun today. For some reason, this is by far the most popular booth.
The single-person Sierra Designs Velox 1.
New 4-season convertible tents from Big Sky Products.
Golite introduces an entire line of new tents.
A prototype hammock underquilt system from Eagles Nest Outfitters.
Maybe we’ve been going about this lightweight backpacking thing all wrong… With the Earth Roamer Jeep conversion, there’s no need to carry a pack at all. Just drive to your pristine, remote site and deploy your shelter.
That’s a wrap from Open Air Demo. Stay tuned throughout the next few days as we begin our dispatches from main show at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2007.