On the Floor at Outdoor Retailer 2015
Outdoor Retailer. It's the mecca for anyone with any sort of stake in the outdoor/action sports industry—the gargantuan, gear gurus' arena where deals are sealed, names are faced and good (or bad) impressions are made among industry moguls and micro-brands alike. This week every August, a city is constructed within a Salt Lake City, and the Salt Palace Convention Center becomes home base for a massive collection of product pushers and purchasers representing the great outdoors and, more importantly to us, SUP. And every year, SUP the mag is here to bring you—the end consumer—a sneak peak at the innovative products driving our sport into a promising future. For the next four days, we'll bring you highlights from the best in show. Here’s what caught our eyes on day one.
SIC Maui’s FAST Technology
SIC has long been a leader in the open ocean category of our sport. That trend continues with the release of their FAST—Foot Actuated Steering Technology, which greatly simplifies their old ASS (Assisted Steering System). Paddlers can switch the tiller arm (that’s what you control the rudder with) between goofy and regular stance with a screwdriver and fin key in minutes, which allows them to hand off the board for their buddy to try. And, the steering mechanisms running down the board to the rudder are internalized, meaning less gear to trip up on while catching bumps and less chance of failure. We paddled it yesterday at the Open Air Demo and it was responsive, simple and slim under foot. After over two years of R&D, Mark Raaphorst’s newest design is a big leap in the downwind paddling market.
Hala Gear Boof Box
Hala is busting out some interesting tech for 2016 and the one we’re most excited about is their Boof Box. It’s simple and therein lies its genius: it’s a fin that recesses into its box—and goes flush to the board—when hit or pressed on. Translation: you can still use this fin on shallow whitewater runs without doing a superman. Keep your ferry angle and then hit that inches-deep rock drop, no problem. No need to pull out your fins or continue the debate between fins and finless. Simple.
NRS H2Core Series
One thing we notice about NRS: the team spends a lot of time outdoors. That leads to products that reflect that lifestyle and functionality on the water. Last year we tested their H2Core series and loved them, both men’s and women’s. For 2016, the products are lighter, more comfortable, better-looking and cooler in hot temps while still providing the same sun protection and durability. These will be a go-to for waterways from the river to the ocean.
Hobie Corky Carroll CC933 Model
The CC993 is the culmination of nearly half a century of collaboration between the long-time board innovators at Hobie and legendary California surfer, Corky Carroll. Back in 1967, Corky's Hobie Mini Model was introduced as America's first production shortboard. Fast-forward fifty odd years and Corky's latest Hobie model—the CC933—is an all-around, progressive SUP surfing board.
"I designed this to be a performance surfing SUP that can be ridden by anybody, beginner to expert," says Corky. "Being a bit wider than most SUPs it gives an amazing amount of stability to a board only 9'3" in length."
There's more to the CC933's design than a girthy mid-section. It features duel bottom concave in the mid to tail section to assist in breezy rail-to-rail transfer and speed, creating lift in the tail to drive the board down the line. Corky's idea in this design was to create a SUP that surfed as similarly to his midsized prone surfboards as possible. We're calling it now: He nailed it with the CC933.
We're more than pleased to be in the privileged position to report live from the frontier of great outdoor innovation. That said, we’d be lying if we didn’t admit: for everyone involved, OR is as exhausting as it is exciting. And so, we'll leave you today with a little comic realism—a glimpse into the lifestyle of a 2015 Outdoor Retailer compatriot.