Trends: Outdoor Retailer 2015

The Naish Maliko (center) has a combo between a pod nose and and water-shedding dihedral for open ocean paddling. There were many more boards with hybrid noses at this year's show. Photo: Taylor

The Naish Maliko (center) has a combo between a pod nose and and water-shedding dihedral for open ocean paddling. There were many more boards with hybrid noses at this year’s show. Photo: Taylor

Trends: Outdoor Retailer 2015

Outdoor Retailer has come and gone and we’re tired—but stoked. The who’s who of the SUP world (and the rest of the outdoor industry) descends on Salt Lake City every year during the first week in August to launch new products, talk to dealers, start new relationships and continue old ones. After talking SUP all day, we inevitably go out and talk SUP all night. And then we do it again and again for days and days and days. It’s exhausting but it’s also exhilarating. We get to see new products, get into the minds of designers and find out the grand plans for the following year. It’s a lot to process but it’s always fun. Here are some things we noticed this year.

Round nose

Versatility is becoming the norm in race boards. Yes, there are still flatwater race boards but most companies—Naish, Focus, Surftech—are now selling a model with a rounded, rockered nose for use in bumps, rough water and surf conditions that still fly in the flats. These boards, with pod-shaped noses, have been around for a while now but they are now appear widely-accepted. If you have a 12’6″ or 14′ that can handle in all arenas, wouldn’t you prefer that over different boards for each condition?

Focus SUP designer Nitzan Benhaim with the Mo Freitas' pro model. Photo: Misselwitz

Focus SUP designer Nitzan Benhaim with the Mo Freitas’ pro model. Photo: Misselwitz

Inflatable city

Inflatables are everywhere. All the brands offer them now. Most companies have seen the light for quite some time but now there are no hold outs. They’re just too convenient, too simple to travel with and too cheap not to offer. Top-shelf brands like SIC are now offering boards like their iconic Bullet series in blow-up tech while brands like Hala Gear are pushing the limits of inflatable river designs. Brands are fully aware of the benefits of the inflatable and have either introduced or added more inflatables to their lines. Bottom line: consumers now have more choices than ever.

Paul Clark with the strangest and most intriguing inflatable SUP we saw at the show, the Hala Luya. Made for stomping big whitewater. Photo: Taylor

Paul Clark with the strangest and most intriguing inflatable SUP we saw at the show, the Hala Luya. Made for stomping big whitewater. Photo: Taylor

Fishy, fishy

We saw more fishing SUPs at the 2015 show than ever before. Why? It’s part of the move to the inland market. Yes, there’s plenty of ocean fishing but usually, as long as there’s water, there are fish too, meaning you can fish across the country—and the world. Riviera has a good-looking new fishing SUP, BOTE continues to dial in their fishing offerings and more and more companies are jumping into the accessories game.

MTI's SUP Safety Belt is redesigned for 2016 with a slimmer profile, more comfortable material and easier packability. Photo: Taylor

MTI’s SUP Safety Belt is redesigned for 2016 with a slimmer profile, more comfortable material and easier packability. Photo: Taylor

Not new, but improved

Along the lines of everybody jumping on the inflatable bandwagon, SUP brands seem to be moving in conservative, yet useful directions. Gone are the days of wild experimentation, throwing stuff at the walls and seeing what sticks or offering every kind of board out there. On one hand you could say that companies are playing it more safe. On the other, you could say they’re figuring out what works and improving upon it. They’re listening to what the market needs and wants and putting it out there. We’d say that’s a good thing.

Until next year!

More from OR 2015.