The Talk at OutDoor Friedrichshafen

Just last week, nearly 1000 exhibitors from 40 countries gathered for the annual OutDoor trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, attracting over twenty-one thousand visitors. The industry’s biggest event provides a platform for brands to showcase their latest products and innovations, while networking with industry influencers.

Everyday adventure  
One of the most popular themes of this year’s fair was microadventure. The idea of affordable, local exploits allowing people to connect with the outdoors in their everyday life is a great opportunity for gear manufacturers. While professional explorers and sponsored athletes act as brand ambassadors, it is the everyday adventurer who makes the industry tick.

As more people are interested in finding nature on their doorstep, more equipment is designed for those who don’t feel the need to go fast or light. We can now enjoy thicker sleeping mats, more comfortable foldable chairs, and cool boxes that keep the beer cold and the food fresh.

Slow food
Primus, Hydroflask and many others presented innovations for outdoor cooking. Consumers are encouraged to leave energy gels and lyophilised meals to extreme athletes, and take time to power our microadventures with self-made, wholesome food. “Cooking outdoors is a great way of spending time with friends,” commented one of the exhibitors.

Climbing and running on the up
As new indoor climbing facilities continue to spring up in cities around the world, the sport has become a lifestyle pursuit for the urban dweller, affecting the shape of the industry. As a result, many companies have released or expanded their lifestyle clothing lines. Even legendary La Sportiva has designed a special line with indoor climbers in mind. “Climbing has long become an urban trend sport,” explained Volker Leuchsner, editor in chief of Klettern magazine.

Another sport that enjoyed increased focus was running, which this year became one of the major themes of OutDoor. The freshly launched Run&Trail Summit was a success and it attracted over 100 visitors, indicating that more and more runners are turning from tarmac to trail.

For men only
One of the more surprising trends was gear designed especially for men. In the last few years, the industry has seen better designs and marketing targeting the still undeserved women’s market. Now instead of unisex gear, both men and women will increasingly be able to choose products designed with their particular body types in mind. (A collection of technical thermals designed especially for men was presented by Best Piece.

As with 2016, sustainability remained the overarching theme of the show and it’s clearly recognized as more than a trend by all industry stakeholders. In addition, more attention was paid to social responsibility. Vaude, a German manufacturer of clothing and luggage, received a local authorities award for leading the way.  

After three days of conferences, networking, online influencer events and even OutDoor’s very own microadventure at Lake Constance, the fair concluded on a very positive note. Mark Held, General Secretary of the European Outdoor Group (EOG) commented: “[it] was a very good show and delivered a lot of great content for our industry.”

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