The European OutDoor Show in Friedrichshafen Germany

By Nick

What do people do at the OutDoor trade show!

The OutDoor trade show is where all the worldwide brands go in Europe to show off their products for next season. It is an opportunity for the shops and press to look at them all in once place, without the usual distractions.

Usually the buyer for a shop goes to a trade show with an idea of what they are going to buy in order to fill their shop for next year. If the shop is big enough then they might have a buyer for each department so the hardware buyer gets to look at all the shiny stuff from DMM and Black Diamond and a footwear buyer gets to try out the latest boots from Scarpa. Most UK shops seem to send two people to give a little balance, the lone buyer has often found themselves a season later with a shop full of eurostyle, especially if they made the choices over a bottle of grappa.

The perfect buyer would arrive at Friedrichshafen the night before so they can start the show well rested. Sittting at the lakeside restaurant they would go over their schedule for the show and confirm that each hall would be visted methodically and turn to reduce the amount of walking. Each night they would a have light meal and the odd glass of wine and be off early to bed. If they were keen they would enjoy a run or cycle to the Messe to get the blood flowing.

In the real world you arrive at Zurich at 9.00am having left your house at 3.00am. A coach then travels through every set of roadworks in Switzerland only to meet a traffic jam in Germany. You arrive mid afternoon missing all your morning appointments and then procede to play catch up for the rest of the show. Worst of all you know that you will miss your lunchtime appointment on the Mammut stand (best food free food at the show) and end up paying 10 euros for a Currywurst. After a stressful day you end up at the Vaude party and after 3 or 4 free beers you forget you were having an early one and stumble home after midnight, dreading that 9.00am appointment. This goes on for a few days until your luggage has become seriously overweight with workbooks and the airline representative at check in smiles smugly at the scales. Of course that doesn’t represent our recent trip.

What does Alpkit do at a trade show.
Im not sure we can call oursleves veterans yet as there are people we know that have been on the outdoor curcuit for 40 years and more, but both Jim and I have seen both sides of the OutDoor trade show, we have built stands and then sold stuff and we have trawled the show looking at ranges. We now have a slightly odd show as we don’t buy of the brands and we don’t have a stand selling stuff.

Contrary to opinion we don’t go there to have a good snoop at other products and then try and rip them of. However we do use them as a marker where we can then judge our own performance. The clearest example of this is when Arc’teryx came on the scene. Design team after design team from the worlds leading brand went on their stand and stood in awe at what was achievable, they didn’t go away and copy them as such, they just paid them a huge compliment for a sea change in equipment construction.

I can say honestly that there were only two products that I looked hard at to see how they were made. One was a Arc’teryx backpack in particular the method an internal pocket was made, the other was the new Neoair by Cascade Designs where I was blown away by it simplicity, I kept telling people it was tell just a airbed. But it tackles the problems of airbed so head on, that it has invigorated a new interest in this style of camp mat much more than the Exped down mat did. We do spend a lot of time on other brands but that’s usually talking to like minded people about stuff we like talking about.

Quote me!
“Do you like your knives big or small” - American knife brand.
“Barefoot is a beautiful natural thing” - American dude from Vibram five fingers.
“Crunch Love” - Jim Evans summing up the new relationship between brand and retailers.
“This isnt my main business, if you need a container full of uzis then i have that also.” - undisclosed.
There were also a number of quotes from the controversial retailer Frank Hennessy of Mountain Trek and Travel. But I’m sure he would get into even more trouble if we published them.

Interesting stuff, Gossip and personal thoughts
Simond bought by Decathlon, is this the start of some other strategy? They say not, but who knows?
Nike ACG stand - It looked like a jumble sale. Sorry I usually love the ACG stand but this year, eek.
Fidlock slider - awesome.
Neoair from thermarest - It’s just an airbed.
Macpac changing their distribution method from working through retailers to going direct (Aus and NZ only).
Missing B1 - having checked my notes we appear to have missed out an entire hall.
Exos Pack from Osprey - it must have been filled with Helium.

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