I went out to the Outdoor Retailer show last week. Quite the experience. In prior lives I had been to a few expo-type things and some conventions. But nothing as big as this show. Every day of walking the show floor led to sore tired feet. It's been a while since that has happened. I even brought what I thought were the right shoes for walking on concrete floors. Funny how the odd and unexpected things end up making the strongest impact.
The show itself was remarkable. If you are an outdoorsy person this place would have been pretty close to heaven. Just about every possible gear maker and vendor was there. This was the winter show so things skewed towards winter sports and not so much towards summer. I was hoping for more of the paddling stuff, but...I guess that's for the next show this coming August - the Summer Outdoor Retailer - supposed to be even bigger than the Winter Outdoor Retailer.
What did I find? All sorts of things - beyond the people I was lucky enough to meet - here's one of the things I liked that I found at the show - toe socks - from Injinji. They are a mix of non-scratchy wool and several other fabrics.
I like how they feel. This might be an acquired taste for some though. For others, especially if you like flipflops with the anchor thing between your toes, you'll love these socks.
Two more things that caught my eye, amongst the plethora (word for the day) of displays that were filled with other neat things.
1 - LipZip lip balm. I think this stuff is for skiers, but their innovations solve two problems for me which is why I like it. They added a small hinge to the cap, so now you can't lose the cap, it is attached to the barrel. They also added a retractable string and a clasp to the bottom of the barrel. So now you can hook it on a belt loop or a D-ring, instead of losing it or forgetting to take it out of your pocket and then running it through the washer.
2 - Smartshield sunscreen and bug repellant - Like LipZip's market, the sunscreen bug juice market is an old giant already full of products. But again I thought this was a product that had a couple of nice innovations and therefore is significantly different from what is already out there. First, their product is applied with a towelette. Personally, I have ALWAYS DISLIKED sprays and lotions, both sunscreen and bug juice, so I have tended not to use them. I do however like towelettes, especially the towelettes you get from KLM on some of their flights. And now from Smartshield too.
The second thing I like about this sunscreen/bug juice is that it is based on aloe vera. This means that it will absorb into skin and not sit on top of skin like petrol-based products. If you enjoy the blessings of a head without hair, like I do, this is big because this is a sunscreen I can put on top of my head that won't runoff when I sweat and trickle into my eyes and sting like crazy. Once summer rolls around I'll post again with some results.