The Work: Willy Loman never imagined that a salesman's job could be so cool: Endless hours crisscrossing the country in a van full of newly minted mountain bikes, snowboards, and kayaks, and hosting demo events where consumers and retailers sample—and, hopefully, buy—your company's gear. The operative word is demo. You show how a squirt boat performs, and then let the customers try it themselves.
Time Outside: 20-80 percent, depending on how much office time is required to set up these events.
Payback: As a rookie working part-time and pulling in a scant $12,000 a year, your motto will be "keep it lean"—i.e., sleeping in your truck and staving off starvation. Eventually you'll max out at $45,000, unless you switch to the six-figure management track.
Prerequisites: No suit and tie, no advanced degree.What you really need are polished demo-ready skills and a healthy inner show-off: If you're pushing titanium mountain bikes, you'll need to be able to wow the crowd with flawless log-hurdling.
Networking: Outdoor Retailer magazine (800-255-2824; http://www.outdoorbiz.com) publishes monthly industry news and trends and cohosts the biannual Outdoor Retailer Expo.
Peon to Pro: Five years to full-time, but true success means no longer having to eat mac and cheese three days a week and bologna the other four.
Drudge Factor: "People beat the crap out of your equipment," says Chuck Joy, of kayak manufacturer Prijon, "then leave without saying thanks."
Outlook: Choose your gear wisely: The more radical segments of the industry—rodeo kayaking and sport climbing—are growing in popularity.