People walking in trade show
Outside Business Journal

The Big Gear Show, Day 2: What You Missed

Catch up on everything you missed at Day 2 of The Big Gear Show, including hot takes from retailers and exhibitors, new and noteworthy products, education sessions, and more

People walking in trade show

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Day Two dawned hot and hazy, with smoke from the Oregon fires raising air quality alert into the moderate range. But that didn’t stop attendees from taking to the water and trails to test out the latest in paddlesports and cycling gear.

Show directors expected a bigger retail turnout today, but most exhibitors didn’t seem to feel that panned out. Still, everyone we spoke with seemed please with the show overall—with the venue, the outdoor format, the social distancing, and the authenticity all being key elements that have attendees jazzed.

Education sessions were pulling in small but engaged groups of attendees. The sessions all had an intimate feel, with lots of interaction, questions, and comments from the audience, as moderators passed the mikes around encouraged a free exchange of ideas (more on education sessions below).

Retailer Hot Takes

“I’m a total newbie to trade shows and this industry. I opened my shop four months ago during the pandemic and 90 percent of the stuff I ordered I never saw in person, so it’s been great to see these brands and products. To get out of my bubble and meet a lot of retailers who are successful has been really encouraging and inspiring. I’m learning about different strategies and seeing what’s possible.” —Mandela Echefu, owner, Wheelzup Adventures in Cumberland, Maryland.

Two men at Big Gear Show Day 2
Mandela Echefu, right, opened his hike, bike, and paddle shop just a few months ago, thanks to the guidance and mentorship of fellow Maryland shop owner Steven Green of High Mountain Sports. (Photo: Kristin Hostetter)

“I haven’t written any orders yet, but I will before it’s over. I decided to bring in a raft company, Aire, so that’s new. I like this show. To me it feels like Outdoor Retailer 30 years ago in Tahoe.”—Ed Mcalister, owner, River Sports Outfitters in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Two men at the Big Gear Show day 2
Ed Mcalister of River Sports Outfitters found time to sit and talk with Troy Sicott of Mountain Hardwear on Day Two of the Big Gear Show. Mcalister says that, for him, the show is more about these types of interactions than anything else. (Photo: Kristin Hostetter)

Exhibitor Hot Takes

“I love the event atmosphere and location. Retailer traffic has been a little slow, but we’ve talked to a few quality people and some new people, which has been good. And we’ve written a few orders, which is even better. That’s what we’re here for. I believe this will be a good venue for hard goods.” —Dave Cozzone, vice president, Princeton Tec

Man at Big Gear Show Day 2 standing in booth holding headlamps
Dave Cozzone, VP of sales and marketing at Princeton Tec, is also headed to Outdoor Retailer next week to promote his company’s U.S.-made headlamps and lights. “Business has been good,” he told OBJ. “Everybody needs light.” (Photo: Kristin Hostetter)

“The quality of the connection has been great. Traffic may be a little bit on the lighter side, but I think the show has a lot of potential. It’s run really well. It’s just been good to connect with the community again. It feels authentic and it feels fun and the vibe is right. Our main purpose here was to showcase the new bike products we have coming out in the fall. We have some really good leads to follow up on.” —Supriya Limaye, chief officer of fun, Peak Design

woman in trade show booth at Big gear Show day 2
Peak Design is jumping into the bike market this fall with some mobile products. Supriya Limaye, the company’s “chief officer of fun,” says being at The Big Gear Show was a welcome opportunity to engage with and get get feedback from bike retailers. (Photo: Kristin Hostetter)

Hot New Products

There was plenty of new gear on display at Day Two of the show. Here a few of the fresh, innovative goodies that caught our eye.

PurTrek Trek Pole and Water Filtration System

Ever looked down at your trekking poles on the trail and thought, I wish these did something else? Apparently, the people behind PurTrek—based in Ogden, Utah—did. The company’s Trek Pole & Water Filtration System, new this spring, combines traditional hiking poles with a built-in water filter for rehydrating in the backcountry. We stopped by PurTrek’s booth for a quick demonstration. More info on the product can be found on the company’s website.

Cotopaxi Cielo

Cotopaxi has officially announced its first fully sealed waterproof jacket, the Cielo ($145-155), available in men’s and women’s. The move marks a step forward for the Salt Lake City-based brand, which until now has only offered water resistant options in its outerwear line.

Cotopaxi rain jacket
Cotopaxi’s new Cielo jacket will be fully waterproof, a first for the brand. (Photo: Kristin Hostetter)

Ignik FireCan

Personal heating brand Ignik is coming out with its first fire can, simply dubbed the FireCan, this fall. The design is inspired by a traditional “groover”—an ammo can repurposed as a portable toilet in the backcountry. Ignik founder Graeme Esarey explained the design process like so: “We started looking at groovers and thought, here’s this ordinary object—an ammo can—that has been reimagined to perform this really hard job. Why can’t we take the same concept and bring it into our word of personal heating?” In addition to being compact and durable, the FireCan is capable of sending up flames two feet high, and is completely forest-safe (i.e. fire ban approved) due to the foldable legs that raise it off the ground. Available this fall exclusively at REI, with wider distribution to follow in Spring ’22.

Fire can
Ignik’s new FireCan is modeled after a traditional ammo canister. (Photo: Andrew Weaver)

Education Sessions

Education sessions continued today with topics deeply relevant to hardgoods dealers: “The Pain Points of Paddle Shops,” “eBikes: Finance, Government Engagement, and Takeaways for New Retailers,” “Five Ways to Grow Online Sales,” and more.

Show director Kenji Haroutunian told OBJ that he’s already gotten an outpouring of appreciation from retailers due to the sessions’ intimate nature. Rather than jam-packed conference rooms, the education sessions at The Big Gear Show have so far been small and casual, with only a couple dozen attendees per event. That has given retailers time to ask lots of questions, Haroutunian said, engaging with presenters in deeper conversations than they might otherwise get.

People in a crowd listening to speakers
Day Two of The Big Gear Show continued the event’s small-format education sessions, which retailers have so far loved. (Photo: Billy Michels Photography)

First Time Around the Block?

Over the course of the day, we ran into several exhibitors who are brand new to the industry, making themselves known at trade shows for the first time. Here are a couple of the standout companies we interacted with.


Minnesota-based bikepacking brand Cedaero, founded in 2017, is a company of “adventurers, nomads, bike nerds, and gear junkies,” according to the team. The crew drove cross-country in a repurposed ambulance to make it out to Utah for the show this week. Bike-mounted bags and other travel accessories make up this quirky company’s wares.

Table with merchandise on it
(Photo: Courtesy)


Michigan-based startup GiantMouse came to the show with some of the most beautiful Danish-designed camping knives we’ve ever seen. Featuring both fixed blades and foldables, the company hopes to make a name for itself in a product category where legacy companies like Filson control much of the game.

As of the morning of Day Two, the company hadn’t written any orders. “We just came to meet people and get our name out there,” said founder and CEO Jim Wirth. “For us, this show is all about raising awareness of the brand.”

Knives laid out on a table
(Photo: Courtesy)

Reducing Plastic Bottle Use

Plastic Impact Alliance members are out in full force across the show. Sporting PIA signs and Yeti water stations, these champions of sustainability are doing their part to reduce single-use plastics while keeping people hydrated at the same time.

Man filling water bottle
OBJ contributor James Edward Mills refills his bottle at a PIA station. (Photo: Kristin Hostetter)