Outdoor Retailer has landed in Denver for only the second time, and the lead up to it was a busy one for us. We hosted three community-style events in three days. All of which brought people together in the great outdoors.
On Saturday we piled into Carlos Vantana and nudged it up a forest service road for a group camp-out. Group camp-outs are always a roll of the dice. Will people show up? Will they bring friends? Will everyone be able to find the campsite easily? There are a lot of unknowns, which make it a stressful event to host. We went up a day early and saved a nice spot just west of Boulder, Colorado. Our home for the weekend was spacious, surrounded by aspens, and had a wonderful view of Longs Peak in the distance. The fun thing about hosting a group camp out is the different types of people that come together to hang out under the stars. We had several families with children, a couple of people who are new to the area and excited to make friends, and a few folk in town for Outdoor Retailer who wanted to get away from the bustle before the conference began.
On Sunday, we rose well rested and ready to paddle. We paired with Old Town Canoes, and JAX Outdoors for a Stand Up Paddleboard and paddle meet up on Standly Lake. Here we were taking another chance! Would anyone be interested in trying out the watercraft? Would they be able to find us once they got to the state park? This meet up was also a great success! We had participants lined up waiting to try out all the different options. JAX Outdoors brought a grill and we served burgers and hot dogs all afternoon. It was wonderful to connect with the community on the water. We even took Henry for a ride.
Our last event was on the first day of Outdoor Retailer. Nite Ize set up a carnival in the parking lot outside the Convention Center, complete with moon bounces for adults, cotton candy, and a high striker to test your strength! the Live Outside and Play team was in charge of a frisbee speed test. You threw the frisbee as fast as you could through a tunnel and we clocked your speed. Fastest speed won their very own light up frisbee! We battled the classic afternoon rainstorms of Colorado throughout the evening, but still had a great turn out and a lot of fun. We parked our van and opened up for tours as well. Once again, these smaller events always leave us with a sense of rejuvenation. Being able to connect with your neighbors on a social level has a way of lifting any of the loneliness of #vanlife we sometimes feel out in the mountains.
And then the wild rumpus began!
Outdoor Retailer is a massive event with hundreds of outdoor-focused companies coming together in one place. When the Road Team went for the first time in winter, we were completely overwhelmed. This time around, we were a little more prepared for the expansiveness of the event. Organized into blocks, you wander through massive displays, often two levels high, with the newest of the new products out for presentation. Everything is beautifully designed, organized, and extremely pleasing to look at. There are speaker series, adventure film festivals, and happy hours every single day. It’s completely overwhelming and exhausting, but the energy of the people around you (and maybe the aggressive florescent lighting) keeps you journeying on to the next Moscow Mule.
During this whole week, many of the vendors made it a priority to pair with non-profits that are conserving nature and making plans for an environmentally focused future. We were excited to support our rivers with the 5000 Miles of Wild project during the Nite Ize event. We attended other events that supported Western Resource Advocates at Epic Brewing, and even another that donated to the conservation of public lands for every beer sold at Ratio Beerworks. Keep it up outdoor industry! We MUST be leaders in conservation in order to keep enjoying our outdoor lifestyles.
Up next we have another community-minded event! Join us at Upslope this Saturday for Apres alllll day. We are hosting a #vanlife rally during the event with plenty of vans joining. We can’t wait! See you there.
There is one way for this tour to be a reality, our sponsors! Sending a thank you shout out to our title sponsor Nite Ize, and all of our other awesome sponsors that make this happen: Crazy Creek, National Geographic, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, Lowe Alpine, Old Town, Leki, HydraPak, UCO Gear and Wenzel. If you like the gear that keeps us groovin’ click here to enter for a chance to win