The Outdoor and SnowSports Trade Show Circuit

If you are an Outdoor or SnowSports Industry professional, attendance at a number of key Trade Shows around the world is worth the effort.  For retailers, distributors and manufacturers, as well as the media, these Trade Shows are introductions to next season’s gear, new companies, industry trends, a chance to build upon old relationships or start new ones.

While there are a number of Outdoor and SnowSports Trade Shows focused on just Australia and New Zealand that we cover as Southern Ascent, we also attend a number of important global shows in the United States and Europe, either directly or through our affiliate, The GearCaster.  It’s a chance to see not only what Australian and New Zealand companies are doing on the global stage, but also what Outdoor and SnowSports gear will likely be available in the Antipodes in the future.  Attached to most shows are also demonstration days, where our staff can touch, feel and test all this gear, giving us further insights into not only specific product, but also the future direction of these industries.

We share our calendar here, and descriptions of the Trade Shows, to give you an idea how we gather and research information on Outdoor and SnowSports gear, industry trends and company profiles.

Outdoor Retailer Summer/Winter Markets:  Held twice a year in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, the Outdoor Retailer (OR) trade shows gather together industry professionals, trade representatives and media from around the world to discuss, preview, and test hundreds upon hundreds of new outdoor gear samples and gear technologies, including performance apparel, footwear, tents, backpacks, camping equipment, SUPs, kayaks, canoes, skis, snowboards, snowshoes and accessories.  All the major Outdoor manufacturers exhibit their gear, including the likes of The North Face, Columbia, Patagonia, Salomon, Merrell, Timberland and many more.  Globally-oriented Australian and New Zealand companies such as Sea-to-Summit, Icebreaker, 2XU, and Kakadu Traders, also exhibit, using the opportunity to connect with their North American distributors, retailers, and the press.

Each show lasts for five days, including an off-site demonstration day at either a State Park or local ski resort, depending on the season. Of the two shows annually, the Summer Market is the biggest, with approximately 1,400 exhibitors and 27,000 attendees.  The Winter Market is still sizeable, however, with about 1,000 brands and 21,000+ attendees, and considered the largest winter lifestyle and winter sports trade show in North America.

SnowSports Industries America Snow Show (SIA):  Held annually in Denver, Colorado, USA, the week after the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, SIA is much more of a specific winter and snowsports Trade Show, with skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and cross-country enthusiasts either exhibiting their gear or attending.  With over 900 brands and 19,000 attendees, SIA is an important show to get previews of the latest Alpine Touring skis, boots, bindings, snowboards, splitboards, tele skis and winter apparel.  The timing, however, is difficult as it often conflicts with a much larger Outdoor Industry show in Munich, Germany, called ISPO.

ISPO Munich:  Held annually in Munich, Germany during the first week of February, ISPO is amongst the largest sporting goods trade shows in the world.  The 2012 show included 2,344 exhibitors from 51 countries spread out over 16 exhibition halls, with around 80,000 attendees from 100 countries.  ISPO includes everything from the traditional mountaineering, trekking, hiking, camping, skiing, snowboarding and related companies, to more varied activities such as skateboarding and gym equipment.  One hall is even dedicated to outdoor fashion with brands such as Emporio Armani.

Held over four days, ISPO also includes two additional demonstrations days after the show on the Hintertux Glacier a few hours away in Austria.

SOTA (Snow and Outdoor Trade Association):  Held annually in Canberra, Australia, SOTA is very similar to the Outdoor Retailer shows, but on a smaller scale due to the size of the local market.  Around 100 exhibitors show off their gear, including many of the big Australian and New Zealand brands such as Sea-to-Summit, Icebreaker, Black Wolf, Oz Trail and XTM, but also the major distributors, such as Spelean, Zen Imports, and the Skye Group, who represent many of the major global brands.

OutDoor:  Held annually in Friedrichshafen, Germany near the Swiss and Austrian borders, OutDoor is a more focused trade show specific to the outdoor industry.  It remains one of the largest in the world for outdoor enthusiasts with nearly 22,000 attendees, 900+ exhibitors from nearly 40 countries and over 1,000 journalists covering the show.

Interbike/Ausbike:  Interbike, held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, is the largest trade show in North America for BMX, Mountain Bikers, Road Cyclists and Triathletes.  750+ companies representing 1,200 brands exhibit over 3 days, with 2 additional demonstration days for hands-on testing before the show.  In Melbourne, Australia, Ausbike, though smaller, provides both the public and retailers a chance to see the latest cycling-related trends and innovations, with Giant, Trek, Shimano and more, along with their local distributors and many new companies displaying their wares.

Snowsports Industy Shows in Australia and New Zealand:  Last on the calendar are two SnowSports trade shows held in October.  The Snowsports Industries of Australia Trade Show, like SOTA, is held annually in Canberra, with demonstration days at Perisher Ski Resort the month before.  Coming just after the finish of the current ski season, it’s a chance for ski, snowboard and winter apparel companies to give retailers a head-start as to what will be available for next season.  The same is to be said for the New Zealand Snow Industries Federation (NZSIF) Trade Fair held alternatively between Wanaka in the South Island and Taupo in the North Island.

Additional Events and Activities:  While Trade Fairs are a big part of our calendar at Southern Ascent and The GearCaster, we don’t just rely on these shows as the only means of previewing and testing Outdoor and SnowSports gear.  We also attend or participate in a number of other events and activities.  Southern Ascent staff were part of the press team for the Ironman Asia Pacific Championships last March, for example, and have covered the Salomon Trail Running Series the last two years in and around Melbourne.  There is also plenty of Adventure Racing in both Australia and New Zealand where a variety of gear is tried and tested.

And there is always more we could do.  The Outdoor and SnowSports Industries are continuous hot-beds for technological innovations and new trends.  Participating in the Trade Shows, events and activities are all an excellent, and necessary, means of staying in touch with these constant developments.

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