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Outdoor Retailer Showcase: 4 Gear Tests at Demo Day

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OtterBox floated its duffle bags down whitewater, and GearJunkie was among the first on Tentsile’s new floating tent. Outdoor Retailer Summer Market’s demo day did not disappoint.

Demo day is a chance for brands to get items into the hands of Outdoor Retailer tradeshow attendees. This year’s demo took place at Confluence Park in downtown Denver on the Platte River.

Brands display gear that just released or will release in 2019. GearJunkie was on site, visiting all the booths and finding the gear that rose above the rest. Read on for four standout demo day experiences.

OtterBox Yampa Duffle Raft Demo

OtterBox took four of its Yampa Duffle Bags and floated them down the Platte River’s whitewater. One of the brand’s employees rode on top of them down several sections of rapids.

otterbox yampa duffel

While a quirky way to showcase a product, and not how the brand intends the duffles to be used, the descent served as a testament to durability and waterproofing. Afterward, there weren’t any scratches or water leaks.

On the bottom of the Yampa, OtterBox uses a 2,000-denier TPU, an ultra-durable fabric it says is tougher than that of some whitewater rafts.

Tentsile Universe Floating Tent

Tentsile, makers of the hanging tree-tent, debuted the Universe. At one moment, you can hang this tent in the air via its three straps. Then, at the next, you can remove the straps and take to the water.

Tentsile Universe

Tentsile crafts the Universe out of a similar material that inflatable standup paddleboards use. So the material is burly and can handle scuffs and rock abrasions.

GearJunkie met with Tentsile at demo day and took the Universe out on the river.

It was surprisingly stable, more so than a standup paddleboard, and shielded us from the sun. Paddling was a challenge, but, as the brand said, “It’s more about getting on the water and having a good time.”

As we drifted downstream, we approached 20 feet of rapids. On a whim, we decided to take the Universe down the fast and rocky section. And it survived, handling the whitewater no problem!

Costa and Bureo: ‘Untangled’ Collection

Each year, an estimated 640,000 tons of discarded fishing nets wind up in the ocean. And Costa and Bureo are combating that pollution.

Costa Bureo Untangled Collection

On hand at demo day was Costa Sunglasses’ Untangled Collection. The line is made from recycled fishing nets thanks to Bureo, who crafts items out of the material.

The sunglasses feel slightly grippy and have a distinct look — a patina-gray from the fishing nets. And Costa placed its exceptionally clear, scratch-resistant 580 Lightwave lenses within the Untangled Collection.

With the collection, Costa and Bureo will discard 20,000 square feet of fishing nets and enable Bureo to expand its fishing net collection program.

Greenland-Style Paddles: GearLab Akiak

Sea kayaks, standup paddleboards, packrafts, and canoes lined the Platte River, and large European-style paddles dominated the scene. But one company, GearLab, quietly touted its Greenland-style paddle.

Gearlab greenland style paddle

Introduced in April 2018, the GearLab Akiak is a thin, carbon-fiber paddle with a sharp blade and the brand’s patented exchangeable tips.

We took the Akiak for a spin and found the paddling experience to be a refreshing change of pace. The Akiak sliced quickly through the water, and its scant weight, at 880 grams, was apparent.

GearLab explained that the difference between Greenland and European styles is similar to that between bike gears: European paddles are like big gears and require a lot of muscle, moving slowly, while Greenland paddles are for quick, constant motion.

According to the brand, because Greenland-style paddles like the Akiak scoop less water, shoulder injuries are less common. This paddle style isn’t new, but GearLab is emerging in the North American market as an option for sea kayakers.

As 2019 rapidly approaches, expect more Greenland-style paddles from the brand.

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