Outdoor trade show on a lake under a blue sky
The Big Gear Show returned to Park City, Utah, for a second year in 2022. (Photo: Andrew Weaver)
Outside Business Journal

The Second Year of The Big Gear Show Is Underway

The hardgoods-only trade show in Park City, Utah, is back

Outdoor trade show on a lake under a blue sky
Steve Larese headshot

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The first day of the second annual Big Gear Show started with a drizzle and ended in full sun, and so did some attendees’ moods. 

Some participants said that, while attendance seemed thin at first, the value of interactions on the first day of the Park City event was high.

“At [Outdoor Retailer] this year, we had a lot more people coming by our booth to sell us things or to try to get us to use their manufacturing processes,” said Jordan Curet of Red Paddle Co., a company based in the U.K. that has a strong North American presence. “Here there are fewer people coming by, but I think it’s been a lot more productive in making contacts with wholesalers.”

Curet was displaying Red Paddle’s 8-foot, 10-inch compact stand-up paddle board that releases in January 2023, the configurable SUP All Terrain Backpack that will be sold as a stand-alone item next year, and touting Red Paddle’s partnership with Savvy Navvy on a SUPing safety app that includes tidal and weather information.

Bikes and paddlesports seem to dominate the event this year; e-bikes whizzed silently along the makeshift boulevards of Deer Valley’s parking lot all day, while paddlers plied nearby Deer Pond, demoing almost a dozen SUP, canoe, kayak, and pack rafting companies’ products.

“I’m stoked that everyone else is stoked,” said Big Gear Show marketing director Yoon Kim. “Putting on an event is always like that dream where you’re speaking in public and you realize you’re naked, so I’m relieved to hear it’s been a solid first day for our participants. Maybe it’s not shoulder to shoulder like some other events, but every conversation is worthwhile.”

Kim said 2,000 event badges were printed this year, with an expected attendance of 1,800.

Big Gear Show caters to outdoor hardgood companies, and the show dates were chosen to benefit those retailers, said Kenji Haroutunian, the event’s director.

“Some events have moved to earlier in the year to benefit more outdoor lifestyle brands that are ordering apparel,” Haroutunian said. “Apparel takes a lot longer to receive, and the order numbers have to be much higher. Here, a lot of our retailers coming to the show are midway through their summer season, and they have a sense of trends and products they should be carrying. Maybe they’ll order one e-bike to see how it does, whereas an apparel seller has to order much farther in advance and at a much higher quantity. 

E-bike companies all reported a surge in sales following the pandemic, and “micro-transportation” is a term the industry will be using more. In contrast to beefy bikes from Rambo and Fission Cycles that can tackle trail, hunting, and bikepacking, 24-pound Jack Rabbit Ultralight Micro E-bikes were ubiquitous, with grinning riders enjoying their 20 m.p.h. top speeds throughout the event. 

“E-bikes have been great for our businesses,” said Weston Hein of Seattle-based Swift Industries, a company that makes bike-packing bags. “Outdoor Retailer was really good on the production side; this has been really good on the wholesale side.”

“This feels like a cross between OR and Interbike, said Bruce Majors,” co-owner of Grand Trunk, a hammock and travel gear company. “We’re based in Salt Lake City, so this is a lot easier for us. I like that it’s outside, I’d rather be surrounded by mountains than stuck in a building for two days.”

Lead Photo: Andrew Weaver