It’s almost comical how depressing trade shows can be. Thousands of individuals who define themselves by a shared love of the outdoors, stuck inside a oversized convention center filled with fluorescent lights and brand booths so big even the thought of how much money went into making each makes us want to vomit. Rethinking this aging concept is The Outpost, a new player in the trade show circuit putting people and experiences ahead of all else.
With Outdoor Retailer merging with the Snow Show and moving from Salt Lake to Denver, the entrance of The Outpost and its adult summer camp vibe seems quite fortuitous. Unfortunately there’s no getting around OR—it’s sheer size, influence, and incredible reach mean it’s almost guaranteed to remain the trade show for the core outdoor industry. But for both brands and publications who may identify more with the industry’s active lifestyle and environmentalist aspects than the pursuit of concurring peaks, Outpost seems a great way to connect with likeminded brands, influencers, and key creatives in a considerably more mellow environment.
We’ve attended two events so far—Upstate New York last spring and this past September’s flagship event in the Redwoods of Northern California where we hosted a panel on Instagram’s outweighed influence on outdoor photography—and experienced first hand how valuable conversations struck up in the wild, while hiking, sitting around a campfire or at the beach, during communal meals, etc are, versus those forced during a 15-minute appointment. It’s all about the atmosphere, after all.
Though there are certainly kinks yet to be ironed out, what the eager group behind the concept is pushing towards is a venture worth supporting. Or at least keeping an eye on.