SmartWool and Its Smart Strategy: OIA CU Leeds Lecture, March 15

The Business of Outdoor Recreation Lecture SeriesSmartWool Sheep Grower

SmartWool And Its Smart StrategyMark SatkiewiczMark Satkiewicz
President & General Manager
Thursday, March 15
Doors open at 6:30 pm
Program begins at 7:00 pmFree and open to the public.
No RSVP required.Networking, appetizers and cash bar after the presentation

The Stadium Club at Folsom Field
University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

For details, including directions and parking, visit


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Winter Outdoor Retailer Review of Gear for Youth

Here is my semi-annual review of what is coming on the market in the future for the outdoor industry for youth groups. That means you may not find this stuff on your local retailer’s shelves until a year from now.

Every six months I attend the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show. This is the show where the manufactures show the retailers what is new for the next selling season, normally 12 months out. I check out a lot of things for a lot of different reasons, but my personal favorite is finding teenage youth friendly products. By that I mean stuff that can be used and abused by Scouts and other youth groups.

I’m not paid by any manufacture I write about. In some cases I receive product to review which I can keep.

There wasn’t a lot of new stuff that jumped out of the booths this year at either the Outdoor Retailer or Snowsports Industry Association shows. I would suspect that based on predictions of the economy going somewhere, money for R&D was slowed or cutoff.

Generally the one good thing was the green items. A lot of companies have figured out how to use green materials to make their products as well as to ship and show them. Patagonia of course has been doing this for more than ten years and still leads the way, but several other companies are starting down that path.

Another general idea that is associated with the green movement is the resurgence of wool. There are a lot of companies making wool products Smartwool and Ibex have been doing it awhile are getting bigger.


There are always a lot of comments about the SteriPen as a way to sterilize water. For a group of 12 it won’t work. But for two people on a small trip or traveling to water questionable countries it is very convenient and easy to use. What makes it pretty slick this year is the new case which contains a solar charger. While carrying the case if the solar panel is exposed to the sun it recharges the spare battery inside the case.


Thanks to the NFL and other professional sports underwear used to keep us warm, not it helps us stay active, recover quicker and just be better all around. What used to be a niche industry has broken out and is pretty much taking over the base layer industry. Skins is the new manufacture on the block with some very interesting claims. Yellowman has one feature other underwear manufactures do not have. When you look at someone wearing a Yellowman shirt it takes a second to realize it is not a tattoo. Under Amour was the first and still seems to be leading the pack (their booth is getting bigger).

Ex Officio

I know I may be stretching things here, but I really have fallen in love with their underwear. It is very comfortable, what I really like is after 12 or 14 hours of strenuous activity or just walking tradeshow halls, it still feels good and does not stink. You don’t feel clammy, and it does not hold moisture that can create other problems. You can wash it out in the sink, hang it up to dry and it will be ready to go the next morning. For you weight fiends, you could theoretically get away with one pair that weighs less than 2 ounces for the entire trip. (If you do only take one pair of underwear to Philmont on your trip, please don’t let me know!)


With the big discussions about the “carcinogens” (BPA) being released from many types of plastic bottles the whole issue is a mess. To deal with it Camelback has come out with a new bottle to retrofit their old bottles. You just unscrew the bottle, put the old lid and tube in and go. This also gives you a spare cap without a spout if you need one.

I’ve been using them for almost a year and have converted to them. The bottle allows you to drink with the bottle upright and you lose the opportunity to spill whatever is inside your drinking bottle down your shirt. There is a tube that extends into the bottle and a Camelback bite tube at the top. When you are done drinking the bite tube folds out of the way and seals the flow of water closed. The lid is designed so it can be clipped to a carabineer without fear of losing the bottle or breaking the clip. They come in several sizes for different uses.


Brooks-Range makes several interesting products. What I found interesting was their mountaineering rescue sled. It weighs 2 pounds and folds up into a mall package. When used it unrolls to fit over skis to create a sled for hauling someone off a mountain. Expensive but neat.

Helly Hansen

For you guys & gals who never have enough pockets, Helly Hansen is making a Patrol Vest. It is designed to be light weight and work with a pocket for everything. There are six pockets of different function, size and type on the front of the jacket. It is designed to zip to Helly Hansen Pants to create an effective one piece suit. It also is supposed to match up with one or more of their jackets so you can reach through the jacket pockets into the vest pockets.

I wore something like this when I worked at a ski area and it was wonderful. I kept it loaded with what I needed and I knew I was set when I put it on.


Petzl, Princeton Tec and Black Diamond have gone nuts with headlamps. They are small and lightweight. I carry a Petzl that can be seen for miles, has red and white led’s, flashes and is a little larger than two quarters. If you are need something to look through your pack, read in the evening or find your way to the woods when nature calls in the middle of the night these are perfect.

If you are searching for someone and need to light up an area, these aren’t enough. Dependent upon what you real uses are though you can find a light that works and probably a lot less in price and a lot less in weight than a couple of years ago.


CAMP-USA, a distributor for CAMP SpA has several new or updated ideas. Their helmets are getting a lot of buzz. The CAMP Pulse has been getting good buzz. CAMP-USA has also gotten into being the lightest gear on the market.

General stuff

Skis are wacky. They are lighter, faster, turn sharper and a lot more fun to ski these days. AT or backcountry skiing gear as well as Telemark skiing is growing. The equipment has made it to the big time and works, inbounds and out.

The price of resin is rising in the near future due to the cost of petroleum going up. If you are looking for new plastic boats, whitewater kayaks, sea kayaks, sit on tops, etc, buy now while the price has not jumped yet.


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