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Copy of Outdoor Gear Coach visit to OTS Outdoor Trade Show June 8th 2022

Outdoor Gear Coach/Mike Parson’s visit to OTS 

Outdoor Trade Show June 8th 2022 Liverpool exhibition centre, UK. 

We successfully published ‘Keeping dry and Staying Warm, last year and have now added a zoom based 9 x1 hr workshop training system. The workshop content is accessible through our teaching platform for reference and trainee dialogue.

I decided that visiting the OTS in Liverpool would be a good catch up after extended lockdowns, so I set off at 6:30 a.m. from Patterdale but didn’t make it until 9:30 a.m., missing my first meeting appointment with Chris Townsend, one of our co-authors.

I have spent a lifetime going to trade shows and generally found them enjoyable and valuable to discover what all my competitors were doing and talking to customers.  I’m no longer a manufacturer, so my interest nowadays is different. Now I am looking to continue learning what the emerging technologies are and what the implications might be. These new technologies may change how we do things on the hill but certainly will need explaining, something we are getting steadily better at, having given something like 50 or 60 talks in the last three years. 

I first headed to SIDAS, the plantar orthotics company based in Kendal. The principal Steve Couper has been incredibly helpful in sorting out my severe pronation problem, which caused me to pull out after three days on the TGO-Challenge last month. In our KD&SW book, we talk about layering for feet and legs and referring to footwear, socks, and gaiters. We now need to add footbeds and orthotics into this together with practical foot-care advice to help keep me and so many others on our feet. 1-in 5 people need plantar orthotics, which is very relevant to our audience. I requested specific graphics to use in our training workshops. 

SIDAS also partners with, which makes heated gloves, footbeds, and inner boots for ski boots. Having been to many cold places, including Greenland, Antarctica, Svalbard, Alaska and the Himalayas in winter and never had problems with cold feet or hands, I have always been a little sceptical of being reliant on battery-powered items. However, as we age (that’s everybody, not just me!), our bodies change, and circulation slows down, as mine has done dramatically.  Some of us, approximately 10%, that is, are affected by an autoimmune disease called Raynaud’s syndrome. In our book, we talk extensively about layering for hands. I have experimented extensively with heated gloves but did not feel ready at that point to comment in-depth about heated gloves and footbeds. Our future workshops will have more advice on selecting battery-powered layers.  

There are a bunch of companies I grew up alongside but have changed hands recently, so I went to say hello to the new people. Rob and Sue Harvey founded Harvey Maps after I sponsored the first 1:40,000 scale mao for the 1977 KIMM held in the Howgills. Here is the story.

Proofing and aftercare stuff. Nikwax was demonstrating the importance of using base wash for base layers to ensure garments continue to wick. More in later blogs about the widely misunderstood issues of wicking and beading, two of the critical misunderstandings we discussed in our book and our training workshop.   Spotting the Stormproof stand, I was delighted to see Matt Greaves, who was most helpful indeed in the area of DWR proofing and surface tension. Chatting with him was Mark Taylor of Leeds University (see profile Mark Taylor

“Do you have any good PhD research projects at the moment”?  I asked.

A good conversation ensued on PhDs undertaken at Leeds, which I had read during research for our book. Treading carefully, we agreed on our opinions of them.   

Asolo was the company that made my first-generation KSBs. I met Pete Rostron, who now represents them (his Dad took me on my first rock climb!). At the Asolo factory recently, he was surprised to find an original KSB with a KLETS sole. I suspect we will be hearing more about this from the twinkle in his eye.

Salewa was my Karrimor distributor in Germany, and I was the importer of their groundbreaking innovations of the first adjustable crampon, the belay plate and ice screw. Yes, all 3 were Salewa. I dropped by to say hello to Angus McEndrick, who runs the UK operation.

OMM, which I founded 20 years ago (but I am no longer involved with), is still producing the Kamleika jacket and pants I designed for mountain runners, and it has some interesting updates. The essential hydrophilic coating now has 37.5™ compound ( formerly known as Cocona) embedded into the coating to improve mvtr. They have interesting new sleeping bags and liners using Primaloft CrossCore™. When I look at the Primaloft web page to try to learn something about this, I am completely dazed and confused by what on earth it might be. (I give a talk from time to time called, ‘myths, marketing and misunderstandings) Looking physically with Cross Core™in my hands, I can already see how it’s made and what it does. That’s just what we teach, to understand what some new piece of clothing or textile will do for you when you pick it up and examine it—more of that in a later blog.

A recurring theme in my discussions was the outdoor shop staff’s steadily decreasing product knowledge. Our goal as Outdoor Gear Coach is to eventually offer a course accreditation to help career paths of your people joining the outdoor industry, no longer a cottage industry with sales of possibly around $75b worldwide, maybe much more.    

MIke Parsons, June 9th 2022. 


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