[cover story]: The latest social media EASTON mountain products leaderboard 5 [spotlight]: HIKING & BACKPACKING 20 10 product guide [focus shop]: [EVENTS]: 24 BLUE RIDGE OIA CAPITOL SUMMIT MOUNTAIN SPORTS 27 31 [REPORT]: BLACK DIAMOND AND GREGORY GO PUBLIC 18 14 17 [events]: EUROPEAN OUTDOOR TRADE FAIR industry gathers in friedrichshafen this july 16 To subscribe, please visit www.odrmag.com [cover story] Easton Mountain Products Goes Farther Easton Headquarters and Manufacturing Facility in Salt Lake City better from a management standpoint to have these new innovations. The Easton branded continue to stand for the innovation and quality the outdoor division separate from the team lines include snowshoes, trekking poles and they have grown to expect from our tent poles. Easton Mountain Products’ “Go farther” tag- sports division. So even though we worked lightweight tents. We look forward to becoming a stronger brand line is something that the company takes to underneath the same corporation, we’ve been at retail and to helping dealers become more heart not only in the type of product it produc- separate companies for a while. product? successful. es but also in how it runs its business. An OEM What is the Easton Foundation and how did Take our snowshoes for example. When we What does Easton’s presence in the con- supplier for the outdoor industry for over 30 it start? really started getting serious about the snow- sumer market mean for the company’s years, Easton has been an innovative supplier Our Foundations embody our commitment shoe business, we held frequent meetings and OEM business? of components that allow people to snowshoe to give back to the sports that helped us grow spent many hours discussing what makes a Easton continues and will continue to sup- farther and further enjoy their camping and the company. In 1982 we established the better snowshoe, what would make it more port OEM customers with custom state-of- outdoor adventures. Notably, Easton’s tent Easton Sports Development Foundation with fun for people to use and what might get more the-art solutions for both snowshoe frames poles enabled the development of the ﬁrst truly lightweight tents with The North Face in the mid seventies. In 2008, Easton decided to “go farther” and launch its own branded prod- uct. In addition to its OEM business, Easton is today a maker of snowshoes, trekking poles and lightweight tents. We spoke with Greg Easton, President of the Salt Lake City-based manufacturer, about the company’s history and its developing range of branded-product. Greg Easton is the third generation to direct the company, following his father, Jim Easton, and his grandfather, Doug Easton. How did Easton begin? In 1922, my grandfather, Doug Easton, founded the Easton company making wood arrows and bows. Over time he brought in- novation to the archery industry by revolution- Greg Easton, President Most of the specialized machines used in manufacturing, like this pole insert machine, were developed and built izing arrow manufacturing using lightweight, by Easton engineers precision aluminum. His innovation was so our support of the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. With the sale of the team sports powerful that people talked about outlawing division we were able to increases the fund- it; they thought that, in competition, the alu- ing to the Easton Foundations. Since that time minum arrows would improve performance to they have grown in their scope and reach to an unfair degree. Target-archery athletes saw support the growth of these sports and youth their scores skyrocket, and an 88-year tradi- involvement. Recently the foundations hit over tion of improving athletic performance through $10 Million in total funding to sport. This was technological innovation was born. Innovation always an important part of my dad’s business has driven the company since its beginning. philosophy. What direction did Easton take after estab- As an OEM supplier for the outdoor indus- lishing itself in archery? try, what has Easton given to the market- The drive to develop quality products that place? improve the outdoor and sports experience led Easton has been an OEM supplier of carbon us to branch out into other sports categories, ﬁber and aluminum tent poles and snowshoe including baseball, hockey, cycling and per- frames for some of the most renowned brands formance mountain products. We innovate in in the outdoor market. Easton’s proprietary these categories to encourage athletes to go precision-manufacturing techniques have al- farther in their sport. lowed the development of lightweight, high- Clay Henderson, Vice President of Manufacturing Michael Beverly, Sales Manager Easton is now split into two companies: strength aluminum pole systems and has one for team sports and the other, Easton given birth to today’s lightweight tents. These people into snowshoeing. We asked ourselves and tent support systems. Our branded prod- Mountain Products, for performance out- same processes, used in aerospace alloy, how we could make snowshoes more com- ucts will offer us a direct line to introduce our door gear. How did this division occur? eliminate tensile loss normally found in most fortable, how we could make them easier for latest innovations to the market to prove the The Easton family sold the team sports divi- snowshoe frames and provide full-strength people to get in and out of and how we could performance beneﬁts and make them more sion to Bell Riddell in 2008. The archery and yields after shaping. More recently, our devel- enable people to go farther in snowshoes with- readily available to our OEM partners. mountain products division continues to be opment of specialized carbon ﬁber tent poles out getting tired. All of the patentable features How does Easton bring its expertise in alu- wholly owned by the Easton family. The ma- is leading to a new level of performance and we developed in our new snowshoe line were jority of manufacturing and assembly for this weight savings. answers to these types of questions. Our engineering team spends a lot of time division continues at the Salt Lake City facility. The Easton brand has been in mountain in what we sometimes call our “blue sky de- How did the company decide to launch its What effect did this merger have on Easton own Easton-branded product line? products for over 30 years now, but in the velopment.” The team looks at advancements Mountain Products? The 2008 introduction of Easton-branded narrow niche of tent poles. I think anybody in materials and advancements in processing It didn’t have a huge effect on Easton Moun- product lines came from a desire to make bet- who’s ever had experience with Easton prod- those materials that allow us to create new, tain Products because Easton had been run- ter ﬁnished-products and not just better com- ucts knows what our brand stands for as far innovative product. I think our success has re- ning its divisions independently since about ponents. Easton-branded products provide the as innovation and quality go. We look at our ally been in our ability to ﬁnd unique materials, 1980 when we moved to Salt Lake City. As the opportunity to introduce proprietary advance- branded product as an expansion of our brand whether it’s higher strength aluminum alloys businesses grew, we realized that since we ments quickly into the marketplace and allow into the market in a more direct manner, and or different composite structures, and then to were dealing with different markets, it worked avid users the opportunity to adopt and utilize I want to ensure retailers that we’re going to ﬁgure out how to use them to improve outdoor [cover story] products. that you can’t drive innovation through stan- In 1981, for example, Easton developed the dard market research because with true inno- aluminum-carbon composite arrow shaft. By vation, consumers don’t know they want it yet. combining the precision values of aluminum If you ask people what they want, they’ll tell and the lightweight strength of carbon you you they want something revolutionary. But it get the best attributes of both materials. This takes a different ﬂash of insight and innovation advanced material combination is really what to say, “We can do this differently.” As Easton looks for ap- and that are able to help accounts for our arrows winning every Olym- So innovation doesn’t come from the con- propriate retailers to sell its consumers make the right pic medal, and has lead to many other product sumer? branded product, the com- choices.” developments. The consumer is critical in terms of feed- pany’s primary criterion is Easton’s 21 independent While aluminum and carbon are not difﬁcult back and product development, of course, but this: shops must be able reps are charged with not to combine, it is difﬁcult to make them stay not as much in terms of innovation. If you look to explain the technologies only the sale of product but together and maintain precision tolerances. at the market today, the truly innovative prod- behind the product and the also the education of retail- So not only do we have to ﬁnd great materi- ucts are items that we never knew we wanted ways in which those tech- ers. In addition to training als; we also have to develop innova- nologies beneﬁt consum- its sales force so that they tive manufacturing processes to use those materials to their full potential. “with true innovation, ers. “We don’t sell on price,” can then train retailers, Easton is working hard to We’ve pioneered advancements in aluminum and carbon tent poles, as consumers don’t know explains Sales & Market- ing Director Chris Oswald. Chris Oswald, create point-of-sale ma- terials that clearly explain they want it yet” well. Each pole is developed from Director of Sales & Marketing “We’re looking for an es- the beneﬁts of its products’ scratch to perform under the spe- tablished base of specialty-shop retailers unique features. The key, Oswald points out, ciﬁc stresses from the most extreme who provide strong service along with the is not to present many technical features natural elements. There is a lot of or even thought possible. We do focus groups, sale of the product. It’s very important to us that no one understands but rather to high- technology wrapped into each tube. for example, as we get into new categories, that we get established with the shops that light those features in a manner that makes How important are patents in product de- to introduce these innovations to the potential are the most credible in each market area their purpose clear. Such accessible POS velopment? users and get their feedback on the beneﬁts material, Easton hopes, will Over the years we have continued to reg- they can deliver. But I don’t think you can get aid the retailer in sales. ister more and more patents. For example, we made OEM products for the top snowshoe true innovation from a focus group. What’s unique about Easton’s company “the independent retailer “We want to grow for the long term,” concludes Oswald. brands for many years. We began to realize we could add some more value, and we created culture? will be the key and basis of “We feel that the independent We make products that are meant to be retailer will be the key to and the Easton-branded snowshoe, which has enjoyed and deﬁnitely support our employees’ our business” basis of our business long into ﬁve new patents around its various features. participation in the outdoors. I think we’ve the future.” Whenever we develop an innovative technol- been able to keep Easton like a family busi- ogy that improves a product, we then aim to ness. As more and more businesses grow, they protect that technology with a patent. get merged off, and the next thing you know, What do we have to look forward to from could have gone into that would have been Easton Mountain Products? How do you create a truly innovative prod- you’re working for a venture capitalist, which much less interesting. A third generation ball- The upcoming 2010 Summer OR Show will uct? is not fun from what I hear. But we don’t have point pen maker, for example, may have been see the release of several new trekking pole I like studying innovative products I ﬁnd on those challenges of delivering quarterly num- a less exciting position to enter. products and a paradigm-shifting innovation the market or at trade shows so I can ask my- bers. We focus on the long term. We make What keeps you most enthused about in tent support structures. Often when you en- self what the designer was thinking and how investments in our people and in our technolo- Easton’s product? counter a product that is truly innovative, you the designer solved a problem that maybe no- gies. I don’t need to have super fast growth I have always liked that our products are wonder why you hadn’t thought of it before. body else even saw. For years my father said rates. I need to have nice healthy growth rates purchased with consumers’ discretionary in- I believe our innovation in tent support struc- over the long term and then strive to create come. They’re products people buy because tures will elicit this response. It’s something a good business, with good products where they want to enjoy their sports better. Con- that’s been done the same way for a long time, people like to come to work. sumers have a positive relationship with our and we took a different look at it and decided Is it challenging to be the third generation products because of this. there was a better way to do it. It’s taken us at the helm of the company? I also love that we make product that can be quite a long time to ﬁgure out, but this par- There are deﬁnitely some challenges, but enjoyed by a range of consumers. We make ticular innovation, combined with some of the I’ve always looked at my position as a phe- products for the father who takes his son on material expertise we have, will make people nomenal opportunity. I have the opportunity to a weekend hike, but our gear and tents can wonder why nobody thought of it before. Great be involved in a company that makes product also support a full-scale crew going up Ever- innovation like this always appears obvious Supporting exploration during the Mallory & Irvine I personally care about and enjoy using. I’ve est. Whether you’re a recreational user or a once you see it because you understand im- Research Expedition to Everest thought of many industries my grandfather professional, you can enjoy our products. mediately its purpose and beneﬁts. The Si2 Mountain Tent is an all-season tent that accom- modates two people. The lightweight design features the new Carbon EVO all-carbon frame structure. The single- Outdoor USA brings you an exclusive sneak-peek at wall canopy is waterproof, breathable full EPIC fabric. The Easton’s new 2011 Kilo tent structure offers dual-door entry, double vestibules, internal gear net and multiple guy points. An optional footprint is also available. Capacity: 2-Person Weight: min. trail weight - 4 lbs Canopy Fabric: patented EPIC fabric Floor Fabric: 210D, 10,000PU coated nylon Poles: three poles - Carbon EVO The Xi2 Expedition Tent is a four-season tent that accom- modates two people. It features a four-pole expedition-level The new Kilo fast-and-light tent is a three-sea- Carbon FX/aluminum hybrid frame, and a taped nylon taf- son, two-person tent. Weighing in at 910gm, the Kilo feta bucket ﬂoor. Tent set-up is simpliﬁed by a rain ﬂy that packs the advanced materials and technologies into an ultra-light, can remain attached for easy set-up in the wind, as well as freestanding shelter. The Kilo offers lightweight advantage without matching color-coded canopy sleeves and poles and Pole Pi- sacriﬁcing performance and protection. lot set-up assist. Capacity: 2-Person Capacity: 2-Person Weight: min. trail weight - 2 lbs (910gm) Weight: min. trail weight - 4 lbs Canopy Fabric: no-see-em mesh Canopy Fabric: 40D Nylon ripstop uncoated Fly Fabric: 20D, 1500PU Floor Fabric: 210D, 10,000PU coated nylon Floor Fabric: 30D, 5000PU Poles: four poles - carbon FX/XX75 aluminum hybrid Pole: A revolutionary new tent support structure to be revealed... [cover story] Easton’s New Market Presence Product Manager Chris Pietrzak came to product team have taken to its branded-prod- Easton from a bike background. He began his uct offering. career in California at Specialized Bicycles, SNOWSHOES where he worked in helmet design and devel- Today Easton’s Artica snowshoes, ergo- opment. He then moved on to Black Diamond, nomically designed for both men and women, where he continued work in helmets and also are based on the company’s original snowshoe gained experience in gloves and other catego- design. “We continue to ﬁnd ways to make our ries. It was his love of biking and his experi- snowshoes help consumers perform better,” ence with the biking industry, however, that says Sales & Marketing Director Chris Oswald. motivated his decision to join Easton. “We look for ways to make the articulation of “From biking I knew that Easton had creat- the snowshoe allow you to walk more com- ed some amazing components,” tells Pietrzak. fortably on a side hill, to make the shape of the “Easton’s pursuit of perfection and its drive shoes prevent you from banging them together to make a product better intrigued me.” The with every step, to make the weight of the shoe product philosophy that initially intrigued Pi- light enough that you can move with ease.” etrzak is now critical to how he develops prod- While the product team continues to im- uct for the company. For Pietrzak, there’s no prove the original snowshoe platform using value in a “me too” product; a product should testing and feedback from the ﬁeld, it has Chris Pietrzak, Product Manager, with the V02 running/race shoe only be created if it’s truly an improvement on taken its snowshoe line to a new level with the what came before. VO2 Comp racing snowshoe. “The VO2 Comp,” a bicycle seat post, Easton’s Rock Lock clamp This is the approach Pietrzak and his team claims Oswald, “is the most speciﬁc racing offers a four-bar linkage similar to what one takes to Easton’s three branded-product cat- snowshoe in the marketplace today.” ﬁnds on a ski boot buckle. The Rock Lock is egories: snowshoes, trekking poles and light- When Product Manager Chris Pietrzak joined advantageous, according to Pietrzak, because weight tents. Since Easton has over three the Easton team, he knew he wanted to make it gives the user positive feedback that the decades of experience in trekking poles, tent a running snowshoe. In addition to the fact that pole is locked into place, while a cam can poles and snowshoe frames, the design for he likes to run, Pietrzak felt “there could be never completely close. Pietrzak believes that those parts naturally occurs in the Salt Lake some deﬁnite innovation and improvement in the Rock Lock is also a good alternative to a City facility. For fabric and some other areas, product there.” twisting lock, whereby the user twists two the company sometimes works with outside sections of the pole opposite to one partners. another to lock the pole into place. INNOVATION INSPIRATION “I don’t feel like I look for The drawback of the twisting lock When it comes to inspiration, Pietrzak fully supports looking outside the outdoor industry. inspiration...the challenge is that users never really know how tight they have to go and the lock can The column load test measures tube yield strength under pressure “A lot of technologies and innovations outside the industry,” he explains, “can be applicable is to be aware” be difﬁcult to release. In addition to locking assurance, the Rock Lock For the tent itself, Easton consulted moun- taineers about what they would see as the to some aspect of what we’re making or what provides on-the-ﬂy tension adjust- most important improvement on a tent. This we would like to make.” So Pietrzak brought a couple ultramarathon ment without the need of additional tools. led Easton to create sleeves, or Pole Pilots, that It’s no surprise that bikes are inﬂuential to runners who run in the snow into the product LIGHTWEIGHT TENTS allow you essentially to set up the tent without Pietrzak. His familiarity with suspension tech- development process. He presented them Tents are the latest introduction in Easton- moving more than ﬁve feet. You don’t have to nology and helmet design has inﬂuenced his with ideas and listened to their input. It took branded products. “We had some technology circle the entire tent—you can stand in one decisions and the routes he’s taken at Easton. two and a half years for Pietrzak to get the that wasn’t being utilized in the market,” ex- spot, slide the poles in and the tent will go up Pietrzak’s work has also been inﬂuenced by shoe exactly the way he wanted it. The most plains Pietrzak about how Easton entered the from that area. other industries where he sees a lot of talent, challenging part of the process, he says, was category. “We had these carbon ﬁber poles “This innovation is especially meaningful not just in what’s being made but also in the ﬁnding the right decking: “It took a lot of re- that I felt were high performers, but nobody when you’re on the side of a cliff or against a sort of engineering and ingenuity that comes search and a lot of development to get the 3k had used them in an expedition tent.” Pietrzak snow bank,” states Pietrzak. “If you’re up high, into play. weave carbon ﬁber deck that keeps the shoe ﬁrmly believed that using the carbon ﬁber you can save a lot of energy by not having But according to Pietrzak, inspiration light enough while making it strong enough to poles in an expedition level tent would create to walk around your tent to set up.” Pietrzak doesn’t have to come from one speciﬁc in- withstand the forces the user exerts on it while an improved product. also notes that because the Pole Pilot is there, dustry: “It can be as simple as walking into running.” So Pietrzak and his team created hybrid the ﬂy can actually stay attached to the tent. Home Depot and seeing an interesting device In addition to the unique decking, Pietrzak poles to optimize the strength of the tent. The Thus, if you’re up on a hill and there are 80 for plumbing. I might look at it and see how it is proud of the fact that his team eliminated poles are designed with Carbon FX sections on mph winds, you don’t have to ﬁght with the ﬂy could be applied to something we do. I don’t the binding on the shoe. The team made this either end but use Easton expedition aluminum to put it on the tent—you just ﬂip it over and feel like I look for inspiration. It just happens decision based on user input and research sections across the peak. The aluminum sec- strap it down. sometimes, so the challenge is to be aware.” It that indicated that most elite athletes hack off tions allow for a “pre-bend” to reduce stresses Easton is excited for the industry to see is this awareness that Pietrzak and the Easton the bindings of the snowshoes they purchase. due to the tent design. These hybrid poles offer its latest tent development, which will be re- Pietrzak ﬁgured that if athletes are going to added strength and weight reduction. vealed in July. get rid of the binding anyway, it would make far more monetary and materialistic sense to build a snowshoe to which the user would di- rect mount his or her running shoe. With four-bar linkage The VO2 Comp is a sleek, light- front crampon allows each side similar to what one Additionally, the VO2 Comp includes criti- cal features of the Artica snowshoe, includ- weight competition snowshoe built to pivot independently, auto- ﬁnds on a ski boot, the Easton proprietary Rock ing a dual pivot traction cam that creates a on the ergonomic Easton Artica matically adjusting to the Lock system gives users virtual pivot point in the center as well as a platform. It features a two-piece supination and pronation of positive feedback that the unique split front crampon. This allows for a 7075 Easton Aerospace alloy frame, each individual’s stride and pole is locked into place. more natural step whether the runner runs in a designed to ﬂex over rough terrain. offering extra dig where neutral stride, pronates or supinates. For more The asymmetrical ergonomic de- it is needed. The direct information on the VO2 Comp, see box. sign offers comfortable maneuver- mounting system delivers TREKKING POLES ability and improved step tracking, full range of motion and While the fall/winter season sees snowshoe with a forged aluminum crampon allows the user to mount business and the spring/summer season sees that prevents sideslip and offers whatever shoe or boot is tent business, trekking poles comprise a year- better energy transfer for speed and needed, while retaining a long category for Easton. agility. A Virtual Pivot Traction Cam is tailored ﬁt. The VO2 Comp’s When it comes to trekking poles, Easton set inside the 3K weave carbon ﬁber innovative frame design and is known for its experience with lightweight, decking, with dual-arm innovation virtual pivot traction absorb high-strength aluminum and carbon ﬁber. that connects to a carbon ﬁber pivot stresses naturally transferred However, Easton’s most critical innovation is rod to create a step-leveling virtual to the ankle, knee and hip, the Rock Lock clamp. While some trekking third pivot-point for digging deep while providing stability and poles use a cam similar to a quick release on and improved traction. The split control.