Outdoor Retailer Demo Experience brings outdoor adventure to urban Denver

Berne Broudy, a Vermont resident, is a seasoned cyclist, skier and kayaker. On Sunday, she added a new outdoor sport to her résumé: packrafting.

Packrafts are small inflatable boats that can shrink to the size of a paper towel roll and be used to help backpackers cross bodies of water. They were on full display at the Outdoor Retailer Demo Experience at Confluence and Commons Parks, which allowed attendees to test the waters with a variety of cutting-edge outdoor equipment.

“It was super fun and such an awesome way to start the show because I had a mini adventure in downtown Denver,” Broudy said.

Broudy has attended Outdoor Retailer for nearly 20 years and said she enjoys connecting with the outdoor retail community every year.

“You have the chance to be one-on-one with product developers and the people inventing the technologies that are changing outdoor sports,” she said.

More than 50 businesses were present at the Demo Experience, Marisa Nicholson, show director for Outdoor Retailer, said. The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market show runs through Thursday and is relocating to Denver after spending approximately two decades in Utah.

At Commons Park, companies showed off products from tents to water filtration systems while attendees roamed from tent to tent, played cornhole and sprayed themselves down with sunscreen.

Nearby, at the junction of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, Confluence Park became an urban oasis for outdoor enthusiasts. People tested out the latest in outdoor sports technology, from newly patented stand-up paddleboards to packrafts, and played with their dogs and children at the riverfront.

“So far, I’ve paddled some of the best, most premium paddleboards in the market and, as expected, I’m truly impressed and I’m looking forward to trying some of the other boards as well,” said Andre Niemeyer, publisher of supconnect.com, a stand-up paddleboarding publication.

Peter Hall, founder and CEO of Hala, a stand-up paddleboarding company, was also present at the Demo Experience on Sunday. Over the years, he has enjoyed watching the sport develop and gain popularity.

“Really, we’re just a small but growing brand, but it’s fun to get in the mix and show people,” he said.

Bringing together retailers and outdoor enthusiasts from across the country, the Demo Experience kicked off Outdoor Retailer Summer Market by allowing attendees to experience products for themselves, Nicholson said.

“I think that’s part of the demonstration — this is our industry’s opportunity to show these products in a natural environment,” she said. “It’s a good way to get people energized before tomorrow.”

Ultimately, organizers aimed to take advantage of Denver’s surroundings, Nicholson said.

“The urban experience is there right in downtown Denver,” she said. “There’s great running trails, biking trails and the opportunity to partake in some of the water activities. It was an opportunity for retailers to think about how they can engage in areas in and around them.”

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