OTS Trade Show Reports Show Report


For the first time since the pandemic UKC and UKH have attended an actual, real life trade show - OTS in Liverpool. A lot has changed in the last couple of years - and not just the novelty of being around lots of people. So how have we adjusted our approach to fit the times?

Up until 2020 there were two trade shows in our diary: ISPO in winter and OutDoor in summer. These both took place in Munich and involved several members of the team flying out to film and report what they saw. It wasn't cheap for us to do, it had a weighty carbon footprint, and it was - in light of the dwindling attendance from brands at the show - something that felt like it'd had its day.

Throughout the pandemic we switched to a digital, Zoom-based format, so that brands could still showcase their new stuff without anyone having to meet in person. This was fine while it lasted, but simply wasn't the same as speaking to someone in the same room, face to face, and physically handling the gear. As restrictions eased we attempted an alternative approach, which involved us visiting each and every brand we work with. Lovely though it was to see people again, this ultimately proved unworkable because of the time, effort and cost involved in travelling all over the UK.

Zoom provided us with a platform whilst we didn't have a show to attend, but didn't come close to the face to face experience  © UKC Gear
Zoom provided us with a platform whilst we didn't have a show to attend, but didn't come close to the face to face experience
© UKC Gear

Ever since, we've been looking for a more managable alternative - one that involved us having face to face contact with actual people, and getting the new product in hand, but without sending multiple members of staff out to Germany.

Thankfully we had an obvious alternative in the form of OTS - The Outdoor Trade Show. This friendly show, which takes place in Liverpool, has been growing significantly in recent years, with a good attendance amongst a wide range of brands. Compared with Munich it's practically on our doorstep, so switching venue was an easy decision to make.

That said, being in the same room as someone can be a little overwhelming at times...  © UKC Gear
That said, being in the same room as someone can be a little overwhelming at times...
© UKC Gear

We've also updated the way in which we produce and publish our Trade Show Reports. In previous years we'd opted for individual videos for each product. Whilst this allowed us to go into more detail, the sheer quantity of material (70+ at its pre-Covid peak) became time consuming and unwieldy. And when it came down to it, who really wanted to sit through all that product coverage?

Our new approach is to produce a more 'greatest hits' style report, featuring our top picks from the show. We've also tended to do a lot of the presenting ourselves, instead of talking to brand reps, as that way we can give our take on the product. This helps to keep the videos shorter, punchier and (hopefully) less waffly.

So, Trade Show Reports 2022 style - we hope you like them!

Innovative Outdoor Products for 2023
New Shell Jackets for 2023
New Packs for 2023

4 Aug, 2022

i absolutely get the factors of travel logistics and having to cut/edit/upload a whole bunch of lengthier videos vs fewer, shorter ones. but as a complete nerd, i am sad to see the big infodump style videos go.

of course, their usefulness always stood and fell with the quality of the sales rep. but nate hoette talking for 20something minutes about just the changes in a model of shoe was always worth the while.

4 Aug, 2022

I wonder if the The Outdoor Show will go ahead in ExCel London this year.

I met Alan James at The RockFax stand and at my first one I met Gaz Parry.

They used to have an AMI course run with DMM where you were taught about gear placements and anchor building. AMI and DMM also had a course where you learnt about self rescue. Both good fun and educational but not as good as doing it outdoors - I have never done a self rescue course in the real world.

One thing I should have added within the report, which I didn't (and now regret), is that we're now publishing a lot more video content than ever before.

Where previously our trade show reports would represent 99% of the gear related content we film within a year, they now represent much less, because we're doing much more elsewhere. Whilst trade shows are very practical to film at, they aren't necessarily the best in terms of providing a meaningful opinion about a product. We've obviously got our own experiences to go on when looking at a product, and whatever the brand representatives have to say, but we've never actually used the product.

Our Gear Guides differ significantly in this regard, because we go into detail on how each product has performed in reality. Whilst we'll mention construction and technology within these it isn't something we'll labour on, as we don't want to get bogged down in too much jargon. Here's a link to a few examples:

Five Ten NIADD Mocc - https://youtu.be/uZ5oLG_xHww?list=PLp4qYSv5FDsRht3Asiy93rtque4QkdVYJScarpa Ribelle Run: https://youtu.be/sxZdgMoZevA?list=PLp4qYSv5FDsRht3Asiy93rtque4QkdVYJMontane Spine Jacket: https://youtu.be/ZFGP7UcTLsw?list=PLp4qYSv5FDsRht3Asiy93rtque4QkdVYJ

Our 'Ask the Expert' videos are perhaps a little more what you're describing when referencing what we did with Nathan a few years ago, as these have a more brand-oriented approach. We'll interview a member of staff, or brand athlete/ambassador, about the product and get their take on it. Again, here's a link to a few examples:

Exped's Sleeping Mat Range: https://youtu.be/OEodNX_zJxA?list=PLp4qYSv5FDsRht3Asiy93rtque4QkdVYJNikwax on sustainability: https://youtu.be/vb5s5Y8mfrw?list=PLp4qYSv5FDsRht3Asiy93rtque4QkdVYJUnparallel Flagship: https://youtu.be/s_Gm-ow1IIw?list=PLp4qYSv5FDsRht3Asiy93rtque4QkdVYJ

Sorry for what has become a very long answer, but hopefully that allays any fears we won't be nerding out in future!!

4 Aug, 2022

Are you doing any La Sportiva and/or Petzl reviews?

4 Aug, 2022


many thanks for the reply, don’t worry about its length. mark twain said it right: ‘i didn’t have time to write a short letter, so i wrote a long one instead.’ ;) and i know i will ramble whenever given the opportunity, so i am not going to hold it against anyone.

and yes, i completely agree about what trade show filming can not provide – what it can be is an overview what’s going to come next season, and you get some footage of how the product handles in addition to the blurb. plus maybe a question or two. i think that combination is what i appreciated most about the old style gear show coverage.

one thing i pondered to mention in my comment, and regret i didn’t, was that i appreciate the editorial take on newly announced products – that is definitely a valuable addition. because when it comes down to it, a professional reviewer is more likely to have some hands-on experience with other products in a given category and can give an impression about how it appears compared to competing items. (it’s probably not very nice to say in front of a sales rep that their new jacket looks to be the good-enough-for-most alternative to [crazy expensive arc’teryx piece] for people who don’t want to spend arc’teryx money, but it’d be a useful take. ;))

cheers, and here’s to more gear nerding in the future!

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