Outdoor Retailer is returning to the Brighton backcountry for the second annual Backcountry Base Camp, and the event should be even more successful than last year. According to OR, there are currently over 50 brands registered to exhibit at the BBC compared to just under 40 brands last year.

A variety of events and activities are on the schedule, including Backcountry Ski Tours with Exum Utah Mountain Adventures, Backcountry Snowshoe Tours, Beacon Search/Testing Area, Women-Specific Tele Clinics — sponsored by Karhu, and the Base Camp Bash-end of day festivities.

“We received a tremendous amount of positive feedback regarding last year’s first-ever Backcountry Base Camp.  Both the location and format were well received and the OR team is excited to bring this event back for Winter Market 2005,” commented Peter Devin, Outdoor Retailer’s Group Show Director. “There’s always room for improvement, so we’re striving to make BBC even more educational, user friendly and fun for everyone who comes out to Brighton.”

While OR’s BBC is not quite in the same league as Interbike’s OutDoor Demo, which in many aspects is outshining the show itself, the chance to try the gear in real-world conditions is proving invaluable to many retailers. Likewise, the chance to reach many of the core specialty retailers is proving invaluable to vendors of both hardgoods and softgoods.

Devin told BOSS that this year the BBC will have several improvements, the most important being the increased number of exhibitors. Some of the new companies that will be in attendance are Gregory, Jet Boil, K2, Lowa, Rossignol, Alpina, Fischer, Tecnica and Timberland. Devin also said that the OR team is very happy with their work with the Outdoor Industry Women’s Coalition and the women’s specific events which will take place at the BBC.

“I headed out to the Backcountry Base Camp with my buying decisions pretty much finalized and ended up changing my mind based on the product I tested on the hill — something I never could have done at an East Coast regional show,” said John Holden, buyer for Blue Ridge Mountain Sports.

OR has also improved access to several of the events scheduled. The registration set-up has been modified to make the process smoother and access to Solitude will be easier for the retailers and vendors interested in “skinny skis.”

The only potential downside to the BBC is the crowds in attendance. BOSS contacted several retailers and the few who did not attend last year’s BBC said they preferred the smaller “less crowded” regional shows. “We don’t attend the “base camp” because we ski all our lines at the Copper WWSRA demo just a few days later,” said Mike Martin, owner of The Alpineer. “We find we can get more of our staff on more stuff at this smaller, less crowded demo.”

While some western retailers can afford to by-pass OR’s Backcountry Base Camp, many retailers, especially in the midwest and southeast, can’t miss the opportunity to demo these brands on “real” snow.

In spite of the crowds most vendors walk away from the Base Camp with success stories, and the event has helped establish OR as a real force in the winter sports market. Immediately following the Summer Market, OR reported an increase in the number of Nordic brands attending Winter Market. After sitting out a few Winter Markets, key Nordic brands Fischer and Rossignol decided to return as exhibitors after witnessing the success of last year’s show.

Atomic will also have an even larger presence at this year’s Winter Market, thanks in part to the success they experienced at the 2004 OR Winter Market Expo. Booth expansions are also in the works for G3 and Karhu.

“Obviously were thrilled to see more Nordic brands coming back to Winter Market, which I believe reflects the renewed interest retailers and consumers are showing for backcountry, telemark, and Nordic gear. Weve been able to integrate all of these product categories into our already strong core winter sports area of the Winter Market show floor. Were also excited to expand the categories and brands represented at our annual Backcountry Base Camp, which will give dealers the opportunity to test the latest innovation in winter sports equipment before they shop Winter Market,” said Andy Tompkins, Outdoor Retailer Show Director.