By Will Rietveld, Janet Reichl, and Brian Green (Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassadors), and Damien Tougas (Backpacking Light Magazine and

About a dozen Gossamer Gear staffers, Trail Ambassadors, partners, and friends cohabitated in a rental house August 1-5 to attend the Summer 2012 Outdoor Retailer Trade Show. The group included Glen, Grant, Mike, and Dave from Gossamer Gear, Henry Shires from Tarptent, Ron and Brandon Moak from Six Moon Designs, Russ Zandbergen from Trail Designs, Damien Tougas from Backpacking Light Magazine/Toe Salad, and Trail Ambassadors Brian Green, Will Rietveld, and Janet Reichl.


Always lots to talk about. Pictured left to right are Glen Van Peski (Gossamer Gear), Russ Zandbergen (Trail Designs), Damien Tougas (Backpacking Light), and Ron Moak (Six Moon Designs).

As you can imagine, when this quantity of gearheads and energy gathers in one place, there is hardly any time for sleep! We all hit the show by day and talked backpacking and gear late into the night. "Did you see anything interesting?" was the daily question. Yeah, new rain jackets weighing 4 to 5 ounces, a new lighter 2.5 layer eVent DVL fabric, and Cuben Fiber tents from mainstream companies, and lots more. We will be highlighting the new (for spring 2013) gear we found in the Gossamer Gear blog and our own individual blogs, so stay tuned.

Ron Moak showed photos of his recent soggy hike across Scotland in the TGO Challenge, which turned out to be the wettest year ever for that event. Ron is tough, and made it through, even after postholing through snow and a face plant in the mud. In contrast, Will and Janet gave a preview of backpacking on the Boulder Mail Trail in dry southern Utah, which is planned as a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador get-together for early November of this year.

It was truly an honor and privilege to mingle with some of the founders and leaders of the ultralight movement, master gear designers, fellow outdoor writers, and fellow ultralight advocates. There were lots of man-hugs as we departed to head home.

Brian Green added the following: Attending the Summer Outdoor Retailer show had been on my list of things to do for far too long, so this year I made the commitment to be there and have to say that I am so glad that I did.

Walking around the OR Show exhibition was a key motivator of course, but I'd be lying if I said it was the only reason I wanted to go. Who wouldn't want to hang out and chat in detail with such an amazing group of like-minded lightweight backpacking legends, all gathered in one place at the same time?

I've had online conversations with many of the people that were going to be there, but had never met any of them face to face. Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Gossamer Gear, I was invited to stay at the house they were renting as home base for the show. This is what made it possible for me to attend this year.

I'll be honest, as much as I enjoyed walking around the OR Show, meeting with manufacturers, and checking out all of the new and cool gear - I got more pleasure out of chatting with Will, Janet, and Damien during our car rides or just being around the amazing people at the house and joining in the conversations about new materials, designs, and concepts.

Just absorbing the atmosphere of so many years of backpacking expertise and experience was reward enough. I'm just one guy with a small backpacking blog and a passion for the outdoors, but I was accepted into the group without hesitation. I was made to feel completely at home and comfortable.

I'm still wrapping my head around the conversations that we had in the car on the way to the show, at dinner with other well known names in the industry, and especially back at the house. My head is spinning. I'm coming down off of the high of being so completely immersed in all things lightweight backpacking, it's going to take a while to get back to normal - of course it might just be withdrawal symptoms of not having any more of Will's excellent home-made bran muffins! Note to self; I have to get the recipe…

Thanks to Glen, Grant, Dave, and Michael of Gossamer Gear for putting up with me. Like Damien, I hope to get out on the trails with some of these amazing people some day soon, but not before Glen has given me a sub-5lb base weight makeover. Bring it on Glen!

Damien Tougas added the following: This was my second year attending OR, but the first time that I got to hang out for any extended length of time with this incredible group of people. It was nice to be able to put faces to the names of companies and people I had only read about online and in the BPL forums. I really enjoyed the companionship and the conversation. I feel changed, it has given me a completely different perspective on the lightweight backpacking "industry" (for lack of a better word) and community. When I went home I felt like I never wanted to buy another piece of gear from a mainstream manufacturer again – of course I recognize that as unrealistic, but I really want to support my friends. It is an honor and privilege to be able to call these people my friends. I hope I get to hang out with these guys again some time, and maybe even go backpacking!

August 09, 2012 — Brian Fryer