If you’ve been keeping up with me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve probably seen that I got the opportunity to go to the Surf Expo here in Orlando, FL a couple weekends ago. While I was there, I was fortunate enough to get to meet some of the behind-the-scenes people from some of my favorite brands and I got to meet some nice folks from some stellar up-and-coming brands. To top it all off, I even got to test some new products that aren’t even out on the market yet and got to see the upcoming Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 product lines!
Here’s a little “Award List” I put together that highlights some of the different brands I met with and that every Weekend Warrior should get to know:
Up & Coming: Team Phun
Apparently we’ve been spelling the word “fun” wrong all this time (thanks for nothing Webster and Oxford!) because the new way to spell it is by dropping the “f” and adding a “ph.” Team Phun is a new California lifestyle apparel company and is the epitome of a family company, run by two brothers with their sister taking care of the PR aspect and their dad giving them some helpful pointers along the way.
When they reached out to me a couple weeks before the expo, what caught my attention was their good-humor clothing. When you go to their site, you’ll see what I’m talking about right when you see all the mustache apparel with the 3/4 length t-shirts, crazy hats, and new pencil drawn animal collections for the ladies. When I was chatting with Jamie, the President, he was telling me that they can customize almost anything so if you don’t see certain colors you’re looking for, give em a call and ask for it (they love getting these kinds of requests). You’ll also notice that they team up with all sorts of people like grom-level surfers, a go-kart racer, heck even a competitive eater! One of the coolest things I saw was their Astroboard, where they took some AstroTurf, got a patent, and introduced the Astroboard so your feet are oh so comfortable when you’re skating barefoot.
They’re a ton of phun and just want to spread the phun with as many people as they can.
Functionality: Topo Designs
Most would think that a bag/apparel company from Colorado would only find a market in the mountains, but not Topo Designs. With their extremely versatile and functional bags, combined with their new clothing line, they’re making a statement in the surf industry.
At first glance, you’ll see that their bags are pretty simple and classy looking, something that you could take to the mountains yet also be able to pack all your work essentials into and still look professional in the office. Once you look closer you’ll see all the hidden details like different hooks on the Mountain Briefcase to let you turn it into a satchel or backpack. The Travel Bag has multiple sleeves for electronics (for instance), plenty of space for four to five days worth of clothes, and a couple loops for the hooks on the Trip Pack to hook onto so you can be hands-free in the airport with both of your carry-on bags on your back. Not to mention that with their new clothing line, you’ll be sure to look great on the weekends and on Casual Fridays in the office. This is only a sample of some great features of a few of their products, you’ll have to go to their website to see everything else they have to offer.
Funnest Outdoor Game: Hit Mit
As I got older, I got sick and tired of outdoor games and frankly just wanted to surf while I was at the beach and simply explore the outdoors. Hit Mit has changed that mindset for me. Instead of getting bored and going home, all I have to do now is bust out my Hit Mit and start a game with a friend. Think of having a ping-pong paddle on your hand with two sides that gives you a lot more control resulting in less game stoppages to go get a runaway ball.
I got to play a quick round with the CEO of the company and had a blast. The space aisle ways between booths at the expo was a little constricting, but we still made it work. I know the award is for the Funnest Outdoor Game, but the squooshy paddles and balls, you can even play this game inside if it’s raining. Just make sure you play in an area where there’s the least amount of breakable objects, in case you decide to go for a huge save and end up running into something.
Lightest Supportive Footwear: Freewaters
We’re all accustomed to the flat sandals on the market and the only way to get a sandal with good support is to get a heavy sandal/shoe. That was before I heard about Freewaters who have an ergonomic foot-bed in their sandals and shoes.
You’re probably wondering the heck an ergonomic foot-bed is, simply put, cushion up on the arch of your foot. As you walk around in typical sandals and some shoes, you’ll probably notice that the arch of your foot practically goes untouched. I don’t know about you, but that puts a lot of stress on the rest of my foot, making long distance walks pretty uncomfortable. However, walking on soft sand is very comfortable to me because the sand pushes up against my arch and gives me that support that I love. The same concept goes along with the Freewaters sandals and shoes, without the sand getting stuck to your feet of course.
Adding to the foot support, Freewaters is also making strides to support people in Africa. When you buy a pair of shoes or sandals from Freewaters, a portion of the proceeds goes to building new wells in Kenya that provide clean drinking water. When you’re wearing a pair of Freewaters, your feet aren’t the only ones that are thanking you.
Best Booth Display: Dry Case
Like most Weekend Warrior’s I like to spend time on the water during the summer months and since I live in Florida, it usually ends up being year-round for me. There’s always the phone/electronic dilemma because I don’t want my stuff to get wet. Recently, I came across and ad for Dry Case and saw that they stuck a phone in one of their bags and submerged it underwater and I thought to myself that I had to see it to believe it.
They sure didn’t disappoint me at the expo because as I was walking by their booth, the goldfish tank with not only a phone, but a tablet submerged in water caught my eye. They had the phone set on stopwatch mode with the time running and the tablet was set on camera mode, so you could actually see yourself in the tablet that was swimming with the fishies.
Their goldfish tank display did a great job of showing how their products are vacuum sealed and really will keep your electronics dry when submerged in water.
Have you ever noticed that different clothes from different brands always feel, well, different. That’s because of the various type of materials that go into making different clothing items. In my opinion, Prana is one of the best companies at making sure that what goes into their clothing, does as little harm to the environment without sacrificing performance.
When I met with one of their reps Sunday morning, the first thing she went into was talking about their sustainability initiative and how they make sure they’re always improving in that aspect. I’ll tell you what, these folks sure do practice what they preach and are a very stand-up company.
Recycling Initiative: Surf Bandz
Not many companies can say that what makes their products look cool is a piece of recycled material. Surf Bandz can make that claim since the center point of these bracelets are recycled soda can tabs.
Think about how many soda cans go into the ocean every year with those tabs attached to them, ready for any creature of the sea to come and eat and potentially get hurt. These guys at Surf Bandz are campaigning against that by turning an ordinary piece of aluminum into a cool looking accessory for ladies and guys. All of these bracelets are handmade in the good ‘ol US of A, helping provide more jobs for our neighbors.
Next time you’re looking for a cool new accessory, be sure to look at the over 450 different color combinations they have to offer. Oh and did I mention that if they don’t have your favorite color combo, you can get one customized too?
Favorite Marketing Campaign: Sanuk
Who would’ve thought to use a PB&J sandwich as the forefront in their new marketing campaign? Just look at Sanuk’s creative and diverse bunch of athletes and you won’t be surprised to see a PB&J sandwich plastered everywhere.
So you’re probably wondering what this brilliant marketing campaign is all about. Sanuk’s calling it Thinovation by cutting the crust off that sandwich and leaving you what you want and not having a bulky crust get in the way of your sandwich eating enjoyment. Just like what they’re doing with their new line of sidewalk surfers coming out in Spring 2014, they’re introducing the “No-Ledge” construction where the sole is a little bit thinner and still features that mind-blowing comfort that Sanuk sidewalk surfers are known for. Don’t fret it you like the crust on your sandwich, Sanuk isn’t cutting off the ledge on their classic sidewalk surfers, they’re just giving you a new option.
In addition to Thinovation, Sanuk is also introducing Instaplay into their sandals. They have some great relaxing sandals, but in 2014 Sanuk wants to put a little spring in your step with their new waterproof sandals. Ever get your sandals wet and decide to wait for them to dry so you don’t have to listen to that annoying squeaking under your feet? The new Instaplays are waterproof, making them virtually squeak proof. Feel free to get your feet wet with the peace of mind, knowing that you won’t be that annoying person squeaking down the sidewalk.
Sunshine Utilization: Goal Zero
Living in the 21st Century, we hear a lot about new energy sources. One of the biggest and most underutilized energy source is the sun. Let me introduce to you, Goal Zero, the company that makes it easy for you to power almost anything with the sun.
No matter what you’re into, they’ve got a solar panel and battery setup that’s made perfect for you. The backpacker can easily pack a solar panel and battery pack to power a cell phone to call loved ones at cache point on a thru hike. A family could even keep their refrigerator powered for up to 20 hours if their power gets knocked out from a natural disaster. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have something to power major household appliances using the energy from the sun, rather than dropping a ton of valuable cash and time at the gas station
Crazy Customizing Concept: Chaco
Being a guy, I care more about how my shoes and sandals feel compared to how they look. However, I tend to eat those words when it comes to my Chaco’s because there are so many different wacky and out there designs to choose from.
A big challenge is figuring out which webbing design would be the best. Typically I choose a neutral color that’ll look halfway decent with almost anything I wear. I do however know some people who have shoes that match with different outfits and that can get expensive. That dilemma is solved with the ReversiFlip. It’s a pretty cool concept where the ladies can get a flip flop with and different packs of interchangeable webbing to keep the webbing designs on your flips fresh and able to match with any outfit.
I got to mess with the ReversiFlip sandals for a bit and they’re so easy to change in and out. Since us guys typically stick with neutral colors, these are only going to be available to the ladies and kids starting in February 2013.
*I did receive some promotional/sample products from some of these brands, but as always, the views expressed are my own.
P.S. A lot of pictures of these new products I mentioned can be found on my Instagram account. If you don’t find what you’re looking for or want to hear some more of my thoughts about these different brands, shoot me an email!