Revive, renew, push forward, enjoy, and grow. We don’t know what others are doing, but the surf industry from all appearances at the Surf Expo this year, is pushing forward. Due to the current economic situation, our expectations were not high, but we were rewarded by seeing a few great new products and innovative ideas on how to enjoy our outdoor experience. Some old friends were having a positive experience, so we hope that bodes well for the future! The 2013 Surf Expo has been a refinement of what we’ve seen in the past. I think people are trying harder, the products show it, and that’s not a bad thing. This year was also a first as our daughters joined us on the Surf Expo floor – they’ve been patiently waiting until they were old enough to be a part of it. I think the sheer size and volume of what they saw was a bit overwhelming – they enjoyed seeing it all, but were exhausted at the end of the day! Look out for a bit of video taken by daughter Amanda to give a bit of the flavor of Surf Expo.
*Surfboards, Wave Riders & Skimmers*
Yep, we know – Surf Expo is really all about the boards – but to tell the truth, we spent less time looking at boards this year (probablyhad something to do with having the daughters along) but there were, as always some great boards and manufacturers at the Expo.
Steve Walden’s Magic Model is very aptly named if you ask SurfinDaddy. He has a magic board and would not give it up easily, because he says that is the one board on which he always knows he’ll have fun! Steve’s Magic Model is a great board for beginner and expert alike so, if you want something that handles a wide range of wave sizes, check his magic model because it truly is a little bit of magic.
Global Surf Industries had a large display as they usually do – we particularly liked the Futureflex technology. The board we looked at was the “Psychedelic GERM” by Warren Smith for HaydenShapes which uses carbon fiber as a parabolic stringer, has a polystyrene core, and is wrapped in glass and epoxy single to double concave.
Let’s talk about BIC Sport for a second – while they are part of a big company, they offer a great value. Having owned and ridden one for at least 10 years now, SurfinDaddy has yet to ding or damage the board – and he’s ridden it in some of the biggest surf Florida has to offer.
Our friend Bruce of WaveSkater was having a great Surf Expo – we didn’t make it until day three but were happy to know that they’re doing great, developing new models and adding some new colors. Lots of resorts are beginning to recognize the WaveSkater as a good board to share with their guests, and we can see why!
SUPs are a great way to introduce kids to the sport of surfing – it is easier to learn on a big floaty board! Grom-sup has one designed just for kids, and it’s great! Check out their website at www.grom-sup.com
And for the 5-12 year old set that might not be quite ready for the big water – you’ve gotta check out Shore Surfer! Invented by a Florida 12 year old, Andy Herrmann with the support of his family, it’s rugged, colorful and easy to hang onto for smaller hands.
Another fun thing for kids of all ages was displayed by Plastic Technology, Inc. – they’ve created a fun improvement over the standard “noodles” you can find in every backyard pool. With a design that allows them to be put together in many different configurations, it’s like building blocks for playing in the water.
*Out of Water Sports*
One of the coolest things we saw in our walk around the floor was the Vew-Do Balance Boards. These are some pretty gnarly roughly skateboard sized boards in various configurations – but we were fascinated watching some of the cool moves these guys were demonstrating. Amanda shot a great clip here:
Cablz®, hit our radar last year – but they have expanded since last year and made an adjustment to their original design. Although you can still get the original, (Surfindaddy loves the original), check them out at www.cablz.com.
For a different take on eyewear retention – check out TROG for their innovative design – their designs include both a standard and floating retainer, but the unique thing here is how they connect to your glasses. Trog uses nifty 3-in-one frame adapter on the ends – so these retainers will fit your glasses whether they are thin wire or thick plastic.
Image Sunwear has lots of great designs – if you’re looking for a good supplier for your shop, they’ve got a full range of polarized and mirrored sunglasses – endorsed by American Lifeguard Association, you can shop them by gender, style, etc.
For those who are tired of losing their nice sunglasses in the water – check out Waviators – fun and funky colored specs that float!
We met and viewed a lot of fun and beautiful art at the Expo this year – so here are just a few previews:
Randall Scott Board Art – Randall has a unique solution for those favored old boards that are getting too dinged up to ride any more . . . he wraps ‘em in art!
Thomas W. Ziffer Fine Arts – Thomas offers a great selection of whimsical and realistic art in acrylic on canvas and also offers prints of his original work.
Cheeta Style – Art by Cheeta is perfection in surf-styled art – if you’re looking for some cool stylized waves and bright colors – check him out!
Beach and Nature Company – Offers kits to create and share your love of nature – fun for the whole family!
Artgame – This site is the licensing agent for art of Royce B. McClure – they have some really cool 3D images and lenticular items – magnets, iphone cases, posters, etc.
*Energy Providing Treats*
We met a couple nice cowboys from Golden Valley Natural out of Idaho – they had some fantastic jerky on display – and we all tried and enjoyed it. A particularly unique product that they were previewing, (not yet available on site) is an enhanced beef jerky – designed to give an energy boost without a letdown. They’re calling it “Ascend” and we found it to be a tasty and chewy jerky treat.
What you put in your body is very important – especially if you want to function at a higher level. NOW Energy Bars has a way to do just that, and they are gluten free. We tried some samples which were great!
The folks at ThinkFruit shared some of their fruit snacks – dried fruit is a fantastic healthy pick-me-up whenever you need a quick bite and fit easily into most any kind of bag.
*Transporting your Gear*
Looprope has figured out a great system for tying down your gear. Jeff Dahl became an innovator with this idea when he realized that the rat’s nest of knots he’d tied haphazardly were not a particularly great way for tying down loads. After a trip to the hardware store, the initial looprope was born. No matter your sport or need, Looprope has bungee’s beat!
If you have a car without racks and don’t want to mar the finish, this is perfect for any water enthusiast! SquidRack is a short-distance car rack system for kayaks, surfboards, and SUPs. The product is made of a lightweight aluminum frame with rubber bottoms to protect your car – safely providing an easy and quick way to attach/detach and store. Once you adjust it for your vehicle, attaching your board is as easy as it gets and from then on, it’s Squid-It & Go. One of the things I liked most was being able to put a long board on a small car with a sloped window in the back and still give the board some room and stability. You can even carry some lumber with your small car. What a great concept!
While many of us that live in the South love going barefoot, we still need something to protect our feet. The problem with our beloved flip-flops is that they often don’t provide any arch support, and they’re easy to slip off the feet. Sazzi has an answer to that issue, and believe it or not, they’re pretty darned comfortable.
Another innovator is OOFOS – Surfindaddy is trying out a pair of OOFOS Recovery flipflops and can attest that while they may look like typical foam flipflops, they certainly don’t feel like ‘em! These have very cushy soles that mold to the contours of your feet giving perfect orthotic support. They’re lightweight, machine washable, flexible and shock absorbing.
Designed by Australian Podiatrist Phil Vasyli and with Dr. Weil approved orthaheel technology, Orthaheel is a great option for those who have pronation problems – helping to correct the pronation and alleviate heel and knee pain associated with poor foot function.
The Ninja split toe is the ultimate everyday foot agility and lateral balance footwear from Zemgear. We’ve been keeping up with Zem (Zone of Endless Motion) for years, and they just keep getting better! Zem has footwear designed for whatever you need – from surfing, kiteboarding, skiing, barefoot running, you name it – they’ve got you covered.
Finally, we have to highlight XeroShoes which are billed as the “Original Barefootware”. Loved by barefoot runners everywhere, these are said to have a “5,000 mile warranty”. They sell kits for 4mm and 6mm sole kits and have instructions on site for you to make a tracing of your own foot for custom soles. Ways of tying these huaraches on the foot are almost limitless, so they’re pretty cool, take up little space, and would be great to have on hand for when your feet need a break!
As an update from last year, SurfinDaddy acquired a pair of Spenco brand sandals. He’s worn ‘em all year around “the farm” and found them to be well made and very comfortable – they’ve held up extremely well.
Cocky Bastard specializes in quality lifestyle products that stand out from the crowd. They’ve got some radical designs that really stand out – and one of our favorites is a rashguard that dries almost instantly once you get out of the water – just doesn’t hold the water like a traditional rashguard. I learned from talking with them that they can arrange to drop ship as well, so that can be a benefit to online retail.
Looking for a great place to stash your ID and cash? Bandi has a great solution. Much more stylish and unobtrusive than a fanny pack – with fun colors and designs, and separated pockets you can carry keys, phone, cash or cards without bulk.
EK USA covers several brands and offers iCat waterproof cases for iPhone, iPod, and iPad. Their Dri Cat cases can be configured to work with neck lanyards, belt clips or belt reel clips and are offered for the Samsung Galaxy S III in addition to iPhone 4/4S/5.
Hats! From the fedora, bomber cap, ball cap, sombrero, cowboy, if it is cool and goes on the head they have it at PETERGRIMM. SurfinDaddy clearly can’t make up his mind!
Avalanche watches are tough watches for any outdoor activity, and while they offer some cool options, I really liked the quality.
As always, we enjoy highlighting those businesses where we met folks who are trying to “give back” to the community in some way – whether it be local or global.
United by Blue was one of those businesses that we enjoyed meeting. They say that for every product they sell, UBB removes one pound of trash from our world’s oceans and waterways. As of today (1/27/13) their onsite “trash ticker” lists 141K pounds of trash removed by UBB! They’ve got links on site for getting involved and highlighting past cleanups. Pretty cool – and we loved their sturdy canvas and leather bags!
Wakami USA works with a non-profit partner Comunidades de la Tierra to create sustainable, income-generating opportunities for people in isolated areas of Guatemala, teaching them valuable skills to help them become entrepreneurs. They’ve got a huge selection of surfer style bracelets sure to appeal to gals and guys of all ages.
Along the same lines, Good Works Make a Difference helps foster underprivileged communities through acts of volunteerism, charity, and advocacy. Their products include jewelry, belts, candles, and natural facial masks.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into Surf Expo 2013. It was pretty exciting to see that there were so many products and booths which bore the banners “proudly made in the USA”.
As a wrap up of the day, here is the link to Amanda’s video: