A review of the Outdoor and Adventure Show, Western Canada’s largest showcase of outdoor gear & adventure travel experiences!
When: March 19 & 20, 2016
Where: Stampede Park, BMO Centre
This isn't my first time at the rodeo…er…Outdoor and Adventure Show.
A few years ago Matt and I went to the Show, not really knowing what to expect. We did a lot of exploring but we had other places to be so I didn't get the chance to stay as long as I wanted. This time, not only did I have plenty of time to look around but I also decided to write a blog about my experiences.
While the show does run Saturday and Sunday, I decided to go on the Saturday only. Tickets cost six dollars per person if you buy them online (if you buy them at the exhibit they are $8) and that covers both days so it's definitely worth the price. Accompanying me was my mom and dad. They've been really good about my hiking obsession and they've even braved a few trails with me. I was hoping that by bringing them along to the expo, it would only increase their interest in hiking. Plus, it was a great excuse to spend a day with both of them.
We went in the morning so the expo hall wasn't too crowded. The expo is a huge showcase for all of the different companies related to outdoor activities as well as the products they sell. That includes anything from hiking and biking to kayaking and mountain climbing. Each kiosk was set up with two or three representatives. Every time we approached a kiosk, the person would ask if we wanted to know more about their information or if there was any questions they could answer. I found every one of them to be incredibly friendly and informative. I also enjoyed how most of them weren't too pushy and didn't follow you around.
Most of the tables had a wide variety of information including pamphlets, maps and pictures. They also offered candy, balloons, pencils and other trinkets as well as bags to carry all of your gathered goodies! Some kiosks even had interactive games where you could try to win fun little prizes (I won a pen at one...no big deal).
In addition, there was also a contest to enter at almost every set up (which basically means we're now going to be spammed with emails since you enter by giving away your email address but some of those prizes were definitely worth it!). Once I told mom that I wanted to enter every contest I could, she was off to the races. Even dad got into it!
The tables were set up in a specific format. The left side of the hall was mostly made of kiosks that sold different foods and drinks. There was everything from protein bars to soup to delicious baked chickpeas (definitely a product I want to try out). Each of the kiosks gave you a sample to try and most of them offered show discounts in order to encourage you to buy from them. Dad and I each bought a dehydrated bag of bison stew as well as shephard's pie and I can't wait to try them out!
(Speaking of food, if snacking on the samples isn't enough to fill your stomach, the expo offers a concession stand as well.)
There was even a segment where you could learn all about cheese and how it was made (and of course you had the opportunity to taste it afterwards). As you started to make your way towards the center of the room, you got more into actual equipment and things you could use when outdoors like kayaks, backpacks, clothing, tents, climbing gear, etc.
It was at this moment I slipped up when I mentioned to dad that I had a solo tent. He didn't realize I was planning on taking a solo backpacking trip and he wasn't very pleased (I had put off telling him because of his very protective nature). Luckily, a future kiosk we ran into helped make him feel a bit better (more on that later).
Closer to the back of the hall, but still in the center, there were several dozen kiosks that provided information on all sorts of Canada parks- from Banff National Park all the way to Cypress Hills. At one point, mom and I were talking to the Colombia Icefields representative and were telling him all about the hikes we were planning on doing this summer in that area. He was so impressed that he gave us some really nice water bottles for free, which we really appreciated!
Not too far off from there was a giant stage with about fifty folding chairs set up. In front of the stage was a sign indicating what presentations would be happening and at what time (this was the Adventure Theatre).
It just so happened that a man who had managed to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro four times in a row was giving a speech in that exact moment so we decided to take that moment to rest our feet. It was a really interesting presentation. He included a slide show of his trip and showed all of the different ways you could climb the mountain. Going to Africa and summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro is a huge dream of mine so I was very interested in learning all about the different campsites and stops you make along the way. I had no idea the environment changed so much the more elevation you gained. You go from rainforest to tundra in a matter of days!
After we listened to his speech, we moved onto the second half of the expo. This section was more about different resorts and hotels you could stay at, all the way from Golden, BC to Kenya, Africa. In addition, there were also some miscellaneous kiosks for things such as horseback riding or wonky looking flying machines (don't ask because I'm still not sure).
And this is also where we found a kiosk that dad found particularly interesting. I mentioned the SPOT system in my I'm the Solo to My Own Chewie Blog. Low and behold, we just happened to find a SPOT kiosk that was selling them for a show discount. After having just discovered my future plans, dad was very eager for me to get one. The man at the kiosk was very knowledgeable and he was able to answer all of my parents' questions and concerns about how the device worked. After about ten minutes of talking, I became the proud new owner of a $50 discounted SPOT device. I bought the SPOT Gen3 because it gave me everything I needed-tracking interval options, motion-activated tracking and a long battery life…and dad's peace of mind. Now all I need to do is set up a subscription for it and I can take it out for a test spin (be sure to look out for an equipment review blog on that later on).
After putting my new purchase in one of the many bags I had collected, we walked around some more, making sure to check out the camping trailer they had set up as well as the giant pool that provided kayaking, paddle boarding, scuba diving and snorkeling demonstrations and lessons.
Finally, we migrated over to the last section of the expo which was on the far right side. This was an area that demonstrated all that the United States had to offer in regards to hotels, lodges and cabins as well as general information about places you could visit such as Great Falls, Montana or Sand Point, Idaho.
Around this time was the moment dad and I each fell in love…with Krave Jerky that is. There was a small kiosk set up at the far right end of the hall that was giving out samples of their pork and beef jerky. Oh man, was it delicious! Our favorite was the Black Cherry BBQ pork jerky. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! The only problem was that they weren't selling any at that moment. Dad and I were pretty disappointed. Hopefully next year that changes!
By the time we had visited every information booth, we had been walking around for over 3 hours. Our feet were tired but it was definitely worth it. There is so much information provided at this expo and I would recommend it to anyone who loves getting outside or is curious about anything from kayaking to rock climbing. There is even a photography seminar set up in the back of the hall.
Just having a chance to win some of those prizes makes it worth coming out! One prize, for example, is a week-long trip to Africa, all expenses paid! How amazing would that be? Even if you aren't interested in any of the contests, a lot of the products that are being advertised are on sale for great prices. Whether it's camping food or a sleeping bag, the Outdoor Expo will most likely have you covered. If you're not looking to buy something, it's great just to store that kind of information in your head for later use. There are so many people there with all sorts of expertise and they're more than willing to answer your questions. If you do decide to go, try to go in the morning when it's less crowded. By the time mom, dad and I left, we had to fight through the crowds!
Mom and dad absolutely loved the experience and I did as well. I know for a fact I'll be coming back for many years to come!