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Rec Fest exhibitors help recreationists stay on top of trends

A surfboard from Soulcraft Boarding

A surfboard from Soulcraft Boarding

From exhibitors, Boise Rec Fest attendees can see what’s new in a recreational hobby of choice.

Fest-goers also might find out that a hobby exists in the first place.

Jeff Wahlers for more than a dozen years worked in the paddle-board business in Carlsbad, Calif. Sudden closure of a major foam supplier prompted him to move to Idaho about two years ago.

He launched Soulcraft Boarding, a Meridian company that designs, crafts and markets standup paddle boards and wake surfboards. Some come with artwork or can have custom art. Chelsi L. Kunau Benger is the artist. At Boise Rec Fest, Soulcraft will share a booth with its retailer, Water Ski Pro Shop.

Wahlers said demand is increasing for wake surfboards, which come in aerial-oriented surf styles and the smaller skim style for surface tricks. Riders drop the tow rope.

Standup paddle boarding dates back to the ancient Hawaiians and is well established on California’s south coast, but “now it has started to get popular inland, especially on lakes,” he said. “You can just go out and paddle.” Some people are using them in whitewater, though he does not recommend this to the average person.

Paddle boarding is “another way to get another board, and keep everyone in the water having fun,” Wahlers said. He now makes one paddle board at 10 feet and 2 inches, and another at 10 feet and 6 inches, though the boards can go to 12 feet.

“The hardest part is moving them around, getting them from the car to the water,” he said. But these challenges usually are worth it because paddle boarding is fun and is a core-strengthening workout, he said.

Core Concepts, Boise, designs and markets performance outdoor clothing. Company President Noah Bryan said that for attendees, Boise Rec Fest – where Core Concepts will share a booth with Idaho River Sports, one of its retailers – provides an opportunity for “discovering and enjoying all the resources we have relative to having a great time in the outdoors.” For Core Concepts, the festival is an opportunity for face-to-face interaction with end users.

Core Concepts plans to highlight a collection of organic bamboo cotton-blend T-shirts and preview some of its new products for fall and winter. A new shirt for men will offer water and wind resistance as well as moisture-wicking capability, in a style suitable for casual wear, Bryan said. A new jacket for women features a special fabric, developed in cooperation with a supplier, which combines performance characteristics with a visually appealing textured style. Both will be in the fall-winter line.

Hikers and campers for years have tried to avoid consuming untreated water, and more recently have had success with filtration systems. Recently, there is more awareness about water quality and the benefits of keeping water bottles out of landfills, and there are better products for more types of water consumers, said Laura DeLamere, partner in Eagle-based Urban Pipeline.

Urban Pipeline markets a military-grade filter that filters everything but saltwater, she said. The filters are placed into steel or plastic bottles. The steel bottles are popular in vehicles and refrigerators, whereas the plastic bottles – designed not to leach harmful chemicals – are popular among athletes and campers, she said. Another product, a filter straw, is placed in any freshwater source after the straw’s protective top is removed. The filter straws have become popular among outfitters, backpackers and international travelers – they’re compact and can get through airport security, she said.

The idea with all of the products is to provide filtered water that goes directly from the water source to the drinking container, instead of through an outside system first. DeLamere said more people are using (filter-less) steel bottles instead of disposable plastic bottles, but many still want to drink something other than tap water. Recent disasters and flood events have raised awareness about water quality, she added.

Urban Pipeline’s goal is to provide a line of water-filtration products that is more compact, and requires fewer steps to use, than long-established filtration systems used at home or in the field, she said. The products are becoming more popular among big-game hunters, some of whom previously used larger filtration systems that were more practical in camp than in the field, she said.

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