Product Reviews

Al's Pick of the Show 2000
Trout Traps Backpacker

by Al Campbell

When I attend the Fly Fishing Retailer World Trade Expo (that really big fly-fishing show in Salt Lake City), I have one purpose or motive that drives me; I want to find the best products at the best prices to pass on to my customers. That sounds simple, but really, it isn't simple at all.

Walking the aisles of the show is like playing dodge ball when you are the only one left on your side of the court. Every manufacturer there is hoping they or their representatives (reps) will manage to entice you or lure you into their grasp where they can explain in great detail everything they make or sell. If that rep represents several lines, it could take half a day to see everything he wants you to see. The show is just too big to let that happen if you want to see everything that's available.

Weeding through the hundreds of thousands of items offered at the show can be confusing enough to contribute to a case of criminal insanity if you don't have a plan. Fortunately, I have a plan. I quickly walk the show floor looking for new products that catch my eye and tell anyone who wants to capture my time that I will get back to them after my preview of the show. That first walk usually burns up most of the first day, but by the time I finish my walk, I have a list of things I want to check out thoroughly.

My first criteria for products I want to sell to my customers is value. All shows are loaded with expensive stuff, cheap stuff, inexpensive stuff and a few valuable items. If the product is inexpensive and poorly built, it's "cheap" and won't get another look. If it's expensive and poorly built, it won't get another look either. In my book, value is measured by how much the product offers for the money required to obtain it. Using that guideline, it's rather easy to make a short list of new products that need further investigation.

My Pick of the Show for this show (and all shows) is based on value. I feel this new item offers the most performance for the consumer's dollar. It wasn't an easy choice. I had to choose between a reasonably nice fly rod/reel combo that will sell for $40 (lots nicer than those bubble-packed offerings found at the big "marts") and a backpacker's pontoon boat. The pontoon boat won; here's why.

Trout Traps Backpacker (with Al)

This year Trout Trap Products introduced a pontoon boat that has a metal frame, 8ft pontoons, offers three adjustable heights the user can select, weighs 17 pounds (including the carry bag), and breaks down to a small package that would fit in most gym bags. It comes with its own bag that has backpack straps or a shoulder strap, depending on how far you break the frame down. It has straps that allow you to carry the pontoon boat on your back when fully inflated too. The only thing it doesn't have is the kayak paddle needed to propel it (that is an additional purchase).

If you travel a lot, especially if you fly, this is the answer to your pontoon boat needs. It will fit in the overhead compartment of any airline with ease. If you ride a motorcycle, it will fit in most saddlebags. If you ride a mountain bike, it will travel on your back as easily as any day pack would travel.

The pontoon boat is called the "Backpacker" for obvious reasons. What isn't obvious is the price. Most pontoon boat manufacturers would offer this item for the meager sum of maybe $800 retail. Some might call it a "tremendous value" if they offered it for $600. The Trout Traps Backpacker will sell for about $300 retail. That's half the price of most rigid-framed models being offered by other manufacturers, 1/4th the price of some of the similar sized models on the market. After considering the amount of product being offered for the dollars spent, I believe the Trout Traps Backpacker pontoon boat offers the most value of any new product I saw at the show. I also think it's innovative enough to start a surge of similar offerings by other manufacturers (at a higher price of course).

Trout Traps, for offering the best value at the show, your Backpacker pontoon boat is my Pick-of-the-Show.

The next challenge is for someone to invent a kayak paddle that breaks down small enough to fit into that bag. ~Al Campbell

Trout Traps Products
P.O. Box 506
Arvada, CO 80001
Toll Free: 800-831-6398
Tel: 303-940-0310 Fax: 303-940-0310
Email Trout Traps

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