Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 22

1980s

Steve Barker

Outdoor Retailer 35th Anniversary

ty stores doubted they could sell the travel category. Undeterred, Barker and business partner
Ricky Schlesinger took a class at UC San Diego
to learn how to run a mail-order business. For
about five years, Eagle Creek thrived through
catalog sales, and prominent retailers like REI
and L.L. Bean picked up the line.
"The 1990s was go-go time," says Barker.
"There was a real surge in adventure travel.
Even in the dot-com bust, the tech guys travelled." With innovations like wheeled backpacks, Eagle Creek ruled the landscape of highend, rugged luggage.
As his company flourished, Barker revived
his interest in politics. "I was a rabble-rouser
in college," he says. But the turmoil of the late
1960s turned him off of activism while he focused on business. In the early 1990s, Barker
began traveling to Washington, D.C., with

was kind of like stepping off a moving train,"
says Barker, of deciding to sell his business. "It
was honestly painful. I needed to redefine myself and my purpose."

BARKER MAY HAVE MOVED ON FROM EAGLE
Creek, but he has only become more involved
in the outdoor industry. Each year he lobbies
Congress to support recreation-related legislation, and he's served as interim executive
director of OIA. Today, he sits on the board
of the Outdoor Foundation, working to get
more kids outdoors.
In the second stage of his career, Barker is
also devoting time to his longtime interest
in conservation, crisscrossing the globe to
protect wild lands in Alaska and other adventure travel hot spots. While Barker is no
longer producing travel gear, he's probably

In the second stage of his career, Barker is
also devoting time to his longtime interest
in conservation, crisscrossing the globe
to protect wild lands in Alaska and other
adventure travel hot spots.
ORCA (now Outdoor Industry Association) to
convince Congress to support funding for public lands and outdoor recreation.
For more than two decades, Barker and OIA
chipped away at the antipathy of Congress when
it came to the concerns of the outdoor industry.
Barker realized they were finally making headway during a visit with then Treasury Secretary
Henry Paulson. "He had Alexander Hamilton's
silverware taken down from the wall to put up
birding pictures," says Barker. "Here's this conservative Republican who ran Goldman-Sachs,
and he only wanted to talk about birding."
By the late 1990s, Eagle Creek was an employee-owned company, and Barker was
searching for a way to secure the financial
future of his employees. The business continued to thrive until the 9/11 terrorist attacks
and the SARS scare gave adventure travel "a
big punch in the gut," according to Barker.
"But we battled our way back."
In 2007, he sold Eagle Creek to VF Corp,
though he remained president until 2010. "It

22 OUTDOOR RETAILER

/ 30th Anniversary 2017

using it more than ever.
After selling Eagle Creek, Barker shifted
his focus to preserving wild places, particularly the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
(ANWR). During an August 2001 dinner at
Outdoor Retailer, Barker sat next to thenInterior Secretary Gale Norton, who was
encouraging people to support drilling in
ANWR. When people voiced objections, she
asked if Barker or the others had been there.
He regretted that he could not say he had.
The conversation stuck with him, and seven years later he finally visited the refuge. "It
was life changing," he says. "This was a like a
pre-man wilderness, with millions of acres.
An intact ecosystem with polar bears, grizzlies, and 200,000 Caribou."
Working to protect the refuge, Barker
serves on the board of the Alaska Wilderness
League, urging outdoor executives to see
ANWR for themselves. Encouraged by
Barker, companies like Patagonia, The
North Face, and Keen have put together sto-

rytelling campaigns that highlight the refuge.
Thanks to the efforts of Barker and OIA,
Congress unanimously passed the bi-partisan REC Act in November 2016, a shocking
feat in this age of polarized politics. The legislation requires the Gross Domestic Product
to include outdoor recreation, an accounting
that will put the outdoor industry at the table
with big extractive industries when it comes
to lobbying lawmakers who see land issues in
terms of dollar signs.
"His unbending approach to this being the
right thing to do for the industry combined with
his nonstop energy moved the bill forward," says
Luis Benitez, director of the Colorado Office
of Outdoor Recreation, who also worked on
promoting the REC Act and notes that it was
Barker's momentum that kept the effort to pass
the bill moving until new OIA executive director Amy Roberts moved into the position in
August, 2015.
Over the past year, Barker has set his sights
beyond the U.S. to also protect global destinations that are popular with adventure
travelers. Working with the Adventure Travel
Trade Association, he helped create the
Adventure Travel Conservation Fund in 2016
and this year became chairman of its board.
Modeled on the Conservation Alliance, the
group includes outdoor companies and tour
operators that nominate and fund community projects around the world.
"Steve could have justifiably retired from
the industry after starting Eagle Creek along
with his wife Nona and growing it into such
an iconic outdoor company," says OIA's Amy
Roberts. "Instead, he doubled-down and
broadened his efforts toward ensuring the
growth and success of the broader outdoor
industry. He expanded his conservation efforts to the Arctic and the adventure travel
industry as well. He always gives freely of his
expertise and support and is committed to
bringing along a new generation of leaders
whether that is through his one-on-one mentorship or his idea to launch the Skip Yowell
Leadership Academy."
This year, Barker will visit Mongolia,
Argentina, and the Bears Ears National
Monument in Utah. When asked to name
his favorite destination in the world, Barker
smiles and says, "I'm always looking for that
next place." O.R.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer - July 2017

OUTDOOR RETAILER - JULY 2017
CONTENTS
CONTRIBUTORS
FIRST WORDS
THE TRIBE
GREG THOMSEN
YVON CHOUINARD AND GERRY LOPEZ
STEVE BARKER
THE SCENE
JEFF LOWE
PETER AND PATTY DUKE
BEAVER THEODOSAKIS
CARSON STANWOOD
CHAD GALLWITZ
JOHN MEAD
THE TORNADO
THE SCENE
SALLY MCCOY
JOHN STERLING
CASEY SHEAHAN
THE SCENE
MUSIC AND MEMORIES
PETER METCALF
SALLY JEWELL
CONRAD ANKER
JEN TAYLOR
DAN NORDSTROM
JEREMY COLLINS
JOANNA HOSHIMOTO
THE FUTURE
THE BACKSTORY
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - OUTDOOR RETAILER - JULY 2017
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - Cover2
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 1
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CONTENTS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 3
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CONTRIBUTORS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 5
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - FIRST WORDS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 7
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE TRIBE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 9
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 10
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 11
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - GREG THOMSEN
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 13
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 14
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 15
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - YVON CHOUINARD AND GERRY LOPEZ
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 17
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 18
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 19
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - STEVE BARKER
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 21
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 22
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 23
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE SCENE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 25
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 26
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 27
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JEFF LOWE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 29
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - PETER AND PATTY DUKE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 31
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - BEAVER THEODOSAKIS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 33
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CARSON STANWOOD
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 35
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CHAD GALLWITZ
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 37
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JOHN MEAD
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 39
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE TORNADO
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 41
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 42
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE SCENE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 44
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 45
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 46
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 47
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - SALLY MCCOY
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 49
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 50
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 51
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JOHN STERLING
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 53
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CASEY SHEAHAN
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 55
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE SCENE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 57
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 58
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 59
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - MUSIC AND MEMORIES
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 61
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 62
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 63
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 64
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 65
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - PETER METCALF
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 67
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 68
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - SALLY JEWELL
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CONRAD ANKER
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 71
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JEN TAYLOR
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - DAN NORDSTROM
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JEREMY COLLINS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JOANNA HOSHIMOTO
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE FUTURE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 77
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 78
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 79
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE BACKSTORY
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - Cover3
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/february_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/january_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/december_2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/theweekly_07302020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/theweekly_07212020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2020summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/theweekly_07072020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/theweekly_06302020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/theweekly_06232020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/theweekly_06162020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/theweekly_06092020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/theweekly_06022020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/theweekly_05272020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/theweekly_05192020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nxtbook_bhtest/weeeekly_05052020__JJ
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/theweekly_05122020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/theweekly_05052020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/postshow2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2020_day3
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2020_day2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2020_day1
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/preshow2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2020winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/postshow_summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/day3_summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/day2_summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/day1_summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/preshow_summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2019summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/postshow2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2019_day3
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2019_day2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2019_day1
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/preshow2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2019winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2018summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2018winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/201707
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2017summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2017winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2016summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2016winter
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com