Switchback, the education and business gathering for the outdoor industry, will host its first stand-alone gathering June 16-18, 2025, in Nashville, TN. The inaugural Spring Switchback builds on the momentum of its Fall event, which launched in 2022 as a specialty outdoor showcase at The Running Event (TRE). Over the last two years, the event has experienced robust growth in attendance from outdoor retailers, media and brand leaders.

Switchback’s Spring format will be built to support outdoor needs through the same four pillars seen at previous events — learning, discovery, connection and celebration. The gathering will provide a robust schedule of forward-looking conference programming and peer learning that will be applicable and valuable to multiple business levels and positions.

Switchback’s educational sessions, networking events and exhibition space will all be hosted within a dedicated portion of the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, a spacious yet comfortable setting with 12 restaurants and an attached premium hotel. With all attendees staying and meeting in a single location, the focused and efficient environment will enable both private planned meetings as well as serendipitous run-ins.

Upcoming dates and locations for Switchback include Austin, TX (Switchback at TRE, November 19-21 2024); and Switchback in Nashville, TN (June 16-18, 2025).

Christina Henderson, Event Director, The Running Event & Switchback
Christina Henderson, Event Director, The Running Event & Switchback

Why launch Switchback as a standalone event?

Switchback is building on the positive momentum of the fall gathering at TRE. Over the last two years, the event has experienced a lot of growth in attendance from outdoor retailers, media, and brand leaders in the outdoor space. Interest in Switchback at TRE has grown to the point that it needs to expand beyond TRE. At the same time, it's important TRE continues to be run-focused, so that we're best-serving the run specialty industry.

Based on conversations with our community, partners, brands and retailers, as well as the data at hand, its clear theres a need for an event that unites the outdoor industry. By creating a twice-yearly gathering, Switchback is also welcoming the many outdoor industry members who have lapsed from attending industry events over recent years. Ultimately, the goal of Switchback is to support the outdoor industry and the people who comprise it. 

Why Nashville

From the start of our location search, Nashville was the clear choice. It's centrally located and easily accessible for both retailers and brand reps in multiple regions, while at the same time offering a fun destination many people are excited to visit. 

The venue (Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center) also had availability that aligned well with the industry calendar, making Nashville a combination of the right time, right place.

Who is the show for?

Switchback is for outdoor brands, retailers, media, organizations and associations 

In the exhibit hall, we’ll have brands spanning footwear, apparel, hiking, camping, trail running, hydration, nutrition, accessories and more. Most attendees will be outdoor specialty retailers, mainly US-based, covering a range of experience levels—everyone from entry-level employees to store owners. 

What are your expectations for this first year?

We're already so excited by the interest and support of brands, retailers and partner organizations we've spoken with and expect the inaugural standalone Switchback to deliver on business, new connections, and top-tier education. Our team and I know there will be a lot to learn from year one, especially as we look ahead to the future of the gathering. As always, we'll keep learning and listening to the industry as we build Switchback. At the end of the day, our mission is to create value and support the outdoor industry, and we believe we’ll successfully deliver this in year one.

What can attendees expect to see at Switchback? 

As an attendee, you'll experience three full days of business, learning and peer networking. Expect many educational sessions to select from, fun networking events and receptions, and lots of time in the exhibit hall to discover new products and meet vendors. There will be a lot going on at Switchback, and we will communicate all the event happenings and logistical details in the months before the event. 

I have to ask this question, as we both know it's something the outdoor industry will be asking: Are trade shows still relevant? 

It’s a good question, and the answer is yes. I strongly believe in-person connection will never lose its value. Industry gatherings spark new opportunities, foster idea sharing and build relationship. Without these gatherings, industries lose the innovation and intangibles that only happen in these face-to-face environments. Trade shows are evolving, sure, but they're more relevant than ever. 

And speaking of that, does the outdoor industry need a new B2B event? The ones that exist seem to be struggling. 

It's clear to our team and to our outdoor industry partners that there's a need for a new B2B eventbut it must be much more than that to deliver real value. 

A very intentional mix of education, business and networking will make Switchback a can’t-miss, one-stop opportunity. We asked outdoor industry members what they're looking for in a B2B event, and it's clear there currently isn't one gathering that offers it all in one central location. 

What makes Switchback different from other current shows?

Switchback is a fresh approach to B2B outdoor gatherings. One of the largest differentiators between Switchback and other industry events will be the learning opportunities available. Switchback will offer dozens of educational sessions for outdoor specialty executives, business owners, managers, buyers, associates and more. The central location in Nashville will also be conducive to networking and an intimate, community feel. 

We'll ensure we're remaining relevant and valuable by holding year-round conversations with industry members and actively listening to the community’s needs.

Are you concerned about the impact of the June dates on other shows in the same time frame, like regional rep shows and Grassroots Connect?  

We realize June is crowdedand it's because it's the right time for buying conversations and sourcing product. To create the most valuable event possible for all industry members, the right timing is crucial. Again, our goal with Switchback is to support the outdoor industry, which of course includes as many industry groups and associations as possible. As we look ahead to the future of Switchback, we want to collaborate with these organizations and ensure we're supporting the industry as a whole. 

Why did you choose dates that overlap directly with Outdoor Retailer in 2025?  

As mentioned, June is a really important time for the industry. To best-serve brands and retailers, we felt it was essential to hold Switchback in June. The specific date selection, however, was a result of limited venue availability in that timeframe.

Have any brands or retailers already committed to the show? 

We had a great response from the brands and retailers we spoke with ahead of the announcement, with many committing to show on the spot. Once we have contracts signed we'll be able to share more, but it is fair to say that some key brands in the outdoor space are excited to return to a national gathering once again.