published Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Roots for growth: RootsRated.com provides nationwide information for outdoors life

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www.RootsRated.com

You're going to be moving to Montana — or just spending some time there — and want to know the very best options for outdoors recreation in that big state, or just one area of it.

Or you're going on a business trip or convention to Orlando, Fla., and you aren't a golfer. What other outdoors experiences can you try there when not in meetings?

Or maybe you simply want to find the best possibilities for whitewater paddling or rock climbing, based on your experience level, anywhere in the United States. Or trail running. Or mountain biking or road cycling. Or some other nonmotorized adventure in the great outdoors.

Wouldn't it be nice to have one place to go to see where to go? One reliable source of information on quality options, with details about aesthetic enjoyment, difficulty, accessibility, needed apparel or equipment and the like?

Well, there is, or at least it's in progress with six American city areas already included, more soon on the way and the whole nation on the horizon. It's a website run by Chattanoogans tied in to experts throughout the country.

It's www.RootsRated.com, founded by Chattanoogan Fynn Glover in partnership with fellow Rock/Creek Outfitters employee Mark McKnight and backed by Rock/Creek and similar independent outdoors retailers across the nation. That group is linked through the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, and "grassroots" input with double meaning for the GOA and its knowledgeable active enthusiasts provide the stories for each area the website includes.

It's intended to provide the key information easily and quickly, emphasized Glover, who manages the site.

Already on it are Chattanooga; Salt Lake City; Aspen, Colo.; Orlando, Fla.; Missoula, Mont.; and Lafayette, La. Those have been posted in just a matter of weeks, and more areas soon will be "live," according to Glover and McKnight, including New Haven, Conn.; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and perhaps Tucson, Ariz.; and Raleigh, N.C.

Someone can check for activities by area or by sport, both dropdowns increasing as RootsRated grows and branches out.

"We hope in another year we'll have something in every area [of the nation]," Glover said, hinting that other nations might even be added in coming years.

The independent retailers turned out to be a relatively easy sale at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake, where RootsRated was explained at the Horny Toad booth. Seeing Glover's and McKnight's presentation, they saw short- and long-term, practical and altruistic benefits in the concept. Chris Howe of Trailblazer in New England immediately wanted in as a partner.

"It makes a lot of sense for retailers as well as their potential customers," McKnight said, and those retailers are the "curators" for their regions. But he and Glover promised diligence in guarding the content.

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