In this series, we interview our members and share why they believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
Ted Lo participated in a research project for our REI Co-op Private Brands team, answering questions about how he uses and views his gear in order to shape future REI brand products. He’s been a member since 2011 and lives in Los Angeles.
Why is getting outside important?
For me, getting outside is an escape from my everyday office life. I work in a basement for the government—there are no windows at all. Getting out is the antithesis of my work. It’s a big deal for me.
You participated in research by the REI Co-op on color schemes for upcoming REI products. By answering questions about your thoughts on gear colors and textures, you helped shape REI products. What was it like?
It was awesome. Two designers from REI came into my house and wanted me to show them all my outdoor stuff—I had a lot of it. They sat with me for hours, asking me all types of really random and nonrandom questions about color, texture, fabric. They told me that everyone’s opinions actually factor into products.
Who inspired you to get outside?
I have this friend of mine. He happens to be an LAPD officer and he’s a very outdoorsy-type person. When I met him, over 10 years ago, I was a very indoorsy-type person. He dragged me to do all these outside hobbies. In fact, he introduced me to REI. We’re still friends today, and we still go out and do all kinds of crazy stuff.
He had asked me for two years to go to the outdoor shooting range. I would always tell him, “Nah, that’s a waste of time. It’s not going to be fun.” I actually said yes one time, and we went and had a blast. I couldn’t wait to go back again. That was the turning point for me.
Who are you inspiring?
I want to instill in my kids that being outdoors is important. I’m Asian, and it’s not a very outdoor culture. I want my kids to get out more. Ever since I started getting into the outdoors, I started bringing them, as well. I think it’s such a great lifestyle. I wish I had known about it earlier in my life.
One of the things I like to do with my kids is an event called CicLAvia—the bicycling community partners with a local city to block off its downtown portion. They allow the public to bring their bikes or walk and visit all the small businesses. It attracts thousands of people every time they do it. It’s usually about 5–10 miles. And there’s no pressure! You can go as fast or slow as you want.
What’s the best outdoor advice you’ve received?
I always tell people, “Buy the best piece of equipment you can afford.” If you buy the stuff that’s not so good in quality at a lower price, you might be regretting it when you really need it to work out in the field. Some of my friends told me that in the past. I’ve vetted it myself and found it to be true.
What adventure gear would you never leave home without?
I have this backpacking chair. I always carry one in my car—you just never know when you need to sit down. Especially with my kids, they have so many activities, and I end up waiting for them. I always have it in the trunk of my car so if I ever need it, I have it ready. They’re so compact; they don’t take up any space.
What’s your favorite piece of gear and the story behind it?
My roof rack on my car. I have a Thule roof rack that I’ve constantly been upgrading through the years as Thule comes out with its latest racks. It’s really important to me because it brings back all the memories with my kids when I take them to the CicLAvia events. That’s the one piece of equipment that gets us there.
What does being an REI Co-op member mean to you?
I feel so at home when I go to an REI store. They treat you well. They‘ve got quality products. I feel privileged to be part of a company like that.