Force of Nature: Let’s Level the Playing Field

Rate this story:

At REI Co-op, we believe 2017 is going to be a landmark year for gender equity in the outdoors.

I’m writing to you today because we believe the outdoors is—and should always be—the world’s largest level playing field.

But when we take an honest look at the outdoor stories we tell and the heroes we typically herald, we see that as an industry, we are not championing women and men equally. A casual look at any portrayal of the outdoors—movie, magazine, catalog, store, bookshelf—shows male imagery, heroes and stories. This doesn’t honor or accurately depict the important role that women play in the outdoors. As the saying goes, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

This year we commissioned a national study and the results showed something we’ve long believed: More than 85% of all women surveyed believe the outdoors positively affects mental health, physical health, happiness and overall well-being, and 70% reported that being outdoors is liberating.

But there are striking obstacles in the learnings as well:

• 63% of women said they could not think of an outdoor female role model
• 6 in 10 women say that men’s interests in outdoor activities are taken more seriously than women’s

We believe we can do better and that the time is now.

Today we proudly launch a public effort called Force of Nature. It is a disruption of the status quo. It claims the outdoors as a place to opt out of cultural pressures to conform—the “supposed-tos” and “shoulds” that underpin outdated stereotypes—especially for women. To create real change right now we are putting women—of all ages, races, sizes, gender expressions—front and center in all we do.

I know that I stand in a privileged place. Because of that, I believe I have a platform and a responsibility to speak out. I believe it’s important for every leader, regardless of gender, to raise a voice on this topic because together we set the tone to create positive change.

Together, the women and men of REI Co-op are putting our voice, our energy and our passion into this effort. Force of Nature builds on decades of work we have been doing within the co-op to advance gender equity.

So here’s the REI plan:

1. Changing the Narrative

We’re putting women first for the rest of the year. We’re starting with the stories we tell. In May, we’re partnering with Outside magazine on their first-ever all-women’s issue, and in the fall, we’re hosting a film festival focused on women in the outdoors. Look for stories about women adventurers, makers and rule breakers in our marketing, social media content and here on the Co-op Journal.

2. Creating Community

You’re looking for a crew. On May 6, we’re kicking off more than 1,000 events designed to get women outside. We’re also offering hundreds of REI Outdoor School classes, 19 new REI Adventures trips and three REI Outessa retreats—immersive, three-day outdoor adventures that connect the outdoor community—all designed for women and girls.

3. Closing the Gear Gaps

We hear you. Through the years, gear designed for women has improved, but there is still a gap between the quality of men’s and women’s gear. We are partnering with brands to increase focus on building world-class gear designed for women. We’re also working hard inside our own co-op brands and with vendors to offer expanded extended sizing options.

4. Investing in Communities

We can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re committing $1 million to support community organizations that are already doing great work to create opportunities for women and girls in the outdoors. Roughly $500,000 will support organizations like Camber Outdoors, GirlTrek and the YMCA’s BOLD/GOLD initiative. In May, we’ll be  launching a new $500,000 “Force of Nature” fund, available through an open-call submission process, for organizations that join us in our commitment to make outdoors the world’s largest level playing field.

Today is a milestone in our decades-long journey creating access to life outdoors for all.

– Jerry Stritzke, REI President and CEO

Editor's note: Today we learned that this week, REI co-founder Mary Anderson died at the age of 107. Our deepest condolences go to her family. She means a lot to us here at the co-op and we are grateful for her legacy.

2017 National Study on Women and the Outdoors

Infographic text:

Women finding freedom outside. More than 85% of women see the outdoors as a key to better physical and mental health and overall well-being. Then why does recent survey data suggest that most women don't see themselves in this picture?

Role models are rare: Sixty-three percent of women said they could not think of a female outdoor role model.

Barrage of barriers: More than seven in ten women say they would like to spend more time outside than they currently do, but are held back by practical barriers like weather, time and not having someone to go with.

The pressure is on: Seven out of ten women believe that women are under more pressure to conform than men: 73% "be sexy," 72% "lose weight," 69% smile more."

Outside is an oasis: 74% see the outdoors as a place where they're free from the pressures of everyday life and 72% say they feel liberated or free when they are outdoors.

Encouragement is key: Women who were encouraged to go outside as young girls are more likely to see the value of spending time outside. The top people who encourage you to spend time outdoors: 49% are friends, 40% are mothers, and 30% are fathers. Women who were more encouraged as young girls to spend time outside are more likely to remain active today.

An hour away, once a day: Seventy-three percent of women say they would like to spend more time outdoors. Women who spend at least an hour a day outside on average are more likely to feel equal to men in academia, the outdoors, at work, in the boardroom, politics and on the sports field.

  • Jennifer Bell

    Good for you. As a part of this program could you please expand your plus size selection? It would also be great if it was in store also. I’m not asking for the world, just a 4-way or a section of the back wall. If you want to enable women to go outside, you should enable all women. No matter what size of clothing they wear.

    • Heather Worthen

      Amen. A thousand times amen.
      I’m excited by this. I don’t even normally wear clothes from the plus size section, but I can rarely find clothing that fits me properly, and comfortably for movement, in the REI stores. I’ve had some luck with Prana and Kuhl brands.

    • Hey, it was super easy to miss this, but they are totally expanding their sizing. YAY! This is from Jerry Stritzke’s letter:

      “3. “Closing the Gear Gaps

      We hear you. Through the years, gear designed for women has
      improved, but there is still a gap between the quality of men’s and
      women’s gear. We are partnering with brands to increase focus on
      building world-class gear designed for women. We’re also working hard
      inside our own co-op brands and with vendors to offer expanded extended
      sizing options.”

    • Anon

      Check out the new Lucy Plus Size collection! Really cute, very functional, pieces for hiking, travel, and fitness! If you look at it online you can select the button to “find in store.” The Seattle flagship has it, and maybe the other flagships?

      • Ofabia

        But why do we need “cute”?

    • Halle Edwards

      In addition to expanding your plus size selection, could you please add more petite sizes and include them in store? It would make my adventures so much better if my jacket sleeves and pants were not too long, for once.

    • REI

      Thanks for commenting! We completely agree with you–that’s why we’re working hard to offer extended sizing. You can find out more about what we’re doing here: http://blog.rei.com/news/closing-the-womens-gear-gap-less-labels-more-sizes/.

  • Lindsey Armold

    I’m in and thank you Jerry

  • Ted Cookson

    An admirable goal. A good start would be stocking women’s gear in colors other than pink and powder blue.

    • David Hincapie

      Seriously. When I try to buy gifts even I’M annoyed by the color selection. I don’t have a single female friend or relative who wants her hiking pants in pink or powder blue.

      • Cathy

        Wholeheartedly agree! I hate pink and purple and am so sick of those colors being used to label any product intended for women. I want function, not fashion for outdoor gear.

    • Katy Harrison

      Upvote, upvote, upvote. In ALL departments. I do not want fuchsia stripes on my bike shorts. 🙂

    • Lexster

      In addition, I actually like those colors, so how about some men’s colors that aren’t just black or red?

      • James B.

        Yes I agree. I often shop women’s socks because I like the color choices better. I certainly wouldn’t mind a pink or purple shirt either.

      • Bryan

        Agree! I’m a guy and am always jealous of the cool women’s shoe colors, clothes colors, etc. Make options available to all! Thanks REI you’re making a great difference :-).

    • Angelica Sanders

      I agree I love color its big for me since my first box of crayons at 4yrs. old;

    • REI

      We hear you! We’re hard at work changing the REI brand color options and challenging our partners to offer different colors. Learn more: http://blog.rei.com/news/closing-the-womens-gear-gap-less-labels-more-sizes/.

  • mark_b69

    It is illogical that one inequity can be appropriately addressed/corrected/rectified by creating a new inequity. Inequity is not equality. The great outdoors has always been available without prejudice for women and men. As important as REI is to those of us who have enjoyed it for many years, it is unlikely that a shift in market targeting is going to be significant in changing the behavior of American women. The idea of prioritzing the promotion of activities and products specifically for or inclusive of women is no more honorable than doing so for men.
    The statistics quoted in this article state that 7 of 10 women say that the barriers that stop them from enjoying the outdoors are weather, time and the lack of a partner. I doubt seriously that we (the REI co-op) can be the least bit effective in changing time and weather or matching activity partners.
    I think we should just insure we serve customers and members equally without regard to gender, size (as the one commenter suggested more plus size choices,) ethnicity, age or any other special consideration.

    • Edward Douglas

      But with your logic, who would be offended? There has to be something–ANYTHING to make feminist outraged, so they can protest and feel noble. Are they protesting the fact that breast cancer gets a lot more funding than prostate cancer? Do they protest that men live shorter lives, and go to the doctor less? No, because they are not about equality, but about inequality.

      • Edward, you gotta be kidding me with this. Should I quote all of the statistics for violence against women? Are you still gonna espouse these garbage points? Come on, man, try harder. You literally have nothing to lose.

        • Edward Douglas

          Well, I’m going to keep this as short as possible, but I’m going to start with your claim of violence against women, before I address the article. Several studies say women are just as violent and aggressive as men in relationships. One of them is at the end of my comment by the American journal of public health. In over 11,000 respondents in this study, non-reciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases.

          Shockingly, lesbian couples showed a higher rate of domestic violence than heterosexual couples. CDC funded article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1854883/

          The reason women have fewer options with regards to sports and outdoors, is because fewer women engage in those activities when compared to men. The irrational claim that everyone is discriminating against women is not based on fact, and in fact you can see that companies have provided products geared toward women. You want the same amount as men, and if the same amount of women in gaged in these activities as men, you would see the same amount of products.

          • justcat

            Walk a mile in my shoes, Edward. Women are traditionally not encouraged as much to do sports, hike, camp, fish, bike, etc. as men. Fact of life, no matter how you look at it. These programs are designed to help women feel encouraged, empowered and excited to join other women (& men) in embracing the outdoors more than they do currently.

          • Michael Raab

            (To be clear I am not supporting what Edward said AT ALL but i would like to bring up a different point in response to what you said in your response to him)

            What about people who don’t identify as women or men? This program excludes many people and is not designed to help non-binary people feel encouraged, empowered, or excited. I am not saying this program is completely bad, but i believe we need to be aware (and talk about) its limitations and how it can be interpreted by some people as exclusive. This program is strictly heteronormative and in being so it excludes many people.

          • Alexander Supertramp

            I wholeheartedly agree. The problem, though, with that plan, is that it’s not as lucrative as preying on the feelings of marginalized groups, including women. By appealing to all people, you wouldn’t be able to make all of the women feel like they’re getting special treatment, so REI might not make as much money.

            Regardless of what you believe, this is purely a marketing stunt. The real solution is in encouraging everyone to partake in the activities you love. It’s incredibly attractive when women are interested in adventuring, hiking, and being outdoors — I love those things, and some day, I hope to meet someone who’s I can spend my life pursuing those interests with. But the only people who are gonna be fooled by this REI stunt are those who ALREADY like REI, and by association, the outdoors. You’re not getting MORE women to go outside, at best you’re getting women who ALREADY go outside to do it more.

            I love ya REI, but Co-Op or Corporation, this is a marketing plan. But props! It should be quite lucrative.

          • Brian Hutcherson

            …Because they are a very small segment of the population in general, and an insignificant market category who would provide poor return on marketing dollars.

            This is actually great support for my other replies I’ve made here. This is a push to capture market segment. Which is what a company _should_ be doing to be successful, but also why people need to stop placing any sort of personal importance on this sort of thing and to be more individualistic.

          • Greg Martin

            Why do women need all this encouragement? Are they so effen weak that it takes a marketing program at a sports store to make you feel better, while they take your money?
            Why can you NOT see the idiocy of this? Oh wait, you’re a woman so we need to understand!~! LOL

          • Mols 59

            I’m a 58-year old woman, and I have never been discouraged from trying anything, be it high school/college competitive tennis, competing in marathons-1/2 marathons throughout most of my life; competing in over 40 triathlons from the age of 45 to 57, avid golfer, skiing and working as a ski instructor when I turned 53, and now backpacking & hiking. There are plenty of groups, both coed & women only, that any woman in today’s 21st-century America can join to pursue what ever interest she may have. It’s always a little awkward to join a new group by yourself, but the only roadblock you have is yourself! Today’s women & girls have it so much better than my mother’s generation, so don’t feel sorry for yourselves just go out and do it–no excuse!!

          • Greg Martin

            I agree with you Ed….this is pure bullcrap and REI is now getting on board. I guess they aim to be a female modeled business for feminists and the like….I’m done with places like this. They are ruining it for EVERYONE.

          • Jade Dance

            Ruining it for everyone… 😄😄😄😄

          • Jackye

            Wow Greg – and Ed, so sorry to read that when a company pays a little attention to women, it angers you. Instead of focusing on what you dislike, evidently vehemently, why not come up with some positive male oriented and possibly male exclusive activities, an idea Mike D asked about. The world would be a better place for it.

          • David Wheeler

            I understand your comments but I think the real issue of violence and women is the number of women who are attacked by men. I don’t know the statistic but I know as a man I don’t have to worry about my safety as I would if I were a woman.

        • David Hincapie

          Don’t even waste your time with guys like this.

          • Greg Martin

            Grow a pair why don’t you Dave?….Yea, I know your type.

          • Kate

            Seriously, whats your problem? Is it really a bad thing to encourage women to get outdoors? I mean is this add campaign really harming you? Is empowering women really a problem in our society?
            Also, I am a women who has been personally told that certain places in the outdoors are not my place. I shouldn’t go fishing, hunting is a mans sport…etc. Luckily I’m one to call bullshit on all of that, but many women aren’t.

          • Kate

            Also, because you seem to think that every women thinks she is a victim, you should know that I am a women who has always refused to be a victim. I see every time someone tells me that I can’t as an opportunity to prove them wrong, and an opportunity to encourage other women to step up with me. As a women who sees the differences in our genders, who knows how women are naturally not as confident or aggressive as men. I see it as part of my job to pull other women up with me by encouraging women to be the best and most confident version of them self that they can be, so they can advocate for themselves-something that women are not encouraged to do.

      • Cynthia Petek

        Edward, I am a feminist, with my husband for 28 years, I walked with the Women’s March and yet I am fully in support of my husband. I PROTEST when he chooses to eat non foods like Ruffles and Frito cheese dip, and yet takes a statin to lower cholesterol. Because I actually DO want my husband(a man) to live a longer life. Women have been subjugated and short changed for a very long time. It is unfortunate that people like you only see through a very narrow lens.

        • Greg Martin

          Women are subjugated? You make me laugh with that crap. Always a victim aren’t you?
          The narrow lens view is without a doubt being performed by you.

          • Kate

            You really don’t see your own privilege do you?

          • Hippiefreak

            ..

    • Cynthia Keel Armijo

      I value your opinion, thank you. May I share my perspective? Half the battle for anyone to “get up and get out” is mental. Too busy, too tired, too timid. This campaign resonates with me on that level. Empowerment comes from that little nudge that may come in the form of access to products and services that are geared toward me, but it is a downright PUSH when I hear individuals I identify with shouting, “Get Up! I did it, you can too!” As the article points out, there are plenty of men sharing that message, but few women. REI, thank you for providing the forum for the message. You have an audience!

    • Anon

      You’d actually be amazed by the amount of people (especially women) who I interacted with while working at REI who left way more empowered about getting outside than when they came in. I’d see first time hikers who knew very little and were shy about asking but after fitting them with a boot they liked and chatting to them about how I hike solo as a female and sharing my favorite hikes, they’d leave with a totally different attitude. You don’t realize how often women feel intimidated to try a sport that’s male dominated. Having a place like REI to encourage them to try something new and offer programs like Intro to Climbing for Women makes a huge difference in how and if they will approach it.

    • Jackye

      I think you’re wrong Mark. You live in a man’s world. Women tend to think and behave differently than men. We don’t think, move or act like arrows heading straight to their target. We are influenced by how things make us feel, we are circular, curved, we are pulled by the moon. When we find acceptance by seeing clothing made for the outdoors – in our size! – it encourages us. When we see that other women facing the same obstacles we do, are outside climbing or camping, or hiking or paddling or whatever it is that gives them their high – we are motivated to find ways to get ourselves outside more. The more we are outside, the more role models our daughters and friends have. The more of us outside creates a social environment where it feels normal to spend time in outdoor activities. Perhaps it will become strange to think that we wouldn’t.

    • David Hincapie

      Why, why, why is there alway some guy who wants to show up to the party and piss all over it?
      Dude, you don’t have to come. You don’t have to be here. You’re the guy who shows up, stands around, doesn’t dance, and whines, “This party stinks.”
      So go away. Just go away, man. Take your “logic” elsewhere.

      If REI wants to throw a year-long party that gets more girls and women outdoors and tell stories about women doing cool shit, then join the spirit and the fun or go to another party.

      But don’t come here pissing all over ours.

      • mark_b69

        You are a great example of how cowardly hostile confrontation is when shrouded by the anonymity afforded by the web. Next time, try writing politely and constructively rather than urinating all over yourself.

        • Greg Martin

          Actually….you’re correct.

      • Greg Martin

        Listen to you, having to defend the women. You’re so damned stupid you don’t see the emasculation taking place even on you as it happens. You ARE the enemy, don’t you get it?

    • Vince Brennan

      Thank you Mark you have stolen my thunder, so to speak. This is a classic case of political correctness run amok, nothing more. As a fellow human being and a long time REI member I am deeply offended. I expect many females, if I’m permitted to use the word, will be insulted by the insinuations in the not so cloaked rant from REI. I would like to know from which entity Jerry Stritzke gathered his statistics. Last and certainly not least our society is bombarded by, politicians, various organizations, profiteers, etc. and now a retailer dictating social behavior? Give me a break. I have been a staunch supporter of REI for the past thirty years, no more. This is very sad.

      • Dirtygrass

        well said! My wife is offended by it, real women should be. REI’s marketing strategy will not work, for every woman they sign up they will lose someone else like me.

      • Fred Hale

        Well put. As an employee and member of this co-op, I am greatly offended that my labor and share in the co-op are going disproportionately to a select group in such a non-inclusive way.

    • Sherry Steele

      Try reading everything. This is a wonderful program that REI is starting. Men I know will be extremely happy to hear about this. It will be a joy for their wives and partners to join the outdoor fun with the right gear that is safe and functional for women. I wish I had a $.5 for every time I said, honey I sure wish I could buy those kind of pants for hiking you can get. They don’t make those for short stout outdoor girls like me. Congratulations REI looking forward to this whole deal.
      Sherry

    • Yes. Yes! Yes!! A thousand times YES!!! One of the worst cases of corporate pandering via an illusory problem that I can recall. We’ve moved into an era where you get claim hero status by solving a non-existent problem that is supported by statistics from an irrational argument — but as long as it sounds good, that’s all that really matters. And even if it DOES get more women outdoors and active, it’s the deceptive, manipulative nature of the campaign that should worry us all. The ends don’t always justify the means. So sad.

      • Dani Voss

        How does this “corporate pandering” affect you in any way, though? I’m really unsure why the vitriol about this. Did REI cancel some other programs to support this one, or is your primary objection that someone did something that’s not specifically directed at you?

        Also, how is this deceptive or manipulative? Do you not see the many women on here thanking REI and indicating that this is, in fact, a problem in their life? I’m one of them affected by this underrepresentation, and I was blessed to grow up with parents who supported all of the same activities for my sister and I that they did for my brothers.

        • Brian Hutcherson

          I personally just don’t like it because to me it seems dishonest. If this band wagon wasn’t trendy to jump on, would these companies still be making these moves? It’s like virtue signaling except it’s coming from a marketing department.

          You should be offered these products (meaning proper-fitting gear, classes etc) in an equal way because you deserve it as a significant market segment. And actually, I would argue that if a company is foolish enough to not do so, then an enterprising woman or three should start a company to take advantage of the opportunity. Instead this comes across to me as almost degrading; they make it sound like you have to have your hand held through this process of enjoying the outdoors.

          I will admit that I have always been fiercely independent, though. Maybe I’m oversensitive to this where I shouldn’t be.

          I guess what it comes down to for me is this. I just attended my first rock climbing course with my local mountaineering club, and I would estimate about 60% or more of the participants were women. All but two or three of the instructors were women. Everyone was treated the same and we all had a good time encouraging each other and laughing at our fumbles. Out of my group I have been in contact with one of the women who was there, and I invited her the other day when a friend and I went. I’ll continue to invite her because she was good at it and I could tell she liked climbing, and frankly I am in desperate need of friends outside my workplace.

          So if this more organic approach -offering a class, and women signing up for it- works, and if we make sure that we are actually encouraging women (and if women make sure to be proactive with one another, ie using new skills together) to be out there, then what is REI doing? That’s where it seems gross to me. It seems that they have little to add to this besides offering more appropriate product lines, and that they are only doing it to hop on that progressive band wagon and try to juice some bucks. Hence it comes across to me as dishonest, and to me that’s disrespectful toward you.

          If it makes you feel better and gets you outside more, then carry on I guess. If it were aimed at me I would be offended at the notion that I need my hand held. And if there is a market need for more appropriate womens gear, if I were a woman who had experienced this problem, I would be starting the company to make it vs. complaining about no present offerings; that’s the sound of opportunity knocking.

    • David Wheeler

      Thank you for your comments. I have been thinking the same things as I read the article. I can think of women heroes: Cheryl Strayed for “Wild”, Georgia O’Keeffe the New York painter who spent her time in New Mexico, Joy Adamson of “Born Wild”. I sound insensitive, but this just strike me as marketing, marketing, and more marketing. It’s tedious and boring.

    • Johna Winters

      Promoting more opportunities to women doesn’t mean they’re being taken away from men. As you say, the great outdoors are still open to anyone including men. Now that it’s 2017, it’s time to share. Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of dudes on the cover of Outside magazine.

      • Brian Hutcherson

        I’m just confused about the part where there is ‘sharing’ to be done. I can’t even remember the last time I talked to someone while mountain biking or backpacking, beyond a couple of USFS girls who stopped for 20 seconds in the Selkirks to pet my dog, and to make the uninvited observation that it was unexpected to meet someone else on the trail mid-day in the work week. Am I in the minority being antisocial while outdoors? I always thought that was the purpose: escape each other.

        And here’s another question: why are magazines influential enough to be viewed as a barrier to entry for women? Isn’t that the real problem, not discrimination? We’re saying here that the solution is to ‘include’ women in that media, but if you ask me the real solution is to just ignore that media and stop buying it. It’s much more appealing to me to think independently and pursue the world on my own terms.

        If a media publication holds THAT much power over us then we have a much bigger societal problem than ‘not being inclusive’. They should be next to irrelevant, to everyone, period.

    • Melanie Awbrey Beus

      One of the problems as well, is often the necessity of a partner. Often, we just cannot go safely alone where a man would not think twice about going alone. Why is lack of a partner a barrier? Because often no partner is too dangerous for a woman.

  • Nicole Golden

    Sounds awesome!! Let me know if you need a women’s gear tester!!! 😀 😀

    I’m always wearing black because a) The women’s clothes are always in some ugly pink or light blue or light purple flower design/ color, or b) the fit is not right. For example I just purchased a women’s mountain hardwear “sharkstooth” jacket for backcountry snowboarding…in black…and in a size M instead of size S even though my dimensions say I should buy the small. This is because I don’t want a jacket that is used for layering to be “form fitting”. The medium came in and yeah its a bit big, but it will be perfect for layers. Definitely the right size to get and fit for what they are advertising. I could go on for ever!

  • Katie

    This is awesome! To finally, finally feel included is a beautiful thing. I got chills and a lump in my throat reading this, Jerry. Thank you for recognizing the women who have supported an industry – and many other outdoor brands – that doesn’t welcome us, stand by us, or put us first EVER. Everything made for us is secondary, an afterthought, a pink colorway. Thank you for putting us in the spotlight for once. It feels pretty freaking good. I know it’ll make an impact on young girls and women who may have never seen the outdoors as “for them”. “You can’t be what you can’t see” is too true. It takes a brave move such as this to break molds and make an impact. Girls need to see women succeeding and doing. This is bigger than buying things. This is inspiring a love of the outdoors in our future generation of women. Oh I WILL be buying things. If it means the end of buying men’s products in the smallest sizes, I will definitely be spending my money. Can’t wait to sign up for the women’s outdoor school, events, and possibly an REI overseas trip as well. So pumped!

    • Sherry Steele

      Katie I agree..this is really what we should be talking about and not all the other ranting that is basically off topic. Thank you REI for investing in women and their outdoor sports needs. We will thank you with our wallets. Count me in!

  • Alison O’Leary

    I suggest you start by showing women who are outdoors rather than telling women about the opportunities. As an outdoorswoman and writer I’m happy to help fill this blog with inspiring stories.

    • Get Real

      I’d like this as well. As a woman, that would be a more meaningful ‘inclusion’ aspect. I hear that term thrown around an awful lot these days, and it’s often not much more than PR or imaging. _Actually_ being fully inclusive is often quite different. Though I have always done whatever I’ve wanted to do, and never felt excluded from certain outdoor activities by being a woman. It’s just that you don’t hear about these stories quite as much. And as has been touched on by someone else, more variety in women’s clothing, apparel and other items might be nice, as we don’t all wear pink and purple, nor are we all a size zero (or even an eight).

  • Mary Beth Jaynes

    Really ! These men are sooo ignorant ! To say that to Caitlin Gregg – during the Birkie !!!
    http://www.crosscountryskier.com/girl-talk/

  • Aych Davidson

    This is a great start! Equality of equipment…PLEASE advovate more color options that aren’t purple, turquoise, pink and coral! Why are blacks and greens only in men’s lines?! Female feet/bodies can be too small for the available men’s sizing, and the female sizes are in such small minded colors.

  • Jennifer

    Where are these statistics coming from? Please post sources! Especially curious about “Women who spend at least an hour a day outside on average are more likely to feel equal to men …” What data did this come from? How did the study come to this conclusion?

  • Karen Najarian

    Growing up I never had a female mentor for anything, but it didn’t stop me from creating, guiding for, and managing the company that ran rei’s Yosemite backpack program.

    • Greg Martin

      Amen Karen….Amen. Let’s all put the blame on everyone but ourselves for being lazy. Does everybody ALWAYS have to be recognized?

  • Gail in West Greenwich RI

    I’m a 60 year old mountain biker and rock climber. Yes, it is very hard to find a MTB or climbing partner (male or female)! Luckily, I found a male partner for both hiking with dogs in our local forest. And just try to find a women’s full suspension MTB in stock anywhere (and this includes REI Ghost bikes…hence I bought my Trek in a local bike shop)! More classes for women that are not for beginners, please!

  • Jodie Morrison

    Hello Jerry, would love to see you in Canada. Perhaps Kelowna BC. Come on up and give you a tour.

  • MikeMathews

    This is a good idea and I hope it’s a solid attempt. The number of women enjoying the outdoors is far higher than you think and this should be acclaimed. I spend summer weekends as a USFS volunteer on wilderness trails promoting and teaching LNT in the Mt Hood Wilderness and surrounding wilderness areas. Between 60%-70% of the trail users I meet are women (one of my field assignments is tracking permits and visitor statistics), many of them solo or with a couple of women friends, not just as companions to men on the trails. BTW, these women I meet are mainly big proponents of LNT and protecting our wild resources, wish more of the guys would do as well.

  • Kelly Bahm O’Leary

    Hi Jerry, as a female adventure seeker I love seeing lots of great products for woman in a wide variety of colors and sizes however I am sick to death of phrases such as “Inclusion” “Diversity” “Privilege” “Identity.” Ugh! For pity sakes! We are all human beings and let’s just get outdoors and be happy! Your store does a great job of welcoming and serving all of their customers. Personally I’d love to see more size zero clothing. I am very petite and have trouble finding my size. Am I being discriminated against? No! I’m just tiny. Let’s stop wearing our differences as some kind of badge of courage and just keep on keeping on! Please stop all the PC garbage. I find it oppressive. 😉

    • Brian Hutcherson

      Great sentiment, but it doesn’t fit the narrative, and you are also white; so you will be discounted and your opinion is largely considered invalid. You can’t question the people who are at the die-hard core of this collection of movements.

  • Shari Altman

    Bravo! As an avid hiker and trail bike rider I am totally behind this effort.

  • Elise Bucher

    This is amazing!!! Thank you so much!!!

    • Chloe Smith

      Or it could just be about women!

  • Michael Raab

    What about people who are non-binary? This could be far more inclusive…

    • Chloe Smith

      No. It should just be for Women. Because it’s a Women’s initiative.

  • mj6837

    I have been outfitting my family at REI for well over 20 years (cycling, hiking and camping). While my wife and two daughters are tough as nails when it comes to the outdoors…they simply will not go out in clothing/gear that does not have the exact look, feel, fit and styling they want.
    The representation of available colors and sizes in your stores (for both men and women) is often very weak. When the gals need gear, unless we make the long trip into Seattle to visit the flagship store…it’s a total crapshoot we will come out with something. More often than not, we end up zeroing in best we can so I can order the item online…in my personal experience, that’s just not the way women prefer to shop….there’s a reason why most stores devote 3/4 of their clothing sections to women.
    Just my opinion, but unaddressed I see this as a barrier to the inspiration you’re attempting to generate.

  • Greg Martin

    Sorry folks but you lose me as a customer over this. Once more men are being demonized as oppressive and unfair. If REI wants to play SJW they can do so without my money. I’m sick of this nonsense being led by idiot CEO’s with guilt complexes. StarBucks also comes to mind. Oh yea, been a member for 25 years and this is getting progressively (pun intended) worse.
    Do us all a favor and sell sporting goods at better prices and shut up about the rest.i don’t need REI to be my social conscience, you’re crossing a line now.

    • Jennifer Silvers

      Damn Greg. You sound like a whiny child that just had his teddy bear taken away. Put your big boy panties on and accept that this movement is bigger than YOU. It’s not about you or men, it’s about women. Thanks to my dad’s influence, I’ve been an adventure seeker, outdoor-crazed woman for my entire life, over 20 years, it runs in my blood. He supports this movement because he understands that marketing drives our entire world. Marketing is what our eyes see and what influences our lives. Finally, REI recognizes that they can control the equality narrative. So, I recommend you stop your squabbling and whining and open your eyes to become more educated and progressive. Otherwise, you’ll be left in the dust along with the other crusty, old, and ignorant types.

      • Mark Freeman

        Jennifer, what you fail to recognize is the legitimacy of the fatigue men are feeling from being demonized by the endless onslaught of virtue signaling organizations practicing identity politics. I’m quite sure all male REI customers support the concept of furnishing the gear women need to fully participate in the great outdoors. In fact my wife of 30 years is constantly frustrated with the lack of REI options mentioned by others on this forum. However, as parents of three sons and one daughter we both feel efforts to promote one gender over another is ultimately harmful to society as a whole. When was the last time you saw a marketing campaign by REI or anyone else that specifically promoted men in contrast to women, or organized “men only” events. Society is rampant with “women only” events, and in fact laws. Name one law specifically targeted to advantage or defend men; there are many for women, so stop whining yourself.
        Speaking for myself, I do feel unjustifiably demonized by these efforts. I’m not a sexist, racist, homophobe, Nazi, or any other label you would want to stick on me. I don’t wear panties, and they don’t need to be pulled up. I’m simply tired of being crammed in an identity box against my will and called evil by SJW’s and virtue signalers to advance their cause, just because I’m of a specific race and gender.
        Those of us who do actually have their eyes open recognize that progressive-ism as practiced by people like you is ironically why the country is more divided than ever, and why Trump is President. I don’t need you, REI, or anyone else to “control the narrative”.
        Maybe I’m just crusty, old, and ignorant, but I just don’t understand how running gender targeted programs (for women) creates equality. Way back in the stone ages when I was taught math I learned X + 1 is greater than X, not equal to it.
        Let REI furnish great gear to everyone and layoff the preaching.

        • Jennifer Silvers

          Mark, It sounds like you live in a bubble. You have clearly chosen to see one shade grey and not the full spectrum. If it offends you, then leave us women alone and let us have our moment because the white males have had thier moments plenty of time without calling it “male only”. What about male only lounges, male only schools, male only golf clubs, male only bad mitten & tennis clubs, male only networking societies, and other male only events? There are plenty of them. Leave our women only events alone and we will leave your male only events alone. I’m definitely not angry. Just realistic and honest about what we see. If you want to create equality, then don’t give women flak for having events for our community. I want to connect with other outdoor women and not men. I want to have women role models, not men. As a women, I connect more with my gender, that’s scientific. Do you have a women role model? I highly doubt it. But, I don’t blame you for it. This is about celebrating women our interests as a community. The scales haven’t tipped toward women, I promise. You’ll still have your job, your family, and the bubble you live in. It won’t be taken away if women have some events together. I hope your daughter never feels the inequality I’ve felt in my life. I sincerely wish that for her. These events are a way for her to not feel that way.

      • Sherry Steele

        Jennifer, History all tells us it was and still is hard for some to be secure enough to understand that equal means equal and it is OK to help us. Smart companies like REI also understand that the market for us is giant now, why not go there. We will move on and have fun outside.

      • David Wheeler

        why are you so angry?

  • Cat Addison

    If you want to experience the outdoors, then do it! Do your research, talk to people who do. Don’t let others hold you back. It is the fear of the unknown. It is so empowering do get out there and do something outside of your comfort zone. You will be amazed and will want to more!

  • Brian Hutcherson

    Expanding gear selection is a great move, but I have to ask honestly: is a lack of role models or an ‘invitation’ that big of a deal? I cant list any female ‘role models’ but I cant name any male ones either. Ive just never looked at someone else as inspiration to go do something. And nobody ever invited me to go outdoors or participate…I just went and tried it and figured out what was fun. Am I the exception here? Why are people so wound up in this aspect of the issue?

  • Mary McInnis Meyer

    Synchronicity alert! 3 years ago, I started a program for empowering women through physical challenge in the outdoors. We train and learn and practice together for 12 weeks, then compete in an adventure triathlon – kayak, mountain bike, trail run. What’s this program called? Nature Force. BOOM. Love the track you’re on, REI. <3

  • Hi, great article! I run the Rim to Rim Club® of the Grand Canyon (www.rimtorim.org) as well as the Go Girl Futures Program® (www.gogirlprogram.com). Both programs encourage people to get outdoors and active with my non-profit focused solely on getting girls and women active and outdoors. I was in brand marketing for 25 years and decided to focus solely on my passion projects (versus fighting the cutbacks of positions for women as well as lack of support of female initiatives). Thank you for stepping up to the plate and supporting programs and bringing awareness of the void Jerry. We could use your support in carrying out our mission so please let us know how we can become part of the group of organizations you support. Hiking the Grand Canyon changes lives and perspective and as an empowered female that has hiked it solo on several occasions I would love to simply keep on keeping on in getting women and girls on the trail!

  • Logan Hugmeyer

    Damn I wish REI would make the weather better for me as a man or have my climbing partners days off coincide with mine. I think more women should be involved in the outdoors but saying this year is about women is very exclusionary. Why not make this year about people pushing their boundaries. Woman man, neither. I don’t care. Pushing yourself to be outside more, to do more, to climb higher, or run faster, or forget the rain. That is a win and we all can benefit. Ignoring triumphant achiements based on gender seems counter-intuitive to the egalitarian society that the pandered seem to want.

    • Brian Hutcherson

      Because theyre pandering to a social trend to attract customers under the guise of being ‘part of something’.

      I guess I just wish more people, women included, would act more independently and intentionally. You shouldn’t have to have someone to immitate or someone to take you by the hand to go do something or chase adventure.

      My physics professor a few years back made a very profound commencement speech where he talked about (among other things) our attention being one of our most valuable personal resources. People are always vying for our attention because it is linked to time and has value. Facebook, Instagram, politicians, every single marketing professional…because their ability to influence people spells money and gain for all of them.

      I guess to me, in that light, this is no different than a cigarette or alcohol advertisement. They just want to indoctrinate you in to buying products. Dont allow yourself to be pandered to; do something because YOU want to, because you are challenging YOURSELF. Not because someone lured you to it under false premise.

      Its like kids looking up to comic book characters. Its weird and weak.

  • icare

    Would you look up Hike It Baby – a nonprofit group that is working to help parents of young kids get outside and hike – and see if you can’t support them somehow? As a new mom, this is the kind of organization I looked for to help get me outside with my baby. I had zero idea how to do it, but this group, while I never ended up hiking with them, gave me ideas and the feeling I could.

    • Oscar

      This is ridiculous. The outdoors is for everybody it’s not gender specific. Don’t know how you can make outdoors equal. Ridiculous. Such a feminist project. I am a male why and did I receive this in the mail?? This entire year is for women what a joke. I have nothing wrong with women and being outdoors it has never crossed my mind. Just a feminist approach REI. it’s stupid.

    • Oscar

      Women should be drafted for war just like men if they want equality. FEMINISM!!!

  • Allison Ats

    Seriously, what are you talking about? The idea that women don’t have an equal playing field outdoors in the US in 2017 is ridiculous. No women role models in the outdoors?? Who were you surveying?

    As a woman in my 50’s I haven’t found any shortage of opportunity. If some women don’t want to get outside, that’s a choice.

    Want to get into a sport that has been traditionally “male dominated”? As a woman, there will be no shortage of nice guys willing to help you out.

    Frankly, I never look for gender specific role models because I don’t want to be the best “woman (insert sport here)”, I just want to be the best! Study the best in sports and in business, regardless of gender or any other identity.

    If you want to “empower” people, then stop trying to divide us by category. Promote the outdoors. All are welcome.

    Feel free to lower your prices so more people can participate more often :))

    We are victims of inequality in the outdoors because we are women? Lol. That is such an insult.

    But please do encourage manufacturers to stop painting things pink.

    • Mols 59

      Wow, terrific comment Allison–couldn’t agree more! BTW–I’m a 58-year old woman.

    • Brian Hutcherson

      Fantastic post. The more serious problem -and reading some of the happy responses to this only makes it seem more deeply entrenched- is a lack of independent thought and a need for external validation. Someone above said ‘you cant be what you cant see’, but frankly I never saw shy, introverted, non-athletic people doing ANY of the things I now do. I just decided I wanted to do them, figured out the knowledge requirements and did it. This is so easy with technology it’s ridiculous.

      Mountain biking, for instance: No role models. No mentors. No classes. I’ve never bought any sort of MTB publication (waste of money). But through YouTube videos (several of which were made by women) and just DOING it, boom, I’m an MTBer. There are skills clinics through my mountaineering club, but I’m pretty antisocial, so I’ll probably pass.

      I’ll expand on your request though: Don’t stop at elminating pink. I don’t even like that my sleeping bag is bright orange but it was the only option for what I needed in my price range. I don’t buy clothing if it is anything but black, grey, ranger green, or tan; and seeing bright yellow and teal-clad figures prancing around the woods -male and female- is just obnoxious. We go to all this trouble to push Leave No Trace but then we do that? C’mon folks. If I need found, I have an orange flag and an obnoxiously loud whistle. So does my wife. Offer some subdued colors.

  • Lindsey Campbell

    I LOVE this initiative. After getting the newest REI catalog in the main featuring this initiative, I grabbed my dog and we did a solo hike for the first time! It was AMAZING!!! We both came back exhausted and reinvigorated. Can’t wait to do more solo stuff or female group stuff this summer! Can’t wait for more good weather!

  • CheKerouac

    I’d like to see the ‘fact’ that there is a gender gap in women’s recreation. The only ones stopping women from going outdoors are the women themselves.

  • LumberButch

    Nice words, but it’ll take more than words before I believe it. The average American woman is a size 16-18. Most of those women cannot buy clothes at REI because you don’t stock them, nor have you in the close to 4 decades I’ve been an REI member.

    How often do you use Plus Sized women in your ad materials? Have you ever? If all a woman sees in your collateral materail is size 2 women bounding around boulders, most won’t consider themselves as your target audience. Women need to be confident that they will be accepted, not mocked. I don’t see that coming from your materials even now. There’s a cliquiness that also needs to be overcome.

    By the way, if you do actually carry plus sized gear, look beyond yoga pants. It seems that spandexy things are what most retailers want to give us. It’s crap. Won’t wear them. I’d love to find some wool wear for winter camping. Some good quality tech wear (pants/shorts/convertables) or jeans for 3-season camping, backpacking, multi-day canoe trips, etc. The types of things I do year round. But, since I’m a short fat woman, I buy what few things I can find. I’ve also had to become handy with a sewing machine and modify things, such as men’s pants, to be able to wear them comfortably.

    Sound angry? I am. You’re discouraging people and, as an organization, you’re leaving money on the table. Be more welcoming. Try it.

  • Jenna Meyer

    I had this conversation with a male sales partner at the local REI store in Princeton NJ. Why is it the guys get better gear and why don’t women’s down sleeping bags get the same comfort details? I had to buy a guys bag to get the quality and comfort I would need for cold weather backpacking. His answer was we are very aware and things are changing to address the playing field. Lets hope this is successful effort.

  • Cindi Struck

    Great article. I want to join in💗✌

  • Christopher Begeny

    I’m thrilled to see REI supporting/advocating for greater gender equality (as an issue that coincides within REI’s broader system of values). As such, I wanted to point out the following…

    For a number of items REI sells (e.g., hiking packs) the men’s version of the item is simply referred to by the name of the item itself. By comparison, the women’s version gets the additional, specified designation that it’s **for women** (i.e., it’s labeled “name of item – Women’s”).

    As you might see, this inherently suggests/conveys to people (e.g., prospective customers, fellow REI co-op members) that the men’s version represents–and is being treated by REI as–the “standard” or the “norm” (not only for that type of product, but arguably for the activity it represents as well; in this case, hiking). By comparison, the special label given to the women’s version of the item conveys/suggests that it represents the non-normative “other.”

    If it helps to clarify my point, consider a parallel: in basketball you have the “NBA”–no designation that it is the men’s version of the sport, right…?…ultimately suggesting/conveying/reinforcing the notion in people’s heads that men represent the norm for that activity. And then you have the “WNBA”–comparatively suggesting/conveying/reinforcing the notion that women need a special label or designation because they do not represent the norm.

    So, for REI, what’s the solution? Simple. Just start adding “- Men’s” to the end of labels for each of your men’s hiking packs (same goes for other relevant items). And to note, if you’re thinking my concern comes from a “hyper-sensitive” place, also keep in mind that the change REI would have to make–ultimately to convey a more gender equitable message–is virtually effortless. Why not do it??

  • LHS

    Having been a member since 1979, I remember when REI stood for performance gear first, fashion items not so much. Things seem to have changed over the years. During the winter I was looking for cross-country ski pants and was directed to yoga gear!? I was pretty much told I would have to order on-line or go to the Seattle store. Sizing is often a problem – way too many tight fitting items for my preference and I take a size 6.

  • Dirtygrass

    Why is everyone a victim these days, take responsibility for your own life. If you want to go outdoors go!! If its raining put on a rain jacket and go! Go by yourself if no one wants to go. You always have time, sleep less, get up early, don’t go to the bar.

  • Keith Schubert

    Dear Jerry, I think it is wonderful to recognize the wonderful contributions of women outdoor adventurers! God created the heavens and the earth to be marveled, enjoyed, and to give bountiful witness of His glory. Though men and women were given distinct roles in creation–they were both created in God’s image and are equally valued and loved. I hope this year’s celebration of women encourages many, men and women, to get OUT THERE and rejoice!

    • Lawrence Caldwell

      More women graduate college than men in 2017 by far. We support our women and have forgotten about or young boys. The future of our young men in the United States is beginning to look very bleak. I have nothing against supporting women. I’m concerned about the trend of supporting girls and forgetting about boys.

      • Keith Schubert

        You make a very good point. I share your concern.

  • Martin Fox

    Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant!!! Let us know how we can help.

  • Dann

    No more REI for me. I don’t patronize companies that value identity politics over being a neutral party that sells good products. I hope to God that Cabella’s and MEC don’t go down your destructive route.

  • UGH

    I think what Jerry is trying to say is that he acknowledges his people haven’t found enough readily available textiles for women in Asia and it’s been brought to his attention that this leaves a hole in market share. Among his ‘studies’ he’s probably also aware that the ‘she-conomy’ is real and viable. So let’s just do what everyone else is doing by grouping people, labeling them, pandering to them, and making a small fortune from a pseudo victimhood while backhandedly apologizing for our own ignorance. We’ll call it an equality initiative. When will marketing find a moral boundary?

    Sacagawea made her own clothes and they fit her perfectly. The only thing she needed was strength and courage. But you can’t hang that on a rack at REI.

  • Deirdre Balliett Lloyd

    This knocks women back 40 years. We are all equal in human dignity. So mad I wanted to send your multipage propaganda to the landfill but my husband guilted me into recycling it.

  • JAM

    My wife and I have been section hiking the Appalachian Trail over the past few years. When we are together as a couple telling people about our hiking trips it never fails, someone will always ask, “So…do you both enjoy camping and hiking in the woods?” It’s almost as if they are insinuating that my wife only likes backpacking because I make her do it, or because it is something that I really want to do and she is just there to support me…

    All of those kind of assertions made by people couldn’t be further from the truth. We both enjoy being out in the Outdoors, roughing it and spending time together. We both enjoy the health benefits (both physical and mental) that come from disconnecting from work/city life/etc. I’m just grateful that I get share all of these amazing outdoor experiences with my best friend!

  • a wal

    nonsense. imagine the opposite of this misguided drivel. “men find freedom outside (away from women)”, “not enough male role models (that look like me)”… “men would like to spend more time outdoors”, “men have a negative self image”. “Encouragement is the key” – participation trophies for all!!! Promote the beauty and joy of this beautiful country and world we live in and the rest will take care of itself.

  • Heidi

    This kind of work makes me proud to be an REI member. Thank you for your efforts in this.

  • Katie

    It’s funny when people decry featuring women for a year, calling it “a new inequity” and “political correctness run amok”. Let me guess…you never complained when men were featured year after year. You never even noticed, did you. You all sure didn’t complain the way you are now, that’s for sure.

  • Cecelia Lehmann

    I will second the need for more plus size clothing.
    I have been looking for rainpaints and I can find men in 2xl but they don’t take hips into account. So frustrating. And I hope when you expand sizing it’s available in store, not just online.

  • Mike D

    This is an awkward question. Will REI be hosting outdoor classes for young men only, no women allowed? Placing men “first” maybe year might mitigate their risk taking behaviors. Young men especially perform more poorly than their female counterparts in education. (BTW, 100 percent of the men I spoke with at REI this weekend count not identify Scott Fischer.) No one could object to “Men First, Men Only.” Could they?

    • Jackye

      I like the idea of men only activities, Mike D. The motive behind your idea is great. I’m not sure what to say about men first, they have societal advantages, maybe it is the lack of strong, positive, male role models that hold young men back. Media portrayals and marketing play a huge role as well. Whatever the reasons are for poor academic performance by young men, getting them participating in the outdoors can only help. Isn’t there room for all of these ideas? I think it is great that REI has taken steps to do something that is opening dialog and creating new ways to look at societies issues. I’m all in favour of whatever works!

      • Colt Redwine

        Your comment is very even handed and kind, Jackye, but I fear it is a bit naive, even though it warmed me to read it. There is absolutely no chance that there will be a “men first” campaign at REI or any other retailer, and, though Mike D is right that young men are vanishing from Universities, there are virtually no programs to help men specifically in education, though there are more and more programs for women every year. It’s just the narrative of the times in which we live, I’m afraid, and there isn’t much we can do about it, except care about the men we know. The same is true of suicide, incidentally, which is a huge and almost completely male gendered problem, though there are virtually no programs that target men specifically, but many for women.

        I’m afraid that there is no “open dialogue” at REI, but only an unfortunate exclusion of men from a large number of events and co-op community services, including minority men, many of whom could benefit from more involvement in the outdoors and recreation. REI turned their back, in my opinion, on the commonality of the outdoor experience, and how we could all create a welcoming and universally wonderful experience in the outdoors, hand in hand, and chose instead to focus on the separation between the genders and create an exclusive environment. Very few will express this out loud, because of the world today, but many, many, of all genders, are thinking it.

  • ‘Murika

    I have been a long time REI member and this absolutely turns both me and my wife off from REI. I cannot believe that REI is jumping on this non-factual based movement based purely on misinformation and the general ignorance of the public. We are both disgusted at REI for this.

    Study after study have showed that once you completely level the statistics of sample size, education, age, exact job career, experience, and most importantly, HOURS WORKED PER WEEK, there is 100% equality in pay for ANY JOB. Unless of course, you work for the DNC. In which case, they paid their women 70% less than men.

    Perhaps the better question to ask is: Why are there so many men willing to work 60-80 work weeks?

    REI does not disclose where these surveys came from. Even the fine print say that these online surveys were weighted and gave some demographic breakdown. Was this a targeted survey in a specific location? This is important because I find people in urban settings (Detroit) more outdoor-illiterate than some place like Colorado Springs or Denver.

    Lastly, I find it very sad that most women cannot name a women role model for the outdoors. That shows a few things: a failure of our schools and a show of our own ignorance. Anyone woman that is generally interested in the outdoors and is looking for a woman role model can simply take 5 seconds to find an answer via google. I remember growing up in school back in the 80’s and we would read history books with famous women and men in it and the feats they accomplished. If this is not being taught in our own schools then shame on them and shame on us for not demanding our children to be taught real history.

  • Yaniv Mor

    That was my answer to the customer service:

    “I still don’t understand how giving grants only to women, putting only women in front and introducing only women as ‘force of nature’ achieve the goal of “to ensure that women and men are equally inspired to embrace life outside”. Giving the grants and the stage only to women yet stating that this is equality, sounds like an invention or a quote by George Orwell.

    What about cripple men, don’t they deserve grant? What about weak or fearful men ,why not help them too instead of helping only women just because they are women?

    We should help and assist the weak and the needing – women and men, human beings, without segregating and dividing.

  • Marinel de Jesus

    I was reading the details of your study that launched the campaign. I notice your demographics indicate that you interviewed women from 18-35 years of age. I’m 40 and I’m in the best shape ever with plans to trek the entire great himalaya trail in Nepal. I’m also a female founder of a trekking social enterprise (Peak Explorations) that markets treks to Nepal, Peru etc with a focus on women empowerment by organizing all women treks worldwide. I’m wondering why there was a cap at 35 for women you surveyed?

  • Hippiefreak

    Dear Jerry Stritzke,

    You’re blowing it. You’re portraying this as a sexual equity problem. In the current times we live in, the connotation you bring is that the male sex is responsible for this inequity. Not true and not fair.

    If your industry has failed to get current with the outdoor clothing needs of women, then that is a problem with your industry, not with the male sex. You are framing it as if you are stepping up to fix a problem that is external to your industry, caused by, who else, men. Leave men out of it.

    If you believe women need to get outdoors more, then recognize that this your wish for a rebalance of the life activities of women, not a correction of oppression at the hands of men. Leave men out of it.

    You can encourage women to get outdoors without throwing men under the bus. You can implement this marketing campaign of yours without capitalizing on the current zeitgeist of male oppression. Men have enough piled upon them. What you are doing is not fair. You are not helping. You are capitalizing. Please change the implication of your campaign and make your altruism for women ring more authentically.

  • Alexius Argos

    What a load of pandering bs.

  • Cordila Jochim

    Jerry this is awesome! I lead Lean In Seattle (www.leaninseattle.org) – the women’s leadership movement spawned by Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. I love your mission of putting women first in 2017, getting them outdoors and highlighting powerful role models to lead he way. We’re neighbors. We’re on the same mission. So let’s figure out how can we serve women together! Our Lean In Seattle Chapter is a Regional Leader for the over 30,000 chapters in 150 countries around the world serving 2M women who are committed to killing it in life and their careers. Our local chapter has grown 700% to over 3,000 members YOY and we’re getting ready to host a 1,000 member event in Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion on May 20th from 9-3pm. Stop by! And if you can’t stop by, let’s connect. I’m in! You can message me here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cordila/

  • Angelica Sanders

    Love the attention finally I’ve been a lover of outdoors life all my life. I would spend more time outside if I could afford it. I do a garden every year and change it up often and I am told that its a lot of work but it is truly my love and worth it. I love to hike Stone Mountain and other trails when ever possible.

  • Angelica Sanders

    I would love to put together a team and hike up a nice trail and put some colorful images on canvas or nice stiff natural paper. We can get some great stretching in and travel with a mat and practice some good breathing either before or after the creative adventure. Just dreaming after that nice video!

  • Betsy D

    I would also like to push for extended petite sizing in women. Petite does not begin at 5’4. Try 4’10! I’ve been unable to find comfortable outdoor gear forever and it keeps me inside. And no, you can’t put a woman’s shaped body into girl sized clothes. That is why petite exists. PLEASE!!!

  • Yaniv Mor

    I still don’t understand how giving grants only to women, putting only women in front and introducing only women as ‘force of nature’ achieve the goal of “to ensure that women and men are equally inspired to embrace life outside”. Giving the grants and the stage only to women yet stating that this is equality, sounds like an invention or a quote by George Orwell.

    What about cripple men, don’t they deserve grant? What about weak or fearful men ,why not help them too instead of helping only women just because they are women?

    We should help and assist the weak and the needing – women and men, human beings, without segregating and dividing.

  • Positive Vibes Inc.

    As a woman owned business with a larger male gender audience I LOVE this!! go REI!

  • Nature…. Nurture…. re-membering…. you know more………… thank you for supporting us!!!!!

  • Marie Francisco

    I appreciate this campaign! My entire life before 18, I was actively discouraged from exploring, jogging, hiking, biking, walking, and running in the Santa Cruz mountains where we lived. I was repeatedly told, “You will get raped and/or murdered.” My brothers on the other hand biked, ran, and explored all over. This set they and I on two very different life long tangents. I am fighting to be a more active person. I’ve taught myself all about hiking, camping, and backpacking.
    But yes, because I am a shorter, overweight woman, I walk into REI, cash in hand, and very rarely leave with the clothing I sought to buy. I also have the impression that certain sports, featured at REI, aren’t “for overweight women” so I am hesitant to ask about them. Women are not helpless, but many of us were actively discouraged from going outside. So THIS ENCOURAGEMENT IS VERY WELCOME! Thank you REI!

  • Jay

    Thank you for this. It is literally bringing tears to my eyes this morning. First, thanks for recognizing your privilege (and then using it). Second, thanks for doing more than just a single issue of a magazine that focuses on women. I’d love to see women’s stories featured without being like “Hey, XX Factor!” or “Check it out! A woman!” Just feature stories about women like any other story would be featured. The goal in the end is to normalize women’s experiences, right?

    And again… thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Egle Gerai

    What a fantastic initiative! We at Women ADV Riders, a free publication for women who love adventure riding, motorcycle travel and exploring internationally, would love to collaborate! http://www.womenadvriders.com

  • Ms. Jay

    I am just starting to hike I look forward to what’s to come with this initiative….Jerry Stritzke thank you.

  • Shanna Kurth

    “We are partnering with brands to increase focus on building world-class gear designed for women. We’re also working hard inside our own co-op brands and with vendors to offer expanded extended sizing options.”

    When I see images of women in the outdoors, they are almost exclusively attractive, thin, average height, and in their twenties. In fact, they mirror the images of women in Hollywood productions. Let’s see you put your money where your mouth is. I am short and chubby (and in my 50s . . .). That does NOT make me a freak of nature; there are many many women shaped just like me. Where can we buy a pair of high quality windbreaker pants that will fit? A dry suit? A parka? I hike in all 4 seasons and bicycle and kayak in 3. I need quality gear. You want to be the leader in outdoor gear for women? Then stop limiting your offerings to skinny, average height women.

    #curvieswithcreditcards #havemoneywillpurchase

  • Christina S

    When and where is this film festival!? Will it show REI made videos only or community made ones as well?

  • Fred Hale

    There is no such thing as reverse discrimination, just discrimination.

  • Fred Hale

    I challenge anyone to count the women specific items vs the men specific items. Same with pictures.

  • kcharring

    I am skeptical of your new emphasis on women in the outdoors. Here in Eugene, Oregon we have a great writer, Ruby McConnell, who published an outdoor guide for women, entitled A Woman’s Guide to the Wild.
    http://seattlebackpackersmagazine.com/book-review-awesome-womans-outdoor-guide/
    Other local women and I have contacted the Eugene REi to request that they carry this guide book; however, I was in the store last week, and it is still not available. One of the first things you can do to show that you support women in the outdoors, is to offer this book with all of the other guides written by men. McConnell has earned critical acclaim for this publication, but REI still presents only the male perspective on camping and backpacking in their literature section.

  • Kristie Focht

    Dear REI Force of Nature,
    Thank you for the inspiration.
    I am a 51 year old single mom from Portland, OR.
    I’m writing this from ‘somewhere’ in Montana. Why??
    In February I was laid off from my job of 20 years at Eagle Creek Travel Gear. MOST people would look for a job right away, right?!? That would be the reasonable and sane thing to do. And being the conservative Capricorn who’s had a job since the age of 14 years, that’s what my head told me to do.
    But my heart said ‘NOPE!’
    Instead, I formed Oregon Youth Outreach (modeled after an organization REI supports, Outdoor Outreach), a Portland non-profit with a mission to expand the possibilities and potential to youth through the transformative power of nature. (I applied for your grant – ! thus the inspiration for the REALLY crazy part….)
    Finding myself jobless this summer, and kidless (one moved into her own place, the other is spending the summer with her dad in San Diego), I thought ‘how cool would it be to spend the summer be-bopping around Idaho and Montana in my car, going on hikes every day, or just sitting in the peacefulness of a lazy river?’
    The next thing I know, I’m posting an ad on craigslist to rent my home out for the summer. Within 5 minutes I have a reply; the next day we sign an agreement; a few days later I use the money to buy a 1984 Chevy Van which had been converted to a small RV. She ain’t pretty, and she doesn’t like steep hills too much, but we are 14 days on the road now and I love her dearly because she’s taken me to some beautiful places.
    Me and my 3 dogs left on June 22nd; sadly, we are down one when I had to put my beloved 15 year old Doberman down last week. We miss her dearly but her spirit remains with us, chasing chipmunks alongside my other two canine travel companions.
    Thank you for the inspiration to embark upon a summer of a lifetime. And thank you for having stores in Idaho and Montana so I can pick up things needed along my journey….especially the tent I recently bought when I discovered my daughter forgot to put the tent poles back into the one I had packed. DOH!
    That is all for now – onward ho we go!
    Cheers,
    Kristie

    • REI

      Thank you for sharing your story! You are certainly a #ForceOfNature and an inspiration to us!

  • Hippiefreak

    Dear Jerry Stritzke,

    You’re blowing it. You’re portraying this as a sexual equity problem. In the current times we live in, the connotation you bring is that the male sex is responsible for this inequity. Not true and not fair.

    If your industry has failed to get current with the outdoor clothing needs of women, then that is a problem with your industry, not with the male sex. You are framing it as if you are stepping up to fix a problem that is external to your industry, caused by, who else, men. Leave men out of it.

    If you believe women need to get outdoors more, then recognize that this is your wish for a rebalance of the life activities of women, not a correction of oppression at the hands of men. Leave men out of it.

    You can encourage women to get outdoors without throwing men under the bus. You can implement this marketing campaign of yours without capitalizing on the current zeitgeist of male oppression. Men have enough piled upon them. What you are doing is not fair. You are not helping. You are capitalizing. Please change the implication of your campaign and make your altruism for women ring more authentically.

    • Fred Hale

      Well put. I have through REI been put in an impossible position because the grant money given to an annual high school organization in the past meant seperating the girls from the boys this last year. Made it much harder, more expensive, and required more.guides.

  • Fred Hale

    ‘we are not championing women and men equally’
    So we chose to not champion men at all. All grants are conditional on the grounds that men are completely excluded.

No more articles