January 2021 Newsletter

REI Employee
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Is January over already?! From what we saw here in our community to what we read in the wider world, we know 2020 was a powerful reminder of how valuable time spent outside can be. We find ourselves hopeful that 2021 will bring a return to some sense of normalcy while retaining the enthusiasm and excitement for being outside.  

In January, 596 new members joined and y’all posted 720 topics and replies. For the REI team, it is always fun to see what themes show up among your questions. For example, this month there were a bunch of posts on hiking navigation and snowshoes, a fun illustration of the wide range of climates we are all spread across. It is also inspiring to continue to learn from each of you; we hope this community is one you enjoy being a part of, want to bring your friends into, and gain a lot from. 


What’s Happening in Conversations?  

In mid-January we made a significant technical upgrade to the Conversations platform. Unfortunately, we have experienced some issues as a result, mainly around logging in and staying logged in. We are grateful to those of you who have continued to provide us with feedback and details – your information has helped our teams troubleshoot. And a big ‘thank you’ for your patience. Our teams continue to work on resolution, and we look forward to continuing to be the place you come to talk about the outdoors. 


Here are some highlight from January:

Outdoor adventure goals, plans, and dreams for 2021 

Wow. We asked you all if you had any plans, goals, or dreams for spending time outside in 2021 and you blew us away! It was amazing to hear people’s ambitious goals and the encouragement that came from sharing them with others. @bryndsharp talked about some climbing goals she has set for herself and included impressive photographs from her local crag.  @hikermor is hoping to work on an archaeological project that means a lot to him – digging up pygmy mammoth fossils on the Channel Islands. There were also countless cycling, backpacking, hiking, and travel plans shared. 

January may be over, but we would still love to hear what you are excited about doing outside this year. If you haven’t joined in on this conversation yet, we suggest you head over! 


How Young is Too Young to Start Backpacking? 

When @madefromstraw expressed his excitement of sharing his love of the outdoors with his young daughter, other parents shared their experiences and suggestions with him. From various trail difficulties, the mental aspect of keeping young ones enjoying their time, and the all-important snacks, there is lots of good information in this thread for any families interested in backpacking.  

“But really it all comes down to patience. Patience with the activity itself, and patience that they'll work their way up to longer adventures as they grow. Keep it enjoyable for them to build a lifelong love for it, rather than pushing them away by pushing them too hard.” - @TomV 


Handheld GPS or GPS watch for beginners?

With so many options available for GPS tracking, it’s great to hear opinions and advice from multiple people. In this thread, there were advocates for both handheld GPS units and GPS watches, but the third option that came into play was using apps on your phone. Conveniently, another conversation that started around the same time, Recommended Apps for Hiking Maps, was full of tips too! 

“It does depend what you actually want it for and why you feel backtracking is something you specifically need… Unless you need something rugged, apps on modern smart phones will give you the GPS function you probably need for hiking, especially when combined with a printed map. - @OldGuyot 


The community each of you has helped create here is one that we are so thankful for. The chance to learn, support, and laugh with you all is a complete pleasure. Our appreciation for the outdoors is as strong as ever and hope you all are feeling the same way. Here’s to hoping February delivers some amazing experiences that we can share with everyone!  

- The Conversations Team