July 2021 Newsletter

REI Employee
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In the midst of an eventful summer, it has been great to see your stories, trip reports, and questions continue to come into Conversations. From figuring out gear for a first-time solo backpacking trip to sharing reports from a successful summit of Denali, many of you have found value in this community at all stages of your outdoor adventures and we couldn’t be happier about it. The knowledge you have and share with each other is inspiring. We’re looking forward to a growth-filled rest of the year in this community and are happy to have you all here with us for it.  


What’s New in Conversations? 

REI has many great programs and events going on throughout the country, both virtually and in-person. This month, we are excited to have launched a Conversations group for one of these programs, Nature’s Gym, a virtual 8-week fitness course made with outdoor enthusiasts in mind. While this specific program will end in September, this digital group is the perfect way for people to stay connected with each other, share their questions and expertise, and exchange motivation to keep going on their fitness journeys. We would love for you to take a look and see what’s going on. If you are interested, you can register for Nature’s Gym too! 

Know that we are open to suggestions on what type of groups you think would do well in the community. Take a look at what groups already exist and if you have ideas for additional ones, feel free to send them our way on the Ask an REI Employee board. 


Here are some highlights from July:  

Backpacking for the first time with my son - suggestions? 

Taking a child out on their first backpacking trip is an exciting opportunity. It is also often filled with lots of questions, prep work, and some nerves. When @Outback_dad asked for tips leading up to his son’s first backpacking trip, folks chimed in and shared their personal advice. From making a checker board on a sleeping pad to tips for staying in good spirits when things go wrong, it’s a great thread for anyone thinking of taking their kids backpacking for the first time. 

What in the outdoors appeals to him? Build on those interests and let him take the lead.  If he does not have any particular interests, and at this stage of life he may not, expose him to as much as possible, keep it varied and assist him in investigating various appeals.”@hikermor  

Phone Solar Chargers and Power Banks 

Whether it is for photos, navigation, or connecting with family and friends back in town, phones are often a part of the packing list for an extended stay in nature. The question of how to best keep them charged is a tricky one and this conversation dives into lots of different options to think about. For some, keeping overall pack-weight down is most important, but for others, understanding battery life (and having paper backups!) is the key to success.  

Interestingly it was recommended to use the standard charge USB or micro on the power bank and not use the quick charge plug... Unless you need a quick charge of course. Looking forward to the future invention of light weight off grid power! All about trial and error right now!@IDmountainmama  

Bikepacking with Hydraulic Brakes? 

More and more people are finding the joys of bikepacking and with that comes a lot of questions. When @MikeNWFL brought their question to our Bikepackers group, lots of folks shared their experiences and suggestions. From the sounds of it, hydraulic brakes are good for bikepacking journeys, as long as they are cared for with regular maintenance — just like all brakes! 

The one thing I might still think about is being mindful that your bike is heavier laden down with gear, and if you're on any significant downhill where you end up riding the brake, the excess heat buildup can result in brake fade where the fluid reaches its boiling point and stops performing as well with a loss in power. But most bikepacking routes tend to be a bit mellower on elevation profiles so it's not a huge concern either.@TomV   

Favorite Gear You’ve Lost 

People passionate about the outdoors are also often passionate about their well-worn gear. Whether it is being able to see mud stains from a specific ride or having boots worn down to the sole from years of use, there is a unique value in gear that has supported you throughout your adventures. There are already many responses in this thread that @aarond started. Do you have a story you could add to it? 

I superglued the toe strap back in hoping it would last. So far it has. 
Today the other toe strap also broke out. 
I'll glue it back but I think it's a lost cause. 
To be fair, the sole is more gone than there now too.@aarond  


Based on what we’ve seen in the last couple of months, you are making the most of this summer and spending lots of time outside. We always appreciate hearing your plans, helping with questions, and learning from your recaps! Heading into August, it feels like autumn will be here before we know it. With @Marc_OV_AZ already sharing a post about snow cave condos, it looks like some of you may even have your eyes set on winter already!  

No matter what season, we hope this community continues to be a valuable place to return to time and time again. The responses to @hikermor's post, Why has REI Co-op Been So Successful?, were amazing to read. Know that we think people passionate about the outdoors and making connections with others — like y’all! — are a huge reason for the co-op's success.  

The Conversations Team