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Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

We're looking to feature Member stories in an upcoming campaign!

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The Co-op wants to highlight member stories in an upcoming marketing campaign.

We'd love to hear about:

- How has being an REI Co-op Member enriched your outdoor life?

- How has membership expanded your outdoor community?
Has it led to new friendships?

- How have any of REI's classes, experiences, rentals or buying used gear impacted your ability to get outside, try new things, and/or discover more of the outdoors.

Share your story below!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
15 Replies

The design flaws in the MountainSmith pack are: 1) The hip belt is just fabric with no structure 2) When you adjust the shoulder straps  for a small person, it creates too much  stress on two top straps that stabilize the pack.  Those straps keep breaking and when they do the whole pack gets really wobbly.  3) you compress the pack using  straps attached to a little flat external pouch that used to be stiffened by  a  wire insert that eventually poked though the fabric. Without the wire, the pouch is floppy and hard to get into 4) If the pack is not full enough, the top pouch won't cinch down  5) it was designed as a modular system, but I don't have the modules.  There are no side pockts for tent poles.   However,  I still use this pack for packrafting since it is large, it is made from tough fabric,  it doesn't have sharp parts, and I don't much care if it gets ruined by getting wet.  

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I have only been a member of REI for about 15 years. As a kid my family would camp in Tahoe every summer. Apparently, the Coleman stove, lantern and tent were all bought with Green Stamps.

I started hiking in my 50’s with a camera day pack and tennis shoes. Why invest when I would probably be a one trail and done?

Then came the shopping trips to REI. The sales people have always made me feel good regardless of my ability level. First up, better shoes. Then a better backpack that was fitted by a trained sales rep. (Osprey, with a bladder)

I attended a free REI snowshoeing class a couple of years ago. I’m sure that helped set up a great experience for me.

When planning a three week trip to Europe, my choice of a travel bag was the REI Big Haul. It was the perfect size and so easy to carry. 

https://www.rei.com/product/177057/rei-co-op-big-haul-40-recycled-duffel

This duffle has been used multiple times over the past three years and still looks brand new. 

REI is my first stop for new clothes. I like that they are now featuring larger women in their ads and carrying larger sizes in the store. 

I now hike, camp, travel and explore when time allows. I’m always prepared with all the goodies I have scored from REI.

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Storm Lake, Montana 

@Shaun@Mosslaker@Pattyboxer12@Rachoww@SeattleNative@sara@AngiePaddlesandMore@nathanu - Y'all have all mentioned fun adventures and plans as co-op members. I imagine there are endless stories to tell. Do you have anything you'd like to share here?

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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Also, my daughter and I have the exact same REI Half Dome 2+ tents, only hers is blue and mine is orange.  She got hers from a silent autction fund-raiser, so thanks REI for the donation. The tent is nice and roomy for solo car camping, and actually big enough for two people when necessary.  Here are our mommy-daughter tents at a campsite in Canyonlands National Park. 

REI tents.jpg


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I do have a doozy big one in terms of enhancing ability to get outside . . . . You see, I am an REI member because I got hurt serving overseas, became permanently disabled and medically retired as a result, and thought my outdoorsy days were over. REI has been a centerpiece in terms of getting me back outside again. 

From 2015-2020 I was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. Same job as the people killed in Benghazi, who are now dealing with Havana syndrome, etc. I got hurt via less dramatic means of a pretty ordinary workplace injury + poor medical care in India + an employer who doesn't believe in accommodating disabilities regardless of what the law may say. The resulting disability affects mainly small motions. It's usually not obvious. But it has been severe enough to, at times, interfere with my ability to use a knife and fork or to sign my name. Writing this post, for example, has required me to stop and rest several times (my text-to-speech software doesn't work on this site, for some reason). And I'm ended up medically retired in my early 40s.  I figured my days as an outdoorsperson were over. In particular, I never expected to be able to paddle again and I just love paddling a kayak. 

That changed when, in summer 2019, my doctor told me, "Angie, we need some kind of exercise to keep your upper body strong. And I know you mentioned you used to paddle a kayak. I want you to wear splints while doing it, but I think it would be a good idea to start doing that again." 

By that time I had been dealing with the injury for years and had already gotten rid of a lot of my outdoor gear for kayaking and otherwise. My favorite outfitter was a local company that had gone out of business. I needed to find a place to get a new boat and it had to be something portable enough for me to handle. I ended up going to REI and outfitting myself for paddling again. I cannot tell you how much that meant to me. And it's why my username is Angie*Paddles*AndMore even though I post mainly about photography right now. Paddling was the first thing I got back to doing.

That rekindled my lifelong interest in the outdoors overall and made me feel like maybe I could actually do it again. Thanks to some things being disposed of and others being warn out, I ended up replacing and upgrading almost all of my outdoor gear. REI is the main supplier.

At the same time, I have used REI online chat and consulted store associates trying to figure out how to work with the limitations I now have, which are expected to last the rest of my life.  For example, I can hike, but I cannot use trekking poles. I bought a Co-Op Cycle earlier this year. I spent time in the store talking with REI associates about how to ease the strain on my wrists, especially from bumps and such. I have the CTY2.2 because of those discussions--a bike with a front suspension and padded handlebars. I also have padded gloves. And I still have to be careful, but I can actually bike again.

Being an REI member has also helped a lot in terms of why I do photography now. It was only earlier this year that 3-4 of my friends came to me back-to-back-to-back over a single weekend and asked me to publish a book of my photos. While I still think they were crazy to make that suggestion, especially since I had hardly even picked up a camera since 2017, the fact is that they made me think about the fact that what I love to do is wander the world (how many other people do you know who have accidentally circumnavigated the globe?) and feed my sense of wonder. And then I try to share that sense of wonder by taking photos. And that pretty much describes being a photographer. And the fact that REI had me outside again made it seem a lot more feasible to go take photos of things that I'm actually interested in photographing--traveling, hiking, etc. My wrists do limit my photography (see here https://theplacechangesme.com/all-about-angie if you really want to know) and the pandemic has made it harder to travel internationally, so my sense of wanderlust is eating me alive. And, of course, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm now involved as the North America Ambassador Coordinator for Nature First, an org dedicated to promoting responsible behavior among nature photographers. I found out about Nature First when a fellow REI member told me about it on these message forums. And that has put me squarely in the midst of promoting conservation and preservation, which are further things I care about. I'm starting to actually feel useful again, which is pretty great.

All in all, I'd say I feel much more of a bond to REI than I do to most stores. In fact, REI is one of the small list of companies I've looked into working for just because I just like being in the stores, I've got tons of time on my hands, and I figured why not? Alas, the wrists have made it hard to find a store job I could actually do. But, then again, the photography is going well, so maybe I'll do photos for REI some day. And I'm free to actually move now, so maybe I should look into something outside my local area. Hmmmm. Now I'm giving myself ideas. But no matter how you slice it and no matter what the future holds, REI has been much more important to me than any other store I can think of.

No idea if that's what you're looking for, but I hope it's helpful!

Angie

Thanks for sharing your personal story, Angie! Very powerful and inspiring lesson in adaptability and perseverance!