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Folks with Kids: REI wants to hear from you!

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Hey there, REI community!

If you are a parent, guardian, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or in any role where you are helping kids get outside, our customer research team wants to hear from you. If you could take a moment to answer one (or all) of the following questions we would really appreciate it! Your answers will help guide our thinking around how we choose to assort products for kids and families in the future.

  • How are you currently getting outside with your kids? What activities are you participating in?
  • What motivates you to go outside with your kids?
  • What are some of the challenges to getting outside with your kids?
  • What kinds of gear and clothing are your kids using? Is it more general purpose or specifically designed for an activity?

Drop your answers in the thread below, thanks!

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

Our kids are geared out! I have a 13 year old daughter and 7 year old son. We have done a wide array of outdoor activities, including simple nature walks, hikes, car camping, RV camping, kayaking, and fishing. My husband and I picked up backpacking this past summer, and are fully geared up to bring the kinds along, but unfortunately we didn't get out there with the kids this year. Reason: periods (neither my daughter nor myself have mastered sleeping outside in a sleeping bag while having our periods), wildfires, rain/too cold. Timing just didn't work out. Next year we plan to go backpacking as a family though! Other challenges we have had is simple stamina. My son will start complaining after a mile or two, so we haven't done more than about 4 miles in a day. We have purchased gear and clothing specific to the outdoors for our kiddos. My son has an REI sahara shirt (he often pairs it with a Junior Ranger vest from one of the national parks we have visited, to complete the look 🙂 ), and my daughter has a Colombia Silver Ridge Lite shirt.  Both of them have trail runners (all 4 of us upgraded from hiking boots this year) and trekking poles too. For backpacking my daughter has the Osprey Kyte 36, and my son has an REI Tarn 18. They both have their own water bladder packs for day hikes. They each have a sun hat. They each have their own sleep systems, with pad, sleeping bag, and pillow. The pants they wear while we are getting outside are sport pants / leggings with pockets - not cotton per se, but not a high end material either. Hope this helps your team! Happy to answer any questions they have 🙂 Keep up the great work! 

My 2 kids are teens now, but I've been taking them outside since they were infants too small to walk.  

1) Camping, hiking, fly fishing, backpacking, downhill skiing, river running & biking.

2) Kids are happy outside.  Especially if you go camping with other families, the kids form a little gang to run around together and they sit up late at the campfire toasting marshmallows and talking about kid stuff.  Also, outdoor skills are useful skills. It makes me happy to see my kids using their outdoors skills .

3) I'm a single mom, so the biggest challenge was getting  everyone ready to go and packing the car for a trip.  I eventually taught the kids how to pack their own camping stuff,  but we had a few incidents like the river trip where one kid didn't pack anything to swim in or the time an entire kid pack was full of dinosaur stuffies instead of clothes.   One issue with taking kids is, parents are in the role of guides and have make decisions and be responsible for everyone's safety.  You have to be willing to back off from plans if it turns out the kids can't or won't do it.  For skiing, the main issue is expense.  There are good deals on lift passes for small kids, but not for teens.  I will probably quit downhill skiing with the family now that they have aged out of youth pass prices. 

4) When the kids were infants, I used a hand-me-down Kelty baby carrier with a metal frame for a backpack and strapped ditty bags with gear onto the frame.  I have never seen a contemporary baby carrier that would work nearly as well for overnight backpacking.  I did EC with the kids so I had to backpack a little potty, but didn't have to take disposable diapers.   I'm not sure why outdoors media isn't generally more enthusiastic about EC because I thought it was great.  When the kids were small, I bought them each a daypack and supplied it with a water bottle,  "sun scream,"  lip balm, a sun hat, a sun shirt, a rain poncho and a snack bag.  The kids eventually learned to make sure they had all their stuff before we went out. I didn't buy them actual raincoats until they reached their adult size.  My system was that there was a list of essential camping gear that I would replace if it wore out, got lost or got too small including  the daypacks, good hiking shoes, wool socks. a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, and a pair of water shoes. I bought the kids ultralight sleeping bags sized for small women, which wore out after about 11 years of use (torn fabric, stuck zippers) so that I recently had to buy them both new sleeping bags.   When I started taking them backpacking, the biggest challenge was finding a 3-person tent that I could carry along with all the other gear.   I ended up with a single-pole tarp tent instead of a free-standing tent. The kids call it "the clown tent" because they think it's ridiculous.   When my kids were little the one thing that made them really happy was having little stuffed toys to carry in their backpacks.  I have to say, whenever they needed something new for camping they really liked getting to pick out their own things at REI.   I didn't buy that much kid-specific gear though.  They just had to backpack using my old daypacks until they knew enough to complain and demand a real backpack.   I did buy a kid-sized pfd for river running which is still in use among my circle of friends.    

Raise four - two ladies and two gents.  From about one year old, thy were involved in outdoor activities, both recreational and job related (archeologist with the NPS).  Particularly when young, mostly day trips, but later occasional overnight trips and even some mild technical mountaineering.

I would say that priorities will change as children grow and develop.  Don't demand that they become as avid about the outdoors as you are, but give them a decent orientation and be sure that they are aware of good outdoor safety practices and proper low impact outdoor conduct.  They are individuals with their own unique interests, which might not be quite the same as yours.....

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.
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How are you currently getting outside with your kids?  After/before school playtime in the yard, day trips to local parks, and longer weekend scheduled trips to state parks, national parks, and national forests. 

What activities are you participating in? Camping, playgrounds, hiking, biking, blading, skiing.

What motivates you to go outside with your kids?  Fresh air, exercise, togetherness, shared experiences.
What are some of the challenges to getting outside with your kids?  Work schedule.
What kinds of gear and clothing are your kids using? Is it more general purpose or specifically designed for an activity? Depends on the activity.  For most everyday stuff, whatever we are wearing.  If we are going biking, my sons love their COOP cycles and we have specific bike helmets for them.  For skiing, they have their own ski boots, skis, snow pants, helmets, goggles, jackets, gloves, and ski socks.  Hiking and camping is generally just normal day to day clothes.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@Outback_dad @Alicia8338 @madefromstraw @TomV @annarose999 @Kimberly @AgilePeacock @kmyzz @minhster @KateRollerSkate 

You all have brought some wisdom to the community about your kiddos. Any insights to share here?

Thanks!

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

@REI-JohnJ  - wait, you're telling me some people go camping WITH their kids and not as a way to escape them? 🤣 🤣 🤣

Seriously, though, I've found that the biggest challenge has been setting realistic expectations for myself. Particularly as it relates to what I hope and wish for them to be doing outdoors.

Even on day hikes, I love big miles. If a hike is under eight miles, I'll probably forgo it for a longer trail. But that's me. My kids are 11 and 13 and, for them, they enjoy a mile to two miles. And it's always an enjoyable time and they come back with huge smiles on their faces. But my youngest is always asking to go for longer distances (three or four miles) yet, when we do, they will come up with a myriad of excuses and complaints (so they're a healthy teenager LOL). 

And there's the challenge. As *I* get into more and more outdoor activities, I want to share them with my family and have them come along with me but my kids just aren't there yet. And I want to challenge them just enough to push their comfort limits but not so much that they just say that they're done. So it's a fine line as a parent and that's my biggest challenge.

That all said, I will happily go on short walks (even around our neighborhood) because time is short, I love my kids and who they are becoming, we have great conversations, and most of all, both my wife and I know that they may not want to be seen in public with us in the near future (my online handle IS accurate, after all) so we will take every opportunity we have.

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“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Is any dad hip?  I SUSPECT NOT....

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.
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@andr3w1sh 

Hey Andy! Any insight or experience you are will to share on this thread?

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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@Dad_Aint_Hip @Your_mother @ayhunt @Gumby @DavidM @HaveKidsWillTravel @aggieplanner @ITlady @jaq73 @Lauren 

Any of these questions resonate with you all? You've brought some great experience to the community regarding getting your kids outside!

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