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.
Drop your answers in the thread below, thanks!
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.
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.
@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.
Any of these questions resonate with you all? You've brought some great experience to the community regarding getting your kids outside!
How are you currently getting outside with your kids? What activities are you participating in?
Hiking, biking, trail running, fishing, art projects involving objects found outside, cooking outside, campfires, camping, bouldering, archery, rockhounding.
What motivates you to go outside with your kids?
I love being outside and am a better person for it. I think the same applies for the kiddos. We are all just happier, healthier humans during and after we have spent as much time as possible outside.
What are some of the challenges to getting outside with your kids?
The biggest challenges are probably time and energy. Amongst busy work, school, and extracurriculars sometimes it's just easier to stay home and stay in. In those moments, we really have to prioritize getting out the door.
What kinds of gear and clothing are your kids using? Is it more general purpose or specifically designed for an activity?
I like to use multipurpose gear where at all possible. For all the above mentioned activities, my kids utilize general purpose gear, with the exception of backpacks, sleeping bags, and rain gear. In the winter, we do shop for durable ski clothing that will keep them warm (and therefore, happy, on the slopes).
Hi @REI-JohnJ !!
My kids are now 3 and 6.
We have been participating in 1000 Hours Outdoors this year and have less than 20 hours left of the challenge!! This organization/campaign is awesome, definitely worthy of a quick look-see.
We are getting out while homeschooling mostly. Covid had forced our hand down the path and we've fully embraced it at this point. We take our entire school day into the forest at least once a week. We do road trips around Oregon and Washington and bring the schooling! National monuments, parks, forest... fantastic supports for homeschoolers (and all humans!) for education. We are camping, road tripping, hiking, backpacking, kayaking!, and completed one bikepacking trip this summer.
A life lived outdoors in never a life wasted. If there's any hope in saving this planet, it's in showing our children how vital, beautiful, and amazing it is. I grew up camping with my dad, he passed suddenly 4 years ago and that hit me very VERY hard. It also made me even more determined to give my children the connection to our planet that I experienced.
Full disclosure... my husband doesn't share this passion. My biggest challenge is doing it alone, or rather as a solo adult. Taking my 6 year old daughter into the backcountry alone took some bravery. Taking a 6 year old and 3 year old on a bikepacking trip, patience. Road tripping, dispersed camping, and seeing all 3 units of the John Day Fossil Beds this summer, ok that took lots of things.
We have the exact gear we need to get the job done and make experience easier and better in the process. Less is more. Lighter is more. Easy enough for a young child to operate is essential.
On trip this last weekend our Exped Synmat duo sprung the worlds smallest leak and I'm devastated. I'd love to bring it in to REI and get help finding this suggestion of a hole... it lost enough air that I couldn't sleep comfortably but my 42 lb 6 year old slept on it the next night and didn't notice a thing (reinflated)!
I have 2 tents, a Kelty Rumpus 4 and a Big Agnes Tiger Wall Platinum 3... If that tells you anything... are we in a campground or the backcountry?
We LOVE LOVE LOVE our Reima rain bibs and REI kids rainshell coats... we live in Oregon. I shop REI year round to find all the garage sale items and outlet deals. We just HAVE to stay dry out there... If we're dry, I can keep us warm. At this point I've got us so well dialed in that I now buy the same items in the next size they need and don't mess around with trying out something else (now if REI toddler rain shells would come with velcro straps on the wrists hahaha!!).