REI Co-op finds younger, more diverse, spontaneous campers turning to the co-op to outfit their mid-sized SUV vehicles for adventure trips

Outdoor adventurer “Miranda in the Wild” kicks off nationwide road trip to demonstrate the trend

Jul 11, 2022

As campsite reservations continue to fill quickly due to more people going camping for the first time. REI has noted shifts in camp product purchases with more customers incorporating their mid-sized vehicles to extend adventures beyond the campsite. Since 2019, the co-op’s sales of vehicle-supported camp items, including car shelters, refrigerators and rooftop tents have increased by 45 percent.

The co-op and the outdoor industry at-large both saw a significant increase in the number of people started camping due to the pandemic. A recently published Kampgrounds of America (KOA) Report showed diversity of first-time campers was also up significantly (54 percent non-white), comprised of a majority of millennial campers (54 percent), as was the number of people taking an overlanding or off-road vehicle camping trip (27 percent). The same study counted 93.8 million active camper households in 2021, and 9.1 million first-time camper households in 2021.

“Over the past few years, REI has seen more people turn to their mid-sized vehicles as a preferred way to go a bit further, camp using their car, visit new places, and try multisport adventures in new outdoor destinations – and REI is ready for them,” says Melissa Paul, REI senior merchandising manager for camp. “This camper is a bit more spontaneous, is interested in being more self-sustained, and goes out a bit further off the grid to camp.”  

This year, the co-op’s summer’s assortment includes several products to help people extend their multisport adventures beyond the campsite. Some of the season’s best sellers from the REI Co-op Brands collection include the REI Co-op Trailgate Vehicle Shelter and the REI Co-op Trailgate Vehicle Sleeping Platform that turn the vehicle into a comfortable home for the night. Additionally, partner products including Dometic coolers; NEMO sleeping bags and chairs; Thule car-top roof tents and racks; and Snow Peak cookware round-out the co-op’s offerings to help make it one of the nation’s leading outfitters for vehicle-supported adventure.

To introduce more people to vehicle-supported camping, Miranda in the Wild, an REI employee and YouTube outdoor adventurer, kicked off a nationwide tour, driving coast-to-coast in a Subaru Forester  Wilderness while stopping to teach Backpacking 101 classes and is conducting meet-and-greets at select REI locations. The Subaru, like many mid-sized vehicles REI Co-op customers already drive, is outfitted with some of the latest and greatest camping gear from brands like Dometic, NEMO, Snow Peak, Thule and REI Co-op. Along the way, Miranda will produce new videos so her fan base can follow her adventures as she shares tips to camp using a car for vehicle supported adventures. 

The Miranda in the Wild tour started in Seattle on June 25 and Burbank on July 9. Other stops across the country include Santa Fe on July 12, Denver on July 16, and Atlanta on July 30. Check Miranda’s Instagram for details.  

To provide campsite solutions to more people, REI and Hipcamp have partnered to offer easy booking and access to a wider array of domestic destinations, opening more options for people looking to go beyond the basic campsite. The brands announced a #SaveASpot Sweepstakes, a summer-long campaign that will award 10 immersive, outdoor experiences to campers from across the nation.

In supporting campers heading out on outdoor adventures, REI continues to emphasize and teach Recreate Responsibly tactics: plan and prepare; build an inclusive outdoors; respect others; leave no trace; and make it better; through its free online Expert Advice articles, video content and in-store events and education classes.

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 21.5 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 177 locations in 41 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.