REI’s recent marketing campaign (and if you know anything about REI’s marketing campaigns, you know they’re smart, timely, and—most important—effective) is called “Let’s Level the Playing Field.” It is dedicated to “putting women front and center” this year through 1,000 events, $1 million in community support and more.
As REI explains, they feel the outdoor industry hasn’t treated men and women equally and have a plan to hopefully help improve that, through bridging the gear gap, creating and investing in community, and changing the narrative overall. As one of the largest—if not the largest—outdoor retailers, they’re in a good position to do that.
As a female and as someone who loves the outdoors, I obviously think this is fantastic. Anything to get more women comfortable and confident with the outdoor lifestyle is awesome and much needed.
REI includes some compelling stats about how spending time in the outdoors makes a person feel, not only in the moment but also carried over into life indoors. I wholeheartedly agree; it’s a positive force.
Being active, engaging with nature, getting off the grid and oftentimes out of your comfort zone, spending time with family/friends or even by yourself—it all gives you a sense of accomplishment, empowerment, strength, connectedness, peacefulness.
I never really felt intimated by the outdoors being “a man’s world” and rarely thought twice that, as a woman, I couldn’t do something a man could do, but I do think REI is onto something. Like the women they polled for the survey, I also can’t quite think of many female role models off the top of my head when it comes to the outdoors.
I can name male rock climbers, mountaineers, editors, photographers, and so on. I can name some females, but far fewer. And mostly just because I follow them on Instagram. Not because I’ve read about their stories in Outside magazine. (Although REI has also partnered with Outside on its first ever all female issue, out now.)
It’s high time to put a focus on the females who are rocking the outdoor world. It’ll only encourage more women and girls to get involved and get out there. And if I can be a small part of that, I’m all the more excited to somehow/someway help shape the future of the outdoor community… Because the future really is female.