New REI Women: Force of Nature Initiative
Outdoor co-op REI recently launched a comprehensive effort to advance gender equity in the outdoors, encouraging millions of its members to embrace it as “the world’s largest level playing field.” From gear to experiences and from nonprofit partnerships to powerful women-first storytelling, Force of Nature aims to ensure that women are just as inspired and equipped as men to embrace life outside.
Force of Nature features four components: a comprehensive effort to change the male-dominated imagery of people in the outdoors; a $1 million commitment in 2017 to support nonprofits that create opportunities for women in the outdoors; a stepped-up effort to develop and offer high-quality technical gear and apparel for women; and the launch of more than 1,000 events designed for women throughout the summer, including weekly Force Wednesdays in the DFW Metroplex.
The REI North Texas Outdoor School instructors conduct classes and programs such as Women’s Thru Hiking Basics at Dallas REI to connect with other female hikers and REI to get an overview of thru hike planning, preparation and gear; and Women's Hands on Bike Maintenance: Trail & Roadside Repair at Fort Worth REI. Where a small group of women will learn what to do on their ride when the unexpected happens and work on a bike as an instructor shares tips and tricks to help triage the situation in the field.
There is also women-only Women’s Backpacking Basics at Fort Worth REI to get an overview of backpacking planning, preparation and gear; and a Force of Nature celebration at Grapevine Brewery, where participants hear from a panel of women of diverse backgrounds that have tossed convention aside to embrace the sweat, dirt and reward of living a life outdoors. It features music, food and beer.
The co-op will host three REI Outessa retreats in breathtaking mountain settings. These immersive, three-day outdoor adventures enable women to find their outdoor community, do what they love and try something new in the country’s most beautiful outdoor playgrounds. Retreats are scheduled at Kirkwood Mountain Resort, in California, from July 14 through 16, Mt. Hood, in Oregon, from August 18 through 20, and Waterville Valley Resort, in New Hampshire, from September 22 through 24.
REI published a national study commissioned to better understand the role the outdoors plays in women’s lives and how the outdoors is perceived today. It found that seven out of 10 women believe that they are under more pressure to conform than men, and that they also view the outdoors as an antidote to that pressure. Additionally, the study discovered that more than 85 percent of women see the outdoors as key to better physical and mental health, and overall well-being; 73 percent say they would like to spend more time outdoors.