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 Edition 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.