*I was not paid by REI or any affiliates do write this. However, I work for one of their flagship stores so I am totally (rightfully) bias.
Why you should be a member of REI if you’re planning a thru-hike
1. The example they set
You might have heard the news right now. On one of the biggest shopping days of the year, REI has made a decision to close its doors. On Black Friday, 27 November 2015, REI will be closed. I got an email last night before the news went viral and I was ecstatic. I live in Colorado but my family is back in Georgia. I have not had all my siblings and my dad in one room for years. And unfortunately, Thanksgiving was going to be another holiday I would miss because one of my three jobs is in retail and you just can’t go home. And then I got this email… Not only am I not working, but REI is PAYING its employees to opt to be outside rather than in the aisles. REI wants its employees to lead the way and set an example for returning to the home we have in nature with our friends and family. Other companies, like Patagonia, are joining in the spirit and inviting people to celebrate what they already have this holiday. I am proud of this company. I am so grateful to work for them. I am grateful I am a member and therefore a co-owner of this beautiful co-op. But I am more grateful for the example that they are setting. Part of my reasoning for attempting a thru-hike is to rid myself of a lot of things that I see as necessities that are really just wants and comforts. Taking a bold step to close its doors and encourage others to get back outside with loved ones is courageous.
They are authentic about their passion to the outdoors. They are donating 5.9 million dollars this year to the wellbeing of trails across the country, including parts of the Appalachian Trail, promoting the idea that Every Trail Connects – and so do we.
2. They fit you for shoes
Guys, I was wearing completely the wrong shoes. Not only was a wearing the wrongs size, I was wearing the COMPLETELY wrong size. I have thin, long feet. (Not freakishly so, but ya know). I was wearing a shoe that has a wider last, so to make it fit I was wearing a smaller size. I lost toe nails. It’s been ugly. The right shoes will change your life. You can know of a great brand that your friends swear by. But they could still be all wrong for you. You should go somewhere and get fitted, even if it’s not REI.
3. Cash back on your investment
Thru-hikers can spend $2,000 on the gear they need for the journey. With REI, $20 makes you a member for life. Part of the benefit of being a co-owner of the company is that you get 10% back on all your purchases. That means $200 would be yours. REI also has member only deals and sales. One of their most popular is the Garage Sale. Items that have been returned or slightly used are resold by the store at ridiculous discounts. I bought my Big Agnes tent from one of these sales — It was originally $400 and the original owner used it ONCE and returned it because he decided to opt for a bigger tent so I bought it at the Garage Sale for $109. The money you would save would be well worth the 20 dollar investment.
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