Black Friday: REI Says Opt-Outside, but I Won’t

Black Friday: To Opt-Outside, or to Shop?

As November has begun, people are starting to think about what they’re thankful for. With November comes Thanksgiving, and with Thanksgiving comes Black Friday. Any outdoorsman knows that REI’s successful Opt-Outside campaign is challenging the idea of Black Friday. Many will spend the day after Thanksgiving outside. As much as I wish I could be one of them, I will not be.

Don’t get me wrong, I would choose spending time outside over spending money any day. The Opt-Outside campaign means good with their anti-consumerism message. Their inspirational stickers, photos and videos promoting the event like this one offer a diverse cast. While I do appreciate their effort to level the playing field in Outdoor Public Lands through programs like Force of Nature, their Opt-Outside campaign may do the opposite. 

On the day of the biggest sales of the year, it may be misplaced.

To lower income consumers, these sales are an easier way to buy things on a budget- not only outdoor gear, but everyday items from microwaves to socks. Opt-Outside ignores this, and encourages the image of the elite outdoors-y lifestyle. (I’m not even going to mention how expensive quality, brand name gear excludes people from outdoor activities). I am not saying that shoppers who are able to buy items full priced should not spend the day outside. I just want those of you who will be opting outside this year to acknowledge your privilege over lunch, whether it be mid bike ride, hike, or ski run.

With my PCT hike on the horizon, I won’t be opting outside this Black Friday, (or, I might add, Cyber Monday). I’m already pinching pennies everywhere else I can. To keep this post on track about my thru-hike, here is a list of things I’m hoping that I can save a few dollars on that one weekend.

Here are the 10 things I still need:

  1. Outdoor Research Helium ll: I recently just bought this rain jacket as an XS on an REI clearance rack. Shortly after I remembered tI need a S if I wanna fit my puffy underneath it.
  2. Julbo Glacier Sunglasses: My uncle is an optometrist and won’t let me hike in the Sierra’s without a pair.
  3. Kahtoola Micro SpikesApparently it is supposed to be another heavy snow year in 2018.
  4. Ice Axe: Either this Camp Corsa or this Black Diamond Raven. I may wait till February or March of next year to decide if I even need/want one.
  5. Bear Bin: I will probably try to buy this second hand.
  6. Headlamp: I’d like to find a rechargeable one that hopefully has a red light setting.
  7. Sun Umbrella: Still deciding if I want this guy, but it sounds like a good idea to stay cool in the desert.
  8. Altra Lone Peak (x4): I may have to hold off on these to see what size my feet swell into.
  9. Trekking Poles: I’m still deciding which ones to buy, but my Hiker Hunger pair won’t cut it. They like to unlock themselves.
  10. Fancy Camera: This is a luxury item that I will only act on is I find a good deal. I would like to get a Sony A6000 or Sony A5000, it honestly just depends on how much money I can save before April.
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Comments 4

  • George Turner : Nov 10th

    You will definitely need sunglasses. It can be a shocking amount of white to deal with! You can get very odd sunburns off the snow too

  • CK : Nov 10th

    Let’s take back the full paid day for all 10K REI employees the day after Thanksgiving so Liliana can get the new lightest rain jacket. Biggest eye-roll ever

    • Liliana Hallman : Nov 10th

      I included my shopping list so that the post would stay on track as a thru-hiking blog. I’m sorry if I offended you. I know there are other opinions out there, I just decided to write mine. And is it really that bad to want the lightest thing for a reasonable price in my minimum-wage budget? I think that REI’s Opt-Outside tradition calls attention to bad consumerism habits and I’m glad that they pay employees for a day off, but I also think that it ignores lower income consumers. I have just found an opinion article by Donald C. Welch, ( that may put how I’m feeling into better words:

      “But Black Friday has a genuine purpose #optoutside is ignoring, it helps people who can’t afford to buy products at their usual prices purchase them at a more affordable rate. In that way it puts power in the hands of the average, and often below-average, income shopper. While it’s true that physically being outside is free, and that parks have begun participating in the day by waiving admission fees, the kind of gear required to safely go on long hikes, climbs, or other serious ventures have become increasingly expensive over the years, making the outdoors more and more unattainable for Americans below a certain income and, subsequently, a more exclusive experience.”

      That was my point of the post. Yes, they should continue the tradition on Opting Outside. I think it is a better alternative than spending a day waiting in line for a silly expensive gift for you’re sister. But some shoppers need household items and appliances at affordable prices. I realize now that this may not have been the best platform for this post, but I have been thinking about this for a while now and I wanted to get it in writing. If you don’t agree, it is okay.

  • Gretchen : Nov 10th

    I too understand the matrix of being 18 and wandering off to the horizon of solitude and adventure. Then it was whatever I could scrounge up between friends and the local thrift shops, light weight “NO”. But none the less I was able to fulfill my need of the wilderness and share these extended times with a multitude of like minded folks. With that I can understand Liliana’s thoughts, but in the years and miles since and of coarse the hard work in between adventures, the thought of thumbing your nose at corporate greed and having an excuse to bail on society and enjoy the outdoors, this I LOVE. The mind set of such a company and the financial shot they take should be commended, surly greed lies in there somewhere but it seems hard to find. When I grow up and choose what I want to be, I will be a REI employee, at least part time. If able physically WANDERING like a nomad will be the goal.

    Liliana, enjoy the times that lay in front of you even if it weights a few more ounces



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