The bearded adventurer of today is not the bearded adventurer of yesterday. Backpacking is out, car camping is in. Standing in the Woodstock mud, out. Floating from tent to Coachella tent, in. So how does REI, the ubiquitous outdoor gear co-op, respond to a market that is changing seemingly by the day? When Urban Outfitters brings its über-cool halo effect to outdoor apparel and nails it with Millennials, when Lululemon is giving the North Face a run for its athleisure money, what should the venerable gear store do?
Well, this spring REI launched its own Millennial line of casual outdoor gear, a product offering so hip it doesn’t need verbs or capital letters. “evrgrn” is a collection of blankets and pop-up tents and Snuggie-style sleeping bags that will look familiar to anyone who’s been to a music festival or visited the Poler Instagram. The brand’s approach to evrgrn has been stealthy so far, with little marketing push, and the response from the outdoor culture has been a bit under the radar, too.
At least one product out of the evrgrn line deserves a shout and that’s the rocking camp chair. Why all camp chairs aren’t rockers is beyond me, because those two little arcs of wood transform a chair from static place to park your bootie to a dynamic comfort zone from which you might never leave.
REI’s modular chair sets up/folds down in about 15 seconds and, unlike so many aluminum-frame camp chairs, is all of a piece (or two) — there’s just the canopy and the legs, which stash in the handy shoulder bag, so the odds of losing a key piece are almost nil. The rockers are long enough for stability, short enough to skooch around camp, and the range of motion runs from far enough forward to stir the dinner pot to reclined and star grazing. Height is about 10 inches off the ground, and weight is a little under six pounds.
The market will decide whether evrgrn makes it, but let’s hope the rocker does—it’s the most comfortable piece of camping gear I’ve tried this summer. $99;rei.com.
$99 • BUY
Read more from Steve Casimiro at his blog, Adventure Journal.
- Nat Geo Expeditions