This post is sponsored by REI, but thoughts and opinions are my own.
Rock a Boat. Start a Fire. Be a Force of Nature.
Well the boat was certainly rocking. White-knuckling the paddle, I tried to ride the waves rather than fight, but they seemed to be coming from every direction. The waves were bouncing off the high canyon walls and swirling down the side canyon, while the gusts were catching my paddle, tipping me off balance as I tried to recall a time I felt more frightened.
When I look back at my life, it is times like these that I feel most alive and well darn right happy. Times like battling waves down a side canyon in Glen Canyon, stumbling upon ancient ruins in Cedar Mesa, wandering through Joshua Trees in the Mojave, or spending countless hours running the hills near my house with my dog bounding through the wildflowers up ahead. I cherish these adventures and often lose track of time experiencing only what is in front of me at that moment.
REI recently commissioned a national study on women and the outdoors and found that “More than 85% of all women surveyed believe the outdoors positively affects mental health, physical health, happiness and overall well-being, and 70% reported that being outdoors is liberating.”
For me, the outdoors is liberating indeed! Without my daily dose of outside time, I feel sluggish, more stressed, and am overall less pleasant to be around. Lucky for me, I have miles of trails nearly in my backyard and live close to so many beautiful places to explore. Had I not “discovered” the outdoors, I don’t know who I would be.
Getting more women outside is unfortunately not without obstacle, REI also found that 63% of women said they could not think of an outdoor female role model and that is SAD! I have Anna Frost, Jenn Shelton, Emelie Forsberg, Krissy Moehl, and many more. There are so many women doing so many amazing things right now.
Sadly a high percentage of women feel like their interests in the outdoors aren’t taken as seriously as men’s. I will never forget a conversation I had with a certain ski boot rep. I had inquired about finding a lightweight ski mountaineering boot in my size and he just laughed and said that maybe I can get into ski mountaineering when they start making gear for kids. I was so angry. I am not a child, I just have small feet. A simple “we unfortunately are not making your size in these boots yet” would have sufficed. My feet may be small, but I can ski!
I feel like equality in the outdoors has come a long way, but we still have a ways to go and that is why I am so excited about an initiative from REI to make women front and center by investing in stories, adventures, and opportunities for women for the rest of this year. REI recognizes the quality and availability gap in women’s gear and is working with several companies to close that gap hopefully meaning I will have more ski boot options (and a little more respect perhaps) in the coming years – yay!