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Girls And Backpacks, Sales Are Up, Think REI

Purchases by female college students are constantly shifting. What was hot a few months ago is not so much now.

That pattern of behavior is so hard to predict and yet, if analyzed properly, new opportunities are created to lucratively tap into the new trend.

Until it changes.


Here is an example.

In October of 2018 the financial media giant forbes.com reported, “In the last several years, the women’s handbag business has been in decline. NPD estimates that 2017 handbag sales were $7.0 billion, down 8% from 2016. The data is remarkably consistent among sources and when you talk to people in the handbag business, they all say how tough it has been. It raises the question: What happened?”

Very good question.

The economy is supposed to be good.

Why are female consumer purchases increasing in other areas but not this one?

There could be many answers to those questions and one possible one is that they are choosing to buy a form or style of back packs as opposed to purses.

At a recent Outdoor Retailer trade show, interesting information was presented about the sales of backpacks and duffel bags.

Sales of backpacks to men are down by 5% (for the 12 months ending May 2018). Sales of children’s backpacks are down even more, by 15%.

Here is the most telling stat regarding women purchasing trends.

Curiously, sales of backpacks to women are up by a whopping 15%. Duffel bag sales are up as well, by 17% for the 12 months ending February 2018.

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Back packs can certainly carry more items, concealed with style.

We sense that because women’s lifestyles have dramatically changed where they have a much more agenda oriented day, a purse that carries makeup, toiletries and niceties are no longer sufficient.

They need a place for their electronic note pads, cell phones (where they won’t get soiled), change of clothes (gym to business, business to gym), healthy snacks thought of ahead of time so that they don’t binge on junk and more.

A pretty purse is no longer the answer.


One manufacturer that is poised to take advantage of the new trend by producing an efficient and stylish quality product is REI.

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One of their back packs are praised at the informative outdoors adventure site outsideonline.com, “Given its two pound 11-ounce weight and low price, our expectations for comfort were low with the Flash 45. But it more than ably supported the test’s 35-pound load, even when I pushed it off-trail and into steep, scrambling terrain. That is a function of what REI calls its “UpLift” compression straps, which keep the bag’s mass from drooping below the hips, cinching it to the rigid internal frame. The straps markedly improved the load’s comfort and stability.”

High praise indeed.

Let’s meet them.

Indoors at their welcoming home rei.com they share their story. “At Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), we love to get outside and play, and we know first-hand the importance of quality outdoor gear. We stand behind all our products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and we design our own line of award-winning REI brand gear and clothing. Whether you’re new to outdoor adventure or a seasoned pro, we gladly share our enthusiasm for our products—and the trails, slopes and waterways where we play.

Each year, REI donates millions of dollars to support conservation efforts nationwide and sends dedicated teams of volunteers—members, customers and REI employees—to build trails, clean up beaches, restore local habitats and more… Through responsible business practices across the company, we strive to reduce our environmental footprint.

What began as a group of 23 mountain climbing buddies is now the nation’s largest consumer cooperative. But no matter how large we grow, our roots remain firmly planted in the outdoors. Our passion for outdoor adventure is clear, whether you visit any of our stores across the country, phone us, or interact with us online.

By staying true to our roots, we’ve earned a place on FORTUNE magazine’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year since the rankings began in 1998. We work hard to earn our reputation for quality and integrity every day.

At REI, we inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.”

Very informative. We are inspired as well.

In particular we liked their sleeping bags for women. They even have one in Swedish Blue.

Here is a description of how you rate the effectiveness of sleeping bags.

“Many sleeping bags are rated for temperature by an independent testing protocol. With both European Norm (EN) 13537 and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 23537 testing, each bag gets a Comfort (or T-Comfort) rating and Lower (or T-Limit) rating. The Comfort/T-Comfort rating is the lowest temperature at which the bag will keep the average “cold sleeper” comfortable, and the Lower/T-Limit rating is the lowest temperature at which the bag will keep the average “warm sleeper” comfortable.

Ratings are based on a person wearing one long underwear layer and a hat, sleeping on a single 1 in. thick insulating pad. Many brands use the Comfort rating for women’s bags and the Lower rating for men’s and unisex bags. Everyone’s body and sleep comfort differ, so EN and ISO ratings are simply a guideline to help you compare products.”

Here are two reviews:

“I purchased this sleeping bag needing something packable for a bike ride across the state of Iowa and a car camping trip out to Glacier National Park. It worked perfectly for both events, and I’m sure it will continue to serve me well. It’s compressible (though I can’t speak to its use with a separate compression bag), but comfort and warmth are not sacrificed. I purchased the “long” bag because I’m 5’8″, and it’s perfect. I only tested the warmth down to about 50°F, but it was superb in that temperature. Additionally, the outside of the bag wipes clean easily (which I know thanks to a fabulous bloody nose). Definitely would recommend.”

And another.

“Can’t say enough good things about this bag!! I love it! I bought a “Sea to Summit 10L” compression sack to make this bag even smaller than the sack it comes with. It compresses very small leaving more room in my pack! Ive used this bag in my hammock as well as in top of my Thearest Neoair All Season pad. Stayed warm (the coldest I’ve tested this bag is about 45°) I also have a North Face Cats Meow women’s bag. The Flash is obviously lighter and packs WAY smaller than Cats Meow. I think I’ll save the Cats Meow strictly for snow trips. The Flash is a great bag for the money. I highly recommend it for the price weight and temp rating.”

We’re convinced. The REI Co-op Flash Sleeping Bag is a keeper.

This 3-season, ultralight women’s specific sleeping bag uses a clever hybrid of water-repellent insulations and waterproof/breathable fabric panels in its double-protection design.

Besides creating fantastic outdoor equipment REI also organizes great outdoor vacations. Did you know that?

Especially for women.

The notion of women being in danger while they are outdoors from stalkers, drug dealers and wild animals is mostly based upon the imagination of motion picture companies.

Those occurrences are extremely rare.

More and more women are becoming comfortable with enjoying outdoor vacations.

You should check them out.

REI Adventures announces new multiday trips in Southern Africa, Europe and National Parks;

Expands women’s collection and adds more entry level trips.

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Nov 21, 2018, 09:05 ET

SEATTLE, Nov. 21, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — REI Adventures, the active adventure travel company of national outdoor co-op REI, has added 30 new trips this year, including South Africa, Mozambique, Portugal, Greece and the United States. The co-op also announced more of its popular women’s trips and options for travelers who prefer a more relaxed pace. The newly launched itineraries add to REI’s collection of experiences that travelers won’t find anywhere else, like the first-of-its-kind mountain bike adventure in Zululand and Mozambique.

“For more than three decades, we have had an unwavering focus on human-powered vacations that explore off-the-beaten-path destinations with local guides who are deeply knowledgeable in their country’s rich history and culture,” says Cynthia Dunbar, general manager of REI Adventures. “Our latest introductions are perfect for anyone looking to discover the world by two wheels, hikers who long to explore history and iconic routes, or animal lovers hoping to witness the big five in their natural habitat.”

South Africa Adventures

During REI’s new nine-day Southern Africa Mountain Biking and Safari – Zululand to Mozambique guests are immersed in vibrant culture, unforgettable wildlife and more. Travelers mountain bike through lush hills and acacia forests, iSimangaliso’s ancient subtropical “sand forest” and UNESCO World Heritage site of Lake St. Lucia; safari in a private conservancy for the big five – lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant; pedal fat bikes on Mozambique’s unspoiled beaches; and snorkel at the pinnacle reefs before enjoying down at a seaside paradise with sweeping views of the Indian Ocean.

For those seeking a relaxed pace and less intensity, Discover Southern Africa – Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta, Cape Town & Kruger is a nonstop reel of bucket-list wildlife sights, walking and gentle cycling through diverse habitats of savannahs, mountains and lush grasslands. The 12-day journey starts in the adventure hub of Victoria Falls with a magical evening cruise to spot elephants, followed by a day hike to take in the thundering falls and rainbow spray. Travelers stay four nights at a private camp in the heart of Southern Africa’s most pristine safari ecosystem where they are delighted by the sights of lions, leopards, wild dog and more. Finally, the group takes a relaxed cycle trip through the famous Cape Winelands.

Trekking and multisport in Europe

Based on the popularity of its Camino de Santiago trek, REI Adventures is adding a seven-day Camino de Santiago – Portuguese Way trip. Together with their local guide, guests hike three historical paths of the Portuguese Camino though shorelines, forests and rural countryside. Culture and epicurean highlights include the exploration of two UNESCO World Heritage sites and local fare that features tapas, fresh-caught seafood and Iberian wine. The epic journey ends in the holy city of Santiago de Compostela. REI is also introducing a seven-day Discover the Heart of Portugal trip that is a gentler pace itinerary where travelers explore the country’s best kept secrets from Lisbon to Porto.

In response to the popularity of its easier active collection, REI is adding Discover Greece – Santorini and Crete, a nine-day sun-soaked trip that is a perfect balance of gentle activity and relaxation. REI’s easier active trips are lower impact and travelers cover fewer miles each day. In Discover Greece, guests experience Santorini by sea and kayak the Cretan coast while stopping to dip their toes in the sand or float in warm waters. They take in fields of olive groves and grapes, then hike along Santorini’s edge with unbelievable sea views and winding coastal paths, and visit the archeological sites of Akrotiri and Knossos Palace. The itinerary immerses travelers in Greek cuisine, including a cooking class.

Popularity of women’s travel

Today, more than half of all REI Adventures travelers are women. The company launched its women’s adventures in early 2017 and today the category is experiencing participation growth of 70 percent. Four new trips join the collection, including Arizona Hiking – Sedona Women’s Adventure, Coastal Carolina Women’s Sea Kayaking, Grand Canyon Women’s Backpack and Yellowstone Women’s Backpacking – Bechler River. The new itineraries are four days in length. As with all of REI’s women’s adventures, small groups are led by female guides and trips blend outdoor activities with local highlights, cuisines and communities that a traveler wouldn’t replicate on her own, including surprises along the way.

About REI Adventures

Award-winning REI Adventures has been a global leader in worldwide guided active adventure trips since 1987. As the travel business for national specialty outdoor retailer REI, the company offers unique itineraries focused on sustainable, human-powered outdoor adventure, including hiking, biking, kayaking, climbing and more. Guests experience iconic destinations as guides take them off the “beaten, common path,” and provide opportunities to explore a destination, get to know the local people, their culture, the flora and fauna and discover things they would not be able to duplicate on their own or with another travel company. REI members receive a special discount price on most trips. For more information, full itineraries and trip reviews provided by guests, visit http://www.rei.com/adventures.


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