Outdoor Inclusion

If you’re someone who likes spending time outside, can you remember the first time you realized outdoor recreation was fun? Do you feel comfortable walking around in the woods on a hike, exploring a new climbing crag or taking your mountain bike up a new trail? 

But what if you aren’t comfortable outside? It’s no secret that marginalized communities have never had equal access to the outdoors.

In a recent interview with Be the Change, Backcountry’s CMO, Sarah Crockett recognized that very few things nowadays make us feel truly alive, but the outdoors are something that can do that.

Sarah stated, “When the outdoors aren’t welcoming or accessible —and the experiences are topped off with costs from gear to clothing to travel to admission prices —marginalized and low-income communities have the odds stacked against them to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer.” 

A Step in The Right Direction

Earl B. Hunter Jr, is the founder of a company called, Black Folks Camp Too. Earl began his career working in the RV industry where he quickly realized the lack of African Americans in the outdoors. Not long after, Earl and his son took a three month road trip camping in almost 50 campgrounds across the US and saw only one other African American family. Earl then made it his personal mission to increase diversity in the outdoor space.

In Earl’s words, “Black Folks Camp Too (BFCT)  is a marketing-driven business whose mission is to increase diversity in the outdoor industry by making it easier, more interesting and more fun for Black folks to go camping.” 

Today, Black Folks Camp Too is a widely known company that partners with outdoor brands, shares educational content about how to camp and even provides worthwhile camping destinations. BFCT provides a variety of scholarships for outdoor learning and donates to other inclusivity related companies. 

Earl is just one of many people who has seen that not all people have equal access and exposure to being outside. In a recent interview with Outside, Earl stated, “I hope this is one step in the right direction of getting marginalized communities outdoors.”

And Earl isn’t Alone. 

A Movement Headed in the Right Direction

Many outdoor brands are taking steps to address those that have historically been left out of the conversation when it comes to being outside. While the following are just small steps in decreasing gaps in equality and education, these steps still matter. 

Outdoor Research launched the industry’s first plus size clothing line. Athleta recently expanded their line of plus size clothing as well. 

Backcountry launched a pride clothing collection. 

Black Diamond committed to spending $250,000 to support people of color spending time outside. 

The North Face spent 1.5 million in the last two years supporting inclusive initiatives like Outdoor Afro, and PGM one.

Outside.com promoted plus size adventure influencers to address the barrier that exists for plus sized people in the outdoors.

Gregory developed their first line of backpacks for plus size hikers in collaboration with an organization called Unlikely Hikers that supports body liberation & anti-racism in the outdoors. 

Merrell is working to develop the first line of genderless shoes. (Anyone want to spearhead genderless clothing next?)

Individuals are speaking up too. There are hundreds of examples but one influencer, Drew, advocates for climbing being for everyBODY, and is now sponsored by Black Diamond and La Sportiva. Checkout his videos, they’re entertaining and encouraging. 

What can YOU do?

Participate in the conversation. An article from Be the Change States, “Young people are demanding diversity and inclusion on all levels, leading a cultural shift that will only continue to prevail and set the standards for brand imperatives. More than 80% of people under age 30 agree, are willing to support, or reject, brands based on how they take action.”

It’s likely that someone else showed you a new outdoor sport, dragged you out for your first night of camping, or showed you all the peace, self-confidence and self-discovery that the outdoors can offer. So, be the friend that invites someone else into the outdoors. Take someone camping, show a neighbor a new hike, educate those you spend time with how to treat the outdoors with care and know that Peace Surplus supports you doing so! 

P.S. We finally have extended sizes in stock from Outdoor Research! Come check them out!