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Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
REI and Ultralight on 03/09/2010 13:18:15 MST Print View

I've noticed that my local REI here in southern California doesn't stock much of anything in the ultralight genre, and wondered why.

Yesterday I thought of how folks use (and abuse) REI's return policy. Perhaps REI is concerned that ultralight gear would get damaged too often from "normal" use, get returned, and cut into the profit margin?

What do you think?

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: REI and Ultralight on 03/09/2010 13:25:06 MST Print View

Of course.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: REI and Ultralight on 03/09/2010 13:37:27 MST Print View

Hi Stephen,

I suspect store managers have a good amount of control over what they carry on the floor, and they analyze their local markets a good deal when deciding what to stock.

REI does carry lightweight gear on line and conversely, I've seen lightweight gear in stores that isn't available on line.

As to the warranty question--hard to say. In practice the rate of return is surely very low for items that aren't outright defective, and the customer (member) good will generated by the liberal return policy is rather priceless. (To be sure, there have been times when REI customer service has refered me to the manufacturer when an item failed.) Whether they'd ever place a return limitation on, say, a six-ounce full-size backpack is an interesting question and one suspects they'd probably shy away from tackling it altogether.

Cheers,

Rick

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: REI and Ultralight on 03/09/2010 13:46:28 MST Print View

A backpacker friend of mine works at one of the local REI stores. He tells me that there are too many warranty issues with UL gear, so that is why few REI stores stock the stuff. There may be a few items sold online, but the stores mostly don't want to fool with it.

The few things that the stores do stock are items that are less likely to be abused on warranty returns. For example, titanium tent stakes.
--B.G.--

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
REI and Ultralight on 03/09/2010 15:13:41 MST Print View

So much of the coveted UL gear is also manufactured by small companies. no way that they could supply REI.

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
REI and Ultralight on 03/09/2010 20:36:26 MST Print View

The basic problem is one of supply & demand. On this website I think we mistakenly think there are more lightweight & ultralight backpackers than there really are. For instance, on numerous trips on the AT in the Southeastern US over the last several years, I have never encountered another hiker of our persuasion & I'm sure I've seen hundreds of hikers during that time.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
BPL Numbers vs. The World on 03/09/2010 20:38:20 MST Print View

Do we know the subscription numbers for BPL?

Edited by T.L. on 03/09/2010 20:38:59 MST.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
BPL numbers on 03/09/2010 20:45:26 MST Print View

I have asked this question numerous times and never get a reply. Would be cool to know how many, and where we are, just countrywise. No need to be too informative.

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
REI and Ultralight on 03/09/2010 20:54:34 MST Print View

Well, I've been noticing that there are more and more newcomers to Hammock Forums, and most aren't lightweighters. I can't even come close to keeping up with all the posts, whereas on this forum it's mostly just a few of us.

I wonder how many ultralighters that do the forum thing are on this site? I'd say a good percentage is likely registered here, and we know there aren't a lot of active posters on here. Would it be enough to keep a single REI store in business for a month?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: REI and Ultralight on 03/09/2010 23:56:20 MST Print View

To answer the OP, I think it is because most of the UL stuff sits on the shelf. To few inventory turns. Sometimes they have Snow Peak Gigastoves, but most of their customers are buying Jet Boils and MSR multi-fuel stoves. Same goes for other types of gear. I bet if they stocked some quality quilts, they would sell very few.

It is about demand. Few of their customers are interested in UL gear. It is a business decision, and for them probably the correct one.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: REI and Ultralight on 03/10/2010 02:44:09 MST Print View

To be honest, I don't mind if other walkers have 50 lb packs. Doesn't worry me at all. :-)

Yeah, shops hate returns.

Cheers

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Re: REI and Ultralight on 03/10/2010 11:12:34 MST Print View

I second the earlier post about few UL'ers on the trail. In the Grand Canyon this past Fall the vast majority of people we met carried traditional loads. Same on the Wonderland Trail a few years ago, as well as in the Adirondack's and the White Mountains.

Usually on a trip, even a long one, I can count on one hand the number of other people going lightweight (once in a while) or UL (very rare).

And our local mountaineering shop barely has any UL gear at all.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: REI and Ultralight on 03/10/2010 18:08:00 MST Print View

> And our local mountaineering shop barely has any UL gear at all.

Yeah, well, we know how to get the big three from our favoured cottage companies. For the rest - I find a lot of UL thinking can be very simply translated as "you don't need it, so don't buy it or carry it." (Sad about the economy, but ...)

Cheers

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: REI and Ultralight on 03/10/2010 18:14:31 MST Print View

"It is about demand. Few of their customers are interested in UL gear. It is a business decision, and for them probably the correct one."

+1

A couple years back they carried several Inov8 shoes. Not any more.

John Whynot
(jdw01776)

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Re: Re: REI and Ultralight on 03/10/2010 18:54:37 MST Print View

Believe it or not, the local REI is offering a class on "Light and Fast Backpacking Basics". I signed up, but mainly to meet other UL backpackers in the area.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
REI light and fast class on 03/10/2010 18:56:18 MST Print View

It'll be interesting to hear their version of "light and fast." Please post some highlights from the seminar!

R K
(oiboyroi) - M

Locale: South West US
Re: REI and Ultralight on 03/10/2010 19:48:37 MST Print View

I worked at REI. Most customers were not at all interested in lightweight or ultralight. Those terms had a negative meaning in their minds.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: REI and Ultralight on 03/10/2010 20:35:31 MST Print View

I worked at REI. Most customers were not at all interested in lightweight or ultralight. Those terms had a negative meaning in their minds.

To what extent is that a chicken-and-the-egg problem? Most people who know much about ultralight gear know that REI is not the place to go for most of it. Someone like me would not be likely to show up on your radar as a person looking for UL equipment. (I am a member, and do buy other stuff there.)

-- MV

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
REI-Yi-Yi on 03/10/2010 21:13:05 MST Print View

Anyone can put together a pretty lightweight kit at REI but of course the needed bits are lurking in the shadows amongst the mountains of pedestrian stuff. I take it from a glass-half-full point of view that it's there at all, all backed by their customer service policies.

They have all the clothing. They have light packs, shelters, bags, pads, stoves, pots, pans, stuff sacks, lighting, water treatment and storage, and other sundries. Few of these are bleeding edge lightweight but it would be easy to put together a nice lightweight kit from scratch in an hour on the Web site. If you live in the "right" market some of the items are even available in the store.

For the final jump to SUL you'd need to go to DIY or cottage gear makers for several key pieces, and that why we're here :-)

Cheers,

Rick

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: REI-Yi-Yi on 03/10/2010 21:47:25 MST Print View

Agreed, Rick. You could do a good kit at REI. Yes you'd have to go to cottage makers for the final jump, but I think a move to those makers is more than that.

Once exposed to these makers, one begins to appreciate the value of individual thought, design, effort, and innovation. Buying something made by the guy down the block, so to speak, is much cooler than buying from a company investing millions of dollars, mostly focused on their profit margin!