Outdoor Afro x REI hiking collection celebrates black joy in nature

For many people of color who love the outdoors, especially black people, finding clothes that both fit comfortably and reflect their unique and colorful sense of fashion can be difficult. Outdoor Afro founder Rue Mapp, herself an outdoor enthusiast, often found options were limited for people like her. So Mapp has teamed up with outdoor retailer REI Co-op to create a 22-piece hiking collection that not only appeals to all sizes and body types, but also celebrates the dark joy in nature.

Outdoor Afro, Mapp’s longtime nonprofit that celebrates and inspires black relationships and leadership in nature, began its relationship with REI 13 years ago to help address the lack of black representation in outdoors. This first release of the new multi-year collection marks the launch of Mapp’s latest venture, Outdoor Afro, Inc., a long-delayed for-profit business venture.

“I always felt like I had this wonderful connection to REI at the management level, as well as at the store level,” says Mapp. “While I wanted to see our logo on gear and gear, it was important to me that it was high quality but also relevant to our community. From size and color to style and fit. use, the vision was still there for Outdoor Afro to meet the need for more gear and gear specifically for the outdoor black community.

Outdoor Afro, Inc. and REI have worked closely to create a line that everyone can feel comfortable in, from the curly-haired hiker who struggles to find hoodies that stay in place to the curvy or plus size outdoor enthusiast who needs a little extra flexibility in clothing. Colors and patterns are bright and vibrant – the opposite of the neutral hues found in most hiking gear – and pay homage to funky 80s and 90s fashion: think bright orange, to green, teal and yellow. Made from durable materials, the pieces are lightweight to aid breathability, but also provide extra stretch to hug all body types in all the right places.

“The thing about this collaboration is that it’s different from other product launches we do,” says Scott Mosher, Creative Director of Brand for REI. “Rue definitely brought a specific vision, inspired by how she grew up in the 80s and 90s. We knew it needed to be more expressive and represent joy and the way we want to feel in nature. But it also had to be functional and super stylish. Everything in the collection uses recycled materials or Bluesign, because we’re always looking to create things with as little impact as possible. That was also important for Rue.

The hiking collection, which launched online and in stores this month, includes everything from hiking pants and waterproof jackets to colorful backpacks and water bottles that showcase America’s beaches and recreational destinations that play a significant role in black history – Martha’s Vineyard’s The Inkwell, Sag Harbor, Idlewild Beach, and more. Prices for clothing and accessories range from $40 to $179 and $7 to $15, respectively. Pants sizes range from 28-50 for men and 0-26 for women, while tops and jackets range from XS (for women) or S (for men) to 3XL.

One of my personal favorites from the drop is the teal and black color block leggings – they are super soft and have side pockets to store the phone or any other items you need while hiking, as well as a drawstring at the waist for a perfect fit. Another great piece is the yellow, white and teal patterned half-zip fleece, which features a small Outdoor Afro and REI co-branded logo patch on the upper left sleeve and a branded zipper as well. Hiking boots, which look more like high-top sneakers but still offer plenty of support on the trail, are lightweight and comfortable yet stylish, and can easily be worn as everyday shoes. Shop more pieces from the Hike 2022 collection below.

Outdoor Afro x REI Co-op Quarter Zip Sweatshirt

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Outdoor Afro x REI Co-op 7/8 Leggings

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Afro x REI Co-op Flash Outdoor Hiking Boots

Outdoor Afro x REI Co-op Trail 2 Waist Bag

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Outdoor Afro x REI Co-op Trail Shorts

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Outdoor Afro x REI Co-op Trail Tee

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