REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) is a designer and seller of outdoor recreation services. It is an America-based company that specializes in travel equipment, clothing, and camping gear. Besides that, it also offers services such as outdoor-oriented courses and vacations.
The company was founded in 1938 in Seattle, Washington by Lloyd and Mary Anderson. It has its headquarters based in Kent, Washington.
After 84 years of operation, REI has emerged as one of the leading companies in its field. It has 165 outlets in 39 states. It also takes online orders or via mail.
It has a revenue of $3.1 billion and employs 13,000 people. REI ranks 3rd among its top 10 competitors in terms of revenue. This should give you an idea of how big its operations are.
Despite having several tough competitors, REI has maintained its market position. With that said, let’s walk you through the list of the top REI competitors and alternatives.
Headquarters: West Valley City and Park City, Utah
Founder(s): John Bresee and Jim Holland
Year Founded: 1996
Backcountry.com is an online retailer of outdoor recreation gear and clothing for camping, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, road biking, fly fishing, winter sports, road and trail running, kayaking, rafting, and more.
The company was founded in 1996 by John Bresee and Jim Holland. The duo started an eCommerce business with a collection of avalanche gear. But it quickly became a competitor brand to REI.
Backcountry.com is one of the most profitable retailers of outdoor gear. It offers the best quality lightweight apparel and gear for the long haul.
No matter where you are traveling or what outdoor activity it is, you will always find the right gear and apparel at Backcountry.com to enhance your outdoor experience.
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2. L.L. Bean
Headquarters: 15 Casco Street Freeport, Maine, United States
Founder(s): Leon Leonwood Bean
Year Founded: 1912
L.L. Bean is one of the oldest retail companies specializing in outdoor recreation equipment and clothing. It is a privately held company that was founded to provide top-quality outdoor gear and equipment to customers.
It offers a variety of weather, hiking, and utility boots. Its range of outdoor equipment includes backpacks, firearms, and tents. Today, it has a full line of outdoor clothing, which happens to be its mainstay.
According to the company, it sources its products from both inside and outside the US. Till 2016, its Brunswick, Maine production unit employed people who made the products by hand, such as the L.L. Bean boot, dog beds, backpacks, leather goods, and more.
In 2010, the company created a subsidiary called L.L. Bean Signature which is a modern interpretation of the company’s previous products.
Headquarters: Rockford, Michigan, U.S.
Founder(s): Clark Matis, Randy Merrell, and John Schweizer
Year Founded: 1981
Merrell is a manufacturing company of footwear products based in America. It specializes in high-performance hiking boots. Since 1997, the company has become a fully owned subsidiary of Wolverine World Wide.
It offers a wide range of products including athletic shoes, hiking boots, jackets, sandals, knit caps, hoodies, socks, t-shirts, and gloves. Other commercialized products include stuff sacks, backpacks, and bags.
Although the company was founded in 1981, it delivered its first product to the market in 1983. The shipment was sent to a couple of retailers on the east coast. Besides offering outdoor clothing for men and women, they also have a wide range of products for kids.
Headquarters: Sidney, Nebraska, U.S.
Founder(s): Richard N. Cabela and Jim Cabela
Year Founded: 1961
Cabela’s Inc. is a well-known American retailer and supplier of hunting, boating, camping, shooting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation equipment. The company was established in 1961 and is based in Sidney, Nebraska. In 2017, it was acquired by Springfield, Missouri-based Bass Pro Shops.
Along with online orders, it also receives orders via mail-order catalogs. The orders are shipped to 50 states and 120 different countries. It sold over 120 million catalogs in its first year as a public company.
Currently, it is one of the largest retail facilities in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. The company bought the S.I.R Warehouse Sports Store in Winnipeg in 2007. Later in 2010, it moved the main distribution center and Canadian head office across the city. In early 2012, it opened a new retail business called Cabela’s Outpost Stores.
Headquarters: Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.
Founder(s): Hamilton Carhartt
Year Founded: 1889
Carharrt, Inc. is a 133-year-old American apparel company that specializes in heavy-duty working clothes. It offers a wide range of products such as coveralls, overalls, coats, jackets, shirts, vests, jeans, hunting apparel, and fire-resistant clothing.
It was founded by Hamilton Carhartt in 1889 in Detroit, Michigan, to supply work clothing for manual laborers. It had a humble start with just five workers and two sewing machines. Today, it has emerged as one of the leading companies in the market and employs over 4,000 employees.
Carhartt is a family-owned business with its headquarters based in Dearborn, Michigan. Over the years, the company’s clothing items have been improved. The products are known for extended durability and heavy-duty thread work. Today, Carhartt clothing is mainly found on farms, construction sites, and other job sites.
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Headquarters: Austin, Texas, U.S.
Founder(s): Ryan and Roy Seiders
Year Founded: 2006
YETI Holdings is an American manufacturing company that offers outdoor products such as vacuum-insulated stainless steel drinkware, ice chests, soft coolers, and other related accessories. Compared to other companies on the list, YETI is a fairly new company. It was established in 2006 by Ryan and Roy Seiders.
The company’s revenue is estimated at $1.41 billion in 2021. It became a highly successful company in a very short time. YETI targets niche markets of fishing and water enthusiasts, beach goers, and outdoorsmen. It also sponsored professional hunting and fishing shows.
The company is mainly famous for its high-end and expensive coolers. The Tundra line of coolers is one of the best YETI creations. The most expensive cooler is 82 gallons and it is priced at $1,300.
The Seiders brothers came up with the idea of outdoor coolers because they realized that were no cooler that could keep their catch fresh and cold for a long time. Besides coolers, it offers bags, drinkware, and other outdoor gear.
7. Eddie Bauer
Headquarters: 10401 NE 8th Street, Suite 500, Bellevue, Washington, U.S.
Founder(s): Eddie Bauer
Year Founded: 1920
Next up we have Eddie Bauer, an America-based clothing store chain that was established in 1920 in Seattle. It has three independent channels through which it sells its merchandise – retail stores for premium products, online and phone calls, and outlet stores for low-priced merchandise.
After 20 years of establishment, Eddie Bauer patented the first jacket in 1940. He later patented many other designs. It was the first independent company that was hired by the U.S. Army. Not just that, but the company was permitted to use its logo on the Army uniform as well.
In 1968, the company was sold after Bauer took his retirement. It was bought by General Mills in 1971. This company is not just popular in the United States, but also outside the country.
It employs 7,000 people worldwide and has numerous outlets in multiple countries.
8. Bass Pro Shops
Headquarters: Springfield, Missouri
Founder(s): Johnny Morris
Year Founded: 1972
BPS Direct, L.L.C, which operates as Bass Pro Shops is a privately held retailer based in America. It offers hunting, camping, fishing, and various other outdoor products. The company was founded in 1972 in Springfield, Missouri.
It started operation when Johnny Morris started selling fishing tackle out of his father’s liquor store. It was not before 1981 that Morris opened the first Bass Pro Shops outlet in Springfield. For your information, the company has a separate marine manufacturing division called White River Marine Group.
It includes several off-road and marine brands offering recreational and fishing boats.
At present, it has 40,000 employees and numerous outlets located in various places. Like most other companies, Bass Pro Shops also has an online website.
Customers can easily order and purchase products from the online portal. The “Find a Store” option on the site helps buyers to search for the nearest Bass Pro Shops outlet.
Headquarters: Sunderland, Vermont
Founder(s): Charles F. Orvis
Year Founded: 1856
Orvis is a family-owned retail and mail-order business that offers hunting, fly fishing, and sporting goods. It was founded by Charles F. Orvis in 1856 as a tackle shop in Manchester, Vermont. It is one of the oldest mail-order retailers in America.
Today, the company has 70 retail outlets along with 10 warehouses in the United States. Besides that, it has 18 retail stores in the U.K. In 1965, the company was owned and operated by the Perkins Family. So far it has had five CEOs in its history.
The company is known to offer a wide range of products such as clothing, footwear, accessories, home goods, dog products, backpacks, and more. It offers special discounts for new customers who subscribe to its newsletter.
The discount coupon is sent via email. This is one of the few companies that provide 100% customer satisfaction.
10. Sierra Trading Post
Headquarters: Framingham, Massachusetts, U.S.
Year Founded: 1986
Sierra Trading Post, Inc. operates as Sierra. It is an online and brick-and-mortar business operated by the TJX Companies. Founded in 1986, it specializes in different categories of products such as adventure gear, fitness apparel, outdoor recreation, footwear, home décor, and clothing.
The company owns 46 retail outlets as well as an online website. It carries products from over 3,000 brands and manufacturers.
It was originally founded in Reno, Nevada, and had its headquarters there until 1992. In 2012, it was acquired by TJX Companies for a value of $200 million.
It has set up brick-and-mortar stores in different locations in the U.S. Since it is a part of the TJX group, you will often find a Sierra store near a T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, or HomeGoods.
11. Camping World
Headquarters: Lincolnshire, Illinois
Founder(s): David Garvin
Year Founded: 1966
Camping World Holdings, Inc. is a US-based corporation that deals in recreational vehicles, recreational vehicle service, and recreational vehicle parts. Along with that they also offer camping supplies.
It began operations from a small outlet in Beech Bend Park, so campers at the park could purchase their supplies.
The company was established in 1966 by David Garvin. It became a public traded company in 2016, after raising $251 million in an IPO. It operates through 180 retail outlets in 46 states. Not just that, but it also sells goods through its online website and mail order.
It is one of the world’s largest suppliers of RV parts. It sponsors several entities, such as the Camping World Kickoff and the Camping World Stadium.
It is also the official sponsor of the Camping World Drag Racing Series, Camping World Truck Series, and League Championship Series. The company is now owned by Good Sam Enterprises of Ventura, California.
Headquarters: Madison Heights, Michigan
Founder(s): Bill Schulman, David Jaffe, and Robert Wolfe
Year Founded: 1992
Moosejaw.com is an online and brick-and-mortar company that specializes in outdoor recreation gear and apparel. It offers products for rock climbing, snowboarding, camping, and hiking. The company came into existence in 1992 and is famous for its nonsensical marketing called “Moosejaw Madness.”
The official name of the company is Moosejaw Mountaineering and Backcountry Travel, Inc. Since the time of its establishment, it has shown consistent expansion. Currently, Moosejaw is present in twelve locations, eight of which are in Michigan, one in Colorado, one in Missouri, one in Illinois, and one in Kansas.
Based on the company records, the first Moosejaw store was opened in 1992 in Keego Harbour, Michigan. One of their recent store openings happened in 2021, in Bentonville, AR.
13. The North Face
Headquarters: Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Founder(s): Douglas Tompkins and Susie Tompkins Buell
Year Founded: 1968
The North Face is an American company specializing in outdoor recreation products. It was founded in 1968 in San Francisco, California. It offers outdoor clothing, footwear, and other related products. The company was established to provide outdoor supplies to climbers.
In the 1990s, it expanded its operations beyond outdoor equipment by focusing on streetwear. Since then it emerged as a symbol of streetwear style. The company was acquired by VF Corporation in 2000.
Even though the company is based in America, it operates on a global level. It offers high-quality outdoor equipment and clothing. It sells through numerous outlets and online websites.
It is known to make lightweight and breathable clothing that is perfect for any outdoor occasion. Customers are also offered special discounts for ordering online.
14. Columbia Sportswear
Headquarters: Portland, Oregon
Founder(s): Paul Lamfrom
Year Founded: 1938
The Columbia Sportswear Company is 84 years old. It is an American-based company that specializes in outerwear, footwear, and sportswear. Other than that it also deals in camping equipment, outerwear accessories, headgear, and ski apparel.
Columbia Sportswear is highly popular because of its breathable waterproof jackets. This is what helped the company spike its sales. Some other popular products include interchangeable liners and shells.
It started as a family-owned company but became a public traded entity in 1998. Later in 2000, it acquired footwear manufacturer Sorel, followed by Mountain Hardwear in 2003. However, it didn’t stop there as Columbia acquired the Pacific Trail and Montrail in 2006.
In 2014, it acquired prAna. For your information, it ranked as the largest retailer of ski-based apparel in America in 2001, in terms of gross revenue.
Headquarters: North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Founder(s): Dave Lane and Jeremy Guard
Year Founded: 1989
Arc’teryx is a designer company that specializes in climbing gear and outdoor clothing. It was founded as Rock Solid in 1989 but later changed to Arc’teryx in 1991. It has its headquarters in North Vancouver, along with a local manufacturing unit in New Westminster.
The company has overseas teams based in Shanghai, Munich, and Tokyo. It is currently operating as a subsidiary of Anta, a Chinese sportswear company. The majority of the sales occur through the company-owned stores and other retail outlets.
There are more than 1,000 employees in North America, excluding dealer services, sales, and retail representatives.
Besides offering normal products, the company also aims at the police and military market. While some of the collections are designed for civilians, others are specially made for the military. Arc’teryx also owns a high-end business line called Veilance, which was opened in 2009. It deals in tech-forward and urban-style clothing.
Headquarters: Jacksonville, Florida
Founder(s): Jason McCarthy
Year Founded: 2008
GORUCK is a well-known sporting equipment company based in America. It was founded in 2008 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. The company specializes in rucksacks. Besides that, it also organizes private team-building and public participation events.
Founder Jason McCarthy established this company to make rucksacks that are inspired by the ones used by the U.S. Special Forces. However, rucksacks are not the only things manufactured by the company. It also offers other products like outdoor clothing such as pants, skirts, jackets, caps, etc.
The company also specializes in various accessories, weigh bags, gear carrying cases, water bottles, and carabiners. There are over 150 veterans of the Special Operations and U.S. Special Forces that are employed by the company. It promotes its brand by organizing events called GORUCK Challenges, which are similar to obstacle racing.
Headquarters: Mahwah, New Jersey
Year Founded: 1978
Campmor is an American outdoor recreation equipment company that was founded in 1978. It started its operations in a New Jersey garage. It specializes in outdoor camping equipment and gear.
The company has numerous retail outlets located in various places. However, the order processing facilities and warehousing is done in Mahwah, New Jersey.
In the early years, Campmor was mainly a mail-order company and had just one retail outlet in Paramus, New Jersey. Over the years, the company evolved into a giant online model. It launched its online website in 1998.
According to the company, around 75% of its sales are generated from its eCommerce site, while the remaining percentage comes from mail retail outlets and mail orders.
18. Helly Hansen
Headquarters: Oslo, Norway
Founder(s): Helly Juell Hansen
Year Founded: 1877
Helly Hansen is a Norway-based retailer and manufacturer of sports equipment and clothing. It is a subsidiary of the retail chain Canadian Tire. The company is currently headquartered in Oslo. Previously, it was based in Moss.
After the death of the founder Helly Juell Hansen, the ownership of the company was passed onto his son Leiv Helly Hansen, who is an experienced merchant.
Over the years, the company introduced many unique products that helped it to grow its sales. For example, in 2008, it came up with a 3-layer materialization system that was mainly meant for mountaineers. Later in 2012, the company launched its H2 Flow Jacket, which helps regulate the body temperature of the wearer.
Headquarters: Rockford, Michigan
Founder(s): Mark Paigen
Year Founded: 1989
Chaco is one of the most popular brands of footwear in America. This company is mainly known for its adjustable Z-strap sandals that are specially designed for outdoor use. The best thing about these sandals is that they can also be used near water.
Besides that, it also offers a wide variety of outdoor fashion shoes, boots, flip-flops, and accessories.
The company was founded by Mark Paigen. He wanted to create an outdoor sandal that would keep your feet dry in the sun. He also wanted the sandal to provide support to the foot.
The impressive thing about Paigen is that he took customer feedback too seriously. He consulted a pedorthist to improve the design of the sandals.
When the company was first established, it was named Gecko. But later the name was changed to Chaco. A factory was set up in Paonia, Colorado. In 2008, Chaco products gained huge popularity in the international market. In 2009, the brand was taken over by Wolverine World Wide.
So these are the top competitors of REI. Each of these companies, including REI offers unique products for outdoor recreation.