US retail chain REI - with 69 outdoor recreation product stores nationwide - commissioned a survey to find out more about the gender-specific kit requirements of women. "Do you run like a girl? If you're one of the nearly 17 million women across the country that participate in outdoor recreation, the answer is likely a proud 'yes,'" says REI. "You also ski, snowboard, bicycle, backpack and climb like a girl -- and the outdoor industry is taking notice."

REI survey reveals women’s perceptions of gender-specific bikes, apparel and kit

A survey conducted for Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), the US retail cooperativ, shows a majority of women who enjoy the outdoors want gender-specific outdoor gear. In fact, 36 percent believe such gear designed specifically for women can enhance their performance. Although 90 percent of both men and women polled were aware that bicycle designs are gender-specific, far fewer knew about gender-specific designs for sleeping bags, hydration packs and other outdoor equipment.

REI produces an own-brand line of women-only gear and apparel. The co-op is also experimenting with women-focused outdoor recreation clinics at several of its retail stores, and recently launched the Women’s Gear and Clothing section of, an online shop developed to help women find the gear and information they need to pursue their outdoor activities.

The nationwide telephone survey was conducted by Western WATS Market Research on behalf of REI and included 832 American adults, 18 years of age or older, including 500 women, who participated in outdoor activities at least four times in the last year.


More men, 56 percent, describe themselves as "very confident" when making outdoor gear purchases; 44 percent of women say this.

Ninety percent of both men and women are aware of gender-specific bikes, while awareness of hiking poles, sleeping bags and pads, and hydration packs drops to about 35 percent for both genders.

Thirty-six percent of women say gender-specific gear would improve their performance, with 14 percent saying that gender-specific gear would likely increase their frequency of outdoor activity.

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