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My name is Hannah and I’m addicted to Instagram. Lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) for me, my internship with SNEWS is supporting my addiction with this assignment: finding the most inspiring retailer shop Instagram feeds. As a millennial and outdoor newbie on a mission, I spent hours scrolling through thousands of hashtags and accounts until my thumbs hurt. After hours of searching, I came up with five outdoor gear shop accounts that deserve a follow, each with their own unique style, aesthetic, and mission.
Criteria to make this list included creative nature and action shots, how attractive each grid was, and how the account showed off the character of each shop. Even if I was just sitting at my desk, these five accounts provided me with a burst of wanderlust and inspiration to get outdoors and chase these adventures for myself.
- 2,169 followers
The colorful and crisp layout of Alite Outpost’s Instagram account was both soothing and enticing to my millennial eyes. Catered to young city-dwellers and hipsters, the Outpost definitely isn’t the outdoor gear shop that most seasoned outdoors experts are used to. The Outpost is the flagship store for Alite Designs, a brand of fashionable and affordable outdoor and camping gear, and also includes other brands, as well as a bakery and art gallery. As I scrolled through, looking at the young, beautiful people going on hikes or having gathered around a campfire with their minimalist backpacks, I thought Hey, I want to do this too! Yes, none of the gear featured would probably do well on an intense backpacking trip, and it’s usually not recommended to wear jeans on a hike, but as an outdoor newbie, the posts still inspired me to get outside with friends.
Outdoor Gear Exchange
- 10,300 followers
Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington, Vermont, is all about getting everyone outside, even newbies like myself. Whether it’s rock climbing (not for me) or chilling in a hammock (definitely more my style), the store’s Instagram features people enjoying all kinds of outdoor activities, no matter their age, gender or experience. Not only does the store sell both new and consignment outdoor gear at affordable prices, but they also carry over this mission to social media, encouraging Instagram followers to use their hashtag, #EveryonesWilderness. The store’s Instagram stays true to this hashtag, with inspiring photos of everyone from customers to employees living it up in the wild.
- 11,500 followers
For 30 years, Rock/Creek Outfitters has supplied Tennessee adventurers with the tools and gear they need to get outdoors. Many of the retailer’s most recent Instagram posts have been dedicated to celebrating this milestone, with everything from #TBTs to goofy shots of employees in a rainbow of plaid. I liked that unlike many of the other accounts I looked at, Rock/Creek included shout-outs to hard-working staff members, as well as shots of employees helping out customers. If I’m by chance ever in Tennessee in need of gear and outdoor advice, I now know that I would be welcomed as a newbie by Rock/Creek.
- Followers: 5,616
Question: What do you get when you combine trendy New York street style with quality outdoor gear? Answer: Paragon Sports’ kick-ass Instagram account. Scrolling through their snapshots of people staying active outdoor in NYC, I was reminded that you can still find adventure even if you are deep in the concrete jungle. The store also does a great job of featuring outdoor and fitness personalities popular on Instagram (including Venus Williams!) to promote their store and products. Also, compared to some of the other accounts I looked at, Paragon Sports featured the most diverse cast of models and adventurers.
- Followers: 1.7 million
While I tried to focus my search efforts on smaller, local shops, of course I had to include powerhouse REI on this list. First off, their photography is drop dead gorgeous, and is often reposted from or credited to other outdoorsy Instagrammers, which led me further down the outdoor Instagram rabbit hole. The feed also includes camping recipe videos and teasers for their short and powerful films that are sure to give you goose bumps. REI has also left a mark on the outdoor shop Instagram game with their viral and meaningful hashtags. These include the popular #optoutside, which originated as a campaign in 2015 to encourage people to go outside on Black Friday, and #forceofnature, which highlights and supports women and girls in the outdoors. Never underestimate how a good grid and hashtag can start a powerful movement!