MeatEater Inc. Acquires First Lite, Adds Hunting Retail to Growing Portfolio

With its latest acquisition of the popular hunting brand First Lite, MeatEater Inc. continues to pave new roads toward what it means to be an outdoor lifestyle brand in the hunting industry.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Steven Rinella’s MeatEater continues to shift, grow, and change — as it has since its inception. But with the recent eight-figure venture capital funding round from bigwigs like the Chernin Group, the buying power of the brand is proving to be both powerful and fruitful. And in a move that broadly expands its portfolio, MeatEater’s acquisition of First Lite both diversifies and solidifies a stake in the outdoor industry.

MeatEater Adds First Lite to Growing Portfolio


Until now, MeatEater has focused on bringing influencer brands beneath its umbrella. Popular podcast brands like April Vokey’s Anchored and Mark Kenyon’s Wired to Hunt both signed on early, among others. And while it may seem out of left field, adding First Lite to the repertoire is a move based on a relationship that’s been nearly a decade in the making.

“I’ve been a devoted First Lite consumer for almost a decade,” said Rinella. “First Lite was a sponsor of the MeatEater TV show from the very beginning, and I’ve been loyal to them ever since. I love their products, conservation ethos, and knowledgeable customer service. What’s more, the crew at First Lite is comprised of dedicated and diehard hunters and anglers who spend a ton of time in the field living a lifestyle they believe in.”

The push to add high-end hunting apparel defines a gear-focused niche for MeatEater’s deeply engaged audience. And it’s safe to say this audience has a lot of crossover with First Lite’s deeply engaged consumers.

What This Means for First Lite

MeatEater CEO Kevin Sloan will be overseeing the integration of First Lite into the MeatEater realm. And, with this transition, the diehard First Lite community is sure to have some questions about what this means for their favorite brand.

“We don’t have intent to change the company; there’s nothing to fix. First Lite is still First Lite,” Sloan told GearJunkie. “The brands will work together. And First Lite will be able to leverage the media side of our house, as well as the wealth of knowledge we have with social media and branding experts like Tracy Crane and Josh Preston.”

The retail brand’s operations will remain in Ketchum, Idaho, and its current employees remain an integral part of the brand. And First Lite’s relationships with current brand ambassadors and athletes like Born and Raised Outdoors and Hushin will continue to evolve and develop.

Expanding Experiences and Product

And, of course, the new relationship aims to be beneficial to both ends. For MeatEater, the continuation brings new opportunities to add both unique products and experiences to its consumer base. And First Lite founder Kenton Carruth expanded on what it means for his young and growing brand.

“We’ve worked closely with Steven Rinella for almost 10 years, partnering to promote conservation and supply quality gear and apparel for those who love the outdoors and want to protect it,” said Carruth.

“We’ve seen the significant impact Steve has had on the First Lite business as an endorser and are confident that deepening our relationship and integrating into MeatEater’s expanding content offerings will help us reach more customers and produce even better products.”

Nicole Qualtieri

Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.