Sierra Designs continues its Reach Out initiative to provide gear and web sales to organizations that promote inclusion and diversity in the outdoors.
Sierra Designs chose four organizations working to boost participation and access to the outdoors among underrepresented communities. As the brand summarizes, its Reach Out program involves “four organizations, one mission.”
Each quarter, Sierra Designs will support an organization that’s already working to break down barriers to outdoor recreation. Specifically, the brand will help those organizations and their outreach efforts financially, with gear, and by raising awareness. Sierra Designs continues to donate gear to other like-minded nonprofits as well.
About Sierra Designs
Sierra Designs has been making outdoor gear since 1965. Founding partners Bob Swanson and George Marks met at The Ski Hut in Berkeley, Calif. They shared a vision of quality gear for everyone — regardless of their outdoor experience.
The brand’s backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags were inspired by the duo’s own adventures as well as innovative ways to make gear easier to use.
Over the decades, Sierra Designs pioneered several designs, many of which are patented (or pending). For instance, it introduced swift clips for faster tent setup back in 1982. Its current line of outdoor products continues to showcase innovative designs like unique backpack frame architecture, zipperless sleeping bags, and, yep, those swift clips on tents.
Recent products have drawn praise from outdoor publications such as GearJunkie. Last year the brand’s Flex Capacitor backpack made our roundup of the best ultralight backpacks. This year, the Sierra Designs Down Booties maintained a high ranking in our best down booties testing.
Sierra Designs began with a mission to “create beautiful, functional, and attainable gear for adventurers of all backgrounds, experience levels, and budgets.”
It has built upon that ethos with its Reach Out program. It’s a way to highlight and sponsor more grassroots organizations working to expand diversity and inclusion in the outdoor space.
Sierra Designs Reaches Out
Since 2020, Sierra Designs’ Reach Out program has donated nearly $40,000 in gear and proceeds from online sales to eight nonprofits dedicated to improving economic, societal, and education access for underrepresented groups in the outdoors.
The brand will support one each quarter, with the partner organizations receiving $2,000 in product donations and 1% of web sales. Additionally, Sierra Designs says it will provide education, event support, and help raise awareness for each.
These organizations share a goal to help others break down barriers like access to the outdoors as well as obtaining essential gear. Socially, they promote inclusion through gender, sexuality, or race to grow the outdoor community.
Sierra Designs and the partners feel that the experience and knowledge gained through communing with the outdoors provide a foundation for future outdoor leaders.
‘Reach Out’ Program Partners
LGBT Outdoors states its mission is “to connect the LGBTQ+ community to the outdoors and to each other.”
This network of peers seeks to provide support, encouragement, and guidance to connect fellow members to find enjoyment in nature. Part of this means feeling safe outdoors as well as developing new skills.
LGBT Outdoors showcases the variety of activities its members participate in to break down stereotypes that the broader outdoor industry has traditionally reinforced.
The organization has chapters in the U.S., Canada, and Italy, It also fosters community through an ambassador program and online events.
Founded in partnership with Vail Resorts, SOS Outreach has transformed the lives of over 80,000 underserved youth since 1993. The organization provides access to outdoor adventure, adult mentorship, and leadership development.
SOS Outreach creates outdoor experiences that present challenges along with support and guidance to overcome them. These experiences foster developmental skills that can pay off throughout life; these challenges begin with learning a new skill, like skiing or snowboarding. The goal is to introduce a sense of accomplishment in a fun way.
From there, mentorship periods emphasize building skills as well as teaching core values like discipline, compassion, humility, and integrity. Eventually, youth can mentor peers and pass on the knowledge they’ve learned.
With 15 locations across nine states, the organization serves 3,000 youth each year.
Outdoor Asian has a mission is “to create a diverse and inclusive community of Asian & Pacific Islanders in the outdoors.”
To accomplish that, the group organizes locally based outings and workshops to help create a platform for future Asian and Pacific Islander leaders in the outdoor recreation and environmental sectors.
Its website and online community are a space to share experiences and opinions on nature and ecology. Its core values include increasing access to outdoor recreation and building solidarity with Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ/queer/trans communities.
By fostering the representation of more Asian peoples in the outdoors, the group hopes to both grow the community but also challenge traditional narratives of the outdoors and conservation.
Its educational component seeks to promote several ways of knowing and experiencing our environment, from evidence-based scientific methods to more spiritual and cultural knowledge.
Outdoor Asian has Facebook groups to stay up to date with each region’s group activities, meetings, and volunteer efforts.
Women’s Wilderness has a mission “to support girls, women, and LGBTQ+ people in accessing their power and improving their health through connections to the outdoors and community.”
That goal starts with guiding group members through outdoor experiences that can both challenge and humble them. A variety of outings will bring members into nature for hikes, nature and conservation education, and some more adventurous activities like climbing and whitewater rafting.
These activities introduce outdoor-related skills and knowledge, as well as interpersonal skills, in a setting where acceptance is expected. Women’s Wilderness measures the impact of these experiences by the changes they bring to participants’ behavior, attitude, knowledge, and status.
It also hosts afterschool and summer programs. There, its mentors look for positive changes in our four key areas: mental health, physical health, leadership development, and environmental stewardship.