REI, Adventure Projects Split: App Founder Teases Big Announcement

Adventure Projects — the suite of outdoor recreation apps for mountain bikers, climbers, trail runners, and more — will part ways with REI, both businesses confirmed.

Anyone who regularly takes to the crags or trails most likely has seen or used an Adventure Projects app. First launched in 2006 with Mountain Project, the apps — which now include MTB Project, Hiking Project, Powder Project, Trail Run Project, and National Park Trail Guide — provide rich, detailed maps, conditions, and user-vetted beta for popular (and not-so-popular) outdoor recreation destinations.

The apps became so popular, in fact, that in 2015, REI Co-op acquired Adventure Projects. And for the last 5 years, the network has grown and improved.

“They supported our growth really well for 5 years, including a huge amount of new content and an all-new codebase written from the ground up,” Adventure Projects founder and CEO Nick Wilder told us. “It’s a great company that does an awful lot for its employees and nonprofits, especially compared to other retailers.”

However, that will soon change. In a forum post to Mountain Project this week, Wilder not-so-subtly hinted that the seemingly prosperous partnership was coming to an end.

“Hi folks, I’m psyched to announce that I’m back at the helm of Mountain Project (and the other Project sites),” Wilder wrote. “There will be a big partnership announcement in the next few weeks related to this transition — one which I think will be very good for all climbers.”

REI subsequently confirmed to GearJunkie that it “chose to wind down the Adventure Projects platform” in the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on our business and prompted us to reevaluate our priorities across the co-op,” REI told GearJunkie.

“Adventures Projects is a great resource, and we are happy with how the co-op community has helped contribute to the platform over the past 5 years.”

Adventure Projects Leaves REI, Hints at ‘Major Partnership’ Announcement

According to both parties, the 5-year partnership was mutually beneficial and amicable. So too was the divestment.

“It was very mutual,” Wilder said of the split. “REI cares about the products and communities and wants to make sure they continue. REI effectively sold [Adventure Projects] back, which is now independent again.”

And while Wilder has resumed as head of the company, he also teased another big partnership within the next month.

“Mountain Project will have a major partnership that we’ll announce in a few weeks. I’m excited about it and think it’s going to be really good for climbers,” he said.

He didn’t say any more than that, but when asked about any major changes following the ownership swap, Wilder said, “Nothing drastic — right away, at least!”

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Cryptic teasers aside, Adventure Projects was and still is an extremely valuable utility for outdoor adventurers of virtually any skill level. And with the reach and economic muscle of REI, the company made big gains. Wilder said the co-op helped generate a “huge amount” of new content and write an all-new codebase from the ground up.

He also said the app suite now services about 2 million users per month.

For its part, REI seemed happy with Adventure Projects, but the co-op had to make tough decisions to navigate the pandemic.

“While we continue to see the potential in Adventure Projects, the platforms are simply not among our highest priorities moving forward,” REI said.

“As we made this difficult decision, we also learned the original founder of Adventure Projects had a strong interest to reengage. We are so pleased Nick Wilder has agreed to take the resources over and will foster these outdoor communities into the future.”

Instead, the co-op told us, it will focus more heavily on other services to help members as it slowly emerges from the pandemic. That includes its virtual outfitting, online retail, curbside pickup, and the co-op journal.

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Adam Ruggiero
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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.

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