Photo: Savage Arms Facebook Page

Following the recent school shooting in Florida, yet another in a long string of shootings across the United States, boycotts against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and brands associated with the massive lobbying organization have spilled over into the outdoors world. The primary connection between the two is Vista Outdoor, a conglomerate that owns popular outdoor brands like CamelBak, Bell, Giro, Bolle, and Blackburn. However, Vista Outdoor also owns a rifle and shotgun manufacturer named Savage Arms, the popular Federal Ammunition brand, and 11 other shooting-related brands. Plus, the company reportedly has strong ties to the NRA.

A petition asking REI to drop all brands owned by Vista Outdoor has garnered almost 19,000 signatures as of press time, prompting REI to reach out to Vista Outdoor, asking for their stance on the issue. However, after communicating with Vista Outdoor, REI has made the decision to put a hold on future orders from all of Vista’s brands.

REI released this statement on Thursday, March 1:

REI does not sell guns. We believe that it is the job of companies that manufacture and sell guns and ammunition to work towards common sense solutions that prevent the type of violence that happened in Florida last month. In the last few days, we’ve seen such action from companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart and we applaud their leadership.

This week, we have been in active discussions with Vista Outdoor, which has recently acquired several companies that are longtime partners of REI. These include Giro, Bell, Camelbak, Camp Chef and Blackburn. Vista also owns Savage Arms, which manufactures guns including “modern sporting rifles.”

This morning we learned that Vista does not plan to make a public statement that outlines a clear plan of action. As a result, we have decided to place a hold on future orders of products that Vista sells through REI while we assess how Vista proceeds.

Companies are showing they can contribute if they are willing to lead. We encourage Vista to do just that.

Mountain Equipment Co-Op has also dropped Vista brands. Dick’s Sporting Goods has stopped the sale of “assault-style rifles” in their Field and Stream stores and, along with Walmart and L.L. Bean, has raised the minimum age required to buy a firearm of any type to 21.

Mountain Bike Brands Caught in the Crossfire

Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

The Vista Outdoor boycott by REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and individual mountain bikers around the world affects mountain biking brands CamelBak, Giro, Bell, Bolle, and Blackburn. But are these brands simply caught in the crossfire of negativity toward unrelated brands owned by their parent company?

Conglomerate companies own many brands in the mountain bike industry, including some of the most influential bike manufacturers. Yet those brands have no say in what other brands their parent company chooses to acquire, or how those other brands are managed. While it’s clear that thousands of mountain bikers are passionate about gun control issues, it appears that fellow passionate riders who work for these four brands–many of whom worked for these brands before their acquisition by Vista Outdoor–are being swept up in a controversy not of their making.

Savage Arms sells 645,000 firearms per year, “[representing] a third of the total market for traditional firearms,” according to MassLive.com. Against the size and revenue of their firearms-related brands (Vista owns 13 shooting-related brands), it’s not clear that boycotting the bike-related brands will have any effect. While it’s difficult to compare the size of the brands under the Vista Outdoor umbrella, consider the purchase price for Savage Arms of $315 million in 2013 to the price paid for Bell, Giro, and Blackburn ($400 million in 2016,) and the $412 million purchase price of CamelBak in 2015. But again, Vista owns 13 shooting-related brands compared to the five mountain bike-related brands identified here.

Statement from CamelBak

CamelBak has released a statement in response to the call to boycott their products:

As you may know, in the wake of the recent tragic shooting at a Florida school, there have been calls on social media for a boycott of CamelBak products because of its association with Vista Outdoor, a company that also owns separate businesses in the shooting sports industry. A major concern for the boycott centers around the incorrect assumption that the purchase of any of our products may support a cause that does not fit the mission/values of our brand. That is not the case. Our brand falls within the Outdoor Products segment of our company, which operates separately from Vista Outdoor’s Shooting Sports segment. Since 1989, CamelBak has been committed to forever changing the way people hydrate and perform. Our passion and love for the outdoors is unchanged. We are deeply committed to the individuals and communities we serve and we proudly partner with organizations to promote the enjoyment of the outdoors.

We recognize, support and respect the right of every individual to decide for themselves what brands they will purchase based on whatever criteria they believe are important. As we drive to make positive change, it is our hope that you stand by our nearly 30-year reputation as we maintain our promise to obsess on what we make, how we make it, and the way it impacts people’s lives and the environment.

One final fact to chew on today: while we most often think of CamelBak as a mountain biking brand, they also make packs for other applications, including “Military/Tactical.”

# Comments

  • coot271

    Agree with Lunger. Knee jerk reactions that will not solve the issue…Idiotic decisions are polarizing and will only hurt the sport.

  • JEdger

    I say keep politics out of something I truly enjoy. Mountain biking is my escape from all off the bullshit. I’ll just shop elsewhere for those brands. I don’t typically buy from REI anyway. Gonna hurt REI, not those brands. Capitalism will work it out one way or another.

  • Gdb49

    I like REI, but will stop shopping there. This gun control crap is wearing on me. Responsible gun owners are the only ones to follow the rules and at the same time are not the ones causing the problem. REI spent good money in my city to build a great trail system and it hurts me to boycott them. I will go out of my way to purchase the boycotted products.

  • Whistlepig

    Taking on a big picture view here, while I doubt that gun control legislation will happen in the near future, as the younger generation faces more mass shootings I expect that they’ll enact legislation as the older gun advocates age out.

  • kenwrightjr

    My last days visiting and purchasing products from REI is now over. Bottom line. They are allowed to do whatever they feel is necessary to make a statement. Well, as a consumer of mountain biking and camping products I too am allowed to make a statement of my own. I’m sick and tired of spineless companies not keeping their noses out of political issues and showing how truly ignorant they are.

  • kenwrightjr

    I just went to the REI site and decided to voice my opinion about this and inform them they have lost a long time customer over this stance. I urge and implore you to do the same and sound off.

    • lawmanfl

      I guess I won’t be shopping at REI or Dicks anymore. There is no compromise for ANY of our Constitutional Rights, that is what makes us the United States.

      You know come to think of it, I do need a new CamelBak!!! Maybe I’ll buy two…hmmmm.

      Businesses should stay out of politics.

  • rajflyboy

    Just another company that is intolerant of others views on politics/religion

    I may still occasionally buy something there. Not going to be much of a fan moving forward (even though they just gave a large amount of cash to help with a pump track project here in Charlotte, NC)

  • crevasse

    Fills my heart with happiness. Look, 70% of citizens want some gun control. Anything, not nothing like today. Politicians continue to do nothing. Thus, one remaining lever we have is to put our money where our mouth is not being heard. I’m done with these brands. I feel for camelbak employees as just pawns in all this, but there are plenty of responsible helmet and hydration brands that are probably better and aren’t owned by parent companies that advocate for continued un limited ar-15 sales. That gun makes no sense in civilian hands. Ask any other of the ~200 countries in the world representing 6.7 of 7 billion of the planet’s population.

    • Fast n Slow

      Seriously, you haven’t a clue.

  • rhut

    The most shocking part of this ordeal for me is how much money Vista Outdoor Brands donates to politicians that actively oppose and vote against public land protection. There’s a good article on Outside about this, with a link to see the company’s political contributions. If you don’t oppose Vista for some of the brands under their umbrella, at least consider where a portion of their profits go. Also, I understand there are a lot of brands have parent companies in similar situations. Unfortunately, with everything being a political or social stance now, it just means researching companies before we support them.


  • EricRybarczyk

    I own a mountain bike and an AR-15. I enjoy them both, responsibly. I stopped giving any business to Dick’s when they pulled a similar stunt after the Newtown tragedy, and I’ll do the same with REI. Now, let’s get back on the trail!

  • vik

    I have been buying from REI for 25 years.
    No more.

  • dpb1997

    Well, you can ban all gun sales, add stringent controls, but unfortunately you will never ever stop atrocities against innocent people. Guns from the Black Market can still kill. Also, the right to bare arms dates back to the American War of Independance. A lot has change since then but the Constitution remains largely intact. Unfortunately, the responsible majority suffer for few losers.

  • lawmanfl

    I guess I won’t be shopping at REI or Dicks anymore. There is no compromise for ANY of our Constitutional Rights, that is what makes us the United States.

    You know come to think of it, I do need a new CamelBak!!! Maybe I’ll buy two…hmmmm.

  • Jim Tennant

    Goodbye REI, the last 37 years have been great, my store of choice while backpacking over 7000 miles, camping all over the USA, on and on. The same for the few things I buy locally from Dicks. Your excellent selections, prices and member owned were the things I enjoyed.
    NO MORE, there will be other sellers that do not mix politics and social issues with their core values.

  • Cprtrails

    Glad I did not buy my bike from REI back in the fall, instead used my local bike shop and I won’t be buying anything from REI moving forward. Glad I decided on a CamelBak as well. I bought my shotgun shells from Dicks in the past for trap shooting at my local gun club, but I’ll be taking my business to local gun shops moving forward even if it’s more expensive.

  • Jan Smith

    No matter your position, (and maybe mine is evident in the reply, but its not necessary for me to broadcast it anyway because frankly– nobody gives a crap what I say- nor should they) but I think the point is that folks like those making up REI membership are tired of a concerted effort to block the enactment of simple, common sense gun legislation by political action committees and the NRA and they asked Vista to simply take a responsible stance which they declined to do. Hence they do not want their dollars in any way continuing to fund these PAC’s.

    None of this to meant to cast aspersions at legitimate gun owners or hunters in any way. Hunters are outdoorsmen and should be respected as such. Most gun owners support universal background checks, 3-days waits, and more controls over rifles designed originally for modern military use (post-Vietnam)– they are not the enemy. But Vista, and its ilk refuse to move even an inch towards responsibility.

    That it what this is about- not war on hunters and legal owners- boycotts of those who fund political action to block what most Americans want is all.

    • piperpilot964

      Most Americans? I’ll give you half…but most is just as disingenuous as politicians using the phrase “…vast majority…” Just another phrase meant to persuade others rather than express a view.

      See ya REI and any other company that mixes politics with the services you provide.

  • RoadWarrior

    PleaseI list the companies still doing business with them, so I can give my business to them.
    Will not be buying anything from REI, a shame as they were a good company to do business with.

  • Steve D

    I wonder what (insert your favorite bike company) thinks about the NRA or AR type weapons. It doesn’t matter if there is a connection or not. How can YOU do business personally with ANY company that doesn’t denounce the NRA? It’s ALL about the guns, right? Who needs AR’s besides cops and soldiers anyway? Who needs mountain bikes besides bike messengers, and who delivers messages in the mountains? What are you going to say when the NRA-boycott style of politics is used against something like … wilderness or trail access? To some people, mountain bikes are assault weapons being used against nature and YOU shouldn’t even be allowed in. Companies like REI are giving them hope …

  • Spikem

    Not sure where you are going with this Steve D—hard for me to put MTB and assault rifles together. But, REI has never been a go to place for me–expensive and poor selection at the least. I am a gun advocate for personal protection, sport, and hunting and see no need to have an AR and don’t belong to the NRA. So, not going to be hard for me to loose REI.

    • Steve D

      “Dear XXXX bike company. We would like your opinion of the NRA/AR-15 situation. We know you have nothing to do with guns, but you do manufacture bikes for children, correct? Don’t you think all children have a right to grow up and ride bikes as adults? Will you publicly denounce the manufacture of weapons that, by design, have no purpose but to destroy life, or don’t you care? As a follow-up question, how do you respond to the charges by environmental groups that your mountain bike customers are tearing up natural wilderness areas on your trail bikes and terrorizing the animal kingdom and hikers. I know you can’t control what people do with the bikes you manufacture but you must admit that your mountain bikes are crazy overkill for sensible riding on the bike paths in town. It is clear by their appearance that they serve no utilitarian urban transportation purpose. Isn’t that a little irresponsible of your company and the local bike shops that are profiting from mountain bike sales to demonstrate such a blatant disregard for the environment and wildlife? I understand that people have begun to sabotage trail systems, and you are losing many wilderness access battles in local courts. Public opinion seems to be turning against you in unprecedented ways. Even some of your own advocacy groups seem to be working against you behind the scenes. You really seem to be on the wrong side of this mountain biking access issue.”

  • frankc@knology.net

    Been using REI for long time – NO MORE. Gun laws affect law biding folks – not criminals who by definition don’t follow the law.

    Guns, garage built IEDs, sorry individuals will always cause harm!

    Want to make a difference, demand the FL. Police release the tapes/audio and hold them and the sad FBI accountable!!!

    Dont Tread on ME!!!

  • Fast n Slow

    Hmmm, ask a gun manufacturer to support legislation that will hurt their sales and bottom line.
    Yep, these people still have no clue.
    I like REI, but there’s no way I’m buying from them again. At least not until they charge the way they react to the uninformed minority.

  • lfg929

    If the goal was to find the one issue that would divide mountain bikers then I would say you nailed it, although maybe eBikes come in a close second.

    I love all of the emotion on both sides (never shopping REI again, why does anyone need a gun designed only to kill people) but that is all that it is, emotional response. Too few are debating the facts and details. Here are a few:
    – saw a recent poll that said something like 45% of Republicans favor more stringent gun laws while 80% or so of democrats favor them. Unless there is a 2:1 republican to democrat ratio then I think *something* will change in the near future 1-5 years.
    – for the person that said we aren’t giving up any constitutional rights – you already did. While you can own a machine gun or a grenade launcher it is really hard to do and requires you to give up more rights than you gain
    – to the person that said additional gun laws won’t stop anything – you are right but the point isn’t to eliminate but reduce. Why do you lock your doors? To keep the honest people honest, a thief doesn’t care your doors are locked.
    – to the person that said nobody needs these weapons. Maybe, but I would rather have them than not. I can hunt with them, I can target shoot with them, and if you think I trust our government or any company to do the right thing then you are delusional.

    The status quo won’t work any longer. We need to come together and figure out a way to change things to prevent the next tragedy of 20-50 people getting killed. I am good with universal background checks. I may even be ok with a registry although I realize that is a slippery slope. And I have an AR15 that I built from a stripped lower receiver, along with a Savage Arms 22-250 that is currently one of my favorites. There is middle ground and I think we need to find it instead of both sides residing on their own islands.

    • lfg929

      I want to add something.

      For those that think the AR is the problem, I could show you a picture of 2 guns that look very different but have the same capability and shoot the same number of rounds (same bullet in fact). Get over the look of the gun and stop with the ban argument. Focus on other avenues.

      And for my fellow gun lovers, stop with your memes about guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Fool around long enough without coming to the table and we may find none of us have an AR any longer. That will be a sad day because I really like mine.

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