November 20, 2016

Last year, REI started the #OptOutside campaign to help reconnect people with the joy of spending time outdoors with friends and family over the holiday season. They closed their stores on the most popular shopping day of the year, Black Friday, and encouraged America to do the same. And guess what? It was a great success. Over 1.4 million people and 170 organizations "opted outside."

This year, they're at it again, and they're inviting you to do the same. So, instead of fighting the crowds or standing in mile-long lines, here are five ways you can #optoutside on Black Friday and all season long.

1. Explore a state or national park.

Take advantage of the smaller crowds and spend the day exploring a state or national park near you. Many parks are even joining the #optoutside movement by offering free admission to encourage more visitors. Here in Michigan, entry to any state park or recreation area is free on Nov. 25th, so be sure check out the parks in your area.

2. Hit the trail.

Burn off the caloric overload from Thanksgiving while enjoying the splendor of nature by spending the afternoon on your favorite hiking trail. Here are some tips on how to make the most of a fall hike and things to consider when hiking in cold weather.

3. Learn/Practice outdoor survival skills.

If you plan on spending any time in the backcountry, it pays to know some basic survival skills like building a fire and a shelter, knowing how to navigate, finding food and water, and tying knots. If you haven't yet mastered these essential skills now would be a good time to learn, and even if you have, practice makes perfect!

4. Go camping.

While everyone else is camped out in front of their favorite stores (no joke!) waiting to make their mad dash the second they open on Black Friday, you can be camped out surrounded by the solitude of the wilderness. Build a fire, make some hot chocolate, roast marshmallows, and enjoy a peaceful night under the stars.

5. Hit the slopes.

Ditch the shoppers and head for the slopes. Thanksgiving almost always coincides with the opening of ski resorts in many places across the country. So, if you've got snow in your area, hit up your local resort and spend some fun-filled quality time going skiing, snowboarding, or tubing.

How do you plan on spending Black Friday this year? Are you going to #OptOutside? Let us know in the comments below and share your adventures on social media using #optoutside.