REI’s crowdsourced photo gallery beckons you to the great outdoors

While crowdsourced trail information is not a new innovation in the outdoor world, REI takes it to the next level with its presentation of a comprehensive, visually inspired interface. REI now has an #OptOutside tab on its home page comprised entirely of an Instagram gallery. The page contains a collection of awe-inspiring images of the outdoors from around the country, compiled by users that have utilized the #optoutside hashtag.

If the jaw-dropping images of sunsets and snow-capped peaks aren’t enough to inspire you to get outside, the technology behind the interface might be. From the #optoutside main page you can search for locations by area, activity, or hashtag, which results in a compilation of Instagram images related to your search term. For example, if you type Tuolumne Meadows into the search bar, you’re rewarded with stunning photos of recent vistas in the Sierras, groups of hikers exploring the area, and nearby features such as Tenaya Lake.

But that’s not all — click on an image and you’re presented with a wealth of information, including the photo’s location and below it a display of nearby hikes and trailheads. Beneath that are blogs on hiking tips from REI experts followed by another row of hiking posts from the Co-op Journal. REI has amassed a wealth of information pertinent to individual hiking locations around the country and placed it right at your fingertips — what better way to inspire you to pursue the outdoors while at the same time giving you the tools you need to actually get out there?

The most prominent feature of the #optouside platform is the provision of nearby trailheads. Below any image, there is a list of nearby hikes and trailheads related to the photograph that you can click on and be redirected to the Hiking Project website — one of the most comprehensive collections of hiking information in the world. Hiking Project offers virtual topographic overlays of hiking locations including accurate elevations and distances. Next to each map are photos and pertinent information such as elevation gain, altitude, and average grade. Below the map are descriptions, ratings from users, comments and relative weather conditions — giving you all the information you need to actually get out there and go on an adventure.

REI has done a masterful job of driving people to discover the outdoors with its attractive and functional outfit of mesmerizing images through the #optoutside project, and has made it inherently valuable by connecting to Hiking Project’s platform. Check out REI’s #optoutside and embark on your own expedition.

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