My Trex Stories

Trex x REI: Nurturing a Natural Connection

 Learn how Trex and REI’s shared values and respect for nature elevates Bryce Canyon camping experience.

April 01, 2024
Platform tent with sleeping bags.

Seeing brand partnerships in a new light

When you hear Josh Kloepping reflect on how the morning light illuminates the nooks and crannies of Bryce Canyon’s walls, it’s easy to picture yourself right there. His love of the outdoors is palpable, his motivation is clear — “As an REI Experiences guide of 15 years, I can tell you that the outdoors — it changes people.”

It’s a statement you might expect for a brand like REI, but what may be surprising is how elegantly it overlaps with the Trex brand point of view, which is why it made sense for both brands to extend their relationship in exciting new ways.

“At Trex, we believe the best memories are made outdoors, so partnering with a brand that believes in the power of outdoor experiences like REI made perfect sense,” shares Trex brand manager, Bethany Perez. She does acknowledge that for many, the partnership may feel unexpected, “Traditionally, when you think of Trex, you don’t think about the National Parks, you think about your home…this was an opportunity to reach people in a different way.”

REI joined the NexTrex® commercial program in 2020 and in that time has contributed nearly 2 million pounds of plastic film to the program through collections across its stores along with contributions from fulfillment centers. The partnership has now evolved to support REI's outdoor experiences alongside Bryce Canyon National Park. Three years later, the camp boasts 10 elevated platforms that keep campers comfortable.

"We believe there's a core value for us that people take care of the things that they love. So the more people we can get outside, falling in love with the outdoors means they're gonna want to protect it, steward it, take care of it for generations."

- Jay Parks, REI Experiences
Platform tent with sleeping bags.

The restorative nature of nature

It’s not often that a brand partnership is rooted in something meaningful and enduring. For Trex and REI, that common ground is fairly simple: the restorative nature of nature is inspiring and the time we spend in nature is nurturing. Humans appreciate the beauty of nature, but what’s awe-inspiring is how being out in nature nurtures us right back, and in measurable ways.

REI Experiences’ Jay Parks still finds himself in awe of nature's impact, “our lives have become so fast-paced, so noisy,” but, “when you’re out in nature you can just be present, you can be quiet, you can breathe again, and just be open to the healing that nature has for us.”

And heal it does. It’s that restorative, regenerative energy of the outdoors that ties Trex and REI together, as leaders stationed at two different altitudes of outdoor living. 

Platform tent with sleeping bags.

“This partnership allows us to create greater accessibility to the outdoors. Trex connects you to nature whether it’s in your backyard or it’s in a setting like this in a national park.”

– Bethany Perez, Trex brand manager

From nature seekers to nature keepers

If nature makes us better as people, might learning from nature make our businesses better, too? That’s a question central to the idea of circular commerce, inspired by the regenerative cycles of nature, to create a system where materials and products are reused and repurposed — much like the recycled composite decking that comes from Trex. This recycling mentality is actually the very premise Trex was founded on, using innovation to extract value from what was once seen as waste.

As Perez, aptly notes, “For more than 30 years, sustainability’s been at our core — that’s how we started this business, with a recycling mentality when no one else was doing it.”

Today, Trex is the world’s #1 brand of sustainably made, wood-alternative decking and deck railing — all proudly manufactured in the U.S. — and a leader in high-performance, low-maintenance outdoor living products. What’s more? Beyond the creation of beautiful recycled composite decking, Trex is also the largest recycler of plastic film in North America.

“This is a great partnership built on shared values around recycling and caring for the environment.”

– Jay Parks, REI Experiences

In addition to the existing recycling relationship, it was this ethos that inspired Josh Kloepping from REI Experiences to reach out to Trex to see about how to get eco-friendly composite decking into REI Signature Camps. “We saw a really cool opportunity to complete this cycle and bring the recycling efforts full circle, into the actual camping experience,” he recalls. 

Finding a campsite’s natural fit

When it came to choosing the specific line of recycled decking that would stand the test of time, come snow or sun in Bryce Canyon, Trex didn’t have to think twice. “We chose Trex Transcend® Lineage™ for this site because of its heat-mitigating technology,” shares Perez. Giving campers a cool, comfortable deck platform was a priority for Trex and REI, but ensuring the natural beauty of the desert was top of mind, too. The team selected to outfit the campsites with the deck color Biscayne — a seamless match that makes the platforms appear to blend into the surrounding desert landscape.

Platform tent with sleeping bags.

Perez adds one more plus in Transcend Lineage’s favor, “It’s designed to have a very natural feel to it and has an organic woodgrain pattern to it as well.”

The reliability and performance of Trex deck platforms also gives the team at REI the ability to shift their focus from the maintenance of the camp, to doing what they do best: fostering restorative outdoor experiences.

Platform tent with sleeping bags.

During one of Utah’s historic snowfalls of 2023, the platform installation was completed by local TrexPro® contractor Nathaniel Steed. Over the years, Steed has constructed dozens of decks with varying types of wood and composite. In his expert opinion, choosing Trex is a no-brainer for Bryce Canyon camping. “Compared to regular wood, Trex is awesome…once I’m done with the deck, it’s done — and it’s going to look like this for years to come," he said.

Designed to outperform wood, Trex eco-friendly decking has the ability to hold up season after season in ways the campsite’s original wood decks could not, failing within the first two years. The impact? REI Experiences operational teams would not have to add in the hours of time and materials it takes to sand and refinish wood deck platforms, something inevitable given Utah’s extreme swings in temperature. 

“A Trex deck doesn’t warp, doesn’t rot, doesn’t splinter and it doesn’t fade. That takes away process of maintaining these tent platforms and allows our teams to focus on what they do best.”

– Josh Kloepping, REI Experiences
Platform tent with sleeping bags.

The magic of Signature camps

You could call the REI Signature Camp experience something close to glamping at Bryce Canyon, but what it is not is frivolous — there is intention behind the sustainability-minded comforts and planning REI works so hard to deliver. 

We can all relate to how exciting the thought of a trip can be, but often the planning and preparation can feel too overwhelming. Parks explains that with the Signature Camp experience, “The anxiety and stress that goes into planning a vacation or even a backpacking trip, ‘what food do I need to think about? what gear do I have to pack?’ all of that stuff is taken care of for you by the REI Experiences team so that when you get out here in nature, you can be present and truly experience all of the joy that the outdoors has to offer.” 

Platform tent with sleeping bags.

Enhanced by the presence of Trex decking platforms, REI’s camp setups provide a unique experience, with the flexibility to make it their own. Want to be led by expert guides on hikes of varying difficulty levels? Signature Camp has it and a soothing herbal footbath afterwards. Desperate to relish in the peace of the morning silence while enjoying a cup of coffee? Your wish is the camp’s command, with morning coffee silently delivered to your Trex platform by sunrise. These activities — and others — give campers well-deserved time spent with nature and themselves while immersed in the beautiful hillside of Bryce Canyon and further connects campers to nature and inspires them to make more sustainable choices that foster transformative moments for generations to come.

“REI Signature Camp is an on-ramp into the outdoors. It’s an opportunity to get folks in the outdoors that maybe otherwise wouldn’t do it on their own. There’s nothing like curating an outdoor experience for somebody that becomes a life-changing memory. Maybe they connect with their kids, in the outdoors, in ways they’ve never connected with them before. It’s a place to be one with nature, connect with community, build deep, meaningful relationships.”

– Jay Parks, REI Experiences
Platform tent with sleeping bags.

Cooperative by nature

Just as we know nature heals us, we know that nature can inspire us to make better choices. A rising number of people continue to prioritize more eco-friendly products, more sustainable solutions, and meaningful outdoor experiences — Trex and REI are blazing a path forward with a partnership that gives people lasting memories they can feel good about. It’s one step closer to creating a more circular economy in a world rife with throwaway mentalities.

As REI Experiences leader Kloepping deftly sums up, “It’s about the little things and it’s gonna take all of us…it’s all of our responsibility to come together and create the change that we need, and small efforts at a collective level will have those significant impacts.”

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