An Inaugural Expedition

D.C.-area REI seeks to outfit adventurers bound for Obama's inauguration

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

On Jan. 20, thousands of people will spend hours outside in cold weather, braving the elements in hopes of experiencing a transcendent event. But they won’t be on a mountaintop or out on a trail—they’ll be in Washington, D.C., awaiting the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama. But the REI in College Park, Maryland plans to outfit the smartest of them as if they were conquering a high peak.

“We’ve been here in this location for 20 years, so we’ve seen our fair share of inaugurations of all political parties,” Assistant Manager Jason Hastings tells The Daily Dirt. “It’s big boost to our business, but we’ve decided this time to set up a specific inaugural booth where we can always answer questions.”

So what do today’s intrepid patriots want? They’re not quite ready for crampons or ice axes yet: Mostly, they just want to stay warm.

“We’re going to outfit them the same way we always outfit customers for winter outdoor adventures—it’s nothing different,” Hastings says. “You’re going to be outside all day, so it’s kind of the same idea: Baselayers, hand and feet warmers, head covers, basically all the elements you need to layer up and be well outfitted for the weather.”

The most popular items at the Inauguration expedition table include Patagonia, REI, and Smartwool-brand capilene baselayers. Hastings also hopes that getting outfitted for the inauguration might inspire a few souls to take their outdoor gear into actual wilderness one day.

“We hope they’ll leaarn that if you dress appropriately and well, you’ll get excited to go out and do things like going hiking and backpacking, even in colder months,” he says. “You can stay warm with a little bit of activity, and still enjoy yourself outside and be comfortable into the winter months.”

Welcome to the fold, patriots…here’s hoping we see you off the Mall and on the trail some day.

What are you doing to celebrate the inauguration? Tell us in the comments section below.

—Ted Alvarez