MeatEater, Inc. announced today its expansion from media into direct-to-consumer retail with the acquisition of hunting technical apparel and gear company First Lite. The deal marks a major milestone in MeatEater’s plans to expand from content to commerce and builds on the longstanding relationship between MeatEater founder Steven Rinella and the First Lite team.
“I’ve been a devoted First Lite consumer for almost a decade,” said Rinella. “First Lite was a sponsor of the MeatEater TV show from the very beginning, and I’ve been loyal to them ever since. I love their products, conservation ethos, and knowledgeable customer service. What’s more, the crew at First Lite is comprised of dedicated and die-hard hunters and anglers who spend a ton of time in the field living a lifestyle they believe in.”
Kevin Sloan, MeatEater CEO and outdoors industry veteran, will oversee First Lite’s integration into MeatEater. As head of the newly combined company, Sloan, formerly president of Sitka Gear, will direct strategy and growth initiatives including merchandising, business development, brand evolution, and digital product development. First Lite co-founders Kenton Carruth and Scott Robinson will continue as First Lite co-presidents, running the division’s day-to-day operations with the existing First Lite leadership team based in Ketchum, Idaho.
“While apparel and gear brands routinely work with respected influencers to drive awareness and conversion, our situation is unique in that we’re an influencer-led company acquiring a respected, established gear brand,” said Sloan. “When you look at the amount of time we at MeatEater spend in the woods and mountains producing content, it makes perfect sense: we will highlight First Lite to our growing audience, and we’re in a great position to field test and influence design and development of best-in-class products that help that audience get the most out of their own experiences outdoors.”
Since its inception in 2007, First Lite has been committed to providing the best technical apparel developed for hunters, like its signature merino wool gear. Similar to MeatEater, First Lite’s brand also represents a passion for the natural world, conservation of wildlife resources, and has earned the stalwart support of those who believe in protecting the outdoors.
“We’ve worked closely with Steven Rinella for almost ten years, partnering to promote conservation and supply quality gear and apparel for those who love the outdoors and want to protect it,” said Carruth. “We’ve seen the significant impact Steve has had on the First Lite business as an endorser and are confident that deepening our relationship and integrating into MeatEater’s expanding content offerings will help us reach more customers and produce even better products.”
Rinella gained wide popularity through his passion for outdoor adventure, wild foods, and conservation, with a hit Netflix show, MeatEater, top-ranked The MeatEater Podcast, and series of best-selling books and cookbooks. MeatEater’s website, podcast network, and category-leading social media presence cater to a passionate, growing audience of hunters, anglers, conservationists, and wild foods aficionados.
At its core, MeatEater targets a substantial consumer base. According to a 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report, more than 40% of the U.S. population aged 16 and over participated in wildlife-related activities in 2016, including approximately 40 million Americans identifying themselves as anglers and/or hunters, spending more than $80 billion annually in those pursuits.