Lightweight Hiker’s Guide to the REI Sale

I’ve been an REI member since the mid 70’s. Still, when the REI sale comes around every year, I get overwhelmed trying to find the best lightweight gear among the vast inventory. This year, I decided to prep by going for a 2 hour visit to my local REI Store, and then doing research online selecting more great lightweight hiking and backpacking gear.

Dates for the sale are May 19th thru May 29th, so get there early and look around to get the best selection.

Below, I share with you my strategy to get the best out of the REI sale. This is in the following sequence

  1. First: hit the REI GARAGE to use your 20% off any one GARAGE item. Stuff goes fast and sizes/colors are limited to begin with. I’ve noted a few items that I found to be good deals, but be flexible since sizes and colors can go quickly. And do some searching. If you’re a small or very large person, you can totally score here. I’ve only put in items that had several good sizes. Keep in mind that something labeled “men” might be good for women, and vice versa.
  2. Second: Hit the Regular REI Sale Items. The best items on sale will go quickly. There’s a section below that has Regular Sale Items I thought were good.
  3. Third: shop Full-price Items. This is the last area I would look over. Again in a section below, I have noted some high priced items where 20% off would be welcome, as well as some lower cost options.

Good luck and happy shopping!  -AdventureAlan

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1. REI GARAGE selections

2. Regular REI Sale Items

3. Full Priced Items


Here are some ideas to use your 20% off one REI GARAGE item


Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket – Men’s – $209 (was $299)

also Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket W’s

Only $167 with your 20% off one REI GARAGE item. Limited sizes buy soon!

The 9 ounce ultralight jacket that set a trend. Filled with premium 800-fill-power 100% Traceable Down. Equally at home in the backcountry or a biting Chicago wind coming off shores of Lake Michigan. [Alison and I both own and frequently use ours.]

Also – Patagonia Ultralight Down Vest – W’s – $174 ( was $249)

Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover – Men’s – $118 (was $169)

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket – Men’s – $99 (was $199) very limited quantities!

Only $94 with your 20% off one REI GARAGE item. Limited sizes buy soon!

10 oz of water resistant warmth. The most thermally efficient synthetic insulation available, water-repellent PrimaLoft™ Gold Eco maintains 96% of its insulating ability even when wet.



Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 mtnGLO Tent – $384 (was $480)

Only $307 with your 20% off one REI GARAGE item.

Backpacker magazine’s Editors’ Choice and less than 3 lb for two people. LEDs illuminate the interior of your tent with 90+ hrs. of hands-free light. 2 doors and 2 vestibules. 29 square feet interior area 18 square feet vestibule area.

1 person version – Big Agnes Fly Creek UL mtnGLO Tent $296 (was $370)


Osprey Talon 33 Pack – $97 (was $130.00)

Only $78 with your 20% off one REI GARAGE item.

Osprey says “this is the ideal pack for minimalist backpacking,” and I would agree. A proficient lightweight or UL backpacker could easily do and overnight or 3-day weekend trip in this one.

Also W’s model – Osprey Tempest 30 Backpack – Women’s – $97

Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Jacket – Men’s – $129 (was $199)

Only $103 with your 20% off one REI GARAGE item. Limited sizes buy soon!

When you take the additional 20% off this is a great value in a down Jacket with 650 fill power down. The weight is not bad at around 13 ounces.


1. REI GARAGE selections

2. Regular REI Sale Items

3. Full Priced Items


Selected Regular Sale Items

Since this gear is already on sale, you can’t use your 20% off any one -full-priced item. But there are some great deals here that can lighten your pack.


REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent – 25% off on Sale on all REI Quarter Dome Tents and Foot Prints

REI’s long-time favorite Quarter Dome Tent is a great option for those looking for a reasonably priced lightweight free-standing backpacking tent. If ultralight tarps seem too daunting, this will still help you cut weight, weighing just over 3 lbs, but the Quarter Dome remains comfortable with ample head room, and plenty of space for two backpackers. The increased room/livability from extremely vertical walls is what sets tent apart from most of its peers. (Now even more room with 2017 update.)

Note: Compare this to the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 Tent now 25% off on Sale


Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 Tent – 25% off on Sale on
all Big Agnes Fly Creek Tents & Footprints

Light in your pack and easy on your wallet. If you want to cut a little weight, but keep lots of space, Big Agnes has you covered with the high volume version of their Fly Creek HV UL 2 Tent. It comes in at 2 lb. 15 oz on the trail, and can be pitched even lighter using just the fly. This is one of the more spacious 2-person tents out there, which is great if you are going to be stuck in your tent playing cards for a while in bad weather, or just prefer highly livable tents.


Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite 25% off all Therm-a-Rest matresses

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir line sets the gold standard for backpacking sleeping pads. This is the “Women’s” version of the XLite, but it’s the right size for most backpackers (all the men I know use it). At 12 oz and with an R-value of 3.9, it’s warmer and lighter than the “Men’s” version. This pad will be a go-to piece of any backpacker’s sleeping kit.


REI Co-op Magma 850 Down Jacket Men’s – $94 (was $189)

A sub 11 oz down jacket wth high quality 850 fill power goose down for less than $100 is a killer deal. Shop early to get the color and style you want.

Also available in Women’s.


REI Co-op Down Jacket Men’s Men – $49 (was $100)

Also available in Women’s  $70 (was $100)

A great value in a down jacket that weighs a mere 10 oz. 650-fill-power down keeps the price low. A weather-resistant nylon shell fabric improves its wet weather performance.

Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System $99 (was $135)

Winner of Backpacker magazine’s 2015 Editors’ Choice Award. The Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System is an all-in-one stove, heat exchanger, pot combination. It’s a great option if you want hot water quickly in camp – it’ll get your morning coffee boiling in less than 5 minutes. And at 14 oz, it’s not too heavy.

If you have a few extra bucks, you could consider the Jetboil MicroMo [not on sale]. It is 2 oz lighter and boils water in about 1/2 the time. It has slightly less water capacity, 0.8 L vs. 1.0 L for the MiniMo.


 Brooks Cascadia 11 Trail-Running Shoes – $84 (were $120)

A darling of the Appalachian Trail — and likely, the most popular Lightweight Backpacking trail shoe for many years running. Far lighter and easier to hike in than boots. But solid enough to prevent foot bruises from rocks. Very durable for a trail running shoe. W’s shoe here.


 Salomon XA Pro 3D Trail-Running Shoes – 25% off all Soloman Footwear

I have used this shoe all across the US and even north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska. So, another “trail running” shoe that has been popular for lightweight backpackers and adventure racers for years. It slightly more constructed and a bit heavier than the Brooks Cascaida. But its sill far lighter and easier to hike in than boots. . W’s shoe here.


REI Co-op Classic Sahara Convertible Pants– 25% off all REI Co-op Sahara Clothing

I’ve worn some version of these REI Co-op Classic Sahara Convertible Pants for the last 15 years. They are light and incredibly versatile. With all their pockets they are also a key component of my hiking efficiently on the trail See more here: Efficient Backpacking Tips – Easily Increase Mileage Fun.

Alison wears the Women’s Version. Obviously there are many M’s & W’s Sahara Pants and Shirts on Sale.


Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap – 25% off of all Outdoor Research Hats and Gaiters

I love OR hats and the Outdoor Research Sun Runner goes on most of my trips. Some of my other favorites are their classic Seattle Sombrero and the insect repellent Sentinel Brim Hat.

Obviously there are many other OR Hats and OR Gaiters on sale.


1. REI GARAGE selections

2. Regular REI Sale Items

3. Full Priced Items


Suggestions to get the most from your 20% off any one full-price item


Osprey Exos 48 Pack – $190

A Thru-hiker’s choice and a darling of the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. The Osprey Exos 48 is light but will still hold enough gear and food for 7 days. Best of all, at under $200 it’s a good deal for a pack of this weight and quality.


REI Co-op Magma Sleeping Bag – 17° W’s & 10° M’s – $399

This 2017 Backpacker Editors’ Choice will keep even cold sleepers warm. This Women’s specific bag is rated to 17 °F  and stuffed with 850 fill power water-resistant goose down. The weight is not bad at a little over two pounds.
The Men’s version is essentially the same bag but rated 10 °F because Men sleep a bit warmer. This puts it into 3+ season capability.


REI Co-op Igneo 25 Sleeping Bag M’s & Joule 30 W’s – $269

A value 3 season bag for under 2 pounds. Water-repellent 700-fill-power duck down keeps the price low. Strategic waterproof/breathable fabric panels improve its wet weather performance. This Women’s specific Joule bag is rated to 30 °F  and the Men’s Igneo bag is rated to 30 °F.


Marmot Phase 30 Sleeping Bag – $399

This is 1/2 the weight of the bags above it! A very warm one-pound Ultralight bag wth high quality 850 fill power water-resistant goose down. EN rated to 33 °F, and with a full zipper which is a pleasant surprise in a bag this light!

Altra Lone Peak Trail-Running Shoes – $120

A good pair of hiking shoes, ain’t cheap. So these might be a good choice for the your 20% off any one full price item.

These are Alison’s and my favorite backpacking and hiking shoes. These are the most comfortable shoe after a 30+ mile day on the trail. One key is the massive toe room that is so kind to trail-swollen feet at the end of the day. They are light and have a zero drop heel for a more natural stride. These comes in both Men’s and Women’s models.

We also like the lighter and award winning Altra Superior shoes. We have even taken them technical canyoneering with good success. M’s model and W’s model. One thing that makes the Superiors stand apart is upper fabric is that it stops sand and grit entry while still being breathable!


HOKA ONE Speedgoat Trail-Running Shoes – $140

If the a big toebox isn’t your thing, these are some very light (under 10 oz) shoes that are super comfortable. They’ve got tons of padding to protect your feet, great ventilation and super grip from aggressively lugged soles. Like the Altras above, these have a low heel drop, which we prefer. In Men’s and Women’s models.


REI Co-Op Rain Jacket – $70

This functional rain jacket is under 10 oz. and a great bargain! Most of us end up tearing or wearing out a rain jacket after a few seasons anyway, so why spend the big bucks? This jacket comes in both Men’s and Women’s sizes (9.4 and 8 oz respectively), has zippered pockets and an adjustable hood making this 2.5-layer breathable waterproof jacket a an excellent deal!


REI Flash 18 Pack  and Flash 22 Pack – $40 and $50

These little day packs are great. They are light in an era when many “daypacks” approach the heavy weight of long distance backpacks. With the weight savings you can carry a camera, a drawing pad and pencils, or some extra food.

Theses packs hold just the right amount for a day (18 or 22 L), and don’t have too many bells and whistles. Simple, inexpensive, and good. This simple drawstring design has been with us for years, because it has proven itself to be perfect for just about any day-long mission.

There are some fancy colors in the Special Edition 18 Pack and the Special Edition 22 Pack.


1. REI GARAGE selections

2. Regular REI Sale Items

3. Full Priced Items

Cheap Lightweight Backpacking Gear

A $10 down vest that looks eerily similar to a $250 Patagonia vest? A $20 down quilt? Hard to believe. These are just the first two items in this post on Cheap Lightweight Backpacking Gear. Other great values include a 9 oz rain jacket, a +20 down quilt that’s ½ the price of the competition, and bomber, lightweight carbon fiber trekking poles. Stay tuned over the next few months as I will continue to add more cheap lightweight backpacking gear. This post contains:

$10 Down Vest  –  $20 Down Quilt (for mild weather)

These are seasonally in-store at Costco right now! The current promotion from 9/27/16 through 10/10/16 offers $4 off the vest (for a total cost of $10). Caveat: I just purchased the quilt and vest at Costco and therefore, don’t have long term field performance or durability data at this time. Given the price, and the fact that they are from relatively unknown, knock-off manufacturers it’s possible that zippers, stitching or other construction standards may not be up to the those of Patagonia or Mountain Hardwear. None-the-less at $20 and $10, they cost astonishingly less than big brand items. I leave it to the reader to determine if the cost justifies giving them a chance. It is also good to note that Costco has a good return policy. (The quilt and similar vests are also available at Amazon for slightly more $).

Is the Quilt Warm Enough?

For much of the country, temperatures in the “high hiking season” are usually mild. This year in the Mid-Atlantic we had 105 consecutive days where the low temp was above 60 degrees (June 9 to Sept 23). As such, experienced, bargain minded hikers might consider the quilt and/or vest for backpacking along the AT and similar trails during the summer and possibly late spring/early fall (quilt when used in combination with jacket/vest and a warm hat). See Why You Won’t Freeze or Starve Ultralight Backpacking and in particular Use a weather report to help you select the right gear.

Use for Two People in mild weather? My wife and have often/happily shared quilts with similar dimensions. In this case, the temperature rating is better (sharing body heat) and the weight and cost per person less.

Cheap Lightweight Backpacking Gear

Double Black Diamond Packable Down Throw: Think of this quilt as a slightly warmer, lighter, more compressible and wind-proof alternative to the fleece blanket that many camp with in mild weather.

$20 mild weather Down Quilt -“Double Black Diamond Packable Down Throw”

This quilt is available for $20 at Costco or around $33 at Amazon.
This is a mild weather quilt (if you are looking for a bargain in a top-quality, cold weather quilt, see below). Think of this quilt as a slightly warmer, lighter, more compressible and wind-proof alternative to the fleece blanket that many camp with in mild weather.  This is a thin quilt, with a single layer loft of 0.7 to 1.0 inches, and sewn through construction. As a wild guess, this quilt might work somewhere into the 50’s for some people, but not for others. Obviously, wearing a jacket or a down vest (possibly the $10 one below), combined with a warm hat and some other clothing would likely extend the quilt’s temperature range.

Specs below on the quilt:

  • 15.5 oz (440 g) Quilt, 0.4 oz (12 g) stuff sack
  • 700 fill power duck down
  • 20D polyester/nylon shell
  • Dimensions: 60” x 70” (155 cm x 177 cm)
  • Thin: measured single layer loft of 0.7 to 1.0 inches

$10, 650 fill power Down Vest – 32 Degrees* Packable “Ultra Light” Down Vest

Cheap Lightweight Backpacking Gear

This $12 down women’s vest I bought at Costco looks eerily similar to a $250 Patagonia vest. It’s even approximately the same weight and loft of the Women’s Patagonia Ultralight Down Vest. Some of the Men’s versions at Amazon do as well.

The vest is available for $10-$12 at Costco, or between $20 to $30 at Amazon.
This is a light down vest with similar weight and loft as $180/$250 Patagonia Down Vests. Obviously the quality/durability may not be the same. From reading Amazon reviews (most quite positive) it appears the fabric on some vests is not entirely down-proof (although I’ve had some down leakage from most of my expensive gear too).  I purchased a size large “Ladies'” vest for Alison.

Specs below for size large “Ladies” vest:

  • 5.9 oz (170 g) Quilt, 0.3 oz (9 g) stuff sack
  • 650 fill power duck down (90% down, 10% feathers)
  • Wind and water resistant
  • Shell: 100% Polyester
  • Lining: 100% Nylon

* Note: “32 Degrees” is the brand name and not the temperature rating

A version of 32 Degrees Men’s Packable “Ultra Light” Down Vest is available on Amazon. Some of the Men’s versions at Amazon look similar to a Patagonia UL Down Vest. The Costco version has slightly different baffling and snap pocket closures, but still uses 650 fill power duck down.

Cheap Lightweight Backpacking Gear

The gear listed below is not “cheap” in the sense of low quality. Quite the opposite, it is value gear with performance and weight that far exceeds its low price. And sometimes it’s equal to best in class (e.g. Hammock Gear Burrow Quilt).

Cheap Rainwear

Cheap Lightweight Backpacking Gear

Currently available for $55, the REI Co-Op Rain Jacket costs less and weighs less than much of the competition. It has most of the essential features, a generous and comfortable fit, and gets the job done.

The REI Co-Op Rain Jacket weighs 9 ounces. Some sizes and colors are on sale for $55 (full price is $70). It weighs less and costs less than a standard bargain rain jacket, the Marmot Precip. You aren’t going to win any fashion awards with this REI jacket. The hood brim is on the small side and not so stiff (I wear a ball cap with all my rain jackets anyway). But the REI Co-Op Rain Jacket has most of the essential features, a generous and comfortable fit, and gets the job done.

Specs below forREI Co-Op Rain Jacket, Men’s Medium

  • 9.5 oz, on my scale
  • Generous fit (some might want to go down a size)
  • 2.5-layer waterproof, breathable nylon shell also features a durable water repellent finish to shed light rain; jacket is windproof to 60 mph
  • Dual front hood adjusters (but no rear adjustment)
  • Internal elastic cuffs and drawcord hem seal out wind
  • Weatherproof center front zipper (with rear storm flap)
  • Zippered hand pockets (with mesh backing for venting)

Cheap Backpacking Quilts

Cheap Lightweight Backpacking Gear

Hammock Gear Burrow Quilt. A +20° Burrow weighs less and costs almost 1/2 of a conventional down sleeping bag with similar warmth and performance. My version of this quilt is 18 oz (with 2 oz of overfill down).

A down quilt is the best choice for most, if not all backpacking trips. Quilts are lighter and cost less than conventional sleeping bags like Mountain Hardwear’s Phantom 32 sleeping bag but have similar warmth and specifications. I haven’t used a sleeping bag in about 15 years. I’ve used quilts for outings such as a February backcountry ski trip in Wyoming’s Beartooth Plateau, or a winter trip at 15,000 feet in the Andes, or hammock camping down to +10F in the Appalachian mountains. Quilts work!

See more on this topic in Recommended Sleeping Bags & Quilts.

The $250, 18 ounce, 850 fill power down Hammock Gear Burrow 20°F Quilt is an exceptional value in lightweight, high-performance sleeping insulation. It costs far less than comparable down quilts (e.g. the $470 Katabatic Gear Palisade 30°F quilt) or conventional sleeping bags (e.g. $485 Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20°F  sleeping bag). The Burrow is equally adept for use with ground sleeping (use like a conventional sleeping-bag) or as a hammock top-quilt. The current version of the Hammock Gear Burrow Quilt has longitudinal baffles (running lengthwise, camouflage fabric in the picture). These longitudinal baffles keep the down on top (over you) rather than drifting down to the sides overnight.

Cheap Trekking Poles


Cascade Tech Carbon Trekking poles cost about 1/3 the price of carbon fiber trekking poles of similar weight, strength and construction.

Cascade Tech Carbon Trekking Poles are a great example of value gear. They perform almost as well the $170, Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles. In the past two years I’ve used these inexpensive poles everywhere. Four weeks of technical canyoneering in Southern Utah, the rugged and rocky GR-20 in Corsica, the Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, and numerous other trips. They are super stiff and have not broken even when jammed in talus and then levered with my body weight. The adjustment mechanisms never slip. The poles have well designed and comfortable grips. And they have a generous 54cm length that is helpful for setting up larger shelters that use trekking poles.

Cheap Lightweight Backpacking Gear

Trekking poles I use. More often than not I take the Cascade Mountain Tech poles.

From front to rear in photo:

Again, continue to check back. I will continue to add more cheap lightweight backpacking gear to this list. Or better put, value gear with performance and weight that far exceeds its low price.