Here’s how to get the best deals at REI’s Labor Day Sale. I’ve been an REI member since the mid 70’s. Still, when a REI sale comes around, I get overwhelmed trying to find the best lightweight gear among the vast inventory. To prep for the sale I usually do a 1 to 2 hour visit to my local REI Store, and then some extensive research online to find even more great lightweight hiking and backpacking gear. The result is my 2018 Lightweight Hiker’s Guide to the REI Sale:

  • EVENT: 2018 REI Labor Day Sale. Save up to 40% off at REI.
  • PLUS: Get 30% off one full price Arc’teryx item
  • And 20% off one REI OUTLET Item (online only) Coupon Code: EXTRA20
  • Dates for the sale are Aug 24 to Sept 3, 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 my top 12 Pics for the REI Sale Items below. The best items on sale will go quickly.
  2. Second: hit the REI OUTLET to use your 20% off any one OUTLET item. Stuff goes fast and sizes/colors are limited to begin with. 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. Note: there seem to be fewer choices for lightweight backpackers this year, BUT I’ve noted just a few OUTLET items that I found to be good deals here — be flexible since sizes and colors can go quickly.
  3. Third take a look at the 30% off one full price Arc’teryx item (discount applied in cart)

Finally, this Sale Guide equally include links to Men’s and Women’s items whenever possible. This makes sense since my wife, Alison is my favorite backpacking, climbing and adventuring partner and she and other women deserve the best! Happy trails to all of you. -alan

Lightweight Hiker’s Guide to the REI Sale

12 Quick Pics for the Sale

Short on time? Here are some key picks for great gear deals that should appeal to most lightweight hikers and backpackers.

$244 (save $105, was $349) REI Co-op Quarter Dome 2 Tent

At $200 less than the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2  Ultralight Tent, REI’s long-time favorite Quarter Dome Tent is a great value for an ultralight backpacking tent. Weighing just over 3 lbs, 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 in this price range Bravo REI!

25% Off all Osprey Exos and Eja Backpacks

The lightweight Osprey Exos (Men’s)  and Osprey Eja (Women’s) Packs are the darlings of thru hikers. That’s no surprise with the famous Osprey fit and comfort plus a back panel designed to keep your back cool and dry. Weighing in at 2.5 lbs, they hold up to 48 or 58 liters , more than enough room for a kit of light gear. A great choice for those looking for a light pack that comes with REI’s return policy!

Hiker's Guide to the REI Sale

$243.99 (was $349 save $105) REI Co-op Magma Sleeping Bag – 17° W’s & 10° M’s

A sweeet deal at ½ the cost of competitors bags! This 2017 Backpacker Editors’ Choice will keep even cold sleepers warm but still not weigh a ton! 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 solidly into 3+ or even 4-season capability.

50% off Peak Deal REI Co-op Essential Rain Jacket 

WEIGHT: 8.8 oz – $70 (currently $35 on sale)

TECH: 2.5-layer waterproof breathable laminate Bluesign Approved Nylon with DWR finish

FEATURES: $35 to $70 for a good quality 9 oz rain jacket says it it all! The Co-op Essential Rain Jacket’s minimalist design keeps weight and cost low. Styling is a bit bit utilitarian but the jacket has room to layer. The Co-op Jacket has a modestly sized, 3-piece hood with dual hood adjusts (but still best with a ball-cap under it), two zippered hand pockets, a drawcord hem and internal elastic cuffs allow a seal at waist and wrists.

BEST FOR: Budget hikers and backpackers looking for good rain and wind protection that will last at an incredibly low price.


$59.99 was $89.95 all Women’s Men’s REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jackets

REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jackets are competitors to the classic ultralight favorite, the Marmot Precip but currently 1/2 the cost. As such, the Co-op Rainier line is a great value for a full-featured ultralight rain jacket. It has a fully adjustable hood, sleeves, and hem, pit-zips, pockets, beefy toothed zipper, and a reasonably durable shell. This is a great choice for an ultralight rain jacket that won’t break the bank.

$75 $100 Jetboil Flash Cooking System

The Jetboil Flash Cooking System is a great deal at half the price and the same weight as the newest models,  the Jetboil MicroMo and Jetboil MiniMo. The Jetboil Flash 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 just two-and-a-half minutes.  

$275 (was $370) NEMO Hornet 2P Tent

The NEMO Hornet 2P Tent is ¾ lb lighter and $175 less than the Big Agens Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent. At only 2 lbs it’s one of the lightest semi-freestanding tents on the market. It’s up to 3 season use and has a door for each person. While it is a but snug for two people (you many need to cuddle a bit), it’s quite spacious for one person & their gear.

$90 ($130Brooks Cascadia 12 Trail-running shoes

For years the Brooks Cascadia 12 Trail-running shoes have been one of the most popular shoes for lightweight and ultalight backpacking. They combine just the right amount flex, and padding to make walking a breeze BUT not weigh you down. Ballistic rock shields protect protect your feel without being clunky and heavy like boots. Finally they have super grippy outsoles that help on wet surfaces and tricky terrain.


25% Off All Black Diamond Lighting

Need a headlamp bright enough that you can safely hike all night but not blinding in camp? Look no further than the Black Diamond Spot Headlamp. It throws a 300 lumen, 80 meter beam for 80 hours! But around camp it is well mannered with a 10 lumen beam that lasts 180 hours. With judicious use you could get a whole hiking season out of one set of batteries. Better yet it only weights 3 ounces! Of course there are bunch of other nice Black Diamond Lights for both trail and camp.

25% Off All Katadyn BeFree Water Filters

Safe water was never so fast and easy. For most of North America we recommend the extremely popular Katadyn BeFree Collapsible Water Filter Bottle – 1 Liter.

And drinking at the source keeps you hydrated and saves weight! That is, use the Katadyn BeFree filter to drink your fill from the springs, streams or lakes you pass. That way, hydrated and full up on water you won’t need to carry more than a prudent amount between sources. This will likely save you many pounds of pack weight vs. a person that is carrying 2 or 3 liters of water. For more info see Best Backpacking Hydration – Drink When Thirsty

25% OFF All Darn Tough Socks

Good socks aren’t cheap and you’ll need some light socks to go with the new light shoes. Darn Tough merino-wool-based socks are our favorite (but there’s non-wool socks too!). They come in many types from stretchier ultralight running socks up to padded knee-high ski socks. We recommend the ultralight cushion varieties, like Darn Tough Vertex Ultra-Light Cushion Socks, part of their endurance line. These have a little more cushion to keep your feet feeling fresh even after long miles, and stretch that keeps them form-fitting when wet. The best part is, these Vermont-made socks come with the best warranty in the business: if you manage to wear through a pair (and I never have), send ‘em back and they will send you a new pair!


30% OFF 30% off All REI Co-op Brand Merino Wool Base-layers

The REI Co-op Merino Midweight Half-Zip Base Layer Top is my favorite backpacking and hiking shirt. In fact, I’ve worn it every day I guided this year. It’s that comfortable and versatile — the perfect weight to wear as both a hiking shirt and base-layer, saving me the extra weight and complication of swapping layers. Of course there are bottoms as well and all are in both Men’s and Women’s. Wool is:

  • The original antimicrobial, non-stench fabric.
  • It keeps you warm when its wet.
  • Super fine Merino wool is soft and comfortable against the skin and doesn’t itch.
  • Doesn’t feel as clammy as synthetics


25% OFF 30% off All Black Diamond Trekking Poles

For years, Black Diamond has set been a leader for light, high strength and durable trekking poles. Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles are the gold standard for a light trekking pole up the most punishing conditions, like miles and miles of talus. I’ve used them mountaineering and trekking all over the world. Recently, Black Diamond’s line of folding poles have become quite popular. The Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles are only 10 oz for a pair of 120 cm poles!

Hiker's Guide to the REI Sale

30% Off all REI Co-op Down Jackets and Vests

A great value in a down jacket that weighs a mere 9 oz in Women’s and 10 oz in Men’s. 650-fill-power down keeps the price low. A weather-resistant nylon shell fabric improves its wet weather performance. Sadly, our preferred hooded style only comes in Men’s. It will still work well for Women but you may have to give up a few style points for the warmth of a hood.


There are REI 650 Fill Power Down Vests Too

 How to use your 30% OFF* One Full Price Arc’teryx Item

Arc’teryx makes some of the sweetest hiking and climbing gear out there — superb design, fit and construction. And yes, that little dino bird on your jacket does give you just a bit of that cool climber mojo. But let’s face it, extinct dino gear is not cheap! That’s where 30% off is most welcome. Even so, this may be a bit rich for my blood but to each their own…

* Note: Discount is applied in cart

Arc’teryx is well know for it’s superb rainwear and that might be your first place to look

Arc’teryx also make some great Down Jackets like

At 30% off it’s price is lower than many other high end down jackets like Patagonia’s Ultralight Down Jackets.

Suggestions to get the most from your 20% off any one OUTLET  item (online only)

Hiker's Guide to the REI Sale

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded Down Jacket M’s & W’s – REI OUTLET

Women’ Jacket – REI OUTLET       $244.73 $350.00 Save $105.27 (30%)

Mountain Hardwear touts the Ghost Whisperer as “the world’s lightest full-featured down jacket.” MH uses a unique “Whisperer 7D x 10D Ripstop” fabric that is light, tough, down proof, and fairly water resistant. Oh, and the Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer has won a ton of awards.

  • Q.Shield Down resists moisture & retains maximum loft when wet
  • Low-profile quilting holds down in place
  • Zip hand pockets
  • Hem has an interior toggle
  • Stow pocket has a loop so you can clip the jacket to your harness
  • Soft knit inner cuffs have elastic binding to snug in warmth

Brooks Mazama Trail-Running Shoes – Men’s | REI Outlet

Not as well known as Altra Lone Peaks or Brooks Cascadias these are still one of the nicer lightweight backpacking shoes (and of course a great trail running and hiking shoe as well!)

  • BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning dynamically adapts to every step and stride
  • Decoupled midfoot design allows the heels and forefeet to move independently for powerful push-off
  • Propulsion plates protect from rocks and roots and create a stable platform for aligned toe-offs
  • Sticky rubber outsoles with directional lugs for uphill and downhill traction
  • Protective, double-layered mesh with strategic stretch and structure for an impeccable fit and nearly seamless uppers

30% off Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket or Vest – Men’s – REI OUTLET

A steal if you also use your Members Get 20% off one REI Garage Item. But note that this is only in light blue…

This jacket has been a staple of the ultralight crowd for years. My wife and I both own one. It’s not the cheapest jacket but it’s light, and uses a generous 3.5 oz of 800-fill-power traceable down. It comes in both a jacket and a hooded version for a little more money. The hooded version is hands-down our favorite!

  • Insulated with premium 800-fill-power 100% Traceable Down: goose down that can be traced back to birds that were never force-fed, never live-plucked
  • Pertex® Quantum ripstop nylon shell fabric is the lightest-weight fabric used by Patagonia; variegated channels stabilize the goose down
  • Slim silhouette layers under a shell and efficiently traps heat; side panels with narrow channels provide shape and reduce bulk
  • Zippered chest pocket; zippered handwarmer pockets
  • Center-front zipper has an inner stormflap and soft, wicking zipper garage at chin
  • Jacket stuffs into its chest pocket with a carabiner clip-in loop; it also stuffs into its left-hand pocket to create a travel pillow
  • Single-pull adjustable hood, drawcord-adjustable hem and elastic-bound cuffs seal in warmth 


This post contains affilate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the these links, a slight portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you.  I am never under an obligation to write page post a review about any product. Finally, this post expresses my own independent opinion.

12 replies
  1. Katherine
    Katherine says:

    I used me member discount on a Ursack All-White. Because my “bear hangs” are more often “chipmunk hangs” and it’s time to stop pushing my luck.

  2. Amy
    Amy says:

    This is a great list! I’m fairly new to backpacking and have some of these items already but I’m adding the Joule 21 sleeping bag, MSR pocket rocket 2, nuun tablets, and a climbing harness from this sale. Steep & Cheap seems to be competing with this sale because they’ve added new items. I purchased prAna Halle pants in a color not available at REI and a compression sack. Excited to test out my new gear :)

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Very nice Amy. Glad you are getting some new light gear. And so smart to shop sales and closeouts when you are getting started. Will save you a ton of $. Warmest, -alan

  3. Steven
    Steven says:

    Great post but want to clarify one thing. The Exos backpack shown is last year’s model; the 2018 version lost the hipbelt pockets (which is a real shame)

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Thanks for finding that Steven. Yes, the actual link is was and is correct for the current model but the image is not. I already had the image of last years in my image library and forgot to change it in the rush to get the guide out in time for the sale. Hoping you had a great Memorial Day Weekend. Warmest -alan


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