Here’s how to get the best deals at REI’s biggest sale of the year. 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 Anniversary Sale. Save up to 50% off at REI.
  • PLUS: Members Get 20% off one full price item and 20% off one REI OUTLET Item (online only)
  • Coupon Code: ANNIV18
  • Dates for the sale are May 18-28, 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 OUTLET to use your 20% off any one OUTLET item. Stuff goes fast and sizes/colors are limited to begin with. I’ve noted a few OUTLET items that I found to be good deals here, 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 (I have some Regular Sale picks below). 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.

Oh, and happy 80th Anniversary REI!

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. Best, they are already on sale so you can save your 20% Off One Regular Price Item for something else that meets your fancy.

25% off (save up to $164) all Big Agnes Copper Spur Tents & Footprints

The best-selling ultralight tents are light in your pack and on sale! If you want to cut a little weight, but keep lots of space, Big Agnes has you covered with the high volume versions (HV) versions of their Copper Spurt line. The Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent comes in at 2 lb. 12 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.

$99.99 all REI Co-op Passage 2 Tent

OK this may not be the lightest tent out there but it’s crazy cheap and will get the job done. With all the money you save you can look elsewhere for some ultralight gear.  Or maybe you are just getting started and/or are on a limited budget. The Passage 2 is about a pound per person heavier than the top of the line Copper Spur HV UL 2  Ultralight Tent — not the end of the world — but at 1/4 the price it’s worth a hard look for anybody trying to hold to a budget. 

$97 $130 Jetboil MicroMo Cooking System

A only 12 oz it’s Jetboil’s lightest system with all the newest improvements. The Jetboil MicroMo stove 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 just two-and-a-half minutes. Cooking for two? Also consider the Jetboil MiniMo, which weighs 2 oz more, but has a higher 1.0 L water capacity vs. 0.8 L for the MicroMo. 

25% Off all MSR PocketRocket Stove Kits

Based on MSR’s award winning Pocket Rocket 2 stove, this is a light and low cost alternative to a JetBoil. The MSR PocketRocket 2 Mini Stove Kit is about 1/2 the cost and 35% lighter than the lightest JetBoil.

$82.49 was $110.00 Osprey Talon 22 & Tempest 20 Daypacks

A sweet price for a light but extremely functional daypack. Weighing just over a pound, these popular daypacks have a lot to like. For comfort they have padded hipbelts and shoulder straps and a vented back panel to reduce sweating and heat build-up. Seven external pockets including two hipbelt pockets make it easy to organize your gear — a key to efficent hiking. And there is an external hydration sleeve. Their capacity is plenty for even a long day hike. A light but durable fabric is the finishing touch. They come in gender specific models: the Men’s Talon 22 and Women’s Tempest 20.


25% off all Altra Running Footwear (trail/hiking shoes)

These are Alison’s and my favorite backpacking and hiking shoes. That is, they 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.

We use two models: The more cushioned Lone Peak is Altra’s most popular shoe and a darling of lightweight and ultralight hikers. We also like the less cushioned award winning Altra Superior shoes We’ve even taken them technical canyoneering with good success. 


30% off all Women’s and Men’s Patagonia Nano Puff Jackets

Be warm and be green with a classic! Ever since the Micro Puff in the early oughts, the Patagonia line of Puff Jackets have been a staple for ultralight backpackers, climbers and adventurous hikers — keeping them warm when wet and not weighting them down. Each year Patagonia tweaked the Jacket a bit it and made it better.  And in recent years they’ve gotten greener. This year’s Patagonia Nano Puff Jackets have the latest 60-g PrimaLoft™ Gold Insulation Eco. Made from 55% post-consumer recycled content it is water-repellent, highly compressible and maintains warmth when wet. The shell and liner fabrics are also from recycled materials. Oh, and we prefer the Hoodies.


30% off all REI Co-op W’s Joule & M’s Igneo Down Sleeping Bags

A sweet price for a water resistant high loft down bag! Compact and light, these sleeping bags even have waterproof breathable panels in key areas. REI in-the-round design puts vertical baffles in the sidewalls to wrap you in warmth and create a better fit than bags that use only horizontal baffles. Contoured hood, insulated face muffler and full-length draft tube all work to keep warmth in. 


30% off all REI Co-op Sleeping Pads

New and exciting entrants into the market The REI Co-Op Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pads provide warm, light comfort under your body at a price that won’t break the bank! The REI Co-Op Flash [3 season] Insulated Air Sleeping Pad is only 15 oz! and with an R of 3.7 is suitable from most 3 season use.  The REI Co-op Flash All-Season Insulated Air Sleeping Pad is only 19.4 oz and with an R of 5.1 is suitable for 4-season use.

30% off all REI Sahara Clothing

Great trail and travel clothes a good price. A personal favorite, I’ve used some version of REI Sahara Pants for almost 20 years. From the AT, to Alaska, the High Sierra and Patagonia the’ve always performed admirably. 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. They are also our favorite travel clothes (non-backpacking). Of course, there is a nice long sleeve shirt to go with the pants.


25% off all Petzl Lighting

Need a headlamp bright enough that you can safely hike all night? Look no further than the  Petzl Actik Headlamp. It throws a 300 lumen, 90 meter beam for 60 hours! But around camp it is well mannered with a 5 lumen beam that lasts 260 hours. With judicious use you could get a whole hiking season out of one set of batteries. Better yet it only weights 3 ounces!

25% Off All Sawyer Water Filters and Purifiers

Drinking at the source keeps you hydrated and saves weight! And there is no better tool to do this than the Sawyer Squeeze system. That is, use the Sawyer 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

For most of North America we recommend the extremely popular Sawyer Squeeze Plus filter as it has a higher flow rate and clogs less than the Micro. For more difficult environments there is the new Select Series Purifier Bottles. The Sawyer Select S2 Water Purifier Bottle removes viruses, bacteria, protozoa, harmful chemicals, and pesticides. Best of all, it does this in an inexpensive and easy to use bottle weighing only 10 ounces. See:  Review of Sawyer Select S2 Water Purifier – fast, effective virus & chemical removal.

More Regular REI Sale Items (non OUTLET)

The best items on sale will go quickly. So if you wait too long, you may not get your choice of size, model or color, etc. Below are my picks for Regular Sale Items that are both lightweight and exceptional performers. Note: you can’t use your 20% off coupon on this. [But you can in my selections for some of the best full priced items.]

25% Off All ‘Adventure Medical Kits’ First Aid Kits

A good first aid kit is part of the 10 Essentials and should go on every hike and backpacking trip. But it’s likely after a few years of use that your first aid kit is missing items and other stuff is out of date. This is a great time to refresh or replace your kit to keep it in top order. Adventure Medical Kits makes some of the best and some of their kits like the UltraLight / Watertight .5 First-Aid Kit are refreshingly light!

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

Think of the REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jackets and Pants as competitors to the classic Marmot Precip Jacket/Pants 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 all around jacket that won’t break the bank.

$104.19 was $139.00 all REI Co-op Flash Carbon Trekking Poles

Strong and Ultralight these trekking poles can take anything you can dish out even off-trail travel in mountainous terrain. They have been all over the world with us from Alaska, to Patagonia and New Zeland. And they are compact enough to fit into a suit case. No wonder they appear on almost all of our gear lists.


25% off all Men’s and Women’s Underwear

A good pair of underwear will keep you cool and comfortable. ExOfficio Give-N-Go underwear is a favorite for both male and female athletes and hikers. We also like Patgaonia’s offerings. If you are backpacking bring two pairs, one to wash and one to wear. They’ll dry in just a few hours on the outside of your pack. Alison is also a fan of Patagonia Sport Bras.


50% Off! All Women’s and Men’s REI Co-op Screeline Clothing, excludes hats, While supplies last

With the steep discount these will likely go fast. Screeline is REI’s new technical line of clothing. The pants uses a 4-way stretch nylon/spandex fabric and have details like knee patches and higher waist to be pack compatible. While a bit heavier than the Sahara clothing, the stretch fabric provides extra mobility and comfort. Shirts are a light polyester. Both pants and shirts have high UV protection.


Hiker's Guide to the REI Sale

30% to 50% off  Co-op Magma 850 Down Jacket Men’s ($93.83 – $131.93)

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.



Hiker's Guide to the REI Sale

REI Co-op Down Jacket Men’s Men – $69 (was $100)

Also available in Women’s  $49 (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.


Save $75 Garmin inReach Explorer+ 2-Way Satellite Communicator

The $75 off is welcome since GPS devices rarely go on sale and you can’t use your discount coupon. The inReach series is arguably the highest performing, most functional and safest SOS/tracking device on the market. Alison and I take ours on most trips. Vs. the SE+ the Explorer+ adds internal maps so you can also use it as a mapping GPS.

Full disclosure: This Explorer+ is likely on sale in preparation for the soon to be released Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way Satellite Communicator (currently available for pre-order). The Mini is smaller and only 3.5 oz. But it’s smaller display pretty much requires that you use it paired with a smartphone for all but the most basic functions. And the Mini has a 1/2 the battery life and no mapping functionality.


25% off all Outdoor Research Hats and Gaiters and Glove

I love OR hats and the Outdoor Research Sun Runner (pictured) 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. And Outdoor Research is well known for their excellent line of gloves


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

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Tent

This is a great place to use your 20% off one full price item coupon. The new and exciting Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Tent combines the best of the heavier but more spacious and fully featured Copper Spur Series tents, with the lighter and lower cost of the Fly Creek Series. Similar to the Copper Spur tents, the Tiger Wall retains the dual side doors, and a top spreader bar for more vertical walls and interior space. But to save weight and cost, it is semi-free standing like the Fly Creek tents. That is, the two rear corners need to be staked out.

In summary, the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Tent retains much of what is great about the Copper Spur HV UL2 while being over 1/2 pound lighter and $50 less. 

Hiker's Guide to the REI Sale

REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent

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 and livability from extremely vertical walls is what sets tent apart from most of its peers. (Now even more room with recent 2017 update.)

Note: Compare this to the Big Agnes copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent 

Hiker's Guide to the REI Sale

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite $160

Warm, comfortable, light and compact. What more do you want? 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.

Hiker's Guide to the REI Sale

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. Some may prefer the Exos 58.

Note: For those looking for an even lighter Osprey pack Check out their new Levity Packs for Men and Lumina Packs for Women! The Levity 45 and Lumina 45 packs are both well under two pounds!

Hiker's Guide to the REI Sale

REI Co-op Magma Sleeping Bag – 17° W’s & 10° M’s – $349

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. 

Hiker's Guide to the REI Sale

Marmot Phase 30 Sleeping Bag – $399

This is almsot 1/2 the weight of the bags above it! A very warm one-pound Ultralight bag with 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! 

Hiker's Guide to the REI Sale

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.

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

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 

Marmot Atom Sleeping Bag $201.73

A one pound +35 °F sleeping bag, with 800-fill-power goose down for only $166 using your 20% off coupon! Marmot has a reputaton for making some of the better down sleeping bags out there. The shell is high-end Pertex® Microlight ripstop nylon and an it has all the right details to make it warm including a multi-baffle hood, anatomic footbox and excellent zippers. 


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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