The vast inventory at a REI Sale can be overwhelming. I’ve done a bunch of research to help you select the best lightweight gear at the sale.

This gear is smarter, lighter and more thoroughly tested than your typical buyer’s guide. Enjoy our picks of the best light and practical gear in our Smart and Light Gift Guide for Hikers and Backpackers.

This gear is smarter, lighter and more thoroughly tested than your typical buyer’s guide. Enjoy our picks of the best light and practical gear in our Smart and Light Gift Guide for Hikers and Backpackers.

This gear is smarter, lighter and more thoroughly tested than your typical buyer’s guide. Enjoy our picks of the best light and practical gear in our Smart and Light Gift Guide for Hikers and Backpackers.

This gear is smarter, lighter and more thoroughly tested than your typical buyer’s guide. Enjoy our picks of the best light and practical gear in our Smart and Light Gift Guide for Hikers and Backpackers.

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. 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. The result is my Lightweight Hiker’s Guide to REI Gear Up Get Out Sale.

  • EVENT: Gear Up Get Out Sale. Save up to 30% off at REI.
  • PLUS: Members Get   20% off one full price item   and  20% off one REI Garage Item
  • Coupon Code: GEARUP20
  • Dates for the sale are 11/10 to 11/20, 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 (I have some 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.

Two Quick Pics


Oh, and Patagonia R1 Hoodies & Pullovers are 30% off – might be my favorite sale item! Think of it as “fur for humans.” Possibly the most versatile cold weather base layer ever made. It works over an astonishing range of conditions. Mine has been to many a mountain top all over the world.

 

The 12 oz REI Co-op Rhyolite with its breathable 3-layer eVENT fabric is durable AND Light. At half the price of competitor’s jackets, it’s a great value! The Rhyolite jacket is on sale at at 40% off – $113!

REI made some good design choices with this jacket: the pockets are high enough to use when wearing hip straps and it has mesh pocket linings creating two large and effective chest vents (which we prefer over pit-zips).


 

Good luck and happy shopping!  -AdventureAlan

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Lightweight Hiker’s Guide to REI Gear Up Get Out Sale

 

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


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

Women’ Jacket – REI Garage       $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 Hoodie or Jacket – Men’s – REI Garage

A steal if you also use your Members Get 20% off one REI Garage Item.

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

25% off Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Trail Shoes, M’s & W’s – REI Garage

A good pair of hiking shoes, ain’t cheap. So these might be a good choice for the your 20% off any one Garage 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 come 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 ONE Speedgoat Trail-Running Shoes – Men’s – REI Garage

$97.73 $140.00 Save $42.27 (30%)

These shoes are the favorite of many serious thru hikers and ultra runners.  They’re inspired by Karl Meltzer and the rugged conditions of the Speedgoat 50K race.

  • Uppers with welded synthetic overlays provide support all the way through the forefoot; welded microfiber underlays add lightweight comfort
  • No-sew SpeedFrame construction cuts weight
  • Durable, injection-molded EVA midsoles provide soft cushioning
  • Vibram® rubber outsoles feature grippy 4mm lugs and trail-specific flex grooves for added stability
  • Ground-rubber toecaps enhance protection


 

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.


30% Off All M’s Patagonia R1 Hoodies & Pullovers – possibly my favorite sale item!

Think of it as “fur for humans.” Possibly the most versatile cold weather base layer ever made. It works over an astonishing range of conditions.

  • Exclusive to Patagonia, Polartec® Power Grid fabric is lighter and more breathable than before, but offers the same outstanding stretch, durability and compressibility
  • Polygiene permanent odor control helps keep it fresh
  • Spiral-stitch construction lets you push up the sleeves with no ensuing forearm pump
  • Off-shoulder seams allow pack-wearing comfort; raglan sleeves increase mobility
  • Snug-fitting, balaclava-style hood fits comfortably under a helmet
  • Deep center-front Slim Zip zipper allows for quick venting, and a zipper garage at chin for next-to-skin comfort
  • Chest pocket has a Slim Zip zipper, zipper garage and mesh pocket bag
  • Sleeves have discreet on-seam thumbholes for added coverage
  • Torso is 1 in. longer than usual to stay tucked in under a harness or a pack hipbelt
  • Fabric is bluesign® approved

REI Co-op Rhyolite Rain Jacket M’s & W’s  $189 – 12 oz  now 40% off – $113!

One of the best hardshells out there and it costs far less than the competition.

3-layer eVent waterproof breathable membrane is highly breathable & durable

The REI Co-op Rhyolite is a great three layer jacket with two well placed chest pockets and adjustable hems, cuffs and hood. REI made several clever design choices with this jacket: The pockets are high enough to use when wearing hip straps and use mesh pocket lining to creating two effective chest vents for backpackers. Additionally, the Rhyolite jacket is REI’s durable rain jacket, due to tough fabric and seam placement on the shoulders -they directed the seams away from high friction areas on the shoulders and back where a backpack would accelerate wear. If you’re planning on buying this jacket, note that the hem comes up just a little short in the back, and the fabric is just a touch stiff (these issues can be solved with thoughtful sizing).

BEST FOR: Hikers and backpackers looking for rain protection with good breathability and great ventilation that can endure significant wear and tear in formidable conditions.


25% off All Swiss Army Knives

This is a great chance to stock up on some small holiday presents

And yes, the Swiss Army Classic is well, a classic ultralight knife. But at 25% off don’t stop there if you want something more elaborate for a front country camping knife (e.g. Swiss Army Huntsman Knife) or something in between for everyday carry…


25% off All REI Co-op Trekking Poles

We particularly like the REI Co-op Flash Carbon Trekking Poles. They are light, strong, and travel friendly. We’ve taken them all over the world.

  • REI exclusive grips offer light, breathable EVA foam in ergonomic shapes that accommodate a variety of hand sizes and positions comfortably
  • Carbon-composite construction and a 3-section design combine to minimize trail weight without sacrificing sturdiness
  • Adjustable wrist-straps help you control your poles
  • Low-profile Powerlock 3.0 enables easy adjustments while out on the trail
  • Trail basket has a minimalist profile to cut down on weight while retaining stability
  • Poles are fitted with trekking baskets and durable tungsten carbide tips; included tip protectors are for travel / packing protection (not intended for hiking)

25% off Big Agnes Copper Spur Tents and Footprints

If you want to cut a little weight, but keep lots of space, Big Agnes has you covered with their Copper Spur ultralight freestanding tents. They are some of the most spacious backpacking 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. The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent is a longtime favorite among ultralight backpackers.


Lightweight Hiker's Guide to REI Gear Up Get Out SaleBig Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 Tent  $291.93 $389.95  Save 25%

Light in your pack and easy on your wallet. If you want to cut a little weight, but keep lots of space, look at the Big Agnes 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. [Note that this is a semi-free standing tent. the rear of the tent does need to be staked out.]


Lightweight Hiker's Guide to REI Gear Up Get Out Sale35% Off all Jetboil Flash Cooking Systems

The Jetboil Flash 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. That’s 3-4 times faster than an alcohol stove system. At 15.2 oz, it’s not too heavy. Or you could consider the Jetboil FlashLite, which weighs 4 oz less, but has a lower 0.8 L water capacity vs. 1.0 L for the Flash.


 

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket – Men’s and Women’s 30% off now $138.99

A Patagonia Ultralight Classic! Compared to fleece its lighter and more compressible for equivalent warmth. And unlike down it still keeps you warm when wet.

  • 60g PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Eco, made with 55% post-consumer recycled content. The most thermally efficient synthetic insulation
  • PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco is also water-repellent and retains 98% of its insulating ability even when wet
  • 2,156,127 plastic bottles will be saved from the landfill in the first year alone, thanks to the use of new PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco
  • Wrapped in a windproof and moisture-shedding 100% recycled polyester ripstop shell with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish; bluesign approved
  • Brick quilting pattern with narrow horizontal quilt lines on side panels stabilizes insulation and uses durable thread for abrasion resistance
  • Elasticized cuffs and a dual-adjust drawcord hem seal out wind and seal in warmth
  • Center-front zipper has wicking interior storm flap and zipper garage at chin for next-to-skin comfort
  • Two zippered handwarmer pockets have cleanly finished zipper garages; zippered internal chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack with a reinforced carabiner clip-in loop

REI Co-op Magma 850 Down Jacket – Men’s and Women’s

$129.99 Was $189

Similar to the lauded Patagonia UL Down Jacket but less than 1/2 the price! The REI Magma 850 down jacket offers easy movement and just-right warmth for backpacking, hiking and travel.

  • Goose down boasts durable water repellent (DWR) treatment to help keep you dry and warm
  • 850-fill goose down insulation provides a high warmth-to-weight ratio and compacts so easily you can pack the jacket into its own left-hand pocket for storage
  • Variable baffles map insulation to the body, providing warmth where it’s needed and reduced bulk where it’s not
  • Pertex® ripstop shell is ultralight and durable
  • Shoulder seams are rolled forward to reduce bulk and prevent chafing under pack straps
  • Tightly quilted underarm gussets reduce bulk, improve range of motion, and prevent jacket hiking at the waist
  • Elastic cuffs and drawcord hem help seal in warmth
  • Zip hand pockets are positioned to be compatible with a pack’s hip belt

30% off All Smartwool Midweight Base Layers for Women and Men

   Men’s Smartwool Midweight Base Layers on Sale

   Women’s Smartwool Midweight Base Layers on Sale

  • The original antimicrobial, non-stench fabric that 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
  • Lots of garments and styles on sale to suit every need and taste.


25% off All Women’s and Men’s Patagonia Midweight Capilene Baselayer

If wool isn’t your thing… light and durable Patagonia Capilene Midweight baselayers are a great option.

We are particular fans of the Patagonia Capilene Midweight Zip-Neck Long Underwear Top with its long, center-front zipper for easy venting when you work up a sweat, full underarm gussets and raglan shoulder seams that provide unhindered shoulder mobility, and elastic thumbholes that keep sleeves from riding up and provide partial coverage for your hands.

  • Quick-drying Polartec® Power Grid™ fabric with 93% (solids) and 63% (heathers) recycled polyester content has a smooth face for easy layering
  • Brushed fabric with a grid pattern next to the skin provides warmth, breathability and moisture-wicking performance
  • Polygiene permanent odor control helps keep the fabric smelling fresh, wash after wash
  • Flatlock seams minimize chafing
  • Fair Trade Certified sewing means the people who made this shirt earned a premium for their labor

25% off Darn Tough Socks – Men’s and Women’s

From Darn Tough: “Our unconditional lifetime guarantee is simple and without strings or conditions. If our socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them for another pair. For life.

I like Wool Socks and use them for all my hiking. Darn tough socks are among the best. And they make tons of non-wool socks if that’s your thing. I prefer thinner socks with lower tops.

  • Custom-count, shrink-treated merino wool that enhances comfort and durability for outdoor activities
  • Merino wool wicks away moisture and breathes to regulate temperature for outstanding comfort in a variety of conditions
  • Ring-toe construction hides seams and enhances comfort.
  • Reinforced heels and toes; elastic support around the arches

25% Off All Farm to Feet Socks

Made in America with American-sourced materials. And tons of fun colors and patterns!

  • Merino-wool knit delivers itch-free, stink-fighting performance
  • Made with 100% American-sourced materials, these socks feature durable, hidden-plait construction that stands up to season
  • Low-profile cushioning and comfort compression through the arches reduce fatigue
  • Light, bottom-of-foot cushioning
  • Comfort compression
  • Seamless toe closures
  • Covered by the Farm to Feet lifetime guarantee


 

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

 


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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.


 Guide to REI Gear Up Get Out 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.


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REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent – $349.00

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 2017 update.)

Note: Compare this to the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 Tent 


 

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-speedgoat

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.


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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!


 Guide to REI Gear Up Get Out 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.


 

1. REI GARAGE selections

2. Regular REI Sale Items

3. Full Priced Items

Disclaimer

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.

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-poles-1200

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.