2019 Lightweight Hiker’s Guide to the REI Labor Day Sale

Here’s how to get the best deals at the REI Sale. I’ve been an REI member for almost 45 years and I still get excited about a REI Sale. To prep for the sale I 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 our 2019 Lightweight Hiker’s Guide to the REI Labor Day Sale:

  • EVENT: 2019 REI REI Labor Day Sale. Save up to 40% off at REI.
  • PLUS: Members Get 20% off one REI OUTLET Item (online only)
  • Coupon Code: LABORDAY19
  • Dates for the sale are Aug 23-Sept 2, 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 items like Osprey Packs or Big Agnes Tents. 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.

12 Quick Pics for the Sale

Short on time? Here are some key picks for gear deals that should appeal to most lightweight hikers and backpackers. 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 — or it might sell out completely.

Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System

30% Off

The best Jetboil Stove! The award winning Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System gives you all of Jetboil’s new technologies: A proprietary regulator and enhanced regulator diaphragm for consistent performance down to 20°F. And their redesigned valve gives you better simmer control. Finally, we’re huge fans of the wider pot. It’s easier to eat out of and clean and has a more fuel effect shape to boot. No wonder this is the stove we take guiding. We can make tons of coffee for clients in no time. And a caffeinated client is a happy client.

Big Agnes Copper Spur Tents

25% Off

Storm-worthy and ultralight, Big Agnes Copper Spur Tents are a great choice for protection without the weight.  The Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent is a top pick in our 209 Guide to Tents. Copper Spur tents are fully freestanding, with crossing poles in the rear so they are stronger and more storm worthy than many UL tents. And 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.

REI Coop Half Dome Tents

30% Off

While not ultralight, at only $160 on sale this is a great value for a roomy, fully featured tent. No surprise then that the REI Half Dome 2 Plus is a best selling tent at REI for a reason; it just works. No matter where and how you choose to camp in the backcountry or front-country, this tent will keep you warm, dry and comfortable. Its vertical walls, spacious interior (30% more than many 2-person tents), and expansive vestibules make for great livability, which is why this backpacking tent also has great crossover into car camping. If you need a quiver of one budget tent for all purposes, the Half Dome is your go-to. In addition to more volume and features than the REI Passage 2 Tents, it’s also made with higher quality, longer lasting materials. A 60d floor prevents rips and pokes while durable DAC poles form a strong and light cross-pole frame with sidewall lifters. While not as light as UL tents, quality and value run throughout the entire Half Dome Plus family, so don’t hesitate to buy according to your typical group configuration.

REI Co-op Magma Down Sleeping Bags

30% Off

Top Pick Sleeping Bag & new for 2019: A new and lighter and less expensive version of 2017 Backpacker Editors’ Choice. We feel that the new REI Co-op Magma 30 Sleeping Bag M’s & W’s is a better all-around 2+ season use (most popular times) choice for most campers than the +15 version. The REI Co-op Magma 30 just a bit over a pound but filled with 8.5 oz of 850-fill-power goose down! That will keep most sleepers warm but still not weigh a ton!

BUT you do sleep cold: check out the original, award winning REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag. It will either keep colder sleepers happy in peak 3 season camping, or take most folks into colder shoulder (3+ season) camping of early spring or late fall.

REI Co-op Magma Trail Quilt 30

30% Off

New for 2019 | Off the shelf and ready to go! | REI Co-op Magma Trail Quilt 30. We are super stoked to see REI offer a quilt version of the award winning Magma series bags! Pair this with the 25% off “Women’s” version of the XLite, (yes it fits men fine — all the men we know use it) and you will be toasty warm at night. And no wonder since it’s stuffed with an incredible 11 ounces of Water-resistant 850-fill-power goose down. This quilt is cut a bit wider than most to give you lots of room and a good seal around the edges. What’s not to like!

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad – “Women’s”

25% Off

Our favorite pad, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad – “Women’s,”  is the best pad for men too! The “Women’s” version of the XLite is actually 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 for same weight as the “Men’s” version. Super warm and super comfortable we find its closer to a 3+ season pad!  For us it works well even into the colder shoulder seasons of late fall and early spring, so you can skip the weight and cost of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad

25% Off

Great pad for ~+32 F or above and for larger people | At only 1/2 pound for a size regular (72″ long) there’s been a lot of buzz about the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad. First, we’re stoked there’s a 25″ version of this pad. Some folks find that a 20″ pad is not quite wide enough. That is there’s room for you and one arm but not both. At 12 oz in a 25″ width the Size Large solves that problem without a weight penalty. Second, with an R 2.0 we find this pad warm and comfortable to around freezing (2+ season use). For temps colder than freezing we recommend the M’s XLite (R 3.2) or our preferred W’s XLite (R 3.9).

REI Co-op Flash Sleeping Pads

40% Off

Value Pick Sleeping Pad and an ever better value at 40% off | REI Co-op Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad has more insulation than a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite but costs a lot less. The REI Co-op Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad combines chambered air pockets, with proprietary dual-fiber insulation combines with a Mylar® reflective layer to provide a high warmth-to-weight ratio. Again, it’s warmer than a NeoAir XLite while weighing just 3 oz more and costing a lot less. It uses a durable 30D fabric and of course it’s backed by REI. We prefer the Regular 20″ version of this pad. But many people may prefer the Wide 25″ inch version. And of course it is the perfect compliment to an REI Co-op Magma Sleeping Bag or Quilt. And if you really need warmth, get the REI Co-op Flash All-Season Insulated Air Sleeping Pad, with an R Value of 5.2!

REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jackets & Pants

$59.99 (Reg $90)

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.

All REI Co-op Brand Trekking Poles

30% Off

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. In summary we find them some of the lightest and strongest poles on the market. And backed by REI!

  • 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

All Katadyn BeFree Water Filters

35% Off

The Katadyn BeFree Collapsible Water Filter Bottle is an exciting newcomer to the lightweight, high flow rate, “squeeze style” water filtration systems. The BeFree is fast, filtering 1 liter in 30 seconds – so it’s far less tiring, time consuming, and frustrating than pump filters or chemical treatments. The BeFree is fairly unique in that it can be quickly unclogged without the need for back flushing. And it is light at 2.3 for both filter and water bottle. The BeFree bottle has a wider opening making it easier to fill than the narrow standard water bottle threads. Like the Sawyer Squeeze, its 0.1 micron filter removes all the nasties and yuckies (bacteria and protozoa) that occur in water in North America (except for viruses). And the Katadyn BeFree saves weight by allowing you to carry less water, and drink when you reach a stream.

We like the 1.0 liter version but the 20 oz version is great for storing on the pack shoulder straps. Note that the BeFree has a 1000 liter capacity (depending on water quality) vs. the Sawyer Squeeze filters almost unlimited capacity and lifetime warranty.

REI Co-op Merino Midweight Half-Zip Base Layer - Best Hiking Gear

REI Co-op Merino Base Layers

30% Off

When daytime temps are cool our favorite hiking shirt is the REI Co-op Merino Midweight Half-Zip Shirt. In this chilly weather we use it our “hiking shirt” and baselayer. This saves weight and and the complications taking on and off your baselayer.  The half-zip regulates temperature and the long sleeves and full neck are good for sun protection. But we are fans of RE Merino Wool garments in general. Wool is warm when wet, does a good job of wicking moisture away from your skin and is naturally antimicrobial so it dramatically reduces stench. Finally soft merino wool does not itch.

Darn Tough Socks

25% Off

We use Darn Wool Socks for most of our hikes. Like their name implies they last longer than most socks. And of course their lifetime guarantee is a big plus! We prefer thinner socks with lower tops like the Darn Tough Vertex 1/4 Ultralight Cushion Socks. Thin socks are more comfortable, blister less, absorb less water, are easier to wash and faster to dry. Finally, if wool is not your thing they make tons of non-wool socks!

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.

  • 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

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

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

25% Off +20% more*

The Black Diamond Spot Headlamp is the light I take when guiding or on a personal climbing trip. Put otherwise, this is the one headlamp that will do it all — while still being light at only 3 oz. It can put out brilliant 300 lumens of light to safely travel/climb on technical terrain, or make an all-night emergency exit on rough trails. But it is also dimmable and tame enough for camp use. In it’s 8 lumen “camp mode” it will last you a season of hiking on a single set of batteries.

* Members Get 20% off one REI OUTLET Item (online only) | Coupon Code: LABORDAY19

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket

30% off +20% more*

Available for Men and Women, Mountain Hardwear touts the 7.7 oz Ghost Whisperer as “the world’s lightest full-featured down jacket.” For 1.2 oz more than the Montbell EX Light Down Anorak you get a full front zipper and pockets. MH uses a unique “Whisperer 7D x 10D Ripstop” fabric that is light, tough, down proof, and fairly water resistant. Oh, and the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer has won a ton of awards.

* Members Get 20% off one REI OUTLET Item (online only) | Coupon Code: LABORDAY19

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

25% Off +20% more*

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles are the standard by which all other rugged trekking poles gauged. Honed over years of use and improvement in the roughest conditions, these poles are incredibly strong. I do a lot of guiding in difficult terrain and while clients are forever breaking lighter carbon poles the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles never break. The FlickLock Pro locks adjusters are easy to use, won’t jam and don’t slip. Finally cork is simply the best grip material.

* Members Get 20% off one REI OUTLET Item (online only) | Coupon Code: LABORDAY19

Marmot PreCip Rain Rainwear I REI Outlet

25% Off +20% more*

Marmot PreCip Rain Rainwear is well deserved ultralight classic in rain pants and Jackets.  And the newer model is 43% more breathable.  This is an inexpensive, lightweight waterproof, breathable jacket. It has pit zips to cool you off, handwarmer pockets to keep your hands toasty, and weighs well under a pound. The rain pants are no slouch either. There are Men’s, Women’s, and Children’s sizes.

* Members Get 20% off one REI OUTLET Item (online only) | Coupon Code: LABORDAY19

Patagonia Down Sweater Jackets I REI Outlet

30% off +20% more*

Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket is a classic lightweight down Jacket. At $100 less than their UL jackets, this is a great warm layer for backpacking or any outdoor activity, really. It’s reasonably light (13 oz, non-hooded), and uses 800-fill-power traceable down. It comes in Men’s and Women’s, as well as hooded versions, for a little more money. Of course, there are adorable kids versions as well! Patagonia’s quality, warranty, and customer service are legendary, ensuring you’ll keep this jacket for a long, long time.

* Members Get 20% off one REI OUTLET Item (online only) | Coupon Code: LABORDAY19

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.

26 replies
  1. Denise
    Denise says:

    Hi, What’s the max height you’d recommend for the Women’s NeoAir? It is 66″ long, so what are assumptions about sleep style, etc. assuming you recommend it for people over 66″ tall? I’m debating whether to get that or a different one for my son who is 5’10” and growing…Thanks Alan!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Denise. I think the answer is what is your sleeping style. My 6’5″ hiking partner uses the pad. For me as long as my calves are supported when I sleep on my back I am fine. Having my heels resting slightly on the ground is just fine (most of the weight is taken off of my heels via my suppored calves). One can always put a bit of clothing or something under your heels but I have never found it necessary. Side sleeping presents a shorter “length” and usually my whole body fits, or close to it. Hope this helps. Best, -alan

      Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Ben, the Hornet is a good tent and a good deal. Depends on how good a fit it is for your backpacking style. See more on my 2019 Best Backpacking Tents | Lightweight & Ultralight.

      But in summary: For those seeking one of the lightest traditional tents, Nemo Hornet 2P is a great option. At 1.9 lbs it is our lightest recommended traditional tent. And for $370, it’s the second most affordable. So it’s a great value! And the amazing part is that, despite the weight and cost trimmings, Nemo still managed to deliver what is only a somewhat smaller living space and vestibule setup than its heavier competition. Yes, the slanted sidewalls (tent lacks a spreader crossbar at the peak) make it better suited for sleeping than hanging out in (some even consider this a large person’s solo tent), but if small and light is your style, you were probably going to hike all day anyway. Note that this tent has light fabric and should be treated with care.. We would definitely recommend something under the tent to protect its 15 denier floor.Keep in mind that the Nemo family goes deep and quality options abound. Larger hikers or anyone seeking livability will appreciate the expanded footprint, vertical sidewalls, and bigger vestibules on the Dagger 2P (also a very nice tent!).

      Best For: Those seeking the lightest traditional tent, even if it means compromising a bit on space and livability. Light fabrics should be treated with care.

      Reply
      • Mary B
        Mary B says:

        I just picked up the 2p on sale at REI. The 2019 version has 2 plastic spreaders at the top of the tent. This seems like the light weight version of my old first love, the 2p quarter dome.

        Reply
  2. Matthew
    Matthew says:

    I’m curious why it is said that the women’s version of the therm a rest is lighter than the men’s, when they are both said to be 12 oz. In the specs. Is it just the R value that is higher on the women’s?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Matthew, you are correct they are the same weight. (The text was an artifact of cutting and pasting). It now reads “At 12 oz and with an R-value of 3.9, it’s warmer for same weight as the “Men’s” version.” Wishing you a great year of hiking. Warmest (pun intended), -alan

      Reply
  3. Vic Hoyt
    Vic Hoyt says:

    Great suggestions! I’ve been waffling around trying to decide what to buy during the sale. Sadly, a lot of the items on the list are already discounted, so do not qualify for the 20% off member discount. For instance the InReach Mini would be cheaper at 20% off full price. You alluded to this in your very good preamble post.

    Nevertheless, I grabbed one of those Flash pads for $20 using my dividend (and your affiliate link!), so a win/win. Thanks for all your hard work and research.

    By the way, relative to the Altra entry, I’ve been coveting a pair of Olympus 3.0, but they’re nowhere to be found. I called Altra today and they’re about to release the 3.5 model sometime in July. Sadly too late for any discount :-).

    Reply
  4. Denise
    Denise says:

    Thanks for this Alan! In looking at the sleeping bag options, I noted that one of them–the Magma 17 Women’s sleeping bag (https://www.rei.com/product/110927/rei-co-op-magma-17-sleeping-bag-womens) is on sale already for $275 and appears to have the same specs across the board to the Women’s 15 except that the “stuff volume” is 8 liters instead of 10 liters. It is on sale but not in the outlet, so doesn’t qualify for either 20% coupon, but does qualify for the 10% member bonus. Do you see any difference in this bag that I’m missing, compared to the Women’s 15?

    Reply
  5. CraigK
    CraigK says:

    Hi Alan – thanks for summing up sale highlights…super helpful. Picked up an Atom LT hoodie…it’s fantastic!

    Could you double check the Darn Tough entry…thinking only the ski socks are on sale, not the hiking editions. I walked into a store yesterday, and I was so darned confused about the pricing. :)

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good catch Craig, only ski socks were on sale. Since this is backpacking and hiking site, I pulled the socks out of the guide. Still there are some very nice Smartwool socks on sale for 30% off and that includes hiking and running socks. Best, -alan

      Reply
  6. 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)

    Reply
    • 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

      Reply
  7. 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 :)

    Reply
    • 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

      Reply
  8. 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.

    Reply

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