Lightweight Hikers Guide to the 2021 REI Member Moment

The Annual REI Member Sale has transformed into the 11-day “2021 REI Member Moment.” To cut to the chase, the difference is that there are no items specifically discounted for this event (yes there are some closeout items with limited selection that have been on discount for a while, but to our knowledge there are no fully-in-stock items specifically discounted for the 11 days of this event).

As such, it’s all about using your 20% Off Coupons wisely

  • EVENT: 2021 REI Member Moment
  • DATES: 3/19-3/29
  • Members Get: 20% off one full price item & 20% off one REI OUTLET Item

Below, we share with you our strategy to get the best out of the REI Member Moment. Happy couponing!

40 Suggestions to Best Use Your 20% Off Coupons

at the 2021 REI Member Moment

As we said above, unlike previous REI “Member Sales” there are no items specifically discounted for this event (yes there are some closeout items with limited selection that have been on sale for a while, but no fully-in-stock items discounted for the event — at least that we are aware of).

It’s all about making good choices to use 20% Off Coupons wisely

Budgets vary, but the general strategy is to intelligently use your coupons on the highest price item that you really need. This will give each coupon its maximum benefit.

This where we can help. Below we list some of our favorite REI stocked gear as coupon possibilities. Many times this gear is also a top pick in one of our gear guides:

Flash Packs

REI Flash 18 & Flash 22 Packs

$20 – $55

Clear your mind and refresh your perspective by taking a hike! There’s no better time to enjoy the benefits of solitude and nature. Not surprisingly we’re seeing a huge amount of people out hiking just about everywhere!

Staff Pick: The REI Flash 18 & Flash 22 Packs are Staff Favorites. They are very light, inexpensive & functional ultralight day packs. Blessedly minimal with just the right features, the  Flash 18 is only 9 ounces and the Flash 22 just 13 ounces. As such, they will lighten your load and step.

Jetboil Stash Cooking System

Weight: 7.1 oz, 210g (7.4 oz, 210g as tested including 7g stove sleeve)
Capacity: 0.8 L
BTU: 4,500
Boil Time: 2 min 30 sec for 0.5 L
Fuel Efficiency: 12 liters boiled / 100 g Fuel (vs. ~7.5 for a standard canister stove)
Pressure Regulator: No
Built-in Ignition: No
MSRP: $129.95

The new JetBoil STASH Stove is a game-changer. At half the weight of previous JetBoil stoves, the STASH still retains the performance, fuel efficiency, and creature comforts that everybody loves about JetBoil stoves. A win, win. It competes head to head with the weight of many ultralight alcohol stoves but surpasses them on boil times, fuel efficiency, ease of use, and simmer control. As such we see it enticing many types of backpackers to switch to the STASH — backpackers that don’t carry a stove due to weight, ultralight alcohol stove users, MSR Pocket Rocket owners, and of course current JetBoil owners who want to save nearly half a pound.

Read our full review here

See our video review here

ultralight backpacking tent | rei flash air 2

REI’s Lightest 2-Person Tent | REI Co-op Flash Air 2 Tent

2-Person Tent | Under 2 Pounds! $299

If you are looking to drop some weight in your pack, and are willing to consider non-traditional, this is a great way to save yourself a ton of trail weight (tent weight is only 1 pound per person!)

New for 2020 is the 1.9 lb REI Co-op Flash Air 2 Tent | Yup, it’s a user friendly, full-sized, highly livable, 2-Person Tent under 2 Pounds! As such, the REI Co-op Flash Air 2 Tent is an exciting new entry into trekking pole supported tents that will save you weight and money! We especially like the hub poles that increase livable space and peak height. And its multi-position doors easily go from stagazing to full storm mode. And it’s a great value, costing hundreds less than most tents in the sub-two-pound range.

See our REI Co-op Flash Air 2 Tent Review for more details on this new tent.

See our Full Video Review of the REI Flash Air 2 Tent

Altra Lone Peak 5 | Best All-Purpose Trail Shoe

Weight: 11.1 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 25mm/25mm
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
MSRP: $130

What We Like: Extremely comfortable, versatile, and durable shoe for any user

Altra shoes are specifically designed to mimic our foot’s natural stride. Every pair they make feature a foot-shaped toe box, balanced cushioning with zero heel to toe drop, and female shoes with specific anatomical differences highlighted. If you’ve used Altra shoes before, you know firsthand the all-day comfort benefits of wearing this type of shoe. However, this iteration of the Lone Peak offers all of this previous technology in combination with a fully revamped midsole. The AltraEgo foam midsole is a 2016 technology taken from their popular running shoe (the Escalantes).

This new midsole follows the trend of lightweight hiking shoes now focusing on high energy return. In sum, you can go for longer, faster. The lugs on the full rubber outsole are slightly toned down, so it can more easily transition to road or flat terrain. However, traction is not sacrificed. The shoes also feature a tightly stitched mesh upper that does an excellent job of keeping out fine sand or snow. The fit is a bit wide naturally and a zero drop shoe does take some getting used to initially.

Read more…

PROS: Lighter weight. Wide toe box. Zero drop. Updated midsole for added comfort. Suitable for all conditions. Gaiter connection system. Moderate stack height.

CONS: A bit wide. Less stability than similar models. Grip is not good enough for slippery terrain. Cited durability issues.

BEST FOR: High mileage backpacking trips. The all-day comfort of the Lone Peaks makes them perfect for backpacking trips where you’re crushing miles day after day. Also, the high energy return foam midsole could save you precious time. Long day-hikes. For the same reasons as above, these shoes are our new go-to for long days on our feet. Trail running in mixed terrain. The low-profile but high traction lugs on the rubber outsole of these shoes make them transition from road to trail and even off trail without missing a beat.

HOKA Speedgoat 4 Review | Great Technical Trail Shoe

Weight: 10.8 ounces (Men’s 9) | 9.6 ounces (Women’s 8)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 32mm / 28mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
MSRP: $145

What We Like: Excellent traction and comfort.
HIGHLIGHT: Jeff Garmire chose the Speedgoats for his record on the Colorado Trail. He set the FKT (Fastest Known Time) in just 9 days and 8 hours. We predict the Speedgoats guiding more backpackers and runners to records. Furthermore, their benefits extend to any wearer, not just the elite.

Read more…

PROS: Technical fit is secure on steep, challenging trails, and the outsole and deep lugs provide even more security. The ultra-cushioned midsole helps prevent bruising and pain after long stretches of rocky trail, and the foam was updated this year to be more responsive, which means more efficiency with each foot strike.

CONS: This is a shoe for more aggressive hiking and trail running, and people looking for a more moderate shoe might find the outsole and taller stack to be overkill on moderate trails. The tighter fit can add up after a full day of wear, and some might find it constricting, especially compared to wider models.

BEST FOR: Trail running and hiking on any trail. Ultralight backpacking and putting up big miles

Big Agnes Copper Spur

Big Agnes Copper Spur Tents

$380 – $550

If we were allowed only one backpacking tent a Big Agnes Copper Spur would be it. It is likely the best all-around ultralight backpacking tent that will appeal to the greatest number of hikers. Since 2008 this category-leading ultralight tent has been constantly improved and refined to be one of the very best backpacking tents. They are the best all-around ultralight backpacking tents that will appeal to the greatest number of hikers. Extremely versatile, spacious, lightweight, and user-friendly.

Read our review for the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent

See our Full Video Review of the 2020 Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2

REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent


A pound lighter than the REI Half Dome 2 Plus but still with a huge 36 ft2 floor area!

The Half Dome SL 2 was a top pick in our Tent Guide, and a best selling tent at REI for a reason; it just works and has a huge amount of internal space! The new REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ version is a significant improvement dropping the tent weight by over a pound. As such, it moves in to a respectable position of a extremely roomy but light trail tent while costing $100 to $200 less than ultralight tents that are just a bit lighter. And with a 40d tent floor it far more durable than its ultralight counterparts.

BEST FOR: Budget backpackers seeking a safe, comfy, roomy and reliable tent that is definitely light enough for backpacking but can double for car camping.

best backpacking gear - Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest Pack

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Packs

$320 – $375

Adventure Alan Staff Pick: The HMG 2400 & 3400 Southwest Packs are a Staff Favorite and a Backpacker Magazine award winner for “Best UltraLight Pack.” HMG makes very light, functional and extremely durable packs that are virtually waterproof — no need for a rain cover!  HMG packs have stiff frames that comfortably support even heavy loads.  It’s slim profile gives great balance for scrambling or difficult trail. HMG packs are made with Dyneema Composite Fabric Fiber (formerly Cuben) which is light, waterproof and extremely durable. We prefer the 3400 Southwest Pack for it’s larger volume while weighing just a few oz more than the 2400.

Osprey Exos and Eja Backpacks

$135 – $220

Osprey Exos 48 or 58 Backpack (Unisex/Men’s)

A Thru-hiker’s choice and the most popular pack in the Appalachian Trail. The Osprey Exos 48 is light but will still hold enough gear and food for 7 days (use the larger Exos 58 if you carry more gear). Of course the Exos has the famous Osprey fit and comfort. It’s fairly durable for a lightweight pack but best of all, at $200 it’s a good deal for a pack of this weight and quality. And of course it comes with REI’s return policy.

Osprey Eja 48 and 58 Pack (Women’s version of the Exos)

New for 2018 is a women’s version of the incredibly successful Osprey Exos, the most popular pack in the Appalachian Trail. The Osprey Eja Backpack’s have women’s specific fit, like optimal sternum strap location for women, less bulky shoulder straps and of course an improved hip-belt design. Otherwise all the features that made the Exos packs great are there including the AirSpeed Suspension system that keeps the weight (and sweat) off your back with a tensioned breathable-mesh back panel.

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


We feel this is by a large margin the best all-around sleeping pad! This is the “Women’s” version of the XLite, but it’s the right size for most backpackers. All the men we know use it — for tall men, as long as the end of the pad hits mid-calf you should be fine (Alan’s 6’5″ hiking partner uses one!). Best of all, at 12 oz and with an R-value of 5.4, it’s warmer and lighter than the “Men’s” version. Super warm and super comfortable we find its closer to a 3+ season pad and have happily used it to well below freezing!  As such, we find that 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.

REI Flash 55 Pack


HIGHLIGHTS: Affordable, Comfortable, Ventilated Non-sweaty Back, Customizable Configurations, Nice Pockets, Men’s & Women’s version

SPECS: weight 42 oz | volume 55 L | volume/weight 21 L/lb | Max Carry: 30 lbs
With no Pack Mods: 35 oz | volume/weight 25 L/lb

TECH: Fabric, nylon | Frame, internal | Back Panel, suspended mesh panel for more airflow to help with back sweat | Rain-resistant top pocket & shoulder pocket, Packmod accessories allow you to add or remove pockets & features

Patagonia R1

Patagonia R1 Pullover & Hoodies

$69 to $280

Think of it as “fur for humans.” The Patagonia R1 Hoodie the warmest, comfiest baselayer (or light mid-layer) and it works in an amazing range of conditions. It breathes well, stretches comfortably, and has a long cut to keep your heat trapped in. The arms are long with thumb holes to keep heat from leaving through the common wrist gap, and the hood fits well, and zips up with a full mouth cover, trapping all your heat inside, and piping warm air from your core to your head. Of course, it comes in Men’s and Women’s versions. While warm enough for winter, it works in one of the broadest ranges of temperatures of any baselayer!

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket

$24 – $200

For those who want to save a bunch on a down jacket, the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket is a great value. While it weighs a bit more vs. an 850 fill power down jacket, it also half the price. Otherwise, it has the same features and functionality as the more expensive down jackets. Altho a bit pricier we prefer the hooded version.

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket – M’s & W’s

$69 to $280

For 12 years the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket has been the classic, light do-it-all jacket. Biking, climbing, hiking, backpacking, bikepacking, you name it, this ultralight jacket is a great tool for the job. Synthetic PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco is very light and warm insulation. It is more water-resistant than down is made from 55% post-consumer recycled fibers. If you add in the wind and water-resistant bluesign® approved fabric shell, the jacket is 75% recycled materials so you can feel good about the environment.

TIP: we prefer the warmer and even more versatile Patagonia Nano Puff Insulated Hoodie

REI Co-op Merino Midweight Half-Zip Base Layer

$55 to $90

Many folks like super soft, itch free merino wool for clothing. It feels less clammy than synthetics, still keeps you warm when wet, and it stenches far less than most synthetics — a big plus for long backpacking trips or travel where frequent washing many not be possible. This is our favorite and most versatile wool/poly blend baselayer that combines the best of both fabrics. It has a zip for temperature control and ventilation, thumb loops to keep your hands warm and for sun protection. Its ultra-breathable mesh panels deliver cooling airflow in key areas. Finally, it has just the right amount of warmth for most of the year but we’ve also used it with great success in the deserts of Utah.

Our favorite 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. 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. We also like the similar Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Quarter-Zip. And For those who can’t handle wool look at $45 REI 1/2-Zip Active Shirt.

Arc’teryx Atom LT Insulated Hoodie

$180 to $260

As versatile as your adventures are varied, the men’s Arc’teryx Atom LT Insulated hoodie with Coreloft™ Compact 60 insulation has been redesigned for better durability, resilience, comfort and fit.

  • Warm and lightweight, Coreloft Compact 60 insulation resists packing out, so loft and performance are retained over time
  • Updated Tyono™ 20 face fabric has enhanced abrasion resistance and elevated protection from wind and moisture; a durable water repellent (DWR) finish sloughs off light rain
  • Highly breathable Dope Permeair™ 20 liner helps regulate temps during higher output activity; Dope dye process uses considerably less resources than traditional dye processes
  • Improved side panels offer increased durability, resisting wear and pilling while providing stretch, performance and breathability
  • Adjustable, insulated, low-profile StormHood™ with structured mini hood brim helps to minimize wind chill and provide protection in light rain
  • No Slip Zip™ main opening, zippered hand pockets and internal zippered chest pocket with custom thermoplastic polyurethane zipper pulls
  • Improved cuff design increases durability and eases layering and removal
  • Dual hem adjusters let you get a snug fit to keep warm air in

REI Co-op Drypoint Gore Tex Jacket (Men’s)

30% OFF


Note: you can’t use your coupon on Sale Items, but we still list it because it’s a great deal on a high peforming jacket! And it is still available in most sizes!

TECH: Highly breathable GORE-TEX Active waterproof breathable laminate (20-denier ripstop nylon)

Our pick for best all-around performance rain Jacket. Another great REI Rain Jacket. The REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket is a solid three layer jacket at a great price! It has two well placed mesh backed chest pockets and adjustable hem, cuffs and hood (3 adjustments). 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). Additionally, the Drypoint’s seam-free shoulder design is good when wearing a pack and should increase durability in this critical area.

BEST FOR: Hikers and backpackers looking for a great value in rain protection with good breathability and great ventilation that can endure significant wear and tear. And it has the REI warranty!

REI Rain Jacket | REI Co-op Rainier

$45 – $120

$45 to $90 for a good quality and light REI rain jacket says it it all! The REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket’s utilitarian 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. And the new model has pit zips and uses Recycled nylon ripstop (bluesign® approved).

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

Big Agnes Tiger Wall

Big Agnes Tiger Wall Tents

$400 – $1200

Traditional,” Lightweight Backpacking Tents like Big Agnes Tiger Wall tents (above) are likely the first choice for many backpackers. These are the “standard,” full-featured, easy-to-setup tents most are familiar with. One of our top picks, Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 Tent, has no equal when it comes to volume-to-weight ratio among “traditional,” double-walled, lightweight backpacking tents.

Read our full article on the Best Backpacking Tents

REI Co-op Passage 2 tent

REI Co-op Passage 2 Tent

$229 – $249

HIGHLIGHTS: Least expensive full-size, fully featured tent in category with 2 doors & 2 vestibules
FEATURES: 2 person | 3 season | Double Walled, Dome | Freestanding
AREA: Interior: 31.1 ft2 | Vestibule: 18.75 ftAREA/POUND: 12.1 ft2/lb

At a fraction of the price of tents with similar features, the REI Co-op Passage 2 is the textbook definition of a backpacking tent. Traditionally, tents from a reputable brand that look and perform this well would cost twice as much! While nothing about the Passage 2 is cutting edge, everything about it’s design is intentionally traditional, reliable and user-friendly, especially the two door, two vestibule chassis and cross-pole frame. Compared to the Kelty Salida, our cheapest recommended tent, the Passage weighs an entire pound more but offers an extra door and vestibule; a tradeoff worth considering for those who enjoy hanging out in the tent.

BEST FOR: Budget or beginning backpacker seeking a classic, inexpensive backpacking tent


$229 – $249

The REI Half Dome 2 Plus was a pick in our Tent Guide, and 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, 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 Salida 2 or Passage 2, 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. But all of these benefits comes at the weight-cost of 4.9 lbs, making it the single heaviest tent we recommend. Quality and value run throughout the entire Half Dome Plus family, so don’t hesitate to buy according to your typical group configuration.

SIMILAR MODELS: Half Dome 1p, Half Dome 3p, Half Dome 4p

BEST FOR: Budget or beginner backpackers seeking a safe, comfy, reliable tent that works great for backpacking and car camping.

Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 20 Down Sleeping Bag


WEIGHT: 20 oz
FEATURES: 900 fill dri-down, 10 D nylon shell, baffled construction, pad strap system
SHOULDER GIRTH: 57″ / 145 cm (claimed); 54” / 137 cm (actual)

STAFF PICK: The Thermarest Hyperion 20F Sleeping Bag is one of the very lightest 32 degree comfort rated bags on the market. Not surprisingly, it has the best weight to warmth ratio of all the sleeping bags we looked at! This is achieved through the use of 900 fill power down, a relatively lightweight shell fabric (10D compared to 15-20D for some other bags reviewed here) and a snug fit. In addition, Thermarest states that they intelligently distribute the down in their bag so that 70% of the down is on the top section of the bag, this should in theory put more down where it is needed. We believe that is at least part of what allows Thermarest Hyperion 20F to be lighter almost all similarly comfort temp rated bags. The pad strap system is helpful and not something you find on any other of the bags here with the exception of the Sierra Designs Cloud bags, and they are removable if you don’t want the minimal extra weight they add.

BEST FOR: Hikers who are willing to pay a modest premium to get one of the very lightest +32 F comfort bags available. (And it’s $100 to $200 less expensive than many better known and heavier sleeping bags)

NOT AS GOOD FOR: Hikers who don’t like narrow bags and are allergic to high prices. 10D shell fabric requires reasonable care in the field.

Magma Sleeping Bag

REI Co-op Magma 15 and 30 Sleeping Bags


As a top pick in our Sleeping Bag Guide, we feel that the new REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag M’s & W’s is a good all-around three-season choice for many campers. But if you go out in warmer weather or are concerned about weight, 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 many sleepers warm but still not weigh a ton! BUT if 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 Magna Trail Quilt 30

REI Co-op Magma Trail Quilt 30


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 “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!

REI Sahara Pants & Shirts

$34 – $70

We’ve used some version of REI Co-op Sahara pants for nearly 20 years. They’ve been to Patagonia, Alaska, Asia, the Deserts of Utah, and pretty much every mountain range in the lower 48. They get the job done. We like the thin, light but durable fabric key reinforcements in high wear areas. And that they come in a number of inseams. And of course all those pockets are essential to keep your gear organized and readily available. Finally they dry quickly and are great for international travel as well.

REI Sahara Shirts

REI Sahara Shirts are the same quality as the pants.

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket 2020

$159 (older models on sale for less)

TECH: Pertex Diamond Fuse 2.5-layer waterproof breathable laminate Ripstop nylon

The Outdoor Research Helium is a great value, costing less than other jackets in the rarefied 6 ounce range!  And for 2021 it’s way more durable at the same weight! The first upgrade to the highly regarded Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket in 8 years! It boasts a new super strong Pertex Diamond Fuse fabric. Outdoor Research say it 5x more tear resistant and 2x more abrasion resistant than the old Helium. That’s a huge deal for a 6 oz Rain Jacket where any increase in durability is most welcome. In addition for 2020 it got a slightly roomier fit. While it weighs far less than most rain jackets, it still has a good feature set — drawcord adjustable hood, elastic adjustable cuffs, and a chest pocket that can stow the entire jacket. While a bit larger for 2020 this jacket this jacket is still trim. It will layer over an 8-12+ oz fleece midlayer, but anyone layering it over something larger (e.g. a down jacket) should likely size up. And like always, the 2020 Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket costs less than competitor’s 6 ounce rain jackets!

The matching Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants share the same strong Pertex Diamond Fuse material, where its durability may be even more welcome as pants often take more abuse than jackets. They also have lace loops to attach to your shoes which turn the pants into a semi-gaiter.

BEST FOR: Combination of low weight, durability and value | One of the best all-around rain jackets for serious travelers, hikers and outdoor athletes looking for extremely light rain protection without the high prices of other jackets at this weight and who value high packability.


Ursack Major XL Bear Bag

$90 – $120

The Ursack Major Bear Bag  will keep bears out of your food. It weighs a fraction of a typical bear canister, and costs about the same. This is the largest, 15 L model which can easily fit 6+ days of food! There’s a smaller version too for shorter trips. It holds about 10.7 L, and costs $70. These are easily the best bear protection available, but make sure it’s a sanctioned solution where you go as sadly, not all parks have caught on yet.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad – $150

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad  has been the standard 3-season sleeping pad for ultralight backpackers’ for years. But it rarely goes on sale. Compared to self-inflating, foam core pads it’s lighter and way more comfortable. If you don’t own one of these, you owe it yourself to try one. It will change your backcountry sleep experience for the better, while lightening your pack.

Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System


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.

Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles


Weight Carbon Verison (pair): 12.7 ounces
Materials: carbon shaft; foam grip
3 sections | flip-lock | fixed length

PROS: Quick collapsing; lightweight; easy to stash
CONS: Expensive, especially when compared to other BD options; very little adjustment options
BEST FOR: Long-distance hikers who don’t mind less length adjustment.

Details: The Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ is a “fixed-length” trekking pole with a minor 15-20cm adjustment on top shaft. It’s this adjustment that allows them to be in this category vs. the totally fixed-length Distance Carbon Z and original Distance Carbon which are in our Fixed Length Pole Category. And this adjustment range just might make them adaptable for use with some trekking pole supported tents/shelters. This model is available in three sizes, from 43.3” to 55.1” and collapsing down to 13.4” for the shortest size to 15.7” for the longest size. These poles also come with the grip extensions and upgraded carbon composite that allows for a stiffer shaft for added strength for tough terrain. Black Diamond uses its proprietary SlideLock technology that allows the poles to release by pushing a button and snap into place easily.

Benchmade 535 Bugout Drop-Point Fine-Edge Knife

Benchmade 535 Bugout Drop-Point Fine-Edge Knife


In a word:  Superb. This is a beautiful and highly functional knife with a large 3.25″ blade up to any backcountry use. It’s also great for everyday carry. At 1.8 ounces, it is far lighter than most folding knives. Its CPM-S30V premium stainless-steel blade (58-60HRC) will hold an edge far longer than run-of-the-mill knives (some of which cost nearly as much). Yeah, we’re big fans of CPM-S30V and CPM-S35V steels. The blue handle is bright making the knife hard to lose and has a pleasingly ergonomic grip.In a word:  Superb. This is a beautiful and highly functional knife with a large 3.25″ blade up to any backcountry use. It’s also great for everyday carry. At 1.8 ounces, it is far lighter than most folding knives. Its CPM-S30V premium stainless-steel blade (58-60HRC) will hold an edge far longer than run-of-the-mill knives (some of which cost nearly as much). Yeah, we’re big fans of CPM-S30V and CPM-S35V steels. The blue handle is bright making the knife hard to lose and has a pleasingly ergonomic grip.

HOKA Challenger ATR 6 Review | Great All-Purpose Trail Shoe

Weight: 9.6 ounces (Men’s 9) | 8.8 ounces (Women’s 8)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 30mm / 25mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5mm
MSRP: $130

What We Like: Comfortable, versatile shoe with extreme durability
The Hoka One One Challengers are our picks for top hiking and backpacking shoes. The Challengers are a lightweight, versatile shoe that gives the wearer an incredible amount of stability and out of the box comfort. Their 5 mm drop is a happy medium, which suits both hikers used to zero or high drop shoes. Though they don’t feature the same wide toe box as the Altra Lone Peaks, the slightly snugger fit provides more stability and confidence in foot placement. Furthermore, this model comes in wide, if you truly need extra room.

Read more…

PROS Wider fit and less aggressive outsole is more comfortable for longer periods of time, and will likely be more than enough for the most commonly encountered terrain. These shoes dry fast, and the rubber grip on the forefoot and under the heel provides good traction on most terrain. These shoes are lighter weight than others with comparable cushion, and are incredibly breathable.

CONS The lack of rubber under the middle of the foot can be a detractor when the trail gets steep or slick, and the more moderate outsole wears out more quickly than other, more aggressive trail shoes.

BEST FOR: Athletes who don’t fit into extremely narrow shoes, but want a more snug fit. Hiking, backpacking, and trail running on a variety of trails, with big miles as the objective. Ultralight backpacking

On CloudUltra

Weight: 10.4 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: unavailable
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
MSRP: $180

What We Like: On’s proprietary energy return tech — CloudTec outsole plate (Speedboard) returns energy like a springboard + Hellion Superfoam midsoles — make for very efficient trail shoe. But without sacrificing, trail feel, traction and comfort. New quick-release lace loosener for forefoot comfort at the end of a long day.

Read more…

PROS: All-day comfort no matter which terrain you take these shoes on. Proprietary technology combines speed and comfort, putting your feet on a “springboard.” Extremely versatile, can be used for long hikes/backpacking trips, or running quickly on tricky trail. Very lightweight for the amount of support in the shoe. “Just right fit,” not too narrow or wide, comfortable out of the box. Fully gusseted tongue stays in place and stops debris from entering the shoe. Shoe laces can be released / loosened without fully taking the shoes off to relieve swollen feet at the end of a day

CONS: This shoe and technology is brand-new, we do not have an accurate picture of how it will perform. More expensive than other competitive model. Firm Helion Superfoam may feel too stiff for some

BEST FOR: Users who are looking for all-day comfort without sacrificing weight. Traveling on and off trail, these shoes will perform on a variety of surfaces. Moving quickly and confidently on a variety of surfaces

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

Weight: 12.8 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 29mm / 22mm
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 7mm
MSRP: $130

What We Like: A precise, technical shoe that will last for off-trail travel. The La Sportiva Ultra Raptors are our second pick for off-trail shoes. The deeply lugged outsole and reinforced upper shoe create an extremely stable feeling while navigating in technical terrain. And again, La Sportiva’s traction is unrivaled. Hiking or backpacking through large boulder fields or scree slopes can decimate the feet, and these shoes are designed specifically

Read more…

PROS: Construction of shoe hugs the feet to give ultimate stability and protection. Excellent traction for confidence off-trail. Versatile drop that will suit many different feet.

CONS: Narrow fit will not work for everyone. Heavier than other similar models

BEST FOR: Hikers, backpackers, and trail runners who move through varied terrain and want to feel supremely stable. Athletes who prefer stability over an ultralight shoe 70.

Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero

Weight: 12.9 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: Unavailable
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 11mm
MSRP: $120

What We Like: A lighter true hiking shoe that provides excellent traction and plenty of support. The Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero hiking shoes are designed to handle tricky terrain with extreme stability. Salomon is known for its excellent traction, and these shoes do not skimp in that department. They’re engineered for traveling up or down steep grades, over slippery rocks or loose scree. Furthermore, this model has extra support in the midsole to keep your feet stable while moving through precarious places.

Read more…

PROS: Excellent traction, designed for navigating steep grades and slippery surfaces (or both at the same time!). Weighs less than many other true hiking shoes. Breathable, while still offering plenty of support.

CONS: Less comfortable over longer distances than similar models. Cannot be taken on a trail run. Higher drop (11mm) will not work for athletes used to a low drop shoe.

BEST FOR: Stability in unpredictable terrain. Hikers and backpackers who want a lighter option in a true hiking shoe. Shorter days on trail, comfort does not last past ~20 miles.

Salomon SpeedCross 5

Weight: 11.2 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 30mm / 20mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 10mm
MSRP: $130

What We Like: Excellent shoe for athletes looking for a higher drop with plenty of traction
The Salomon SpeedCross 5 trail shoes are designed with excellent traction and stability in mind. Their 10 mm drop is well-suited for hikers and runners that are used to a traditional, higher drop shoe. This is one of the more minimal shoes in the Salomon lineup, so it is excellent for those who are looking to shave a few ounces or transition into lighter trail runners. Despite this, the shoe still features all the durability and traction that Salomon is known for.

Read more…

PROS: Excellent traction and durability for a variety of trails. Wider fit works with a variety of feet. A good shoe for transitioning between heavier hiking shoes into lighter trail runners. More cushion than many lighter shoes. The traction is sufficient for off-trail travel

CONS: Heavier than many similar shoes. High drop is less versatile

BEST FOR: Athletes who are looking to “tear up” the terrain; the high lugs provide lots of traction. Transitioning from true hiking shoes to a lighter shoe. Backpacking trips with off-trail travel or rock scrambling

Salomon XA Pro 3D V8

Weight: 12.8 ounces (Men’s 9)
Stack Height Heel/Toe: 28mm / 17mm (Men’s)
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 1mm
MSRP: $130

What We Like: Stable, comfortable shoes to transition from heavier to lighter footwear. Not quite ready to swap your traditional hiking shoes for their lighter counterparts? The Salomon XA Pro shoes have undergone many different models, and this iteration is designed for stability and all-day comfort. The rubber soles are excellent for off-trail and tricky terrain, while the design of the midsole provides extra stability. This makes the shoe feel stiffer than many similar shoes, but it is to keep your feet securely in place during long days on trail.

Read more…

PROS: Stability rivals any other traditional hiking shoe. Excellent traction, versatile shoe that can be taken on a variety of terrain. Extremely comfortable for long days on trail. All Salomon shoes come with a two-year warranty in case of unusual wear and tear.

CONS: Heavier than competitive shoes, cannot be used as a trail runner. High drop (11mm) will feel uncomfortable to athletes used to a low drop shoe. Stiff design may feel restrictive to some.

BEST FOR: Long days on trail, provide comfort for long hikes such as Mt. Whitney or Rim to Rim. Hikers and backpackers with wider feet. Hikers and backpackers moving through a variety of terrain and prioritize stability and security.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad – Unisex


HIGHLIGHTS:  Best all-around pad for for taller people (it’s a full 72″)

PERFORMANCE: 3.5 R/weight | 2.3 R/cost (value)

SPECS: R 4.2 | 12 oz | Air Pad | Insulation – baffled chambers & heat reflective film

Full Length Pad: With good reason the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad is probably Therm-a-Rest’s most popular backpacking pad. It’s nearly identical to the Women’s Pad but it’s 6″ longer to accommodate taller campers. It has only one layer of heat reflective film (vs. 2 for the Women’s) so it’s not quite as toasty (R4.2 vs R5.4). Warm sleepers may not care. Bottom line, it’s light, it’s warm and it works.

GREAT FOR: 3 season use (3+ season for warm sleepers) most places in the world. One pad does it all.

NOT AS GOOD FOR:  Hikers on a budget, or those that need a very warm pad

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad


HIGHLIGHTS:  Lightest full sized pad with 3 season warmth | compact

PERFORMANCE: 2.6 R/weight | 1.2 R/cost (value)

SPECS: R 2.3 | 8.8 oz | Air Pad | Insulation – baffled chambers (no reflective film)

Lightest 2+ Season Pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad | At only 1/2 pound for a size regular (72″ long) the Uberlite is the lightest full sized pad with 2+ season warmth Of course the lighter fabric is a bit more prone to damage and will cost you more than an X-Lite. But 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 2.3 we find this pad warm and comfortable to around freezing.

GREAT FOR: For those seeking the very lightest pad to get the job done for 2+ season (average person will likely find this a summer pad, but hardier folks can get 3 season use out of it)

NOT AS GOOD FOR: Cold sleepers, 3+ season use, those that are hard on gear, hikers on a budget

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad


HIGHLIGHTS:  Incredibly warm & light | Good winter pad, or for cold sleepers

PERFORMANCE: 4.6 R/weight | 3.2 R/cost (value)

SPECS: R 6.9 | 15 oz | Air Pad | Insulation – baffled chambers + reflective film

Best Pad Cold Sleepers: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad is our pick for hikers that sleep cold or for average hikers in very cold conditions. It has the highest R/weight performance of any pad while also being a great value for R/cost. As such, we also see it as a great upgrade from the XLite for cold sleepers — it’s only 3 oz and a few bucks more than the standard XLite but a whopping amount warmer (R6.9 vs R4.2). So it might be one of the lighter ways to increase the warmth of your sleep system.

GREAT FOR: The lightest pad for 4 season use (also great 3 season for cold sleepers)

NOT AS GOOD FOR: Warm sleepers in 3 season conditions (expensive & overkill), hikers on a budget

TOAKS Titanium 900ml D115mm Pot


Our favorite pot is the incredibly light 900 ml TOAKS Titanium pot! And TOAKS pots cost less than the competition.  It’s great that REI is now carrying the TOAKS Titanium 900ml D115mm Pot. This is the perfect size to boil water for 2 cups of coffee in the morning. Titanium is incredibly light and nearly indestructible. Unlike aluminum, it is completely non-reactive.  The pot will fit standard 220-gram fuel canisters. If you need a little more volume, the 1350 ml pot is another good buy, tipping the scales at 5.2 oz and featuring the same lightweight, durable titanium design.


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.