Lightweight Hikers’ Guide to REI Labor Day Sale 2021

Here’s how to get the best deals at the REI Labor Day Sale and get the most use for those precious 20% coupons! I’ve been an REI member for over 40 years and I still get excited about an REI Sale. To prep for this sale, in addition to our knowledge of the REI’s lightweight and ultralight gear inventory, we did a bunch of research online to find even more hiking and backpacking gear on sale. The result is our Lightweight Hiker’s Guide to the REI Sale:

  • EVENT 2021 REI Labor Day Sale: Dates 8/27-9/6 | Save up to 30% off on select items
  • PLUS Members Get 20% off one REI OUTLET Item Use CODE: EXTRA20
  • PLUS get free shipping on orders over $50

7 Quick Picks for Best Deals of the Sale

Super short on time. Here is our take for the 7 best deals of the sale.

  1. Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 15 Sleeping Bag | Even at full price this is our top pick for a value bag that will actually keep you warm below freezing! On sale it’s even a better deal!
  2. Osprey Eja & Exos Packs | A thru-hikers choice & a darling of the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. A pack suitable for all hikers, beginners & experts alike looking to cut weight without sacrificing comfort or features.
  3. REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket | Again a great value — even full price! While it weighs a bit more vs. an 850 fill power down jacket, it’s also half the price. Otherwise it has a same features & functionality of pricier down jackets.
  4. REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket | As low as $45 for a functional and light rain jacket that will keep you warm and dry!
  5. REI Co-op Trail Packs and Bags (waist packs) | Are perfect for most day outings. They have the all the right features but are still are light, and very reasonably priced.
  6. Black Diamond Headlamps | Black Diamond is the gold standard for backcountry headlamps. A perfect blend of ultraight and low cost while still providing a ton of light!
  7. BearVault Food Containers | Our Top Pick when reg’s require bear canisters (more parks require them each year) is the Bearvault BV500, or the smaller BV450. These canisters offer the best blend of volume, weight, durability, & price.

24 Picks for the Great Gear at the Sale

Overwhelmed finding the good gear at the sale? Here are some key picks for great 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 just sell out. And we’ll be adding more items to this guide during the sale, so be sure to check back from time to time for new deals as we add them.

BUT No 20% off one full priced item for this sale!

These actually-on-sale items are the best deals you are going to get. This is where we can help. That is, this guide is your shortcut through endless category scrolling, and straight to the very best hiking and backpacking gear on offer.  We highlight an assortment of ultralight favorites, pick out diamonds in the rough, and do what we do best to help you avoid option overload, save money, and upgrade your kit.

All REI Co-op Trail Packs and Bags

30% Off

REI Co-op Trail Packs and Bags are well designed, light, and very reasonably priced. Perfect for most day outings.

REI Co-op Trail 25 Pack

REI Co-op Trail 25 Pack

30% Off

$80 regular price

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 people out hiking just about everywhere!

The REI Co-op Trail 25 Pack is a full featured day pack that is still lightweight. Unlike the 13 oz minimalist REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack (a favorite of ours), the 2 pound Trail 25 has a bunch well thought out features that many hikers may prefer — a HDPE framesheet adds structure and helps shield your back from protruding gear (and transfers some weight to your hips), a built in rain cover, more padding, more pockets, and easier gear access, etc. And it’s mostly made from recycled materials.

REI Co-op Trail 2 Waistpack

REI Co-op Trail 2 Waistpack

30% Off

$30 regular price

The REI Co-op Trail 2 Waistpack highlights REI’s strength as a gear manufacturer: Taking the best elements from sometimes overly designed packs, and creating a functional, simple model with everything you need and nothing that you don’t. With two additional pockets aside from the main compartment, a highly adjustable waistband, and a wide main opening, this pack is a great size and comfortable shape for local walks and holding your necessities on a day hike or in-town outing. And of course, it’s “green” with recycled materials and backed by REI.

HIGHLIGHTS: Recycled materials, functional all-around use design, good price

All REI Co-op Brand Rain Jackets & Pants

30% Off

REI makes some of the better values in jackets & pants. It has the features you want and is very reasonably priced — some of it competes with the best on the market. Either way REI jackets & pants are a perfect way to stay dry and warm and keep some cash in your pocket.

REI Rain Jacket | REI Co-op Rainier

30% Off

$45 – $90 current prices

$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.

REI Co-op Xerodry Gore Tex Jacket

30% Off

$159 regular price

This jacket uses Gore-Tex and Paclite technology to make it lightweight and breathable, yet still completely waterproof. An articulated design makes it easy to move, even with an extra layer underneath. It’s specifically designed for hiking and backpacking, and is a more breathable choice than the REI Rainier jacket. The mesh-lined pockets provide core venting, and the hood is fully adjustable to protect your eyes from pelting rain. Finally, the cuffs and bottom hem are both adjustable to allow for more breathability, or completely seal out moisture.

BEST FOR: A fully featured Gore-Tex waterproof jacket at a great budget. REI products also are made to be extremely durable. And if not, their products come with a one-year warranty.

Read more…

WHAT WE LIKE: This jacket is available year-round from REI and is priced very well for a fully featured rain jacket with Gore-Tex technology.

REI Co-op Drypoint Gore Tex Jacket

On Sale | very limited stock!

$174 sale price

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

Our pick for the 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. We really hope that REI gets this winner of a jacket back in full stock!

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!

All REI Co-op Down Jackets & Vests

30% Off

REI makes some of the better values in down jackets. Two of our all time favorites are the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket for top value which is on sale. And the REI Co-op Magma 850 Down Hoodie 2.0 which unfortunately is not on sale this time (but many times is!).

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket

30% Off

$69 – $100 regular price

For those who want to save a bunch on a down jacket, the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket is a great value — even when it is not on sale! While it weighs a bit more vs. an 850 fill power down jacket, it also half the price. Otherwise it has a same features and functionality of the more expensive down jackets. Altho a bit pricier we prefer the hooded version.

All Osprey Eja & Exos Packs

25% Off

Our pick for a Value/Features Pack | A good value even when not on sale, the Osprey Eja & Exos Packs are a thru-hikers choice and a darling of the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. A pack suitable for all hikers, beginners and experts alike who are looking to cut a bit of weight without sacrificing comfort or features. The Osprey Exos 48 and 58 Pack (Men’s) and Osprey Eja 48 and 58 Pack (Women’s) are top sellers for a reason: the Osprey name and their signature ventilated frame. With the Osprey name comes quality, fair pricing, a good warranty, & many happy hikers.

Osprey Exos and Eja Backpacks

25% Off

$200 – $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.

All Mountain Hardwear Sleeping Bags

25% Off

Mountain Hardwear makes what we believe are some of the best values on the market for sleeping bags. And the Bishop Pass line epitomizes value and performance and is our top pick. But Mountain Hardwear Phantom sleeping bags are ultralight and offer top of the line performance.

Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 15 Sleeping Bag

25% Off | a killer deal!

$240 regular price

This is our top pick for a value bag that will keep you warm below freezing! And on sale it’s even a better deal!

The Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 15 is a reasonably priced, excellently performing three-season sleeping bag. This is one of our highest performing warmth to cost bags, and one that we highly recommend if you don’t mind carrying a bit of extra weight over higher priced ultralight bags. Mountain Hardwear uses 650 fill-power down and a 20D nylon shell, which are not the lightest weight materials but it helps cut costs and also makes the bag very resistant to tears and snags. With a +30 comfort limit, this bag will perform in most three-season conditions, especially with a warm sleeping pad and clothing. Also, it’s more versatile than its zero-degree counterpart, as that bag is much heavier and too warm for summer trips. There’s a full length draft tube down the zipper to prevent heat loss in this area, as well as an internal stash pocket (a feature we don’t see often but love!).

BEST FOR: Hikers who want a solid three-season bag without breaking the bank. This bag doesn’t have to be babied, and is a great value choice.

All BearVault Food Containers

25% Off

BearVault Food Containers by a large margin offer the best combination of low cost, low weight, convenience and features. No wonder they are the most popular bear storage on the trail.

Bearvault BV500 & BV450

25% Off

$80 | $70 regular price

Our Top Pick for a Bear Canister | When regulations require bear canisters (and more parks require them each year), we prefer the Bearvault BV500, or its smaller cousin the BV450. These canisters offer the best blend of volume to weight, durability, and price. For most trips up to 7 days we like the BV500 but also like its smaller sibling, the BV450, for 2-3 day trips.

All Leki Trekking Poles

25% Off

There is a Leki Trekking Pole that’s just right for hiking anywhere in the world. Leki trekking poles deliver a light overall weight and an enhanced swing weight for performance and comfort on the trail.

leki trekking poles - makalu cor-tec

Leki Makalu Lite Cor-Tec Trekking Poles

25% Off

$120 regular price

This is our top choice for Leki trekking poles. The burly Leki Makalu Lite Cor-Tec Trekking Poles a great value for poles that are up to off-trail travel. The Leki Makalu Lite Cor-Tecs also get our nod over the “lauded” Leki Micro Vario Carbon Poles — being almost 1/2 the price, essentially the same weight and much stronger. Their time tested aluminum design is strong and reliable. They have lever quick-locks for fast adjustments. We find their cork grips plenty comfortable for many, many trail miles. The only downside is that they don’t compact nearly as much as some of the poles in this guide (only 27″) and they don’t have that “carbon cache” (if you must have it). In summary, this is a tried and true old-school design brought up to date with modern twists, and a hellofa great value in a strong pole up to off-trail travel.

PROS: Super strong, easily adjustable, low cost
BEST FOR: Hikers traveling over scree, talus and technical terrain (including mountaineering) who need a strong and ultra-reliable pole and low cost

All MSR Windburner Stove Systems

25% Off

For almost 40 years MSR has been a leader in backcountry stove technology. The MSR Windburner Stove Systems are the culmination of all that innovative engineering. It’s the stove you want to rely on for extreme environments and challenging conditions.

MSR WindBurner Stove System

MSR WindBurner Stove Systems

25% Off

$149 regular price

If it’s freezing cold, blowing hard, and you need to boil water fast… this is the stove you want! Radiant burner and heat exchanger, and super wind protected design deliver faster boil times and more fuel efficiency than almost any stove in cold and windy conditions. 100% primary air combustion, enclosed design and internal pressure regulator work together to make stove virtually impervious to outside conditions. So if you expect extreme conditions this is your go-to stove!

All Katadyn Filters & Water Purifiers

25% Off

Swiss based Katadyn has been a trusted innovator water purification. Two standout products are their BeFree Squeeze Filter, and Steripen UV Water Purifiers.

Katadyn BeFree

Katadyn BeFree Collapsible Water Filter Bottle

25% Off

$40 regular price

The Katadyn BeFree is a low cost, lightweight filter that’s easy to use. And it’s easy to clean. Just shake it to clear the filter and restore flow. And of course its 0.1 micron microfilter is tested to protect against harmful organisms, removing protozoa (99.99%) and bacteria (99.9999%) to EPA standards.

All Black Diamond Headlamps

25% Off

Black Diamond is close to the gold standard for backcountry headlamps — not a lot more needs to be said.

Black Diamond Headlamps

25% Off

$30 to $50 regular price

Black Diamond Astro 250 Headlamp is the perfect blend of ultraight and low cost while still providing a ton of light! It’s the ideal light for around camp to cook dinner, or setup in the dark. But if in a pinch, if you need to do some night hiking it puts out 250 lumens for 4.5 hours — enough to hike at night on-trail in an emergency. But it’s mild mannered enough to use in camp at 4 lumens, where it will last for 200 hours.

Need more power? Use the Black Diamond Spot 350 Headlamp if you need to seriously night hike — like all night! On high it puts out 350 lumens for almost 4 hours — enough to hike out at night in an emergency on challenging trails, or even off trail. But it’s still mild mannered enough to use in camp at 4 lumens, where it will last for 200 hours.

Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0 Stove

20% Off

$50 regular price

The Snow Peak GigaPower Stove and been a backcountry standard stove since the dawn of ultralight backpacking. And the GigaPower 2.0 Stove still holds its ground against the competition — it’s far lighter and less expensive than a JetBoil. On sale it’s a super deal for a top quality ultralight stove.

Perfect Pairing | combine it with the TOAKS Titanium 900ml D115mm Pot below and you have a low cost, killer ultralight backcountry cooking kit.

TOAKS Titanium 900ml D115mm Pot

Not On Sale

$45 regular price
(it’s here to combine with the Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0 Stove)

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.

REI Co-op Hyperaxis Fleece Jacket 2.0

30% Off


We are big fans of fleece. In cold weather it’s likely the most versatile piece of clothing — warm, breathable and super durable. And the REI Co-op Hyperaxis Fleece Jacket 2.0 is a nice rendition of a technical fleece. It has stretch fabric, great pocket design, and thumbhole cuffs which we believe are almost essential. Made using bluesign®-approved materials so it’s “green.”

prAna Halle Pants – Women’s

30% Off

$90 regular price

A top pick in our Women’s Hiking Pants Guide! In Prana pants, Alison can go straight from a hike or the climbing gym to dinner. These pants are extremely versatile and excel in so many ways. They’re stretchy enough for climbing, hiking, and scrambling, yet designed like “normal” everyday pants. The DWR treatment repels light rain or snow. Also, the legs roll up to convert the pants into capris, so although they don’t fully zip into shorts they are still versatile for when it’s hotter. These are available in short, tall, regular, and plus sizing. Also, there are straight leg (for a more fitted look) and fully convertible options available too.

REI Co-op Merino Midweight Half-Zip Base Layer Top

30% Off

$90 regular price

Top pick for a Hiking Shirt

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.

KUHL Silencr Pants

KUHL Silencr Pants – Men’s

25% Off

$85 regular price

Runner up for top pick Hiking Pants | The Kuhl Silencr pants are a quick drying, well fitted pant that work well both casually and on the trail. Kuhl uses a reflex fabric to achieve its stretch properties (that is mechanical vs. lycra for stretch). Without lycra or elastane, this material absorbs less moisture which aids in the pant’s quick drying abilities. The gridded softshell fabric is also extremely durable, so these pants will last. The gusseted crotch allows for extra movement as well, while the waistband has a soft liner for comfort. All in all, we think these are a great runner-up to the Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants as an around-town pant that also performs on the trail. You can’t go wrong here.

BEST USE: hiking, travel, climbing

Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoes

20% Off

$115 regular price

A solid shoe for extra support, traction, and durability. Oboz fans are fans for life – people tend to either love them or hate them. The construction of these shoes is unique, with a stiff heel counter and wider toe box. The heel counter is designed for more support and to keep your feet from sliding around (which creates blisters), but this can take a long time to break in. The wider toe box allows your feet the room to swell or spread out on varied terrain, and keeps your upper foot from feeling pinched.

Read more…

PROS: Excellent traction, these shoes will perform on or off trail. Proprietary insole provides extreme comfort and a snug fit. Extremely durable shoes, will last for hundreds of miles. Competitively priced when compared to similar models.
BEST FOR: Backpacking and hiking trips with a heavier pack. People with “tricky” feet who don’t seem to jive with other shoes. Moving with confidence through varied terrain.

All Darn Tough Socks

25% OFF

$9 – $30

We prefer a thinner merino wool sock for hiking. They breathe better, absorb less moisture, are easier to wash and dry faster on the trail. And of course they are more comfortable and give you a better trail feel. Two of our favorites are

  • Darn Tough Run Quarter Ultralightweight Socks
  • Darn Tough Micro Crew Ultralightweight Socks — a great height to provide ankle padding but without adding the weight and bulk of a higher sock.

And the wool seriously reduces stench! And of course they have Darn Tough’s legendary lifetime warranty!

All Buff Headwear

25% OFF

$12 – $24

The quintessential multi-purpose headwear — need we say more? Built-in stretch offers the versatility to be worn 12 different ways, including as a mask, bandana, hairband, balaclava or scarf. And so many patterns and colors to choose from!


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