Mar 28, 2011 at 11:06 am #1271265
So I am wondering if an REI membership is worth it. I purchased one about 4 months ago when I bought something and 1 item out of the 4 fit kind of fit. The thing is as I look back on the last decade I really don't buy from them that often because they usually don't have items that fit or that are priced really great, their stores are 3 hours away and they don't have anything that fits or that I really want, the sales and outlet websites are nice but usually it is a bunch of junk and I can usually find it somewhere else for about the same price or cheaper if I want. Are people getting benefits from it that I can not see? Thanks.Mar 28, 2011 at 11:15 am #1716015
As a notoriously bad liar the ability to brush off the constant, "So are you an REI member?" queries with a confident, "yup!" is worth the price to me… otherwise, not so much.Mar 28, 2011 at 11:27 am #1716025
@adamallstarLocale: Central Texas
If you're going to buy items that REI carries, the membership is worth every penny.
Even if you don't live close to an REI, they'll have promotions where members get free shipping on purchases over a given amount. I really like wool socks & synthetic undies, with my membership (and REI Visa) I'll get 15% back from those purchases.
You'd have to evaluate the things you buy on a regular basis, consumables & clothing is a good area to start. From a strict dollars and cents perspective it can be a good deal.Mar 28, 2011 at 11:37 am #1716030
It's totally worth it if you time it right. I bought my membership ($20) when they released their 20% off coupon. At the time I was buying a backpack that was over $100. With the coupon, the membership paid for itself. Now im just collecting dividends for the rest of my life. Whether they are small or large dividends, its still a rebate on stuff I would buy anyways (mainly fuel, small things like water bottles, repair hardwear etc).
Because you live far away, I take it that you can't utilize their "free ship to store" service, and you're less likely to swing by there to grab consumables…so maybe not so much for youMar 28, 2011 at 11:54 am #1716036
Used to be worth it to me, because I got it in 1973, and it was free. Since I am a faithful follower of BPL, and don't have much of a fashion sense, it's pretty worthless to me now.Mar 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm #1716039
If you are a member and give them your membership number or card when you buy something they keep up with it. Since they have a 100% guarantee on everything, you can return things without having to keep up with the receipt. That's worth it to me. With the dividends and 20% coupon, you will quickly pay for it if you shop there.Mar 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm #1716040
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
It's been a while… what's the cost? Still $15?
Whatever it is, did you get at least that much back from discounts/dividends? Then yes, you've got your money back.
But having said the above — and assuming you're not a REI credit card holder — know that when you get a "dividend" — all that means is that you had earlier purchased something at REI's FULL PRICE — which means REI's store brand excepted — you could have gotten the same thing for less (sometimes much less) elsewhere.
The only times I shop at REI is for their store brand apparel — which can be good value. In the past, I've also shopped there for specific, big-ticket items, where I was willing to pay FULL PRICE for their unconditional guarantee — a "product insurance" for me, if you will. That's pretty much it — esp. given their relatively high prices and the simple fact that they are not geared to the smallish UL crowd.Mar 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm #1716067
It all depends on the user. Not having a store near you may negate a large portion of those benefits. Easy question free returns/free shipping/etc
I find it extremely useful.
Despite all the REI bashing that is rampant they are a good store.Mar 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm #1716093
REI is great for food, nutrition and supplies like gas canisters, DEET, etc. Also for last-minute stuff when you can't wait for a shipment.
I got a dividend of $55 this year — about $40 of it came from my friend buying stuff under my account. So yes, it is well worth it for me.Mar 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm #1716099
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
Having an REI credit card, we get some good dividends.
Some stuff we bought with the dividends and the 20% off coupon—
Thule car box
Down sleeping bag
Lots of wool socks
Skate ski boots
climbing webbing and runners
bike partsMar 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm #1716102
free returns? when? and you have to buy $75 for the free shipping, most place i am shopping at online have free shipping with $50 and no membership. but yeah, I don't want their credit card. The only things they have is the Saraha pants and some Power dry stuff in an XLT. Hmm, decisions.Mar 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm #1716106
and to Ben, they said they were geared towards light and ultralight weight camping when i brought that up with them.Mar 28, 2011 at 3:00 pm #1716144
@forbesbLocale: Bay Area
If it were a recurring charge I probably wouldn't be a member as all I buy there is consumables (Fuel, Snacks, etc), but it's $20 one time. So in order to break even based on the dividend you only have to spend $200 bucks on full-price items there in your life from that point.
Not to mention the free shipping on orders over $75 or their keeping track of your purchases so you can more easily return items.
Heck one dinner out with a beer or two costs more than the lifetime membership.Mar 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm #1716161
if you usually pay retail prices and buy at a physical store – then it is worth it.
If you mostly buy on internet and only pay items when they are discounted – then no.
I've bought a bunch of excellent, top of the line gear from here, Craigs List, eBay, Amazon, etc and never from REI (even though we have one here).Mar 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm #1716166
A one time payment of $20 for a lifetime membership was well worth it for me, but I live 2 blocks away from the SF store. If the closest one was 3 hours away then I guess it's not as valuable, but I don't think it would be too hard to recover that $20 investment over a lifetime.Mar 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm #1716167
I'm a member but I rarely see dividends since I buy stuff on sale (or elsewhere for less).
The classes are also priced 20$ lower for members (though the NOLS Wilderness First Aid classes are the only ones that look interesting).Mar 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm #1716173
@jollygreenLocale: Near the bottom
For me the shoe dept alone is worth it. Not to many places let you return shoes that you thought fit.Mar 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm #1716201
@matthewbrownLocale: Blue Ridge Mtns
I'm strictly a member for the power it entails. Every year I get a vote in selecting individuals for positions within the company. Some years I flip a coin, or I paste their names on the wall and throw darts to make my decision. This year I will let my 2yo pick the lucky persons. Malevolently chuckling to myself and slyly rubbing my hands together, knowing full well I hold the fate of their future…
I've recouped my membership fee already a few times over, REI has some exclusive items only found within their org, and they take anything back. Their garage sales are nice if you are near a store.Mar 28, 2011 at 4:31 pm #1716211
Sounds like you already have made up your mind. Only you can decide.
A counter-point to consider…Once a member, always a member. After the sunk cost of the membership, you benefit on a "pay as you go" approach. That means, you spend $ and get some % back in dividends. No one sends you a bill every year. No harm, no foul.
Even if you don't live near a store today, circumstances and life situations change = maybe someday you will live near one.
Heck, I've been a member since 1983 and criss-cross the country for work so I've been to many stores just on a whim.Mar 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm #1716216
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Is membership worth it? Yep! I don't buy a lot of backpacking gear there but there are cycling gear, books, electronics etc. Definately worth itMar 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm #1716220
The ability to return something years down the road that I bought there makes it completely worth it to me, the dividend is just icing on the cake.
There are plenty of things they have there for similar prices to other retailers, so given that choice, I'll buy it at REI so that if it wears out in a year, or I decide I don't like it, I can take it back, no questions asked. When I was buying a pack, this policy paid for the membership many times over. Take it on a trip, and return it if it didn't satisfy, pretty rare to be able to do that anywhere anymore.
It's not the place for SUL gear, granted, but for plenty of things, casual outdoor wear, footwear, etc., it works for me.Mar 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm #1716222
@wandering_bobLocale: Oregon, USA
YES – if for nothing else than their unlimited return policy…..even years after the purchase date. Buy it, try it, don't like it?, return it.
They got smart a few years back and require a receipt, either physically or one they can look up in their computer database (aka you need to know the approx month and year of the purchase).
Please do not abuse the policy with the "buy it, use it for your hike, return it for a full refund" cycle. You'll cob it for the rest of us.Mar 28, 2011 at 11:15 pm #1716442
>They got smart a few years back and require a receipt, either physically or one they can >look up in their computer database (aka you need to know the approx month and year >of the purchase).
Not if you're a member. They can look up your purchase history and verify that you really did buy the item from them.
My dividend paid for a pair of Keen lightweight hiking shoes. I've gotten quite a few good deals on some pretty nice gear from REI over the years, including a Vargo titanium stove, and some Ibex wool base and mid layers.
REI also supports local conservation organizations here in Washington.
And their staff don't get commissions — they're not paid to sell you stuff, they're paid to provide customer service. Not all of them are good at it, but they do try — I *have* encountered REI staff with less knowledge than me, but it's been the exception rather than the rule.
Personally, I think the REI bashers are for the most part small-minded fools — REI does sell a lot of stuff that's oriented toward base camping and fashion rather than backpacking or lightweight (let alone ultralight) backpacking, but they also sell Nemo tents, including the trekking-pole supported Meta. REI has to make money, so they sell stuff that people will buy… and that means that most of their stuff is cycling, kayaking, and fashionable toys for yuppy car campers, but as ultralight backpacking gets more popular, REI's selection of ultralight gear is improving (Vargo titanium alcohol stoves, for example).
REI isn't perfect, but you *can* get a lot of good gear from them, provided that you know what you're after and that you ask the right questions.Mar 29, 2011 at 12:16 am #1716452
you can go UL at rei … marmot heliums, used by many here, sold there … MH Phantoms…. osprey talon, exos, hornet … neoair, baiac, RR solar … patagucci down sweaters … marmot super mica … etc …
of course if you buy it from REI … it suddenly becomes leaden weights … and you magically transform from a ULer to a HWer at the stroke of midnight
im sure how someone will prattle on about ULA, MLD, GG, etc … and how their stuff is lighter … sure, but do ya have a no questions asked unlimited time guarantee?
we wont even talk about REI outlet sales, garage sales, etc … everyone except for me seem to pick up climbing shoes there for like $20 a pair … boooooMar 29, 2011 at 2:42 am #1716470
I always get rei stuff,and quite like their gear
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