I have to be honest with you – I’m not super interested in helping you spend money and rack up credit card debt on gear you don’t need or doesn’t fit with your style of outdoor adventure. My own personal values are focused on minimalism and intentional consumerism.

That’s why we all need to be cautious as we go into the holiday/black (really black) friday season, which happens to feature:

One of the biggest REI sales of the year – November 15 through 25, 2019.

It’s called the “Gear Up, Get Out” sale.

I hope you’ll focus on “getting out” rather than “gearing up”.

But let’s save some money in the process – assuming you actually need some gear.

So here are some resources to help you save money on decent gear during the REI sale.

What is the one piece of gear you absolutely need from this sale?

  • The Garmin inReach Mini – $75 off retail
    • Read our review
    • These don’t go on sale very often – Garmin exercises strict price control over these devices. Don’t expect the inventory to last at REI. Hey, maybe vote for Bernie or Elizabeth – inReach for all!
  • Why?
    • The inReach Mini is the smallest, lightest, and most reliable satellite communicator on the market.
    • It’s an essential tool for wilderness travel and gives your friends and family back home tremendous peace of mind.

Now, seriously – do you really absolutely need it?


But at least ask your loved ones if they’d like you to carry one – it’s actually for them, after all. If they say “Nah, we’re good. Go do your thing and leave us alone…” and you’re OK with the risk, then skip it. I can support that.

But if they’re stressed about you hiking in the wilds, get an inReach Mini – for them, and don’t be a selfish jerk just because you need your “me” time. This isn’t a silly social media exercise. Relationships matter, don’t screw them up.


  1. REI Members – save 20% on one full-priced item and an extra 20% on one REI Outlet item. Use CODE: GEARUP2019
  2. 20% Off All Thailand Adventure Travel Trips. Save 20% on any remaining 2020 departures when you book November 15–25. Hey, here’s a cool idea: buy a slot on one of these trips for Stephanie and me, and we’ll join you! No, I’m serious. we’ve always wanted to hike in Thailand. Stephanie’s allergic to peanuts tho, so we’ll just bring clif shots for her 😂 that will save us $!


I don’t want you to waste money on gear you don’t need, or on gear that you’re tempted to buy just because it’s on sale. Read more about my desire to be an ethical steward of consumerism in my recent disclosure letter.

And for goodness sakes, if you have credit card debt, close this window now and go make some money to pay it off. Do not buy gear.

That said, there’s a fine line between being a consumer and saving money by taking advantage of good deals, so here are a few of my specific recommendations for the 2019 REI Gear Up, Go Out sale:

  • The Garmin inReach Mini is one of the very few pieces of gear that I recommend for all hikers, for two reasons: safety/rescue, and peace of mind for loved ones back home. I’ve had mine since its launch, and have had zero issues with it. Read my review here or buy it now at REI for $75 off.
  • SL Series Tents: The REI Quarter Dome SL 1 and REI Quarter Dome SL 2 are pretty special tents. They are wind-stable, roomy, and light – and offer what I believe to be the best value (best quality, performance, and weight for the price) on the market right now for double-wall tents. Reviews here (SL 1) and here (SL 2).
  • Kahtoola Microspikes – we use these every day in the winter. I can’t imagine living here (Laramie), and not being able to hike every day. Absolutely essential for our sanity when the trails are covered in snow and ice.
  • GoPro Hero 8 Black – this is my favorite camera for filming in the outdoors. I film my YouTube “Field Notes” videos with a Hero 7 Black, and am excited to upgrade to the new Hero 8.
  • George Harris just reviewed the REI Flash 55 Backpack, which I wore for a few trips before I sent it on to George for review. I liked the pack, and found it to be very comfortable. Its modular design really started to grow on me, and packs that don’t offer some modularity (so I can configure them for different types of trips) seem pretty confining. I like gear that is versatile, because that means I can own less gear for the trips I do. Best of all, the REI Flash 55 is already priced well at $200 MSRP, but during the sale, it is only $140 – that seems to be a great deal on a lightweight, good-quality, versatile pack. Available in a Women’s version too.

I may add more to this list during the next two weeks, but these are the ones that are on my mind today.

Brands on sale that *might* interest the lightweight hiker

I’m not much of a brand loyalist (I am a fanboy of a few brands…), but through the years, there have been a couple of companies who make products that I purchase on a recurring basis. Here are some of my favorites, and they will have a ton of products on sale at REI during this sale:

  • Smartwool – look for 150 weight wool items (including my favorite, the beanie), and the PhD sock line.
  • Patagonia – there will be 1,886 Patagonia sku’s on sale at REI during this sale – it’s a gold mine…look for Nano Puffs for starters – they’re only $139.
  • Several different models of Salomon shoes and “trail running boots” are going to be on sale, including lots of XA, X-Mission, and Speedcross models. These two are very popular among lightweight backpackers. I’m a big fan of these for winter hiking, they have enough stiffness to power a snowshoe and are warm enough for cold days.
  • Arc’teryx – love the dinosaur or hate its pretentiousness, nobody will be able to argue that Arc’teryx has become one of the most iconic premium brands in the industry. During this sale, look for one of the best active insulation pieces around – the Proton LT Hoodie. I’ve been experimenting with this trail running shoe lately and they are very impressive – because they are both light and durable. All deadbird goods are 20% off at REI until the 25th…
  • Garmin just announced their fancy new 6-series Fenix watches (the 6x Pro is neat because it’s solar-powered), which granted, are awesome but horrendously expensive. I have the Fenix 5x+ which has become an indispensable tool for training and tracking. During this sale, the 5x+ is going to be a great deal ($150 off), so nab one while you can and avoid early-adopter-retire-late syndrome.
  • Lots of good deals on Nemo gear – especially tents and sleeping pads. As I talk about in the Masterclass, the wide Nemo Tensor has pretty much changed my life when it comes to sleeping on the ground :)

I’ll update this list as the sale goes on, so check back – and subscribe to the newsletter for even more info and recommendations.

More Backpacking Light resources to help you shop the REI sale:

Need some gear recommendations?

Our most popular gear guides:

Some of the REI gear has BPL reviewed:

This video explains why we are REI fans:

YouTube video

How about you?

  • What are you shopping for this holiday season?
  • Have you found any good deals on that gear at REI or elsewhere?
  • What are you not going to buy this season?
  • How do the principles of lightweight backpacking mesh with your consumer (or anti-consumer) lifestyle?
  • Most important, where are you planning on hiking this winter?!

Drop me a note and let me know!


Updated November 7, 2019

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