This REI Gear Guide contains an updated collection of hiking and backpacking products available at REI Co-Op that are recommended by Backpacking Light.

Backpacking Light Recommendations for products are based on light weight, high performance, market resilience, and reliability.
Backpacking Light product recommendations are based on light weight, high performance, market resilience, and reliability.

The primary purpose of this gear guide is to provide REI Members with a highly-focused list of products that meet the following criteria:

  • High Performance – The product is representative of the most performant products available among its market peers in the same weight range.
  • Light Weight – The product is representative of the lightest products available among its market peers in the same performance/functionality class.
  • Reliability – The product is not characterized by systemic functional flaws as a result of unsound design principles or defects in material or manufacturing quality.
  • Market Resilience – The product has an established market presence with a positive reputation among users. These two factors generally place the product among the top 10% of products in its category in terms of retailer sales volumes and low return rates.


  • Minimalist – A product that is uniquely characterized by its light weight and simple design. Minimalism is most often reflected in material and design choices.
  • Performance – A product that is uniquely characterized by a notably high performance-to-weight ratio. Performance may include factors such as durability, feature set, storm resistance, suspension performance, etc.
  • Comfort – A product that is uniquely characterized by a notably high comfort-to-weight ratio. Comfort may include factors such as warmth, padding, load-carrying ability (packs), ease of use, etc.


  • All products appearing in this gear guide have been used, tested, and inspected by Backpacking Light as part of its product review or guided wilderness trekking programs.
  • This gear guide contains affiliate links. However – buyer be aware – just because REI sells some gear that is lightweight and performant does not mean that the lightest or most performant gear available in a category is available at REI! In many categories, lighter and more performant options are available from cottage manufacturers and other retailers. For example, check out Garage Grown Gear, Feathered Friends, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Tarptent, Durston Gear, and others in our Gear Brands database.
  • We do not recommend all products for all situations. We leave it up to the user to identify the strengths and limitations of a particular product in a specific use case scenario.

Video: About the Gear Guide

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Browse the REI Gear Guide (Product Database)

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giftsREIMembershipn/a10% dividend annually, members-only specials, early access to sales.Membership
giftsREIGift Cardn/aA versatile gift for just about everyone!Gift Card
rei backpackbackpacksREI Co-OpFlash 55 ComfortModularity, ease of organizing gear, and load-carrying comfort.Men's
backpacksHyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest PerformanceDurability, load-carrying stability, waterproofness.2400
backpacksREITarn 40 Backpack ComfortSlim profile, comfortable harness, durable, gear organization and access features.Kid's
backpacksOspreyEja / Exos Pro 58 PerformanceLoad-carrying comfort at lighter (< 30 lb) weights, gear access, sleek profile, manufacturing quality.Eja Pro 58
Exos Pro 58
big agnes tentsheltersBig AgnesCopper Spur HV ComfortHeadroom, porch with awning configuration, interior volume.UL1
sheltersNEMOHornet Osmo PerformanceWind-resistant low profile, very light weight, small packed size.2P
sheltersREI Co-OpFlash Air Tent MinimalistVery light and packable, easy to pitch.1
sheltersSea to SummitAlto PerformanceHeadroom and interior volume, stability in moderate wind, reasonable resistance to snow loading.TR1
sheltersKammokMantis Ultralight Hammock System ComfortA complete turnkey ultralight hammock system, hanging comfort, high-quality materials.Mantis
sheltersSea to SummitEscapist Tarp MinimalistSimple rectangular shape with quality materials.Escapist
shelters KammokKuhli Tarps MinimalistQuality materials, catenary edges, trapezoidal shape.Standard
sleeping bagsSea to SummitSpark Ultralight PerformanceUltralight materials, high-quality down fill, high warmth-to-weight ratio.18F
sleeping bagsREI Co-OpMagma Trail Quilt MinimalistBeing one of the best values on the market with a very effective pad attachment system.30F
sleeping bagsREI Co-OpMagma Sleeping Bag PerformanceValue-to-weight ratio is high, quality materials, down fill, draft collar make this a warm bag at this weight.30F Men's
30F Women's
sleeping bagsThermarestVesper Down Quilt MinimalistSurprisingly warm for its weight, owing to ultralight fabrics, high quality down fill, and a generous draft collar.20F
sleeping bagsSea to Summit Ember Ultralight Down Quilt MinimalistHybrid baffles, ultralight materials, and a double quilt option.35F
50F Double
sleeping padsThermarestNeoAir NXT Sleeping Pad PerformanceGold standard of inflatable sleeping pads, now upgraded with more warmth; stable, light, durable, and reliable.XLite
XTherm MAX
sleeping padsNEMOSwitchback Sleeping Pad MinimalistA durable, light, no-fuss, no-fail option.Switchback
sleeping padsSea to Summit Ether Lite XT ComfortStable, durable, easy to inflate, and warm.Mummy Insulated
Rectangular Insulated
Women's Insulated
footwearMerrellMoab 3 ComfortTrusted design, reliable, durable, supportive.Hiking Shoes Men's
Hiking Shoes Women's
Waterproof Hiking Shoes Men's
Waterproof Hiking Shoes Women's
Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots Men's
Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots Women's
footwearLa SportivaUltra Raptor PerformanceTechnical design suitable for more difficult terrain.
Mid GTX Boots Men's
Mid GTX Boots Women's
Trail-Running Shoes Men's
Trail-Running Shoes Women's
footwearDannerTrail 2650 Hiking Shoes MinimalistDurability for long miles in a minimalist design.
Hiking Shoes Men's
Hiking Shoes Women's
footwearHokaSpeedgoat PerformanceHighly protective midsole and cushion for moving fast or carrying heavier loads.Trail Running Shoes Men's
Trail Running Shoes Women's
Mid GTX Hiking Boots Men's
Mid GTX Hiking Boots Women's
footwearLa SportivaTX Approach Shoes MinimalistAlpine & desert scrambling in a minimalist design.TX4 Men's
TX4 Women's
TX Guide Men's
TX4 R Men's
TX4 R Women's
footwearScarpaMescalito ComfortAlpine & desert scrambling in a trail-runner style for better comfort.Women's
footwearAltraLone Peak ComfortZero-drop trail shoe with wide toebox.Men's
cookingSotoFusion Trek Stove PerformanceThe most efficient remote-canister stove on the market, a good choice for cold weather backpacking.Fusion
cookingSotoWindmaster Stove With 4Flex Pot Support PerformanceA top-rated stove in our most recent Stovebench survey of upright canister stoves.Windmaster
cookingMSRReactor Stove System PerformanceThe fastest and most weather resistant canister stove system we've ever tested.1.0 L Kit
1.7 L Kit
cookingMSRWindburner Stove System PerformanceA top-rated stove in our most recent Stovebench survey of upright canister stoves.Windburner
cookingMSRPocket Rocket 2 Stove PerformanceThe #1 stove we tested in our most recent Stovebench survey of upright canister stoves.Pocket Rocket
cookingEsbitSolid Fuel Stove and Cookset
PerformanceA tightly-integrated package that provides weather resistance and efficiency not normally found in solid fuel stove systems.Stove and Cookset
cookingToaksLight Titanium Pots
MinimalistThe lightest titanium pots available.550 ml
650 ml
750 ml
900 ml
D115 mm
cookingHumangearGoBites Uno Spork MinimalistCompact form factor, durable, and comfortable to eat with.nylon
cookingToaksLong Handled Titanium Spoon MinimalistRecommended when eating packaged meals out of their plastic or mylar bags.Spoon
cookingMSRTitan Kettle PerformanceA better option than Toaks if durability and longevity is a higher priority, optimized height:diameter ratio for heating efficiency.Titan
hydrationHydrapakFlux Water Treatment System
PerformanceHigh-quality filter cap + durable and taste-free soft-sided bottles; our recommendation for a squeeze filter over other options from Platypus, Sawyer, and Katadyn.42mm Filter Cap
Flux 1.5 L Bottle + Filter Cap System
Seeker 3.0L Bottle + Filter Cap System
hydrationPlatypusGravityWorks Water Treatment System PerformanceRecommended for groups and basecamping, one of the lightest gravity filters available.2L
hydrationAquatabsWater Purification Tablets
PerformanceRecommended for backup or additional water treatment when crypto or giardia cysts highly suspected (e.g., sheep or cattle-grazing mountain and desert areas of the US West).Aquatabs
hydrationSawyerSqueeze Water Filter System
Performance#1 choice of water treatment by thru-hikers, compatibility with Smartwater bottles a big plus.Squeeze System
hydrationAquamiraAquamira MinimalistVery effective, fast, light, with no foul tastes or odors.Aquamira
hydrationPlatypusWater Bottles MinimalistThe gold standard of collapsible water bottles - still the lightest.34 oz
hydrationHydrapakSeeker Water Bottles
MinimalistWhen you need more water storage in a collapsible form factor.2 L Seeker
3L Seeker
4 L Seeker
electronicsBlack DiamondSprint Headlamp MinimalistA very simple, small, light, bright, and waterproof headlamp.Sprint
electronicsFenixHM50R Headlamp PerformanceRecommended when you need a lightweight headlamp that offers a very bright mode for navigation when needed.HM50R
electronicsGoProHero 11 Black Camera PerformanceHigh frame rates, high resolutions, ease of use, image quality, waterproof, extensible, easy to use, capable of pro/cinematic audio and video.Hero 11
electronicsBioLiteCharge PD Power Bank PerformanceDurable, reliable, light, fast-charge delivery.20
electronicsGarminFenix Watch PerformanceConsistent accuracy, reliability, durability, and connectivity in a crowded market; leading choice of pro athletes.7 Sapphire Solar
7X Sapphire Solar
7X Solar
7 Solar
7S Sapphire Solar
electronicsGarmininReach Mini 2 PerformanceThe most functional and lightest standalone satellite communicator and GPS, with versatility when paired with a smartphone.Mini 2
electronicsZOLEOSatellite Communicator ComfortEasy to use smartphone app, seamless communications across satellite & cellular channels.Satelite Communicator
chairsHelinoxChair Zero ComfortLight, compact, comfortable for more upright sitting position.Chair Zero
chairsREI Co-OpFlexlite Air Chair PerformanceLightest real chair, comfortable for slightly reclined sitting position.Flexlite Air
chairsCrazy CreekHex Chair
MinimalistWhen you need a chair for sitting in your tent, or to serve multi-use as part of sleeping pad system.Original
jackets - rainArc'teryxBeta LT PerformanceLightest jacket with absolute reliability for consistently stormy conditions and moderately abrasive environments.Men's
jackets - rainPatagoniaTorrentshell 3L PerformanceHigh breathability and low weight at a very reasonable price point.Men's
jackets - rainREI Co-OpRainier Jacket ComfortWhen budget is the highest priority and you still need reasonable breathability, durability, and light weight.Men's
jackets - rainArc'teryxAlpha SV PerformanceThe only jacket on the market less than 18 oz where you can't sacrifice durability or storm-resistance, i.e., alpine climbing, bushwhacking, scrambling, etc.Men's
jackets - rainOutdoor ResearchForay / Aspire PerformanceWhen ventilation is your highest priority - 2-way hem zips vent the entire sides of the jacket.Men's
jackets - rainOutdoor ResearchHelium MinimalistWhen light weight is your highest priority, and you only need a rain jacket for intermittent use.Men's
jackets - insulatedPatagoniaNano Puff ComfortA thin and very layerable jacket, especially under a rain jacket when layering bulk is not desirable.Men's Jacket
Women's Jacket
Men's Hoodie
Women's Hoodie
jackets - insulatedArc'teryxAtom LT PerformanceWarmer and loftier than the Nano Puff, with more breathable fabrics that mitigate overheating.Men's Jacket
Women's Jacket
Men's Hoodie
Women's Hoodie
jackets - insulatedArc'teryxCerium PerformanceModerate warmth-to-weight ratio, high manufacturing quality, durable but light fabrics.Men's Jacket
Men's Hoodie
Women's Hoodie
jackets - insulatedREI650 Down Jacket MinimalistA very budget-friendly option that provides solid performance for the value.Men's Jacket
Women's Jacket
jackets - insulatedMountain HardwearGhost Whisperer ComfortA minimal-loft, ultralight down layer for mild weather.Men's Jacket
Women's Jacket
Men's Hoodie
Women's Hoodie
food storageBearVaultFood Storage Canisters
ComfortCost-effective, clear view of contents, easy to use, extremely reliable.BV425 Sprint
BV450 Jaunt
BV475 Trek
BV500 Journey
food storageUrsackMajor Food Storage Bags PerformanceVery light and easy to use food storage option for areas not requiring hard-sided bear canisters.Major
Major XL
Major 2XL
trekking polesBlack DiamondAlpine Carbon Cork
PerformanceFor the weight, one of the sturdiest and durable trekking poles on the market.Men's
trekking polesBlack DiamondDistance Carbon Trekking Poles
MinimalistCompact, folding, lightweight carbon poles with a long-standing reputation for durability.Distance Carbon Z
Distance Carbon FLZ

DISCLOSURE (Updated April 9, 2024)

  • Product mentions in this article are made by the author with no compensation in return. In addition, Backpacking Light does not accept compensation or donated/discounted products in exchange for product mentions or placements in editorial coverage. Some (but not all) of the links in this review may be affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and visit one of our affiliate partners (usually a retailer site), and subsequently place an order with that retailer, we receive a commission on your entire order, which varies between 3% and 15% of the purchase price. Affiliate commissions represent less than 15% of Backpacking Light's gross revenue. More than 70% of our revenue comes from Membership Fees. So if you'd really like to support our work, don't buy gear you don't need - support our consumer advocacy work and become a Member instead. Learn more about affiliate commissions, influencer marketing, and our consumer advocacy work by reading our article Stop wasting money on gear.

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