This REI Gear Guide contains an updated collection of hiking and backpacking products available at REI Co-Op that are recommended by Backpacking Light.
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
Learn more about this gear guide and watch this video tutorial:
Browse the REI Gear Guide (Product Database)
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|gifts||REI||Membership||n/a||10% dividend annually, members-only specials, early access to sales.||Membership|
|gifts||REI||Gift Card||n/a||A versatile gift for just about everyone!||Gift Card|
|backpacks||REI Co-Op||Flash 55||Comfort||Modularity, ease of organizing gear, and load-carrying comfort.||Men's
|backpacks||Hyperlite Mountain Gear||Southwest||Performance||Durability, load-carrying stability, waterproofness.||2400
|backpacks||REI||Tarn 40 Backpack||Comfort||Slim profile, comfortable harness, durable, gear organization and access features.||Kid's|
|backpacks||Osprey||Eja / Exos Pro 58||Performance||Load-carrying comfort at lighter (< 30 lb) weights, gear access, sleek profile, manufacturing quality.||Eja Pro 58
Exos Pro 58
|shelters||Big Agnes||Copper Spur HV||Comfort||Headroom, porch with awning configuration, interior volume.||UL1
|shelters||NEMO||Hornet Osmo||Performance||Wind-resistant low profile, very light weight, small packed size.||2P
|shelters||REI Co-Op||Flash Air Tent||Minimalist||Very light and packable, easy to pitch.||1
|shelters||Sea to Summit||Alto||Performance||Headroom and interior volume, stability in moderate wind, reasonable resistance to snow loading.||TR1
|shelters||Kammok||Mantis Ultralight Hammock System||Comfort||A complete turnkey ultralight hammock system, hanging comfort, high-quality materials.||Mantis|
|shelters||Sea to Summit||Escapist Tarp||Minimalist||Simple rectangular shape with quality materials.||Escapist|
|shelters||Kammok||Kuhli Tarps||Minimalist||Quality materials, catenary edges, trapezoidal shape.||Standard
|sleeping bags||Sea to Summit||Spark Ultralight||Performance||Ultralight materials, high-quality down fill, high warmth-to-weight ratio.||18F
|sleeping bags||REI Co-Op||Magma Trail Quilt||Minimalist||Being one of the best values on the market with a very effective pad attachment system.||30F|
|sleeping bags||REI Co-Op||Magma Sleeping Bag||Performance||Value-to-weight ratio is high, quality materials, down fill, draft collar make this a warm bag at this weight.||30F Men's
|sleeping bags||Thermarest||Vesper Down Quilt||Minimalist||Surprisingly warm for its weight, owing to ultralight fabrics, high quality down fill, and a generous draft collar.||20F
|sleeping bags||Sea to Summit||Ember Ultralight Down Quilt||Minimalist||Hybrid baffles, ultralight materials, and a double quilt option.||35F
|sleeping pads||Thermarest||NeoAir NXT Sleeping Pad||Performance||Gold standard of inflatable sleeping pads, now upgraded with more warmth; stable, light, durable, and reliable.||XLite
|sleeping pads||NEMO||Switchback Sleeping Pad||Minimalist||A durable, light, no-fuss, no-fail option.||Switchback|
|sleeping pads||Sea to Summit||Ether Lite XT||Comfort||Stable, durable, easy to inflate, and warm.||Mummy Insulated
|footwear||Merrell||Moab 3||Comfort||Trusted 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
|footwear||La Sportiva||Ultra Raptor||Performance||Technical 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
|footwear||Danner||Trail 2650 Hiking Shoes||Minimalist||Durability for long miles in a minimalist design.||
Hiking Shoes Men's
Hiking Shoes Women's
|footwear||Hoka||Speedgoat||Performance||Highly 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
|footwear||La Sportiva||TX Approach Shoes||Minimalist||Alpine & desert scrambling in a minimalist design.||TX4 Men's
TX Guide Men's
TX4 R Men's
TX4 R Women's
|footwear||Scarpa||Mescalito||Comfort||Alpine & desert scrambling in a trail-runner style for better comfort.||Women's|
|footwear||Altra||Lone Peak||Comfort||Zero-drop trail shoe with wide toebox.||Men's
|cooking||Soto||Fusion Trek Stove||Performance||The most efficient remote-canister stove on the market, a good choice for cold weather backpacking.||Fusion|
|cooking||Soto||Windmaster Stove With 4Flex Pot Support||Performance||A top-rated stove in our most recent Stovebench survey of upright canister stoves.||Windmaster|
|cooking||MSR||Reactor Stove System||Performance||The fastest and most weather resistant canister stove system we've ever tested.||1.0 L Kit
1.7 L Kit
|cooking||MSR||Windburner Stove System||Performance||A top-rated stove in our most recent Stovebench survey of upright canister stoves.||Windburner|
|cooking||MSR||Pocket Rocket 2 Stove||Performance||The #1 stove we tested in our most recent Stovebench survey of upright canister stoves.||Pocket Rocket|
|cooking||Esbit||Solid Fuel Stove and Cookset||Performance||A tightly-integrated package that provides weather resistance and efficiency not normally found in solid fuel stove systems.||Stove and Cookset|
|cooking||Toaks||Light Titanium Pots||Minimalist||The lightest titanium pots available.||550 ml
|cooking||Humangear||GoBites Uno Spork||Minimalist||Compact form factor, durable, and comfortable to eat with.||nylon
|cooking||Toaks||Long Handled Titanium Spoon||Minimalist||Recommended when eating packaged meals out of their plastic or mylar bags.||Spoon|
|cooking||MSR||Titan Kettle||Performance||A better option than Toaks if durability and longevity is a higher priority, optimized height:diameter ratio for heating efficiency.||Titan|
|hydration||Hydrapak||Flux Water Treatment System||Performance||High-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
|hydration||Platypus||GravityWorks Water Treatment System||Performance||Recommended for groups and basecamping, one of the lightest gravity filters available.||2L
|hydration||Aquatabs||Water Purification Tablets||Performance||Recommended 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|
|hydration||Sawyer||Squeeze Water Filter System||Performance||#1 choice of water treatment by thru-hikers, compatibility with Smartwater bottles a big plus.||Squeeze System|
|hydration||Aquamira||Aquamira||Minimalist||Very effective, fast, light, with no foul tastes or odors.||Aquamira|
|hydration||Platypus||Water Bottles||Minimalist||The gold standard of collapsible water bottles - still the lightest.||34 oz
|hydration||Hydrapak||Seeker Water Bottles||Minimalist||When you need more water storage in a collapsible form factor.||2 L Seeker
4 L Seeker
|electronics||Black Diamond||Sprint Headlamp||Minimalist||A very simple, small, light, bright, and waterproof headlamp.||Sprint|
|electronics||Fenix||HM50R Headlamp||Performance||Recommended when you need a lightweight headlamp that offers a very bright mode for navigation when needed.||HM50R|
|electronics||GoPro||Hero 11 Black Camera||Performance||High frame rates, high resolutions, ease of use, image quality, waterproof, extensible, easy to use, capable of pro/cinematic audio and video.||Hero 11|
|electronics||BioLite||Charge PD Power Bank||Performance||Durable, reliable, light, fast-charge delivery.||20
|electronics||Garmin||Fenix Watch||Performance||Consistent accuracy, reliability, durability, and connectivity in a crowded market; leading choice of pro athletes.||7 Sapphire Solar
7X Sapphire Solar
7S Sapphire Solar
|electronics||Garmin||inReach Mini 2||Performance||The most functional and lightest standalone satellite communicator and GPS, with versatility when paired with a smartphone.||Mini 2|
|electronics||ZOLEO||Satellite Communicator||Comfort||Easy to use smartphone app, seamless communications across satellite & cellular channels.||Satelite Communicator|
|chairs||Helinox||Chair Zero||Comfort||Light, compact, comfortable for more upright sitting position.||Chair Zero|
|chairs||REI Co-Op||Flexlite Air Chair||Performance||Lightest real chair, comfortable for slightly reclined sitting position.||Flexlite Air|
|chairs||Crazy Creek||Hex Chair||Minimalist||When you need a chair for sitting in your tent, or to serve multi-use as part of sleeping pad system.||Original
|jackets - rain||Arc'teryx||Beta LT||Performance||Lightest jacket with absolute reliability for consistently stormy conditions and moderately abrasive environments.||Men's
|jackets - rain||Patagonia||Torrentshell 3L||Performance||High breathability and low weight at a very reasonable price point.||Men's
|jackets - rain||REI Co-Op||Rainier Jacket||Comfort||When budget is the highest priority and you still need reasonable breathability, durability, and light weight.||Men's
|jackets - rain||Arc'teryx||Alpha SV||Performance||The 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 - rain||Outdoor Research||Foray / Aspire||Performance||When ventilation is your highest priority - 2-way hem zips vent the entire sides of the jacket.||Men's
|jackets - rain||Outdoor Research||Helium||Minimalist||When light weight is your highest priority, and you only need a rain jacket for intermittent use.||Men's
|jackets - insulated||Patagonia||Nano Puff||Comfort||A thin and very layerable jacket, especially under a rain jacket when layering bulk is not desirable.||Men's Jacket
|jackets - insulated||Arc'teryx||Atom LT||Performance||Warmer and loftier than the Nano Puff, with more breathable fabrics that mitigate overheating.||Men's Jacket
|jackets - insulated||Arc'teryx||Cerium||Performance||Moderate warmth-to-weight ratio, high manufacturing quality, durable but light fabrics.||Men's Jacket
|jackets - insulated||REI||650 Down Jacket||Minimalist||A very budget-friendly option that provides solid performance for the value.||Men's Jacket
|jackets - insulated||Mountain Hardwear||Ghost Whisperer||Comfort||A minimal-loft, ultralight down layer for mild weather.||Men's Jacket
|food storage||BearVault||Food Storage Canisters||Comfort||Cost-effective, clear view of contents, easy to use, extremely reliable.||BV425 Sprint
|food storage||Ursack||Major Food Storage Bags||Performance||Very light and easy to use food storage option for areas not requiring hard-sided bear canisters.||Major
|trekking poles||Black Diamond||Alpine Carbon Cork||Performance||For the weight, one of the sturdiest and durable trekking poles on the market.||Men's
|trekking poles||Black Diamond||Distance Carbon Trekking Poles||Minimalist||Compact, folding, lightweight carbon poles with a long-standing reputation for durability.||Distance Carbon Z
Distance Carbon FLZ
DISCLOSURE (Updated November 7, 2019)
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