Tag Archives: REI gear reviews

Review: REI Talusphere Jacket

August 30, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
REI Talusphere Jacket.

My daughter, Alex, wearing the REI Talusphere Jacket on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Rain Jacket
REI Talusphere Jacket
$149, 15 oz. (women’s small)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XXL
rei.com

When trying to outfit themselves for backpacking and other backcountry adventures, many people may prioritize dollars for a better backpack or tent, and settle for a bargain waterproof-breathable rain jacket—especially if they intend to mostly avoid hiking in the worst weather. Parents trying to outfit a growing kid for the backcountry may feel similarly inclined toward frugality. To test that gear-buying strategy, I got my 14-year-old daughter a sub-$150 rain jacket that many consumers will undoubtedly consider, the REI Talusphere Jacket, for our eight-day trek on the Tour du Mont Blanc in July. Mixed weather—including wind on most days, and a day of hiking through wind-driven rain and cool temperatures over the 8,323-foot (2537m) Grand Col Ferret—spotlighted this jacket’s strengths and weaknesses. Continue reading →

Gear Review: REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress

July 12, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress.

REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress.

Insulated Air Mattress
REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress
$100, 15 oz. (regular, 72x20x2 inches)
Sizes: regular, regular wide, long, long wide
rei.com

Spending significantly less money on gear usually means getting significantly less performance, but that’s not the case with REI’s newly updated for 2017 Flash Insulated Air Mattress, I decided after sleeping on it for several nights, on a 40-mile May backpacking trip in Utah’s Dark Canyon Wilderness and camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve in June. While it doesn’t rank number one for any usual measure of air mats (like most comfortable or lightest), it just may deliver the best value, dollar for dollar, of any air mat designed for backpacking. Continue reading →

Gear Review: REI Flash 45 Backpack

May 31, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
REI Flash 45 backpack

REI Flash 45 backpack

Backpack
REI Flash 45
$149, 47L/2,868 c.i., 2 lbs. 14 oz. (large)
Sizes: men’s medium (45L/2,746 c.i.) and large, women’s small (45L/2,745 c.i.) and medium (47L/2,868 c.i.)
rei.com

The challenge: Backpack a three-day, 40-mile loop in Utah’s Dark Canyon Wilderness, staying as light as possible, but having a pack capable of hauling extra water without compressing my spine. It struck me as a good opportunity to test out REI’s latest iteration of the Flash 45 backpack. Having used and reviewed the previous version of the Flash 45, I was curious to hike with this newly updated sack—which has gained about 10 ounces compared to eight years ago (not bad, compared to most people), but also appeared capable of handling more weight comfortably than its predecessor. I discovered that much is true, and that’s among a few improvements to a backpack that’s still under three pounds and, more remarkably, under $150. Continue reading →

Gear Review: REI Traverse 70 Backpack

May 11, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
REI Traverse 70

REI Traverse 70

Backpack
REI Traverse 70
$239, 4 lbs. 13 oz. (men’s medium, including rain cover)
Sizes: men’s S (66L/4,028 c.i., fits torsos 17-19 ins.), M (70L/4,272 c.i., fits torsos 18-20 ins.), L (74L/4,516 c.i., fits torsos 19-21 ins.)
rei.com

Much as I really prefer carrying a light backpack, I have many times hoisted a pack weighing 50 pounds or more, because sometimes that’s the price of a worthy adventure. With no water available along the route of my family’s late-March, overnight backpacking trip into the canyon of Utah’s Dirty Devil River—except the heavily silted river, which would strangle any filter—we had to carry all we’d need for two days. And guess who’s the family porter? As I loaded 15 liters of agua into the Traverse 70, I did some quick math: the liquid weight alone reached just about 32 pounds. With gear, food, and clothes, my pack tipped the scales at nearly 50 pounds. That’s a pretty good test for a pack that weighs under five pounds empty. Continue reading →

Review: REI Motility Rain Jacket

September 30, 2015  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
REI Motility Jacket

REI Motility Jacket

Rain Jacket
REI Motility Jacket
$169, 1 lb. 2 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
rei.com

There are, quite literally, few environments in the world wetter than New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park: It receives upwards of 400 inches of rain a year. (Fun fact: That’s 10 times more than Seattle.) To me, that means there are few places on the planet better for testing a rain jacket. I took the Motility Jacket on a four-day trek of Fiordland’s famously wet, muddy, and rugged Dusky Track, and a dayhike to Gertrude Saddle above Milford Sound, where plenty of rain mixed with lots of exertion on my part provided an excellent measure of this well-priced, waterproof-breathable rain jacket. Continue reading →

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Grand Canyon Hiker