Tag Archives: REI gear reviews

November 20, 2017 Trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Holiday Gift Guide 2017: 35 Great Outdoors Gifts

In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

If you’re shopping for a gift for someone who loves the outdoors—or even for yourself—look no further. This list covers the top-performing products and best values I’ve found among the outdoor gear and apparel I’ve field tested, including jackets, backpacks, a tent, a sleeping bag and air mattress, headlamps, trekking poles, climbing harnesses, and a pile of other stuff in a wide range of prices. Plus, many of them are available at deeply discounted sale prices right now, and you’ll find links to those sales below.

You just may finish all of your holiday shopping right here. Continue reading →

Gear Review: REI Magma 10 and Magma 17 Sleeping Bags

September 26, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
REI Magma 10 sleeping bag.

REI Magma 10 sleeping bag.

Three-Season Sleeping Bag
REI Magma 10 and Magma 17
$349, 1 lb. 13 oz. (regular) 10° F
Sizes: men’s and women’s regular and long
rei.com

On the last night of a 40-mile May backpacking trip in Utah’s Dark Canyon, a friend and I slept out under the stars and a heavy dew fell during the night. But I didn’t notice it until after waking up, seeing the droplets covering everything around me, and sticking a hand outside to feel my bag’s wet shell. Inside my REI Magma 10—which appeared to lose none of its loft, despite its shell getting soaked—I stayed warm and dry. That was a clincher moment in convincing me of what a super value REI’s men’s and women’s Magma sleeping bags represent in high-quality, water-resistant down bags. Continue reading →

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 →

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Grand Canyon Hiker