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Some people like to try the local dishes when they travel. I like to hit the local trails. I grew up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, so hiking has been a huge part of my life since I was little. While other kids were playing video games and watching TV, I was learning how to operate a compass and tell which plants were edible. That said, these days I use All Trails so I never get lost, and I prefer to pack trail mix, heavy on the M&Ms of course, in lieu of foraging.
As a travel writer, I’ve had the privilege of getting to hike in some pretty cool places ranging from the Andes to the Alps. I’ve worn my favorite hiking boots on all seven continents (yes, there are mountains in Antarctica). Still, I can’t take all the credit for my successful hiking trips. I’ve accumulated quite the collection of incredible hiking gear over the years. And much of it has come from REI which, coincidentally, is having a huge secret hiking sale right now.
Because I just got my tax refund, I’ve been scrolling through all the markdowns and adding items to my shopping cart. If you’re also in the market for new hiking gear, just in time for spring and summer, the list below is for you. I’ve handpicked the best bargains on everything from hiking boots to water bottles, with prices starting at just $6. There’s even something for your canine companion. Happy shopping, and more importantly, happy trails!
Dakine Syncline 16 L Pack
I got my first Dakine backpack as a high school graduation gift. In the last 15 years I’ve used it while hiking on every continent, and it’s never failed me. Like my Dakine, the Dakine Syncline 16 L Pack comes with a 3-liter water reservoir, but unlike my older model, the hydration hose clip on this pack is magnetic. In other words, the hose always stays out of the way when you’re not using it. Other features include a fleece-lined pocket for your shades, internal pockets for organization, a safety light attachment, and even a rescue whistle, which hopefully, you never need to use.
To buy: rei.com, $75 (originally $150)
Salomon Ultra Glide Trail-Running Shoes
For trails where low profile shoes, which are a lot lighter and more breathable than boots, will work, I always sport my Salomon Speedcross 6. And if I was in the market for another pair of Salomons, I’d definitely want to try the Salomon Ultra Glide Trail-Running Shoes. At 50 percent off, they’re a steal, and they boast an “Energy Surge” foam that offers incredible cushioning. They also have Salomon’s signature Contragrip MA outsoles that give you plenty of grip even on wet and rocky surfaces.
To buy: rei.com, $70 (originally $140)
Fjallraven Vardag Pile Women’s Fleece Jacket
I like to get an early start, so usually I need an outer layer when I hike. For jackets, Fjallraven is one of my favorite brands (and not just because Kate Middleton has been photographed in the brand). At 50 percent off, I love the Fjallraven Vardag Pile Fleece Jacket because it’s made of a warm, midweight fleece, but it’s also lightweight. It weighs just over one pound, features two zippered hand pockets, and is available in four colors and sizes XS-XL.
To buy: rei.com, $82 (originally $165)
REI Co-op Screeline Cap
Everyone from my dad, who has been hiking for 60 years, to my dermatologist recommends hiking with a hat, and I couldn’t agree more. The REI Co-op Screeline Cap, which is adjustable, is great for outdoor exercise like hiking because it has a built-in sweatband and loops to keep your sunglasses secure. The mesh liner is UPF 30, meaning it blocks out approximately 97 percent of the sun’s UV rays, and there are also side vents that keep your head from overheating. Finally, because the brim isn’t stiff, it can be easily folded and fits in most pockets.
To buy: rei.com, $13 (originally $27)
Mountainsmith Roamer 6061 Trekking Poles
I don’t normally hike with trekking poles, but after hiking this winter in Antarctica, where my cruise company required them, I realized they make a huge difference when it comes to stability. These Mountainsmith Roamer 6061 Trekking Poles are a great entry-level choice for the hiker who needs a lightweight pair that are easy to adjust height-wise. According to REI’s experts, you want your elbows to be at a 90-degree angle when you have the pole’s tip on the ground near your foot.
To buy: rei.com, $41 (originally $60)
CamelBak Chute Mag Water Bottle
I’ve had lots of CamelBak hydration gear over the years, but I’ve never gotten anything from the brand for less than $10. That’s why the CamelBak Chute Mag Water Bottle, normally $14, is such a steal at just $6. It holds 25 ounces, making it great for shorter hikes, and because it has a handle for easy carrying, you don’t need to even bring a backpack. It’s made of a BPA-free plastic that is dishwasher-safe, and the top is magnetic (it slides open when you want to drink), so it’s practically impossible to lose.
To buy: rei.com, $6 (originally $14)
Mountainsmith Lookout 40 Pack
While most of the time I do day hikes, occasionally, I camp out overnight. That’s where a bag like the Mountainsmith Lookout 40 Pack comes in handy. It holds 40 liters, which for me, is about two to three days’ worth of clothes and food. Although it’s a toploading bag, it’s easy to stay organized thanks to a separate compartment for your sleeping bag, zippered pockets on the waist belt for easy access to valuables, and mesh side pockets which are perfect for holding water bottles. I like to hike with a Camelbak reservoir, and this bag even has a hydration sleeve and exit port.
To buy: rei.com, $107 (originally $180)
Ruffwear Stumptown Insulated Dog Jacket
Much like we need a jacket for hiking, so can our pups! This Ruffwear Stumptown Insulated Dog Jacket will keep your dog’s core warm without restricting their movement. It has a DWR finish, so it’s water repellent, and there’s reflective trim for added visibility. Thanks to side-release buckles, it’s easy to put on and take off, and there’s a leash portal so it will work with harnesses, too. Although it’s not on sale, I also have to recommend the Ruffwear Approach Dogpack, which I’ve had for years. It allows my dog, a 110-pound Leonberger, to carry his own food and water.
To buy: rei.com, $56 (originally $80)
Kari Traa Rothe Women’s Fleece Vest
When I don’t want to wear a jacket but I still need to keep my core warm, I rock the Kari Traa Rothe Fleece Vest, which is currently 40 percent off. I appreciate features like the zippered hand pockets, zippered chest pocket, and high collar that zips up to my chin. I also love the contrast of the colored pocket. Lots of women ask me about it when I wear it out, and my friends? They ask to borrow it!
To buy: rei.com, $48 (originally $80)
Vasque Sunsetter NTX Women’s Hiking Boots
While my favorite hiking boots are these Merrells that I’ve worn around the world, several of my friends who work in national parks during the summer swear by their Vasques. These Vasque Sunsetter NTX Hiking Boots are an elevated, and lighter, version of one of the brand’s best-sellers since 1984. They’re 100 percent waterproof and are made of a recycled material, which is great if you’re trying to be more sustainable. They also have very high-cushion midsoles that offer above-average arch support.
To buy: rei.com, $117 (originally $160)
CTR Criss Cross Women’s Bucket Hat
Since bucket hats are back in style, I would be remiss not to recommend the CTR Criss Cross Bucket Hat, which is perfect for hiking since it’s made of a quick-drying, moisture-wicking nylon. The fabric is UPF 50+, meaning it blocks 98 percent of the sun’s UV rays. Like the Screeline Cap, it has a sweatband lining that keeps sweat out of your eyes, but unlike the cap, it also has an adjustable chin strap, so it won’t blow away. Is it just me or is the wind always stronger at the summit?
To buy: rei.com, $28 (originally $40)
Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks
These socks are one of the 15 genius Amazon finds I’ve traveled the world with. In fact, I’ve been a fan of Darn Tough socks since I discovered them while on a college spring break trip with my parents to Vermont, where they’re made. Are they cheap? No, but like every sock from the brand, these Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks come with a lifetime warranty. If you ever get a hole in them (which you probably won’t) you get a free replacement. At rei.com they have an impressive 4.7-star average rating from nearly 1,000 ratings, and they’re available in women’s too.
To buy: rei.com, $19 (originally $25)
Oboz Sypes Mid Leather Waterproof Hiking Boots
While I don’t own a pair myself, I’m partial to Oboz boots because they’re designed just two hours from where I live. This is the brand of boots most of my friends and family wear, and not just because they have Montana pride. They’re a great investment if you plan on tackling rough terrain. I also like these Oboz Sypes Mid Leather Waterproof Hiking Boots because not only are they waterproof, but thanks to their breathable Oboz B-DRY membranes, they’re also cool enough to wear in the summer.
To buy: rei.com, $120 (originally $160)
ExOfficio Men’s BugsAway Solaro Long-Sleeve Sun Shirt
Every hiker has two enemies: the sun’s harmful UV rays and bugs. Fortunately, ExOfficio gear is designed to ward off both. While I usually stock up on ExOfficio at their store in SeaTac, REI has more deals. For example, this ExOfficio Men’s BugsAway Solaro Long-Sleeve Sun Shirt is nearly 30 percent off. The fabric, a lightweight polyester and wool blend, is treated with an odorless insect repellent that keeps ticks, mosquitos, and midges at bay. It’s also UPF 50, so you don’t need to worry as much about sun exposure.
To buy: rei.com, $60 (originally $85)
Buff CoolNet UV Multifunctional Neckwear
I paid full price for my first Buff, their signature National Geographic style, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Like my Buff, this Buff CoolNet UV Multifunctional Neckwear is about as versatile as accessories get. Thanks to its four-way stretch and genius design, there are at least 12 different ways to wear it. And the fabric, which is treated with a cooling technology that “dynamically adapts” to your body temperature to keep you from getting too hot, is also treated with the brand’s signature Polygiene, so it won’t stink even if you sweat up a storm.
To buy: rei.com, $18 (originally $24)
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