backpackers in colorado mountains with tent

Hiking Gear Gift Guide

If you are looking for Christmas gifts for the the hiker, backpacker, and camper in your life, here’s a great place to start. We’ve read through reviews, checked some sales, and found 45 of our favorite gifts in several different price ranges, starting at $15.

Gifts under $15

Smartwool PhD Lightweight Hiking Socks & Heathered Hiker Socks

PhD Regular Price: $20.95
PhD Sale Price: $13.73 until 11.20.17 or when they run outstool

Heathered Hiker Regular Price: $22.95
Heathered Hiker Price: $15.73 until 11.20.17 or when they run out

Two classic hiking socks made by smartwool and both on sale until 11.20.17

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  • Both great for dayhiking
  • They are Smartwool! Need we say more?

What Reviewers Think:

  • “These are my go-to socks for trail running” (PhD)
  • Great cushioning! (both socks)
  • “The most comfortable socks I’ve ever owned (PhD)

Snow Peak Titanium Spork

Regular Price: $9.95

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  • Combo lightweight titanium spoon and fork, so no need to carry two utensils
  • No metallic taste and will not rust

What Reviewer’s Think:

  • Durable, lightweight, and extremely easy to clean
  • Some find it to be a little short

REI Co-op Nalgene Bottle - 32 fl. Oz.

Regular Price: $10.95

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  • The classic water bottle everyone needs
  • Doesn’t Leak
  • Dishwasher safe and BPA-free
  • Great for both warm and cold beverages

What Reviewers Think:

  • Easy to clean
  • Holds up to all kinds of wear and tear
  • Doesn't taste like you are drinking from plastic
  • Lasts forever!

CamelBak Insulated Water Bottle - 21 fl. Oz.

Regular Price: $13
Sale Price: $5.73 until 11.20.17

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  • The classic waterbottle everyone needs
  • Doesn’t Leak
  • Dishwasher safe and BPA-free
  • Greate for both warm and cold beverages
  • Double-wall insulation = keeps cold stuff cold and hot stuff hot
  • No plasticy taste; free of BPA, BPS and BPF
  • Not leaky, easy to squeeze for best flow.
  • Easy to fill and clean

What Reviewers Think:

  • No leaks, no drips and easy to clean

Ruffwear Quencher Collapsible Dog Bowl

Regular Price: $14.95
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  • Folds up so you can jam it into your pack
  • You can throw it in the washing machine to get it clean

What Reviewers Think:

  • Lightweight, compact, portable, durable
  • Collapses well and doesn't leak
  • If you have a high-energy dog, they can bump the bowl easily and cause it to collapse

Schrade First Responder Clip Knife

Regular Price: $14.95
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  • Blade Length 3.25 inches
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Closed Length 4.94 inches

What Reviewers Think:

  • Lightweight, compact, portable, durable
  • Collapses well and doesn't leak
  • If you have a high-energy dog, they can bump the bowl easily and cause it to collapse
  • Great knife to keep in the car or a backpack
  • Has seatbelt cutter and glass breaker
  • Rubberized handle has a great look and feel

Gifts $16 to $50

LifeStraw Water Filter

Regular Price: $19.95
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  • No more pumping your water out of the creek. Use the LifeStraw to sip water straight from a stream or lake.
  • 2 oz. so this thing adds almost nothing to your pack
  • Good for up to 264 gallons of filtering
  • Includes a removable lanyard, because you want to hike around with this cool plastic necklace

What Reviewers Think:

  • Isn't hard to drink out of once the flow gets going
  • Very compact and lightweight
  • You can drink directly from the water source
  • There were some complaints that didn’t work the first or second time

Petzl Tikkina Headlamp

Regular Price: $19.95
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  • This is one of your 10 essentials and from a reliable company that has been making headlamps for years!
  • I’ve had the previous version of this for years and love it!
  • Great for having around the house when the lights go out or you’re working on the car
  • 3 brightness levels
  • 5 year Petzl guarantee

What Reviewers Think:

  • Bright light with 3 level settings
  • Lightweight, small and comfortable to wear
  • Easy to control the light strength with a touch

YETI Rambler Lowball Vacuum Tumbler - 10 fl. Oz.

Regular Price: $20
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  • I’ve had the larger version of this for a few years and it’s amazing how long it keeps my coffee piping hot.
  • Double-wall vacuum insulation
  • No Sweat™ design won't leave a ring on your coffee table
  • No metallic taste

What Reviewers Think:

  • Retains the heat and the lid is great for 'spill-proof' protection

REI Co-op Trail Stool

Regular Price: $22.50
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  • Light enough you can pack it in for short hikes
  • Capacity: 200 lbs
  • Weight: 1lb 2oz
  • Size: 15 x 13 x 13 inches

What Reviewers Think:

  • Sturdy and stable
  • Small and light, can be attached easily to the outside of a pack
  • Few complained of its “limited life” (but maybe they were throwing it around--those legs are aluminum you know!)

Smartwool The Lid Hat

Regular Price: $30
Sale Price: $20.99 until 11.20.17

I picked up this hat at REI back in March of 2017 for hiking a stretch of the Appalachian Trail in southern Tennessee. Since the, it’s become by go-to winter hat. It’s kept its tight fit despite me sleeping in it and it taking a lot of wear from being in the top of my pack. It was difficult droppign $30 on a hat, but I can say wholeheartedly that it was worth it.
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  • 50% Merino Wool = Warm
  • 50% Acrylic = Snug fit
  • Great Colors: Charcoal Grey and Steel Blue

What Reviewers Think:

  • Can wear it all day indoors and outdoors
  • A bit itchy on forehead area
  • Great in low temps with high winds

Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Hiker Medical Kit

Regular Price: $25
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  • Great for dayhikes and up to a 2-day adventure
  • Injury-specific organization
  • See-through pockets
  • 14 precut, shaped moleskin pieces for blister
  • Wilderness medicine guide
  • One of the 10 Essentials for every dayhiker

What Reviewers Think:

  • Well organized, and has extra room for additional storage (better tweezers, cold medicine, essential oils, water purification tablets, etc.)
  • YETI Rambler Mug - 14 fl. Oz.

    Regular Price: $25

    YETI does it again, adding another level of cool (and hot) to this mug-style rambler. This might just become your go-to camp cup.
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    • Double-wall vacuum-insulation maintains even temperature to your beverage.
    • Stainless steel + DuraCoat® finish means this thing can take a beating
    • It’s got a handle; what more can we say?
    • Dishwasher safe

    What Reviewers Think:

    • The mug's rugged construction and sheer usefulness make it perfect for camping, fishing, or just chillin' at home
    • Welded handle is a good size and features rounded-off edges
    • Built pretty tough, but not immune to scratches

    Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

    Regular Price: $19.95 - $34.95

    I wish I had this pillow on my last multi-day backpacking trip.
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    • Great on the plane, in the car, and in the tent.
    • Smushes down to a 1/5th of its full size
    • 4 Sizes available
    • Machine washable

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Very soft, squishy, and comfortable
    • Outer material is also soft and comfortable against your face
    • Lightweight and compresses well
    • Can take a very long time to air dry if it gets wet while camping

    YETI Rambler Vacuum Bottle - 18 fl oz

    Regular Price: $30

    The YETI Rambler is probably in my Top 5 of favorite gear that I’ve acquired in the last couple years. I use it every morning to prepare and shake up my bulletproof coffee. It keeps my coffee piping hot on the mornings that I leave it in my cold truck while I work out at the gym. It takes a beating, and you can put a bunch of cool stickers on it.
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    • Comes in a bunch of colors
    • 18 fl oz, 3 x 9.25 inches
    • Stainless Steel

    What Reviewers Think:

    • “My full time car water/coffee bottle.”
    • Ice lasted for 4 days!

    Coal Yukon Brim Beanie

    Regular Price: $38

    I’ll admit that I don’t yet own any Coal products. Everyone who does seems to have a much higher cool-factor though. They make some of the best trucker hats out there. This thing combines the coal cool-factor with cable-knit and a brim. What more could you want?!
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    • Interior fleece headband
    • Wool knit keeps you warm without being itchy or uncomfortable

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Holds up well and stays warm even through significant freezing rain
    • The inner lining can cause the beanie to shift on your head

    Petzl Actik Headlamp

    Regular Price: $44.95

    Ready to upgrade your headlamp? The Petzl Actik is our recommendation.
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    • 300 lumens!!!
    • Several light modes with wide and mixed beam.
    • Great for reading at night
    • That cool red light function for hiking at night
    • Comes with batteries (it’s always nice when they do that)
    • 5 year Petzl guarantee

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Very bright and you can really see when it is dark
    • Button can be a bit hard to press when you are wearing gloves, but it prevents it from accidentally getting turned on when in your pack

    SOG PowerAccess Multitool

    Regular Price: $49.95
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    • Closed Length: 4.1 inches
    • Stainless Steel
    • Patented Gear-drive pliers
    • Weight 5.9 oz.
    • 18 different components

    What Reviewers Think:

    • The pliers are strong!
    • They love the magnetic hex bit holder feature
    • The smaller size makes this really useful and portable

    Gifts $51 to $100

    Osprey Jet 18 Pack - Kids'

    Regular Price: $60
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    • Made for kids to be comfortable
    • Mesh waistbelt and external pocket
    • Side compression straps

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Built-in whistle, comfortable, easy to load, good suspension, highly adjustable, large capacity, lightweight, Osprey Pack Guarantee

    Patagonia Belgrano Pants

    Regular Price: $99
    Sale Price: $68.73 until 11.20.17

    My 10yr old hiking pants are getting pretty worn and these look like a great option. Plus, they are Patagonia!
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    • Water repellent and dries quickly
    • Gusseted crotch allows full range of motion for scrambling
    • Solid stitching
    • Rear pocket has a secure zip closure and key loop
    • Looks like a 2017 closeout, so check several sites for best price

    What Reviewers Think:

    • One reviewer noted that pine sap washed right off his pair of Belgranos

    BearVault BV500 Food Container

    Regular Price: $79.95

    I’ve owned this product from BearVault since 2004 and love it. It’s a must-have if you plan to do any overnights in Rocky Mountain National Park, as bear canisters are now required in the RMNP backcountry. There are two things I love about this thing: 1) no more trying to hang bear bags, and 2) it doubles as a great camp stool.
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    • The obvious: Bears aint eatin’ your food
    • Translucent: You can see your food and get to it easily
    • It’s Legit: BearVault model has approval from both the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group and Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Clear, you can see what is inside
    • Can be hard to twist open if you don’t have strong arms and a strong grip (I put a bit of coconut oil on the threads to help this).

    Nikon Aculon W10 10 x 21 Waterproof Binoculars

    Regular Price: $88
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    • 7.6 oz
    • 3.4 x 4.3 inches
    • Of course, you don’t want to drop these, but they are rubber coated and waterproof down to 3.5 ft.
    • I want these for Christmas :)

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Fits nicely in a pants cargo pocket

    REI Co-op Traverse Trekking Poles

    Regular Price: $99.95
    Sale Price: $74.89 until 11.20.17

    I’m always on a personal mission to find a solid pair of trekking poles under $90. Look no further! Well, they are under $90 when REI has them on sale like this, and they are a tested product.
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    • Aluminum with cork grips
    • 1lb 4oz (pretty light even compared with top-of-the-line poles
    • External lever lock: this is my preferred mechanism for trekking poles. I’ve had 3 pairs of different poles and it’s way more reliable.

    What Reviewers Think:

    • The lever lock can have a slipping issue. The solution is easy, just tighten it up with a screwdriver.

    Patagonia Better Sweater Quarter-Zip Pullover - Men's

    Regular Price: $99
    Sale Price: $68.99
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    • Sweater-knit exterior and warm fleece interior
    • The cuffs are awesome
    • It’s got that cool vertical zipping pocket

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Warm and comfortable
    • Stylish, can be worn anywhere
    • Sizing maybe a little smaller
    • Tight around the neck when fully zipped

    Patagonia Better Sweater Quarter-Zip Pullover - Women’s

    Regular Price: $99
    Sale Price: $68.99
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    • Sweater-knit exterior and warm fleece interior
    • The cuffs are awesome
    • It’s got that cool vertical zipping pocket

    What Reviewers Think:

    • These run small so you might want to read through reviews to get a feel for sizing, or go into an REI store to try them on

    REI Co-op Down Vest - Men’s

    Regular Price: $38.83 - 79.50

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    • 650 Down Fill
    • Water-Repellent
    • My wife got me last year’s version of this and I love it. It keeps my core warm whether I’m on a hike or just driving in to work on a cold day

    What Reviewers Think:

    • With a flannel or sweatshirt, it’s comfortable down to 35-40 degrees
    • Great on the bike ride to work in 40 degree weather

    REI Co-op Down Vest - Women’s

    Regular Price: $79.50
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    • 650 Down Fill
    • Water-Repellant
    • Perfectly packable

    What Reviewers Think:

    • “It's fitted and doesn't make me feel like the Michelin man.”
    • Lightweight and not too puffy

    North Face Tech Glacier Pullover - Women’s

    Regular Price: $55
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    • Quick-dry Fleece
    • 200 Weight for active pursuits

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Keeps you warm without overheating
    • “Air-dry and it will last forever”
    • Extremely versatile

    Gifts over $100

    MSR Talus TR-3 Trekking Poles

    Regular Price: $159.95
    Sale Price: $119.73 until 11.20.17
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    • Aluminum
    • 1lb 6oz

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Locking mechanism can be a bit clumsy but is great once you get used to it
    • Worked well for tent supports

    Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System

    Regular Price: $134.95 - $139.95
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    • Simmers great with a newly designed valve control
    • A must-have for any backpacker
    • Features revolutionary new valve technology and a new cooking-cup size
    • Rubber handle makes it easy to go from cooking to eating
    • Push-button piezo igniter
    • Average boil time is 4min 30sec
    • Weight 14 oz
    • Capacity 1 liter (it’s the compact version)

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Safest stove for beginners and younger users
    • Boils water faster than advertised
    • Compact and light
    • Super quick, super easy, extremely efficient
    • Very secure feeling of handles

    MSR WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove

    Regular Price: $139.95
    Sale Price: $103.99 until 11.20.17
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    • This comes recommended by our friend Kristen over at
    • You can use white gas with the MSR pump bottle or an isobutane canister
    • I’ve personally used the older whisperlite for about 20 years and it’s been a reliable stove. Now that it’s universal, makes it that much better.
    • If you are planning to hike out of the country, this is the one you want because it runs on a variety of approved fuels.
    • Boils 1 liter of water in only 3 min. 30 sec.
    • Great simmering when using isobutane
    • Also includes a fuel pump, windscreen, heat reflector, small-parts kit, instructions and storage sack

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Great pot support for large pots
    • Grooved stamped stainless steel legs
    • Ability to use Isobutane
    • Really fast boil times
    • Ability to adjust the flame and control the fuel consumption, plus the ability to use mixed fuel canisters or white fuel
    • Be aware that the burner blades have sharp enough edges though that can cut into a tent or through something else inside the pack or the pack itself. Duct Tape can fix that :)

    REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Pack - Men's

    Regular Price: $139
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    • Great daypack for hiking or traveling
    • Carry-on Sized (but check with airline first)
    • Laptop compartment (just in case you can get wireless out in the backcountry)
    • Great ventilation along back
    • 2 exterior pockets (a priority for any daypack)
    • 2 waterbottle pockets
    • Trekking-pole attachments tuck out of the way when not in use

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Built-in rain cover that is stored in the bottom of the pack
    • Comfortable and transports heavy loads well
    • Plenty of pockets and compartments for electronics, clothes, etc.

    REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Pack - Women's

    Regular Price: $139
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    • This comes recommended by our friend Kristen over at and that girl knows her gear!
    • It’s basically the same pack as the men’s version above, except it’s customized to be a better fit for women

    Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket - Men’s

    Regular Price: $199.00
    Sale Price: $138.99 until 11.20.17

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    • 60g Primaloft
    • Water-repellent; 98% of its insulating ability even when wet

    What Reviewers Think:

    • “Perfect for 25-50 degree weather”
    • Because it’s fitted, it can be a bit snug around the waist, depending on your build
    • Great alternative to a “puffy”

    REI Co-op Magma 850 Down Jacket - Women’s
    Regular Price: $189.00
    Sale Price: $129.99 until 11.20.17

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    • 850 Fill Goose Down
    • Rip-stop shell material
    • Elastic cuffs
    • Form-fitted

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Perfect for mild winter days
    • Silky soft
    • “I also like the subtle drawstrings on the inside which can be tensioned to seal out errant drafts”

    The North Face Shellista II Mid Winter Boots - Women's

    Regular Price: $140

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    • Another solid recommendation from our friend Kristen over at (I’m a guy, so I’m going to let the ladies make the women’s book recommendations).
    • Warm and waterproof nubuck leather
    • Stylish mid-calf lace-ups
    • Durable Winter Grip rubber outsoles with IcePick temperature-sensitive lugs

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Comfortable, Durable, stylish, Well made
    • Toes can get cold in the rubber front
    • Difficult Entry/Exit
    • Not recommended for snowshoeing

    Keen Targhee II - Our Go-To Hiking Boot

    Regular Price: $134.95 Men’s
    Regular Price: $134.95 - Women’s

    The Keen Targhee has been around for years and from talking with boot sales at REI and reading reviews, this may be the best boot out there for day hikes and shorter overnight trips.
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    • Incredible Keen grip soles
    • Waterproof and Breathable
    • They tend to run ½ size small, so order up ½ size
    • Short break-in time when compared with other boots

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Great for beginner hikers
    • “If I could marry these hiking boots, I would!”

    Patagonia Storm Racer Rain Jacket - Men's

    Regular Price: $249

    Now we are getting into performance gear! This is Patagonia’s go-to waterproof jacket for hiking, running, and biking.
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    • Super lightweight nylon ripstop shell has a comfortable inside
    • Chest pocket turns into stuff sack
    • Hood store away in back and is easily adjusted
    • Reflective logos on left chest and center back at neck

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Light, soft to the touch
    • Waterproof and breathable
    • Can also be worn against bare skin without feeling like wrapped in cellophane (that’s rare for a rain jacket!)

    Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy

    Regular Price: $245.00
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    • I’ve owned an older version of this Bivy for years and it’s been worth every penny. Spring through Fall, I usually take this instead of a tent.
    • Sleeping pad attachment system keeps you from rolling onto the cold ground
    • I get claustrophobic in small spaces, so the zipper system is really helpful in this regard
    • This thing now has ethically sourced down in it!

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Keep the flap open a bit to let moisture escape
    • There is enough room to read a book in here!

    REI Co-op Alpen Pod 17 Sleeping Bag - Mens

    Regular Price: $159 to $169
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    • Rated to 17 degrees lower limit and 28 degrees comfort limit
    • 550 Down/Synthetic Blend
    • Short, Regular, and Long sizes
    • 3lb 1oz to 3lb 7oz

    What Reviewers Think:

    • “It isn't as claustrophobic as my other sleeping bags”
    • Was comfortable at 20 degrees overnight
    • Worked great on cold nights during a 2-week backpacking trip

    REI Co-op Joule 21 Sleeping Bag - Women's

    Regular Price: $299 to $319
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    • REI Staff Pick
    • Rated to 9 degrees lower limit and 21 degrees comfort limit
    • 700-fill down
    • Regular, Long, and Wide sizes available
    • 2lb 5oz to 2lb 10oz

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Zipper pull is amazing, making it easy to get in and out
    • Didn’t feel claustrophobic
    • Not waterproof but insanely water-repellent!

    Osprey Aether 70 Pack - Men’s

    Regular Price: $290
    Sale Price: $216.73 until 11.20.17
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    • Great for multi-day, extended backpacking trips
    • Custom hip-belt molding is available at most REI stores
    • Great stability and weight transfer features
    • Top lid can be removed and converted into a lumbar pack; great for summits and short side-trail adventures
    • Trekking pole attachment, side gear straps, ice axe tool loops, cord loop attachment slots and removable sleeping pad straps accommodate a variety of alpine gear
    • Hydration-compatible with reservoir sleeve and dual drink tube exit ports)

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Good padding and lots of ways to adjust the straps
    • Historically, Osprey packs are better for those with normal or small torsos
    • Comfortable all day long and can carry a decent load

    Osprey Ariel 75 Pack - Women’s

    Regular Price: $310
    Sale Price: $231.73 until 11.20.17
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    • Women’s version of the Aether (above)

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Sizing runs a bit large
    • Great mold and body fit
    • Stretchy side pockets are a bit too deep for water bottles
    • Great for first-time backpacker

    Kelty TrailLogic TN2 Tent

    Regular Price: $249.95

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    • REI’s Highest Reviewed Backpacking Tent
    • 2 person
    • 3 Season
    • 4lbs 13oz

    What Reviewers Think:

    • Easy to set up
    • The aluminum poles are way more durable than fiberglass ones
    • “I feel the extra weight is justified with the comfort, durability, ease of pitch, and design features this tent packs.”

    REI Co-op Quarter Dome 2 Tent

    Regular Price: $349.00
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    • REI Staff Pick
    • 21.5 sqft vestibule area
    • 2 person
    • 3 Season
    • 3lbs 5oz

    What Reviewers Think:

    • View the online setup video on before setting it up for the first time
    • Performed well in a torrential downpour
    • Roomy, even for a 6’ 2” guy

    * All product links in this guide are affiliate links. That means that I get a % commission for every sale (at no additional cost to you). It’s a great way to support our family business. All links are to REI, a company that we are glad to support. I’ve been a REI co-op member for close to 20 years! Prices are subject to change. All product photos courtesy of

    2016 Hiking Boots Review

    3 Great Hiking Boots for 2016

    We asked our readers what piece of gear they most needed. The most common response was "a new pair of hiking boots." So, I stopped by REI to get an education on the best of this year's hiking boots. The sales associate knew her stuff! I was able to narrow it down to three recommendations. 1) My favorite, a boot that doubles well for both hiking and backpacking, 2) An affordable and reliable standard, and 3) a boot for those of us who may not have the best feet and ankles, so we need some extra cushion and support.

    La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX


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      • Why Buy?: This boot fits like a glove. I put it on, laced it up, and I was in love. The Trango is super light-weight for a backpacking boot. It's light enough to be comparable with a good dayhiking boot. The sizing is surprisingly true to form. I wear a 10.5 to 11 and a 10.5+ fit perfectly, giving just a bit more room in the toebox. The Women's version comes in a set of green tones (pictured at top of post) and the men's in the red. Of the three, this was my favorite boot.
      • Construction: You may be looking at it and wondering, "What the heck is it made of?" It's a polyester mesh that's coated with thermoplastic polyurethane. The boot is super breathable and the GoreTex inner keeps your feet dry. The Trango has got a pretty aggressive tread pattern on it's Vibram sole.
      • Weight: Women's 2 lbs.; Men's 2 lbs. 8.4 oz.
      • Cost: $165 to $220
      • Buying Them:

    Women's @
    Men's @
    Women's @
    Men's @

    Keen Targhee II


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      • Why Buy?: The Keen Targhee has been around for while and improves every year. If you are looking for an affordable boot with great grip, it's hard to beat. Review after review raves about how comfortable and supportive the the Targhee turns out to be. We love putting our kids in Keens when we go hiking because they perform great on slick rock and uneven terrain. Keen says that these tend to run a 1/2 size small and to order 1/2 size larger than your typical size.
      • Construction: Waterproof and breathable with leather upper and a durable outsole. Keen soles--what more needs to be said!
      • Weight: Women's 1 lb. 14 oz.; Men's 2 lb. 2oz.
      • Tip: There is a waterproof version and a non-waterproof boot, the voyageur, that looks really similar. If you want waterproof, go with the Targhee.
      • Cost: $135
      • Buying Them: Purchase Keen Targhee II Mid Boots

    Women's @
    Men's @
    Kid's @
    Women's @
    Men's @
    Kid's @


    HOKA ONE ONE Tor Summit


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      • Why Buy?: I'll admit, these are kinda funky looking. But wait, these boots get rave reviews from hikers who have bad knees, weak ankles, arthritis, and the list goes on. Why? The Tor Summit boot has support. It's got a huge base, which gives you more surface and more cradle for your heel. If you have had a hard time finding a comfortable boot, this may be the one for you.
      • Construction: The Hoka Tor Summit has a leather uppper, and an eVent waterproof-breathable bootie. Vibram Soles.
      • Weight: Women's 1 lb. 11 oz; Men's 2 lbs.
      • Cost: $180
      • Buying Them: Purchase the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Summit Boots

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    Dayhikes Near Denver is an affiliate of both REI and Backcountry.

    Ultimate Guide to the REI Garage Sale Denver

    To create a guide to the REI Garage Sale, I took about 4 hours stalking the store, talking with Denverites who were pros at this, took notes, and got some gear myself. This guide is based on how things work at the downtown Denver , Colorado REI location.
    It sounds like most stores have a first-come-first-served policy--not Denver. Because of the high volume of gear and high number of members who come through their garage sales they have had to develope some unique the protocols. I'll explain that in the next section on how the whole things works.  If the Denver Flagship store is not your home store, then give yours a call for the details on how they run their garage sales. Here's a link to REI's store locator. Let's get into it

    How the REI Garage Sale Works

    reigaragesale_couponHere are the basics: You have to be an REI member. If you're not, don't let that stop you; you'll still be admitted to the garage sale and you can purchase your membership when you checkout (not sure if all stores work this way). Another option is to buy your membership online, print out your receipt,  and bring it with you. The Denver store uses a ticket system and they move groups through in 20 minute segments that they call "color waves." So an hour before the sale starts (get the sale start times on the store's event page) a guy comes out with a box full of tickets: blue, pink, orange, etc. Because it's luck-of-the-draw, it doesn't really matter if you are in the front, middle, or the back of the line. It also means that you can draw an orange ticket, and your wife might draw a blue ticket--so you may have to go in at separate waves, unless you find some nice person to trade tickets with you (I saw this happen a couple times). Each color wave is made up of 100 people and you get 20 minutes in the garage sale room. Each person is allowed 5 items.colorwaveboardreigaragsale

    How Do You Know When Your Wave Can Go?
    Fifteen minutes before the garage sale officially starts they announce the color wave times and post them by the front door. On this particular day, the pink ticket holders got to go first. I was an orange, which went last-- get-there-early strategy didn't play out like I thought it would. Everyone then lined up according to their color waves and a line of people  snaked into the building, and up the stairs to stand outside the garage sale doors. After all the waves are done crashing upon the garage sale gear, REI then has an open door policy until the room hits capacity.

    When your twenty minutes are up, you can take your gear down to the cashiers and check out. But wait, don't do that until you've read the tips below.

    10 Tips for Getting the Most out of REI's Garage Sale

    1. Because of the color wave protocol, I wouldn't worry about getting there uber-early. In fact, I would just pull in about 15 minutes before ticket time. You can grab a coffee at Starbucks and hang out. By the way, you may be required to get a parking pass when you pull in. I've never had to do this before, so it must be new. However, when I pulled out, I just told them I was a customer and I was not charged. Driving away,  I heard the attendant say something about the first hour or two being free.

    2. Know what you are looking for, and prioritize it. Jackets, downs, and sleeping bags disappear fast; so, if that's what you are hoping for, go to that area first (clothing and jackets were straight in and on the right). Also, know about how much you are wanting to pay for the gear you hope toe find (see #7 on pricing).

    3. Set aside any sense of hurry. I found my best gear after all of the waves had gone through. The REI members at the sale were amazing: they were patient, even fun, and the REI employees who ran the sale had a real relaxed demeanor. So, just be patient, kind, and enjoy it. REI garage sale

    4. They typically refresh the gear for each wave. I didn't see them do this today; I guess some things got thrown off, but I hear that it's pretty normal for REI employess to wheel in new bins of stuff and to put it out on the tables. This might happen throughout the day after the color waves have finished. It all just depends on how much gear they have to get rid of.

    5. Go for a walk with your gear.  Of the ten tips, I think this is the best one. Something funny happens to us emotionally whenreidenverflagshipstore we go to sales like this. For example, I saw some guy pick up a pair of ugly sandals--all of a sudden I was interested in them. We end up picking up stuff we don't really need, or in our hurry we forget to inspect the gear for damage. Here's what happened with me. I looked over several courier bags in the garage sale but couldn't find one I liked, then I picked up some patagonia slippers that were 80% off, and some trekking poles. One of the trekking poles wouldn't lock correctly, but it looked fixable. Then I went for my walk.

    Down on the main floor, I found a courier bag on clearance that I liked and added it to my hoard. I also spent about 15 minutes educating myself on the pricing and the features of different commuter/courier bags. An awesome REI employee looked over the trekking poles with me and told me how to fix them for a few bucks. I tried on the patagonia slippers and decided that they were just flat-out ugly. So, I set them aside.

    I also found some easter eggs on my walk. People had jettisoned garage sale gear in the various departments of the store, stuff they thought they wanted--like my ugly slippers--and later realized they didn't. I found a really nice Marmot down jacket just tossed to the side. With my emotions cooled, I was ready to go back in.

    6. Go Back. After exploring the store and visiting the clearance areas (you may find some deals in clearance on par with the garage sale prices), go back up to the garage sale when it has been opened up to everyone. This is when I found the bomber courier/commuter bag I was hoping for. It was buried under a bunch of backpacks and was far superior to the one I picked up on the clearance rack. There were tons of boots, shoes, and sandals left.  I found a really nice pair of Merrel dress shoes that I had not seen during my orange color wave. Clothing and sleeping bags were the main thing that were picked over, but there was still a lot of good gear to look through.

    7. The baseline for pricing appears to be 50%. It can be higher for stuff that is as-new, and lower for damaged gear. On your way out of the garage sale doors you can ask for reduced pricing. Don't do this with all your gear though. Have one or two things in mind, and let them know exactly why you think it should be marked down. If something is damaged or worn and is not 50% off, then I would definitely ask for a price reduction. Every once in a while you'll find crazy deals, but I'd say it's better to go in with the expectation that it's a 50% off sale with the occasional 80% off item.

    reigaragesaleline8. I wouldn't recommend getting stuff requested by friends. Here's why: you're stuck with the gear you buy (or they are),  there are no returns on this stuff. So, if you are looking for requested gear, make sure your friend knows there are no returns on garage sale items. I'd also ask them, "What if it's not exactly what you are looking for?" I was looking for boots for my wife and found some promising ones. But boots have to fit really well, so I passed on them. For clothing, you really have to know people's sizes well. Plus, that REI 100% guarantee is important for some purchases (boots, a well-fitted multi0day pack), so weigh that into your decisions, too.

    9. Wear Socks. There is a TON of footwear. If you are looking to buy shoes or boots, you'll need to be wearing a solid pair of hiking socks.

    10. There is more winter gear at the Spring garage sale and more summer gear at the winter garage sale. This summer garage sale seemed to be a mixed bag, and my impression was that it was a bit smaller than the other two.

    happycustomers_reigaragesaleAfter the garage sale,I talked with Mara and Scott, who were celebrating their finds. The couple recently moved to Denver from Chicago and have been doing a lot of trail running and camping. Because their last camping experience had been a cold one, they were looking for sleeping pads. They found some great ones and were able to pick up a double sleeping bag as well.

    What did I walk out with?  Well, I put the Merrel dress shoes back--I remembered that I don't like shoes that don't have laces. I ended up with an STM Courier bag and those REI/Komperdell trekking poles.

    If you're an experienced REI garage saler, we would love to hear your tips as well.

    PS: The REI garage sale continues this Sunday, August 4th 2013 from 10am to 7am. Here's a link to the REI Denver events page for details.

    Disclosure: Dayhikes Near Denver has an affiliate relationship with REI. Basically, that means if you click on one of their ads on here and buy something, we get a percentage of the sale.

    Nissan Thermos - Best backpacking thermos

    The Best Backpacking Thermos - Nissan Commuter Bottle

    B urying my thermos in the snow, I then came back for it 4 hours later. Thinking that my hot chocolate had cooled down a bit, I took a quick swig only to burn my lips. I bought this thing because it was good, but I didn't realize it was THAT good! Travel mugs are ubiquitous. All of us have bought, used, and borrowed a couple dozen different kinds. Most of them are an utter disappointment.

    Here is what I was looking for: something that I could pour coffee in, drive an hour to work, open up and watch the steam come out. I'll admit that I'm a coffee snob - really, I just like it to be hot and fresh. I remembered one travel mug that stood above them all. I had borrowed a Nissan Travel Tumbler from some friends in Colorado Springs and I didn't want to give it back because my coffee always tasted fresh, even three or four hours later. I guess Nissan, when they are not making cars, likes to experiment with vacuum thermos technology. Well, they know what they are doing.

    Reading a few of the almost 300 positive reviews, you'll quickly realize that this thing has an unprecedented fan base.

    • "It's a wonderful supplement to commuting, work, backpacking, and Arctic expeditions."
    • This guy figured out his weekly coffee savings: "This product has allowed me to steer clear of coffee shops for about two months - equalling a cost savings of nearly $15/week." That's almost $800 a year!

    • Shaky Hands Guy-"Yeah, everybody look at me drinking coffee from my fancy coffee travel mug with my shaky hands and still not have it spill on me!" - Incredible!"
    • "Stop reading this review and buy the darn thing. "

    A Couple Tips:

    1. Don't overfill it. This is the only point where the thing leaks.
    2. Be nice to it. For some reason, thermoses are expected to be bomb-proof. It's tough, for sure, but the only problems I've had from it have come from over-torquing the cap and dropping it on concrete. It's like a bumblebee: Be nice to it and it will be nice to you.

    So, if you're one of those people who gets out early to bag a summit or get to a high mountain lake, this is a great way to bring your coffee on the trail.

    Oh, yeh, and the Amazon Link - Thermos 16-Ounce Stainless Steel Backpack Bottle