My Favorite Clothing & Gear Staples from REI

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We love this REI sale each year – it’s one of the biggest and best for items we actually need and use very regularly. I love purchasing things we need anyway at a lower price!

Here are some of my favorites from the sale – I hope it helps you find some useful gift ideas for your family, too!

Wool Base Layers

Wool base layers are an absolute staple for our family. I love that they’re super versatile and can be used in multiple situations, such as for pajamas at home and when traveling, layering in cold weather, and for winter sports. Natural materials are the best for layering, and wool is amazing because it wicks moisture and is odor-resistant – which means they don’t need to be washed frequently and are especially great when traveling.

Though merino wool tends to be a bit pricier, they last a long time and we hand them down through multiple kids. And since it’s warm in cold weather and regulates temperature when warm outside, they’re great through multiple seasons. The cost per wear means these are a great investment choice for our family.

Since they cost a bit more, this sale is a really excellent time to buy them. They’re my number one recommendation to purchase during this REI sale!

Here are our favorite sets of base layers:

Merino Wool Socks

A few years ago, we switched over to almost all merino wool socks for the whole family and they’re the best. Soft, warm, comfy, last forever, and don’t hold older (really great for travel). Here are the ones we love:

  • Darn Tough – our first love! Lifetime warranty (on socks!), still a family business.
  • Smartwool – really fantastic socks that are SO warm. Several of my pairs have lasted over a decade. Best for really cold weather. Great sale on them!
  • REI Co-op merino socks – excellent socks at an excellent price

Rain Gear

Especially with moving to London, we’ve been using our rain outerwear a lot, even for day-to-day activities. Here are our favorites:

Winter Parka

This is an excellent time to get an expensive item like a big parka if you need one. I love this waterproof women’s parka and is being discontinued so it’s a smoking deal. This one also has excellent reviews. These REI Co-op Down jackets are also fantastic.

And a couple of our kiddos have this REI Co-op parka – it’s an excellent value for a really great weather-resistant coat that was perfect for mild winters, but I’d get something warmer if you’ll regularly be in snow.

Emergency Satellite GPS Device

This emergency satellite GPS device is an absolute must whenever we travel or hike in remote areas. It absolutely saved us when we once broke down when driving through the Yukon without cell service and our RV broke down, and we were able to contact family and a mechanic. It’s great for sending out an emergency SOS with location, or just for maintaining contact. A safety must have for me.

Hiking Sandals

I’ve waxed poetic about these shoes many times – my kids wear them all summer long for pool, beach, travel, and everything else. They even wear them in cooler seasons with socks. They’re the only pair of shoes 3 of my kids took this past summer for 2 months of travel.

My younger kids all have this sandal and Dan has the men’s version – he really prefers them to open-toed Chacos. We’ve also had and loved the toddler sizes.

I personally love this open-toed style of athletic sandal that I’ve had for years. They’re super durable & supportive & I’ve worn them through all sorts of conditions and they still look basically brand new.

Hiking Boots

These kids’ hiking boots are also our go-tos – they’re very sturdy, durable, have great tread, and excellent support. And they’re comfy! My kids have hiked miles and miles in them. Plus, they’re waterproof – an absolute must for a hiking boot, as far as I’m concerned.

We also really love these newer lightweight hiking shoes. My younger boys have and love them as their everyday sneakers. They’re much more lightweight than the traditional hiking boots but are still waterproof with excellent tread, but feel much more like a regular sneaker. They’re not quite as sturdy for an intense hike, but perfect for daily use or as trail runners.

Dan and I both adore our Lowa hiking boots. They’re honestly amazing right out of the box – so supportive, comfortable, excellent tread. They’re the first hiking boots I’ve super loved and it makes me happy every time I wear them. Here are the men’s version and the women’s version.

Hiking & Backpacking Backpacks

We super love the Tarn line of packs – they’re comfortable, well made, functional with lots of pockets, and an excellent price – especially with this sale. This is for sure the time to pick them up if you’re considering.

Here are the ones we love:

  • Camelbak Mini Mule – our starter hiking backpack! This is what our kids use on hikes starting around age 3 to carry their own water – makes it much easier to drink more without constantly stopping.
  • 12L – excellent little pack that my 4 year old uses for travel, and my 6 year old uses for day hikes.
  • 18L – my kids 8 & up all use this pack on day hikes, and my 6 year old uses it for his travel backpack to carry on all his stuff. I also have a smaller frame (I’m 5’4″) and I can comfortably wear it on hikes.
  • Women’s 25L – a wonderful pack that’s more roomy than the 18L
  • 40L – a really great backpacking pack that we use regularly for travel. My 3 older kids and I each carried one of these with all our stuff for a summer of travel and on many other trips and they are always comfortable and durable. Excellent price!

Waterproof Backpack Cover

We love these covers – they’re stretchy, convenient, easy to attach on, and protect our stuff! I’m purchasing a couple extras so each kid can have one on their backpack when walking through rainy London – we get lots of sudden storms to and from school.

Hiking Poles

Lots of great deals on hiking poles, but we especially love this kids’ set. They work perfectly for me as an average-height adult, and are cheaper than adult poles. This is another great set if you’re a little taller.

Expandable Packing Cubes

I love this set because they’re expandable and have really durable zippers and mesh. I’m purchasing an extra set for us.

Quick Dry Towel

It’s really handy having a quick dry towel when traveling. Even if it’s a small one, it’s really useful if you go swimming, get wet, or anything else. These dry fast and don’t take much room. These are our favorites; I love the cosy ribbing on them.

Sleeping Bag

We love these kids’ sleeping bags because they’re ultra warm. Tons of others are on great sale, as well.

Filter Water Bottle

We absolutely love this filter water bottle because it’s sturdy and perfect for filtering water on the trail or when traveling places where the tap water isn’t safe to drink. I far prefer this to ones that filter through a straw because you can filter the entire bottle at once, and then can decant into other water bottles. That means we can just take one of these along along with other bottles. Works great for our fam.

Baby Hiking Carrier

When our kids are tiny, I usually wear them in a soft-structured carrier on our hikes while Dan wears a backpack with the food, camera equipment, etc. But once we started doing some longer hikes with our kiddos (and we were hiking when I was very pregnant), we wanted something a bit sturdier that would allow us to carry a toddler for longer periods and also store gear and food in it.

We got this amazing framed backpack carrier a couple years ago and have absolutely LOVED it. We really liked that it has lots of storage space, so it makes it easy for one person to wear a kiddo and also our camera equipment + food. It’s been an absolute dream – it’s SO well made and fits both Dan and me so comfortably. The frame also helps distribute the weight to the hips and also keeps it off the back, which is cooler and more comfortable. It’s a summer travel essential for us when hiking with kids and we even shipped it to London. 🙂

Folding Duffel

We love taking this folding duffel bag with us on trips because it expands into a roomy duffel but folds down super small and is really lightweight so we can clip it onto a backpack. Perfect for stuffing in unused jackets, souvenirs, snacks, or using to adjust luggage weights.

Bear Spray

Bear spray is one of those things you absolutely hope to only purchase and never actually need. Still, always always important to have on hand when hiking in bear country.



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