Basket Case: The Best Products at REI, According to Our Editors

January 25, 2023 Off By Nicolette Accardi

Welcome to Basket Case, wherein your trusty VICE editors scour the proverbial aisles of our favorite online retailers to bring you a smorgasbord of the absolute best things to buy. In this installment, we're diving into REI and getting out in the best REI has on tap, including deals on Hoka, The North Face, and plenty of other brands inspiring us to plan our next camping trip

Are you an outdoorsman? Someone who doesn’t mind eating baked beans outta the can for a week straight just to feel closer to nature? Congratulations, you have come to the right place. Today, we have all gathered here today to scope out the best products REI has to offer—a bonanza of some of the most coveted gorpcore brands for ye outdoorsy folk. We’re talkin’ Hoka, The North Face, Burton, REI’s in-house brand Co-op, Nathan (no, not Nathan For You), and more retailers that all the local (urban) lumberjacks deem luxurious. 

And, no. You don’t need to have plans to hike Mount Everest to shop at REI. Being one with nature means (to us) bird watching in your Adirondack chair while cooking a Ball Park frank over the ole’ Solo Stove, camping in your backyard, or maybe just reading National Geographic—who are we to judge? Whichever is on your agenda, gorpcore is a trend for everyone and their grandmother. So, we uncovered the best REI hiking, running, snow, and biking gear to scratch our itch for nature (no, it’s not a tick bite—we just need to touch grass). Don’t be shy; finally book that trip to Lake Tahoe and bust out your dad’s retro skis from the 80s. Or, simply buy your own, you strong independent workhorse. REI has entered the chat. 

The best hiking gear at REI

Hoka boots, obviously 

You can’t climb Mount Rainier without a good pair of trusty stompers. The pair that comes to our minds are of course from the GOAT, Hoka. The Anacapa Mid GTX provides superior traction on uneven terrain for hella grip action during rock scrambles and dirt trails. It comes in low and high-top models for slaying while you yodel up to the top.  

A pack for your junk

If insane mileage is on your agenda, you’re gonna need some serious supplies so you don’t keel over. The Trailbreak 60 Pack by REI’s in-house brand Co-op is top-rated and large enough to have a sleeping bag compartment for when you need to bonk in the middle of a random meadow. There’s also tons of stash pockets for food, water bottles, clothes, and other essentials. If you need something smaller, the Nano 22 H20 Hydration Pack is a top-rated option.

Speaking of sleeping bags…

This sleeping bag by The North Face is perfect for nestling yourself like a cocoon in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s insulated, can fit up to 84 inches, and even has an internal phone and watch pocket to hide your precious tethers to society from the wild.

And you need something to sleep in

We can appreciate tent for one, because sharing a small sleeping space is even less fun when you’re stuck in a five-foot-by-five-foot nylon sack on the ground with someone loudly snoring. This REI Co-op tent is simple to set up (even after too many beers) with its X-pole configuration. If you need some air, you can rely on its adjustable ceiling vents and rolling fly door. You can also stargaze with your sneaky link while you’re at it.

If you must share with people

This generously sized tent, also from REI Co-op, can sleep up to three people if you wish—whether they’re your trail buds, your kids, or your polycule. At under five pounds, it’s super-light, but its rugged construction can withstand dust and debris thanks to smartly placed mesh and ripstop panels. 

The best running gear at REI

Track your progress

What’s the point of training if you have no idea what your pace and mileage are? Whip your dérriere into high gear with a smartwatch. The Garmin Forerunner 255 Music is an optimal choice with its built-in coach for your own custom training plan and workouts tailored through personal stats, or, this writer’s personal favorite, the Fitbit Inspire 2, is currently on sale for 20% off.  

Caress your nooks and crannies

Your masseuse (named Fabio, naturally) might know how to get all your knots out, but we bet those times on the table are starting to add up. Cut out the middleman and tenderize yourself with a percussive massage gun and/or a sweet set of rollers. The Addaday Lyric Massager has a 4.6-star rating with its four-function rhythm therapy. The Orb is a popular, super affordable massage ball that provides deep tissue release to your IT bands, hamstrings, quads, and calves. While tiny, its bumpy surface offers a powerful massage for your limbs, shoulders, and anywhere else you need to work out knots..

So you don’t bonk

Take it from someone who is currently training for a half marathon: If you’re doing anything over six miles (or, let’s be honest, if it’s a scorcher outside), a hydration vest is highly recommended. This adjustable and lightweight one by Nathan has a 1.5-liter reservoir with a hose valve for easy drinking during a running session. You can also stash gels, your phone, and other essentials in its several pockets—all for 30% off.

More Hokas

We owe our heart and soul to Hoka (the Bondi 7 is chef’s kiss). Not only do the brand’s cult-fave, thick-soled sneakers relieve foot and ankle pain and help support recovery from injury, but they are a fan favorite among the running community. The Bondi 7 has a full EVA midsole and meta-rocker technology, while the Clifton 8 is designed with a lighter, more responsive midsole. 

The best snow gear at REI

Boots for shredding

If hitting the slopes is on your radar, a proper pair of boots is step one (pun not intended). These models from hot-shoe-brand-of-the-moment Salomon have a perfect five-star rating, thanks to its wool and metal layers for supreme warmth and custom shells for more power, and direct transmission to channel your inner snow version of Tony Hawk.

Four eyes

The last thing you need while going down an icy mountain is to be blinded. These goggles by Smith provide clear, fog-free vision, while filtering out specific wavelengths of light that are responsible for color confusion. 

An insulating jacket

Frostbite ain’t cute, so save yourself the embarrassment with this three-in-one thermal jacket by The North Face. It has a two-layer DryVent shell with sealed seams for waterproof and breathable protection, along with its durable water-repellent first layer. 

And pants to keep your tuchus dry 

Imagine zipping down a mountain, taking a fall, then having ice and snow immersed in your pants. Not only will you probably get frostbite, but you’ll look like you whizzed yourself on the slope. Avoid that trauma with these Burton pants that have a two-layer GORE-TEX wind and waterproof shell, and tapered seam construction that seals out all moisture. They also have built-in handwarmers (!).

The best cycling gear at REI 

Protect your noggin

You never know when you’re almost about to crash into the mailbox, so do yourself a favor and prevent a concussion. This tried-and-true bike helmet has a low-friction layer that slides 10 to 15 millimeters in all directions, which reduces rotational motion to the brain during impact (which, by the way, we hope you never have to experience).

Bike candy  

Or, perhaps you want to treat yourself with a new set of wheels. This bike by in-house brand Co-op (which makes surprisingly awesome bicycles, which you can have serviced in-store) comes in five different sizes, has 18 different gears for a variety of terrain, and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes for reliable stopping during unpredictable weather conditions. 

Before you know it, you’ll be holding a fish in your Tinder profile, you outdoor stallion. 

Pick up these top picks and more at REI.

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.