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What to Buy at REI’s Huge Anniversary Sale

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The best jackets, backpacks, and more, recommended by an outdoor enthusiast.

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Two women hiking with backpacks on Photo: REI

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Today's the opening of the REI anniversary sale, which means it’s time for the outdoor-gear store to take all my money. I'm a runner, hiker, camper, and soon-to-be cross-country driver, and I use a lot of gear; this sale is like Christmas for me.

It’s also huge. Everything from camping gear to climbing sneakers to luggage (hell, even kayaks and trips to the Rocky Mountain National Park) are marked down up to 30% off.

If you're not the outdoorsy type, that’s okay! There’s a lot at REI that works for daily wear too, even if the hardest workout of your day is rushing to a meeting. Here are five of the best things to buy from now until the sale ends on May 29th.


Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover in blue

Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover, $68.99

Do you like Hillary Clinton? Are you #stillwithher? I found her fleece for you, or as close as you're going to get to it without a major thrift shop score. The functional details: It comes in lightweight and regular versions — I have the lightweight, which is great for cold, sunny days, but not so much against the wind. REI has standard colors, but also those wild patterns that were so popular in the ’90s, which is when Hillary started sporting hers. To match, try the men's lightweight in True Teal/Tribal Geo, or the women's lightweight in Harvest Moon Blue/Blue Owl.

ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sports Mesh Underwear in pink

ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sports Mesh Underwear, $17.99

I bought these after an unpleasant hike in cotton underwear, and now they're my full-time thing. They're light and breathable and, at least when worn with my skinny jeans, less likely to leave a panty line. I prefer the hipkini briefs style, but REI also has them in bikini and full-cut styles too (other retailers, including Nordstrom, sell a thong).

Patagonia Houdini Jacket in pink

Patagonia Houdini Jacket, $68.99

A conundrum: It's hot and raining. You don't want to get wet from the rain, and you don't want to get wet from sweat either. This jacket is the answer. It's the lightest rain shell I’ve ever worn (3.6 ounces!), and even though it's marketed toward runners, for me it's what I stash in the bottom of my bag and put on during a pop-up squall.

Since it is so thin, I bought a size up so I can layer under it during chilly days. One note: The pocket here is on your left chest, not by your sides. If you like to stuff your hands in your jacket pockets, this one's not for you. (Patagonia, can you make that revision on the next version?)

Sanuk Yoga Sling Flip Flops

Sanuk Yoga Sling Flip Flops, $26.59

Flip flops are terrrrrrible for your feet, so this is a solution: a flip flop with a back. When I bought my now well-worn pair, I could only find them in black, but now they also come in burgundy, charcoal, coral, gray, slate blue, and a nifty black-and-white pattern. These aren't for yoga (because... hard pass), but the bottom is made of yoga mat material. I wear them most often on the beach, and also with skirts, jeans, and shorts.

Columbia Seersucker shorts

Columbia Super Bonehead II Shorts, $19.93

Skip the silly name; these are seersucker shorts made by a sportswear giant. That means you get all that Columbia fabric technology to combat sunny days (they're even made of a material called UPF Omni-Shade fabric, which blocks UVA and UVB rays) but also shorts that look like, well, seersucker. A six-inch inseam means they won't be up your butt, either. That inseam is also a blessing if you're like me (and, well, most people) and your thighs touch.

Patagonia Black Hole 25 Daypack in gray

Bonus for Co-Op members: Patagonia Black Hole 25 Daypack, $103.20

Because fuck rolling bags. If you're physically able, stop dragging your stuff (and whacking me in the leg — I'm looking at you, Amtrak passengers) and opt for this backpack instead. You'll need to use your 20% coupon (which you get when you become a member for a one-time fee of 20 bucks) because, while Black Hole duffels are in the sale, this bag is not.

I did this last year and have taken the bag on every trip since, including two legs of a book tour (one of those also required me to bring everything I needed to run a marathon and hike the Grand Canyon). Another bonus if you're flying: I've never been forced to check this because of limited space in overhead bins. Flight attendants look more kindly on bags that can be pushed around versus rollers.