Staff Picks: How We’re Spending Our REI Dividends

It’s like Christmas in the spring

( iStock/ joshuaraineyphotography)
Photo: iStock/ joshuaraineyphotography

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. Outside does not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.

There’s an art to using your REI dividend. Most are pretty small, so using them wisely can be tough. For some advice, we queried our editors, many of whom have become experts in dividend management. Here’s what they said. 

Sea to Summit Hook Release 3/8” Accessory Straps ($9)

(Sea to Summit)

This spring I participated in a scrappy race called Plaza2Peak, which had racers bike from Santa Fe’s downtown plaza up to the base of Ski Santa Fe, and then skin to the top of the resort’s peak. That’s about 5,000 feet of climbing. It’s a masochistic affair, no doubt, but to make it even harder, a few racers decided to affix skis, boots, and poles to our bikes and ride the ski area road. The most daunting aspect of this all was the logistical challenge of securely and effectively attaching my skis to the bike. I went to REI and, on a whim, bought two pairs of Sea to Summit’s hook release straps. Once I got my skis attached to the top tube on the bike, I wrapped all four straps around them, cinched them down, and there wasn't an inch of movement during the whole ride. No jostling, no sliding—the straps allowed me to suffer in peace, without having to think about my gear. —Wes Judd, assistant editor 

Buy Now

Portland Design Works Bar-ista Coffee Cup Holder ($11)

(Portland Design Works)

My morning commute is a mere one mile ride to the Outside office so technical bike kit is overkill. One bike product that’s not, however, is the Portland Design Works Bar-ista Coffee Cup Holder. The sturdy, alloy holder comes in two sizes and snaps snugly to any sized handlebars. Once attached, it securely holds all kinds of insulated mugs, including my Hydro Flask that I like to fill with an extra sweet chai. —Ben Fox, assistant editor

Buy Now

Theo Chocolate Classic Chocolate Bar ($4)


Sure, REI carries lots of great gear, and I admittedly spend most of my money in there on small essentials for my bike and skis. (Think: tubes, tires, and straps.) But every year the dividend feels like a small gift, so I use it as the special occasion demands: to buy chocolate. —Axie Navas, executive editor

Buy Now

Petzl Cordex Lightweight Belay Gloves ($35)


The beige color may say “construction site,” but these gloves were made for sunny summer cragging. Durable leather palms afford ample grip when belaying and rappelling—while staving off dreaded rope burn—and the articulated fit minimizes fumbling when feeding out or taking in slack. My favorite parts, though, are the stretchy nylon backs. They act like screen doors for your hands, venting and keeping them from getting uncomfortably sweaty, while also preventing sunburn. Carabiner holes on the cuffs are icing on the cake. —Will Egensteiner, associate editor 

Buy Now

CamelBak Podium Big Chill Bottle ($15)


There’s nothing sexy about water bottles, but damn if cold water doesn’t make the difference on a scorching summer ride. That’s why I like the CamelBak Podium Big Chill Insulated water bottle. At 25 ounces, it holds more water than much of the competition, and in my experience, it really does keep your water colder for longer. —Bryan Rogala, video producer 

Buy Now

Bison Designs Competition Chalk ($11)

(Bison Chalk)

When it comes to climbing chalk, it’s hard to beat Black Diamond Uncut White Gold Chalk Blocks because they cost about three cents per-gram. But my guilty pleasure is Bison Designs Competition Chalk. Although pricier, it’s by far the smoothest, silkiest chalk I've ever had the pleasure of putting on my hands. —Jenny Earnest, social media coordinator 

Buy Now

“Taos Rock” Guide Book ($19)

(Sharp End Publishing)

This guide has motivated me to tackle several new climbing routes in my hometown. There are great directions to the climb so I don’t get lost on a mountain goat path, and it helps me plan what to pack so I have a little extra protection on strung-out sport routes. —Petra Zeiler, deputy art director

Buy Now

More Gear