What Our Editors Are Buying at REI’s Labor Day Sale

The best-value deals on the best stuff we’ve ever used

We wish this is what our editors were doing every weekend. In the meantime, we're going to be buying the gear that facilitates the dream. (Brent Payton/Unsplash)

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REI’s Labor Day Sale is basically a Black Friday made specifically for gear lovers. Every year at the end of August, U.S. outdoor recreationists can nab deals on tons of great products, with stuff like tents, jackets, sleeping bags, and headlamps often marked down 50 percent or more. Here are the tried-and-true items the editors in our office recommend you check out while the going’s good. (Sale prices listed.)  

Big Agnes Air Core Ultra ($58.99)

For the price, there's probably no better lightweight, packable, warm-weather sleeping pad. It held up on a multi-week West Coast bikepacking trip—and when IKEA flubbed my bed delivery after a move to New Mexico. —Nathan Allen, gear editorial assistant 

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Salomon MTN Lab Ski Boots ($559.93)

The Salomon MTN Labs are hands down my favorite ski boots. They're light enough for efficient uphill touring but lock down tight when it's time to head back down. —Ben Fox, assistant editor 

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La Sportiva's Women's Climbing Shoes ($63.89) 

Investing in my own pair of climbing shoes was one of the best things I could do as a beginning climber. The La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoe has just the right amount of arch for me and wearing shoes that fit my feet allow me to feel more comfortable with small toe holds. —Colette Harris, editorial fellow 

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Black Diamond Gizmo Headlamp ($14.89)

The Gizmo was my first headlamp after years of borrowing from friends. It's also the headlamp I've recommended to friends panic-buying gear right before heading out on their first backpacking trip, and it's the spare I've lent to countless others when they ran out of batteries or forgot theirs. In other words, it's the perfect, basic and cheap headlamp for those of us who like to show up unprepared. —Erin Berger, associate editor 

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Clif Shot Bloks Energy Chews ($1.59) 

I ate five of these little chewy squares in the black cherry flavor during a marathon. My expert review: as long as you promptly chase it with a ton of water to curb the sweetness and keep the stubbornly sticky bits from permanently attaching to your molars, it does a great job. Sport goos come in more various and funky flavors, but there's just something about chewing if you're going to eat mid-stride. —Erin  

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Marmot Precip Jacket ($59.99)

I get compliments on my Marmot Precip every time I wear it, which I wasn't expecting when I made the purchase: It's a simple, streamlined design that works for urban commutes as well as epic hikes. Marmot makes them in solid colors that look good on everybody (mine is beige, and I bought my dad one in dark blue so now he gets compliments all the time too), and you won't find a more reliable, comfortable shell like this at a better price. —Svati Narula, assistant social media editor 

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Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks ($16.39)

Socks are so underrated. I used to buy the cheapie packs at [insert any and every discount/department store here] until I was gifted Smartwool socks for Christmas. At the time I was like, "gee, thanks, mom" but mama knows best and now they're my go-to socks for everything outdoors. In particular, I love the PhD Outdoor line.  —Jenny Earnest, assistant social media editor 

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Chrome Citizen Messenger Bag ($104.99)

I love surprises so much I’ve refused to put together a Christmas wish list since I was a kid. This has made me notoriously difficult to shop for, but made it all the more magical when my mom bought me my first Chrome messenger bag back in 2010. I still use it almost daily, and each time I put it on, I can’t help but wonder how she knew the perfect present for a wannabe Brooklyn hipster.  —Nicholas Hunt, assistant editor  

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Big Agnes Q-Core Deluxe Sleeping Pad ($103.99)

I just brought this sleeping pad on a backpacking trip, and I slept better than I ever have while camping. It kept me warm during a chilly, rainy night, and in the morning it was quick and easy to deflate and pack it up for the hike out. —Molly Mirhashem, associate editor  

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Katadyn Water Filter ($29.89)

The logical thing to do would be to use your REI Labor Day discount on some high-end buy. I suggest you spend it on something practical: this inexpensive water filter from Katadyn. It's light. Small. Insanely portable. And unlike your portable Brita, it actually filters out bacteria and protozoa. —Scott Rosenfield, digital editorial director 

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Big Agnes Tufly SL Tent ($300) 

As a novice camper, I was terrified by the idea of having to set up camp for the first time, especially in front of my new Outside co-workers. But the Big Agnes tent is super simple to use. Plus, it’s lightweight, plenty spacious for two people (and a dog), and has survived its fair share of monsoons this summer. —Carly Graf, assistant editor 

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La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoes ($139.89)

This was my first ever pair of climbing shoes. Sure, they were a little too big because I wasn't familiar with rock shoe sizing in general at the time, but I had these on my feet during my first time climbing on real rock, and the Vibram XS Grip2 rubber and downturned sole didn't fail me. I was hooked, and for that the Solutions will hold a permanent place in my heart (and closet). —Will Egensteiner, associate editor 

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Salomon Speedcross Pro Running Shoes ($104.73) 

Don't think Salomon's Speedcross Pro is just for speedy trail runners. Lightweight, durable, and super grippy, they're perfect shoes for hiking or just about anything on dirt. —Nick Kelley, associate editor

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Klean Kanteen Wide Vacuum Mug ($21.59)

Of all the gear in my closet, this is the product I use most often. On the weekdays, it lives in my office and car, then accompanies me on weekend ski and bike trips. It really does keep the cold stuff colder and the hot stuff hotter, for longer.  —Axie Navas, executive editor 

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