As with all of my posts, I receive no endorsements or perks for my reviews. 

Spoiler alert:  I LOVE REI.  They are my go to store for boots, for hiking, for camping, for travel clothes, and even specialized travel supplies. 

REI stands for Recreational Equipment Inc.  They are a Co-op and its shoppers are members.  However, a lifetime membership is only $20 and comes with a 10% discount, periodic coupons, and annual dividend. 

In some cases, they are more expensive than other stores and so you might believe that the “discount” isn’t worth it.  It is – for two HUGE reasons! 

  1. Only experts work at REI.  If you need an opinion about what you are buying, go to REI.  Not only will they have an informed opinion, talking about gear and their related activities are one of their favorite things to do.  Even if your question bores your friends and family, your REI clerk will know what you are talking about and help you find a solution that is right for you. 
  2. REI has an amazing return policy.  Everything except electronics has a one year return policy.  So once you have made a decision and spent the money, you have up to a year to change your mind.  No questions asked (except maybe so they are more informed for future sales).  Additionally, you can return a defective product at anytime for repair or replacement. 

Other perks of REI include frequent classes, equipment rental, equipment servicing (fix your bike, wax your skis etc…), and regular “garage sales” where they sell used equipment at a steep discount.  Additionally, their products are quality and last even when it takes a beating. 

My most recent expensive purchase was a new day pack.  For the purposes of this blog, I looked it up on Amazon, and it is 5 cents cheaper.  But with my 20% off coupon, I paid less at REI.  However, in addition, I spent about 15 minutes with a clerk talking about the size I needed, my desire for my water bottles to be outside my pack, and my need for a strong waist belt which is harder to get with a smaller pack.  We settled on two options and I picked one.  I returned home to Guam knowing that I could use it every weekend, that it would get covered in the island’s red mud, and it would get faded from the sun and several washings – but if I decided that I don’t like the way it feels, I can’t reach my water, it doesn’t have the right pockets, or any other dissatisfaction — I can return it within the next year and either get a full refund or exchange it for another pack. 

Similarly, I need a new pair of boots.  I should have bought them in the states, but I didn’t.  This week, I’ll buy a pair on line from REI and take comfort in knowing I can wear them hiking for the next 6 months, but if they don’t work out, it is not a big deal. 

You might be thinking, this is a travel blog – not an outdoor adventure blog.  And while that is true but there is a lot of overlap.  Thinking of backing packing through Europe?  Do you wear boots for snow, hiking or walking?  Or even walking sandals or shoes?  Do you want clothes that are odor resistant, wrinkle resistant, and stand up to the wear and tear of the road?  Are you looking for options to treat water in countries where it is not potable?  Do you want a small microfiber towel?  REI is a great place for all of these and more…

Check them out.  I promise you won’t be disappointed. 

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