Review: The REI Hiking and Backpacking Gear That Got Me There
As promised, below is the first of many backpacking gear reviews from my recent trip in the Rocky Mountains! Today’s review is all from the REI gear I put to the test for six nights of (stanky yet fun) camping and backpacking!
Think packing for your usual vacay is challenging? Think of what trying to pack everything you need for six nights out in the wilderness in a backpack can do to a gal. Thankfully, REI let me try these pants for my trip, and they worked beautifully in hot and cold weather. These pants may carry a price tag of $79.50, but they are super quality (honestly, I was sad to send them back to the company after my week of bonding with them).
Wind- and rain-resistant, they were soft, comfortable to walk in, wicked sweat away and even had a little bit of stretch to move with your body no matter if you were strolling down a flat trail or climbing over snow drifts. While I did wish that they had zippers at the knees to convert these pants into shorts, they did roll up well into long shorts or capris, as you can see in the snowy photo here. The best part of these pants though? After my week-long journey camping sans shower, they never got stinky or wrinkly. Amazing.
The term “technical,” in regards to hiking gear has always, to me, seemed pretty intimidating. Like it’s only reserved for those who are scaling a sheer cliff to their destination or are climbing a mountain starting with “K.” But, turns out, “technical” is just a word for “awesome” because this technical jacket was sorta kinda life changing.
Super light yet warm, it rolls up small enough to fit in a bag smaller than a pack of Bagel Thins. Made of synthetic fill, it’s rain-resistant and blocks winds up to 50 mph, yet it has a nice silky soft feel, making it feel more cozy than a rain jacket. With a price of $149, it isn’t cheap, but I can’t imagine a better more versatile jacket on the trail.
Talk to any backpacker, and you’ll quickly learn that finding the right pack is a big dealio. It’s not like school where you grab the coolest looking backpack and go—it’s a serious $150+ purchase that takes finding, proper fitting and making sure that all of your needs are met. Seeing that I was a backpacking newbie, REI’s Women’s Crestrail 65 pack seemed like a good place to start. A nice mix of low-weight and comfort, the midsize pack has shoulder straps that are contoured around the boob and belt padding that is shaped to better fit the female hip bone.
With enough straps and pulls to position the pack perfectly for your body and what you’re carrying, there’s also a mesh-covered egg-crate foam back panel that helps keep your back from getting too sweaty when hiking. My bag easily fit all of my gear, including a two-person tent, clothes, some food, my sleeping bag (with a zippered chamber just for it) and my tent pad via exterior latch-straps. There is also a separate area for a hydration bladder with sip-tube routes over each shoulder. While I did find the medium-sized torso to be a bit long for my frame, and I did have some bruising on my hip bones, for the amount of stuff I crammed in there, I was very happy with the pack. Not to mention that the folks at this amazing local store were impressed with the bag’s features. At $229, it’s well worth the price, me thinks.