REI Summer Picks
REI Summer Picks

Gear To Help You Be Active This Summer

Whether you’ve been staring out the window for the past six months waiting for the skies to clear and the sun to shine, or you live in a place where summer reigns all year long—summer is the season of adventure. From epic hikes to camping out on starry nights (even if it’s just in the backyard). And if you're anything like us, you've been itching to get out of the house (responsibly) now more than ever.

Which is why we’ve partnered with REI to bring you this list of gear to help you be active this summer. Of course, everyone is different, and what works for us may not work for you. So, we’ve broken this list up into five general categories of gear (think water bottle) that we find handy to have when the days get longer and hotter, with a few specific recommendations we think are worth checking out within each category (think Nalgene water bottle).

Teva Original Sandals In The Everglades Florida
Teva Original Sandals In The Everglades Florida

And, best of all, REI is having its massive, biggest-sale-of-the-year, Anniversary Sale from May 15-25. There are a lot of great brand deals going on at the time of this post. REI is also offering:

  • 20% off one full-price item for Co-op members
  • An extra 20% off one REI Outlet item for Co-op members

So, yeah, it may be a great time to grab some summer gear while still saving your money. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Reusable Water Bottle

It goes without saying that reusable water bottles are a must for summer, but we’ll say it anyway. Reusable water bottles are a must for summer. Whether you’ll be lounging on your back patio soaking in the sun, hitting the trails for an epic 20-mile run, or anywhere in between. (And there’s no rule that says water bottles have to be used for water…say for those backyard camp outs) Here are some reusable water bottles we think are worth checking out:

YETI Rambler 18oz Bottle
YETI Rambler 18oz Bottle

We like the Yeti Rambler-18oz because it’s double-wall vacuum insulated, meaning it does an amazing job at keeping icy water icy for hours at a time, even if it's 90+ degrees outside. Plus, the bottle doesn’t sweat. That said, the insulation does come at a price…and that’s just our dramatic way of saying that the bottle is heavier than other bottles on the market.

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Nalgene Wide-Mouth Water Bottle 32oz
Nalgene Wide-Mouth Water Bottle 32oz

The 32oz Nalgene Wide-Mouth Water Bottle is your classic reusable water bottle. It doesn't have the best temperature retention, but it's lightweight (especially for how much water it holds). Better yet, REI offers a variety of fun prints (that are on sale at the time of this post!)

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Vapur Eclipse Water Bottle
Vapur Eclipse Water Bottle In Use

If you want your water bottle to be optimized for a life on-the-go, the Vapur Eclipse Water Bottle may be the reusable water bottle for you. This thing holds up to a liter of water and compresses into virtually nothing (and compressing it is a cinch). But it lacks insulation (so no temperature retention) and can be a little awkward to drink out of.

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Daypack

Unless you’re a fan of stuffing your pockets and/or hands with sunscreen, sunglasses, a water bottle, wallet, phone, snacks, and all of your other summer adventure essentials, daypacks are a must. They’re ready to hold all of your gear as you enjoy what the summer season has to offer. In fact, we think they’re so awesome we wrote a beefy guide on the subject (so head over there if you want to learn everything there is to know about daypacks). Keep in mind that what works for you may not work for someone else. Maybe you want a small, simple pack without any organization. Maybe you want a militaristic pack that has a spot for everything. Luckily, there are nearly as many daypacks as there are personalities in the world, so you should be able to find one that fits the bill. Here are a few suggestions:

Arc'teryx Blade 28 Backpack
Arc'teryx Blade 28 Backpack In Use

At 28L, the Arc’Teryx Blade 28 Pack will hold quite a bit of gear. It has ample space and a huge variety of organization to compartmentalize all of your stuff. It’s a solid daypack if you a) like to carry around a lot, b) want a daypack that can double as a minimalist travel bag, and/or c) you’ll be carrying around gear for other members of your family. REI is also offering 25% off of all Arc’teryx items during its Anniversary Sale!

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Fjallraven Ulvo 23
Fjallraven Ulvo 23 Backpack In Detroit

The Fjallraven Ulvo 23 Pack is a bit of a departure from the brand’s usual aesthetic—and we’re digging it. The pack—which has clean lines, rich color, and a simple silhouette—manages to look both heritage and modern, urban and outdoorsy…Okay, we could wax poetic about the aesthetic of the Ulvo 23 all day long, but you get the idea. We also like the pack’s comfortable carry, durable and weather-resistant exterior, and overall simplicity.

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REI Park Picnic Tote
REI Co-Op Park Picnic Tote

Okay, usually when we talk about daypacks, we’re talking about backpacks. Obviously, this is a tote bag. But you can use this tote bag to carry all the things you need for a day outside, so we’ve decided to include it for you to check out. It’s expandable, made with bluesign-approved ripstop nylon, and has been designed specifically to haul what you need for a picnic at the park (hence the name). It even has pockets that fit plates, cutlery, and wine bottles (!). Of course, you can use this tote for more than just picnics—whether you’re headed to the trail, the market, or just about anywhere in between.

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Sling Bag

Sling bags are the middle ground between pockets and a daypack, so they’re perfect for those adventures when you want to bring more than your wallet and phone, but don’t have a need to throw an entire backpack on your back. (They usually cause less of that dread swamp back too.) As with daypacks, we are so fond of sling bags that we’ve written a massive guide on the subject. And there’s a huge diversity of sling bags on the market. Here are a few worth checking out:

Osprey Daylite Sling (Shoulder Sling)
Osprey Daylite Shoulder Sling in Detroit

The Osprey Daylite Sling shines for short adventures, whether that be a quick hike, running errands, or a couple of hours exploring a new city. One of its best features is how easy it is to sling forward onto your chest for quick access. However, it can get uncomfortable to wear after long periods of time (especially if fully packed out) because you can’t switch the carry between your shoulders.

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Chrome Industries MXD Notch Sling Bag
Chome Industries MXD Notch Sling Bag in Detroit

The Chrome Industries MXD Notch Sling Bag is the sling for you if you’re all about organization. It has a ton of external and internal pockets, including two quick access pockets that have a 3D shape (and thus a good amount of volume). It can get a little heavy and bulky when fully packed out, though. So just because you can jam it full with stuff, doesn’t mean you should jam it full of stuff.

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KAVU Rope Sling
Kavu Rope Sling

If you want your sling to double as a fashion accessory, the Kavu Rope Sling is a solid pick. The rope shoulder strap is a unique look—plus it’s available in a huge variety of colors and patterns. It also has ample space inside its main compartment and a couple of external pockets for compartmentalization.

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Versatile Shoes

While there’s something fun and almost sentimental about going barefoot in the summer, most of us can’t do that 100% of the time. So, yeah, shoes are a necessity. For summer, we enjoy shoes that are breathable and versatile. We also look for grippy outsoles that will keep you upright on rocky trails, slippery sidewalks, and muddy backyards. Bonus points if the shoes work well in water. Here are a few of our picks:

Teva Original Sandals
Teva Original Sandals In Essex England

We’re digging the Teva Original Sandals for their overall comfort (the footbed is made from EVA foam and is a dream to walk in), grippy outsole, and quick-drying nature. They’re a great pair of shoes to navigate all of summer’s adventures—whether that’s traipsing along a beach, walking through the woods, or exploring your own backyard.

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Salomon Crossamphibian Swift 2 Water Shoes
Salomon Crossamphibian Swift 2 Water Shoes

If you haven’t gathered from the name, the Salomon Crossamphibian Swift 2 Water Shoes are built to navigate slippery, wet surfaces (including fully submerged rocks). They're designed to be breathable and slide on and off easily, which are features that work well for other summer activities too. We also like that they’re made from responsibly-sourced materials, including recycled plastic bottles, corn, and bamboo fibers. Additionally, we like that they’re on sale at the time of this post.

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Xero Shoes Z-Trail Sandals
Xero Shoes Z-Trail Sandals

The Xero Shoes Z-Trail Sandals are all about mimicking bare feet as much as possible, meaning they have thin, flexible soles, a wide toe box, and zero heel-to-toe drop. They’re also water-resistant, quick-drying, and feature a grippy outsole. While we haven’t had the chance to test these particular sandals yet, we have tested other shoes from Xero with great results. Plus, they're on sale at the time of this post. (Note that the transition to minimalist footwear can be a huge adjustment. Make sure to take it slow if you’re new to this movement.)

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Packable Jacket

Long, hot summer days can frequently end in chilly nights. And long, hot, sweaty hikes can frequently end at chilly peaks. So, a packable jacket is great to have on hand in all seasons, including summer. The compressibility means you can easily toss it in your daypack or throw it in the trunk of your car. Plus, the warmth-to-weight ratios of packable jackets tend to be great (as long as you choose a high-quality brand). A few of our top picks to check out include:

Patagonia Nano Puff
Patagonia Nano Puff Men's & Women's

The Patagonia Nano Puff shines between the 30-50 degree range, so it’s perfect for those cool summer nights when you want to stay outside just a little bit longer. And it’s extremely lightweight, to the point that it feels bizarre to wear at first (it almost feels like you’re not even wearing it. Like we said, bizarre). The material is on the thinner side—meaning it’s delicate—so just make sure to take care of it. And, good news, the Nano Puff is on sale at the time of this post.

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The North Face ThermoBall Eco Insulated Jacket
The North Face ThermoBall Eco Insulated Jacket

We’re digging the fact that 100% of the insulation in The North Face ThermoBall Eco Insulated Jacket is made from post-consumer recycled content. And, because it has synthetic insulation, it'll manage to stay warm even when wet. Note that we've heard reports of this jacket having a slim fit. Whether or not you'll find this comfortable is, of course, up to you (you may want to size up if it's not your cup fo tea). It’s also on sale at the time of this post.

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REI Rainier Rain Jacket
REI Co-Op Rainier Rain Jacket

Slightly different than our other two packable jacket picks, the REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket will do a better job cutting cold winds and keeping you dry. Although it won’t be as cozy or warm as a puffy jacket. It’s the way to go if the weather forecast is looking iffy, you’re planning a long hike that may involve chilly breezes, or you live in a place that manages to experience all sorts of weather in a single summer day. Like our other two picks, it’s on sale at the time of this post.

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Soak up the Sun

So there you have it, folks, some of our favorite gear to help you have an awesome, active summer this year. Thank you to REI for partnering with us and inspiring us to get outside even when it feels like we may melt. Remember, gear isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. If you want/need more suggestions, check out our gear reviews and YouTube channel. Also, be sure to peruse the online aisles of REI and take advantage of their epic Anniversary Sale from May 15-25. (we know we will).

May 15, 2020

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