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Adventure Travel

How REI Travels With Us Around the World

Funny title you say, how REI travels with us around the world? But it’s true. Oh so true. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and the Recreational Equipment Inc Co-op (REI) was just a tiny store back then in the ’60’s, but it was still a big part of my childhood. In those days REI was primarily focused on mountain climbing and backpacking. Jim Whitaker, the first American to summit Mount Everest and a Seattle native, was the first full-time employee of REI in 1955.

In the 1980’s REI expanded it’s offerings but remained true to it’s co-op roots. From then until now, REI continues to offer high quality gear for backpacking, camping, kayaking, cycling and travel.

REI roller bags and backpacks
All our bags last fall on departure day

I’ve been a member of REI since the 1990’s, and through membership you earn points for discounts on every purchase you make. And, because we travel so much and love the products, we make a lot of purchases at REI. In fact our family has learned to buy REI gift certificates for us when gift giving is in order.

We have been using our down time during quarantine to inventory our travel gear and prepare so that as soon as we can, we can hit the road again. It’s still gonna be a while, probably after the new year, but we will travel again, and our REI gear will be with us.

Packing for the Grand Adventure
It takes a little effort to prepare for departure day

Even if you don’t travel as extensively as we do, REI has a wonderful selection of travel items for casual travelers, walkers, hikers and more. Because we are such big fans, tooday we share with you some of our most favorite items from REI that we don’t leave home without. We hope this is helpful to you.

The links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you.

Travel Bags

REI Roller bags on the train
Our REI bags ready for boarding in Berlin

We LOVE our REI roller bags and we can verify they are tough! Our bags are four years old and have been around the world twice! That’s 121 flights, 153,000 miles and 68 countries! With all the wear and tear the only thing we have had happen was one wheel got caught in a baggage carousel and we had to replace it…but the replacement was available on line and easy to install. We continually pack these bags to 50lbs each and will continue to do so. A great purchase for us.

Check out this amazing bag here – https://www.rei.com/product/118820/rei-co-op-big-haul-rolling-duffel-34

Backpacks

REI Backpack on the Camino
Arne and his REI backpacking on the Portuguese Camino

We each have a backpack, mine an Osprey brand and my husband’s an REI brand. These have also been traveling with us as our carryon for four years. Additionally the backpacks made the 500 mile trek with us on the Camino de Santiago Frances, as well as on many other hikes. Both of these brands available at REI are durable and sturdy as well a comfortable. We beat them up, and the take a licken and keep on trekking.

Check out Arne’s REI pack here https://www.rei.com/product/126937/rei-co-op-traverse-35-pack-mens

And this is the one I use https://www.rei.com/product/144762/osprey-skimmer-28-hydration-pack-womens

Packing Cubes

When I first heard about something called packing cubes I thought it was just another gimmick to get me to spend money…boy was I wrong. I can’t imagine being on the road as much as we are now without packing cubes. Because we carry so much more than just clothes, our packing cubes provide us with a way to organize medicines, electronics and cords, office supplies and even things like salt and pepper and olive oil – and of course our clothes too. We have several different kinds of packing cubes but our Eagle Creek REI Cubes are our favorite and the most durable. The zipper (which has blown out on our other brands) is so strong and the fabric is perfect. I plan to pick up a few more of these before we hit the road again.

My favorite packing cubes – https://www.rei.com/product/866241/eagle-creek-original-pack-it-cube-set

Hammock

REI Hammock in Cyprus
Our hammock from REI in Cyprus

Yes we do carry a hammock with us around the world…why? Because we can, with this lightweight and compact hammock by ENO from REI. We use the hammock on the beach, or on our Airbnb patio and sometimes even on a hotel deck. The straps we also purchased from REI.

Our favorite hammock https://www.rei.com/product/754773/eno-doublenest-hammock

And the straps https://www.rei.com/product/886799/eno-atlas-chroma-suspension-system

French Press

Titanium French Press

You might be surprised that I carry a French Press with me when I travel, but it is actually one of the things in my suitcase I use the most – in fact every day. And it’s so easy to be able to have my favorite French-press coffee each morning because of this amazing titanium light weight French press from REI. One of my all time favorite purchases from REI. It’s made for backpacking, but just as useful for a long trip or weekend getaway.

Coffee on the go! https://www.rei.com/product/129640/snow-peak-titanium-french-press

Trekking Poles

REI trekking poles in Spain
Me with my trusty REI trekking poles, Finisterra Spain, the end of the Camino

If you consider price and quality, buying a product that is well made will always give you more bang for the buck. Case in point, our trekking poles by Black Diamond. We have been using these same trekking poles for nearly 12 years. They took me over Mount Warminanusqa on the Inca Trail and all 640 miles on both the Camino Frances and the Camino Portuguese and hundreds of other hikes equaling thousands of miles. Trekking poles keep my posture upright, keep my hands from swelling and provide stability as I hike around the world. These collapsible poles easily fit in our suitcase.

My favorite poles https://www.rei.com/product/162591/black-diamond-trail-back-trekking-poles-pair

Hiking Socks

My husband really likes the Cool Max REI hiking socks while my favorite are the lower cut Smartwool women’s style that keeps the merino wool off my ankle because I sometimes have a skin reaction with wool.

His – https://www.rei.com/product/165392/rei-co-op-coolmax-ecomade-ultralight-tech-hiking-quarter-socks

Hers – https://www.rei.com/product/112491/smartwool-phd-outdoor-light-mini-socks-womens

So Many Shoes

Over the years we have bought several pairs of hiking shoes as well as several pairs of Keen Sandals at REI (I practically live in my Keen sandals). I’ve also bought Teva Walking Shoes. My husband is currently a big fan of Merrill, and REI carries a lot of Merrill options.

Clothing

REI clothing in Uganda
Head to toe in mud and REI gear after seeing the mountain gorillas in Uganda

We have purchased many of our favorite pieces of clothing for both hiking and everyday travel at REI. My husband is a big fan of PrAna and owns multiple pairs of PrAna shorts and long hiking pants. I have REI hiking shorts that I LOVE and will be getting another pair soon. And we both own several REI and Columbia brand hiking shirts, both long and short sleeve.

Hats

REI hiking gear in the mountains
My fav hat and REI shorts

If you follow us around the world you will notice we are rarely without a hat on our head. I carry three or four different hats in my bag while Arne usually has two kinds. He likes a wicking style baseball cap for running and daily use and likes the Outdoor Research brand. And for hiking he wears a wide brim hat by by REI. I also have a wide brim hiking hat that includes a roll down neck protector by Sunday Afternoon. I have had this hat so long I don’t even remember and it’s still in great condition.

As you can see, I am a huge fan of REI, for the products I need at a price point I can afford. Through my experience I know I can trust REI for quality and durability on the things we love for our travels. It’s also really important to me to support local businesses. Although REI is now an internationally recognized brand, I love how it’s roots are solidly in the Pacific Northwest. And so that’s how REI travels with us around the world.

REI with friends in Washington State
With friends last summer, Mount Rainier Washington State

Our fingers are crossed that we will be back traveling internationally in early 2021. We hope to pick up our itinerary where we left off (with some adjustments for weather) and continue on our Grand Adventure. The world has changed but our desire to see it has not. Another thing that hasn’t changed, how REI travels around the world with us. We are loyal customers and look forward to updating what’s in our suitcase very soon.

Feel free to ask me any questions about products I am endorsing here. We love it when you share our blog. Be safe.

REI on the Inca Trail
Inca Trail
REI on Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier
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4 Comments

  • Reply Helena

    I’d never heard of REI until 3 years ago when I met my boyfriend who’s from Portland, OR. Now I’m a total REI convert, love their gear and garage sales too!

    June 20, 2020 at 5:34 pm
  • Reply Sinjana

    This is so amazing and inspiring. Haven’t heard of this company before but I understand the nostalgia associated with old brands.

    June 21, 2020 at 1:47 am
  • Reply Alison

    I can see why you like their gear so much. We’re fans of our Canadian PNW equivalent MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op). We also have Black Diamond hiking poles, that we bought at MEC. I remember one time years ago on one of our trips south looking in REI – in Bellingham I think it was, so I’m familiar with the store. Great post.

    June 23, 2020 at 11:59 am
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