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15 Best Outdoor Deals From REI’s ‘Gear Up Get Out’ Sale

15 Best Outdoor Deals From REI’s ‘Gear Up Get Out’ Sale

For years, REI has famously closed its doors every Black Friday to encourage people to enjoy their time outdoors post-Thanksgiving. Instead, it holds an earlier sale—the Gear Up Get Out Sale—so you can still enjoy steep discounts on great outdoor gear. The sale runs through November 21, and we’ve sifted through it all to find the best outdoor deals.

Check out our other outdoor coverage, including Gift Ideas for Outdoorsy People, Why It’s a Good Time to Snag Snow Boots, and a Great Bin for Outdoor Organization.

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Hiking and Camping Deals

backpack

REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack

Photograph: REI

This is one of the best daypacks for the money. It’s lightweight at a mere 14 ounces, so it won’t strain your back, yet it has well-padded shoulder straps and two exterior water bottle pockets, which many small packs lack. It holds 22 liters, which is more than enough for holding a rain jacket, lunch, water, a sweater, and maps for an afternoon of hiking. There’s also a version with graphic prints available for the same price.

If you like the idea of getting away from it all but keeping a lifeline handy in case things go wrong, a satellite communicator can keep you in touch with emergency services and loved ones back home. You can share your location, communicate back and forth, and trigger an SOS button if you need a rescue. The InReach Mini 2 weighs only 3.5 ounces and is compact enough to take up little room in a pocket. The battery lasts for roughly four to 14 days, depending on settings and tree cover. Sure, the new iPhone 14 can do all of this, but it won’t help if the battery’s dead after a day.

The Trail Hut 2 tent nails the right balance between price, weight, and quality. The hardware, such as zippers and guyline tie-outs, is solid, and its 78-ounce weight—while not featherweight—isn’t terribly heavy either. The interior design is laid out well with interior pockets and two doors and vestibules. It’s great if you plan on solo hiking and want space inside for packs or gear. If you plan to sleep two or three people in a tent, check out the Trail Hut 4 ($209), which is largely the same but bigger (and also on sale). Read our Best Tents guide for more.

ThermaRest NeoAir sleeping pad in yellow color

Photograph: Backcountry

Foam sleeping pads on their own aren’t warm enough for cold-weather camping. To insulate you and your sleeping bag from the winter ground, choose an inflatable model such as this. The NeoAir is an excellent insulator, plus it’s lightweight at 12 ounces and packable down to a small roll. Speaking from experience, it’s plenty warm when the mercury drops low.

Liquid fuel stoves are among the hardiest you can take into the backcountry. The downside is they’re often loud and spoil nature’s quiet, but the WhisperLite is relatively silent compared to others. Canister stoves can give you performance problems in the dead of winter, but MSR’s bombproof WhisperLite will keep kicking through almost any weather.

Hiking while holding a flashlight gets old, and it’s nearly impossible to set up a tent in the dark while trying to hold one. Free up your hands with a headlamp. The Spot 400 is a classic, dependable model that can throw 400 lumens up to 100 meters down the trail on its high setting. Its three AAA batteries will last for 200 hours on the low, six-lumen setting, which is enough for basic camp chores such as getting ready for bed.

Fitness Deals

Garmin Fenix 7S SapphireSolar smart watch

Garmin Fenix 7S Sapphire Solar

Photograph: Garmin

The 7S Sapphire Solar (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is a powerhouse for all the preset modes that can track your biometric data from various outdoor activities: gravel biking, swimming, running, and more. It’s our favorite outdoor watch for its quick and accurate GPS connection in rain and under dense tree cover, plus it packs a built-in altimeter, barometer, and compass. Read our Best Garmin Watches guide for more.

Women’s Sizing, Men’s Sizing

It’s no wonder we called them the cutest in our Best Trail Running Shoe guide. Just look at ‘em. Beauty isn’t just skin deep, though. They’re light, breathable, and offer solid traction on loose terrain. Just remember that Nikes run small, so you should consider sizing up a half-size.

Women’s Sizing, Men’s Sizing

Chafing is no fun. Whether you wear the latest high-tech cycling pants or stick with tried-and-true denim jeans, slip on a pair of padded cycling shorts underneath to take some of the wear and tear off biking. The stretchy, breathable polyester fabric wicks away moisture, keeping you from feeling swampy on long rides.

We crowned these the best cold-weather running tights in our Best Running Gear guide, thanks to a high waist and drawstring that keeps them from sagging during runs. As an insulating base layer under pants, they add plenty of warmth in rough weather. Even in 30-degree temperatures, they kept our reviewer warm and have lasted years with little wear. One downside is that they only come in a 28-inch seam, which could leave taller runners with chilly ankles.

Other Great Outdoor Deals

REI CoOp Outward Lawn Chair

REI Co-Op Outward Lawn Chair

Photograph: REI

Women’s Sizing, Men’s Sizing

Goosedown jackets are only getting more expensive, but REI’s house-brand down puffy has remained at the same base price for years. Now, it’s on sale for a price rarely matched and never beaten. Two zippered hand-warmer pockets on the outside are joined by two cavernous open pockets inside the jacket that can hold beanies, gloves, and scarves. It’s warm as an outer layer or insulating mid-layer.

This is my favorite outdoor folding chair, and it’s made of robust aluminum, 300-denier nylon fabric, and solid wood armrests. It weighs 7 pounds, 7 ounces and holds up to 250 pounds. There’s a padded version also on sale for the ultralow price of $22, but it tends to go in and out of stock often; make a note to look at it another time to see if the deal comes back.

I crowned the Big Haul the best duffel bag in my Best Travel Bags guide, because it’s made of Bluesign-approved recycled nylon fabrics and has plenty of interior and exterior pockets for organization, as well as hide-away backpack straps so you can carry heavy loads on your back. Anyone who’s ever lugged a super heavy duffel through an airport will appreciate that. This 28-liter version is perfect for weekend getaways and is small enough to work as a carry-on when flying. There are more sizes on sale, all the way up to an enormous 120-liter version.

Nutcase Street MIPS Helmet

Nutcase Street MIPS Helmet

Photograph: REI

You can’t stay fit if you bust your noggin in the event of a crash. Keep that melon safe with this stylish, protective bike helmet from Nutcase. Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) is a technology that offers added protection to your brain from rotational injuries. It’s absolutely worth paying a little extra for. There are many styles available, from solid colors to truly wacky designs.

Ditch single-use plastics and go with a durable, reusable Nalgene water bottle for your hydration needs, from desk to campsite. There are more designs available here, which don’t show up on the formerly linked product page, for the same discount. These models are BPA-free, so sip without worry.

Our Favorite Gear for Everyday Sun Protection

Our Favorite Gear for Everyday Sun Protection

We’re finally at the end of summer, after enduring another season of unprecedented droughts and heat waves—and it’s not quite over. We may face weather like this well into the fall, which means you can expect to see a bit more sun than you’re used to during back-to-school season. You should pay closer attention to the UV index, even after summer officially ends. 

Venturing out into the sun, your most vulnerable parts are going to be your extremities, your face, and your eyes. And if you’re going swimming, that includes anywhere that’s exposed by your swimwear. That’s what we’re focusing on: keeping you covered but cool, protected but not smothered. These are our favorite picks to do just that. 

Updated September 2022: We’ve added the Coolibar Sun Blanket, Parasol, Solbari Zip-Up Hoodie, and Sensitive Skin Hand Wraps. We’ve also removed a few items that are no longer available and updated prices throughout. 

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The Best Binoculars to Zoom In on Real Life

The Best Binoculars to Zoom In on Real Life

Binoculars mean the difference between seeing a little gray bird and identifying a titmouse, cheering a home run and seeing the epic catch, or realizing that the 10-point buck is actually a doe standing in front of dead branches.

Whether you’re scouting terrain, watching birds in your backyard, or getting season tickets to Fenway, binoculars bring the world closer, making it sharp and clear far beyond what your eye is capable of seeing. Finding the right pair of binoculars means first figuring out what you’re going to use them for. If you’d just like to watch some birds at the feeder in your backyard and perhaps overcome the limitations of the cheap seats at the ballpark, there’s no need to spend a fortune. On the other hand, if you plan to go birding in diverse locations, or are planning a big hunt in unfamiliar territory, it’s often worth the extra money to get something a little more powerful.

Be sure to check out our other guides, including The Best Gear to Make Your Backyard More Fun, The Best Hiking Gear, and How a Birdfeeder Can Bring You Joy.

Updated August 2022: We’ve added the Fujinon 14×40 Techno-Stabi stabilized binoculars, Nikon Coolshot Pro II stabilized rangefinders, Nocs 8×42 binoculars, and Nikon’s Monarch 10×42 model, as well as updated prices throughout. 

Table of Contents

  1. Best Overall
  2. Best High Powered
  3. Best Compact
  4. Best for Kids
  5. Best for Special Use Cases
  6. What Do the Model Numbers Mean?
  7. Why the High Price Tags?

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more.

What Do the Model Numbers Mean?

Binoculars are usually listed with two number specifications; for example, the Nikon Monarch M5 are 8×42. 

The number 8 refers to the magnification power. Objects seen through these binoculars will be eight times bigger than when you look with your naked eye. Newcomers should stick with 6x or 8x. They have enough power that you’ll see things clearly, but they don’t magnify so much that you’ll struggle to find what you want to see or have trouble following fast-moving objects (though all binoculars take some practice). 

The 42 refers to the size of the front lens in millimeters. The larger the lens size, the more light reaches your eye. That means the image will be bigger, brighter, and clearer. A pair of 8×42 binoculars are often significantly brighter and have a better viewing experience than a pair of 8×32 binoculars, even though both provide the same magnification. But the larger you get, the more glass they will use—so they’ll weigh more. The weight difference between a pair of 8×32 and 10×42 binoculars is significant if you’re wearing them all day. We suggest sticking with the 26-50 range. Our top pick is roughly in the middle, at 8×42, generally considered the sweet spot for most people.

Best Overall

Nikon’s Monarch 5 binoculars were my first “real” binoculars. Years later, their upgraded M5 is my top pick for most people just getting started. These offer great bang for your buck, and the 8×42 magnification is the most versatile. It isn’t just me, either. These are some of the most common binoculars I see when I’m out birding.

The Monarch M5s strike an excellent balance between optical power, quality, and price. The glass in these provides nice, bright views with very little chromatic aberration (the distortions or fringing that you sometimes see around objects in bright sunlight).

The Best Multi-Tools for Any Task

The Best Multi-Tools for Any Task

There are a ton of other multi-tools out there, and brands like Leatherman and Victorinox have models upon models that make it confusing to figure out exactly what to get. Here are some others I like.

Leatherman Skeletool CX ($90): This one is slightly smaller than the Wave Plus, but it’s still a standard-sized multi-tool. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles our top pick offers, you can make do with a less bulky gizmo that still has the basic, most-used tools, such as a knife, bottle opener, can opener, bit drivers, and pliers.

Victorinox Swiss Tool ($169): Yes, I did a double-take when I first saw the price tag too. At 10 ounces, it’s on the heavier side as well. But it’s beautifully made, and I dig the boxy, straight-edged handles. Sometimes it’s just nice to have a tool that doesn’t try to look modern. It’s beautiful.

Leatherman Free P4 ($150): I was on the fence about this one. Like most of Leatherman’s lineup, the Free P4 is a quality, well-built tool, but is it worth a $40 increase over our top pick, Leatherman’s own $110 Wave Plus? The big differentiators are that the Free P4, with its 21 tools, uses magnets to open and lock the tool, and a new mechanism to unlock and close the mini-tools that doesn’t rely on putting your finger in the way of the blade. The magnets don’t take any less force to initially open the tool than other Leathermans, but once you get it started, the opening mechanism is very smooth and effortless.

Victorinox Handyman ($56): The Handyman is not any bigger than a standard-sized multi-tool, but its heft comes from being taller than it is wide, so it feels bulkier in the hand. It’s not unmanageable, but a four-layer Swiss Army Knife like the Deluxe Tinker makes for a more portable choice. Still, for less money you get a nice array of tools, including a corkscrew, a wood saw, and a file.

Smallrig Universal Multi-Tool for Videographers ($30): If you find yourself lugging around a lot of videography equipment, like our product reviewer Eric Ravenscraft, you might want a multi-tool made for adjusting and maintaining cameras without knives and pliers. The Smallrig consists of nine tools, including hex keys in multiple sizes common to cameras, a Phillips-head screwdriver, and a pair of flat-head screwdrivers. Eric likes the wider flat head for screwing down and removing tripod heads, which he says typically get scraped and chewed up by smaller screwdrivers.

Leatherman Micra ($57): Instead of pliers, the Micra opens up into a pair of scissors. It feels like it’s made of cheaper materials and has thinner tool blades than the Victorinox Mini Champ, which is of a similar size, purpose, and price. The spring-loaded mechanism is tough to open and close without poking yourself. But it has character, and I like the little thing. It’s a good alternative to the Mini Champ, especially if you want a tiny multi-tool that revolves around scissors.

Leatherman Wingman ($70): The Wingman just feels great to use. No wildly textured surfaces, and no plastic anywhere. The smooth scales feel old-school, in a good, “remember back when” way, similar to the Victorinox Swiss Tool. It has 14 tools in its handles, all of which slide open and close as smoothly as if they were buttered. The whole package folds down to only 4 inches long and weighs 7 ounces. At this price, it’s a great bargain.

Leatherman Raptor Response ($80): Rather than taking the form of pliers, these medical shears feature a blunt tip so that medics don’t accidentally stab a patient while trying to cut through clothing. The Raptor Response is very niche. If you have to ask, then no, you don’t need it. But for an EMT or a wilderness medic on remote backcountry trips, it’s an ingenious packaging solution that includes an oxygen tank wrench and ring cutter (for cutting through constricting jewelry).

The Best Electric Kick Scooters

The Best Electric Kick Scooters

Scooters are electric vehicles, so there are a few things you should and shouldn’t do if you get one. First, if you’ve never ridden an electric scooter and are nervous about shelling out for one, try a rideshare service. Companies like Lime, Lyft, and Bird let you grab an escooter for not a lot of money, which is a good way to test the waters. 

Wear a helmet. Need I say more? Protect your noggin. Our Biking Accessories guide has some helmet options—my personal favorite is the Thousand Heritage helmet—and follow this guide to fit your helmet the right way.

Check your local laws. Are electric scooters legal where you live? If so, what’s the max speed limit? Do you have to be in the bike lane? Over the past two years, escooters have become a common sight in many cities. Chances are your state or city has spelled out rules about riding them.

Don’t charge your escooter overnight or when no one is home. The manuals of several scooters I’ve tested say the same. Not every battery or charger has a UL certification for safety, and I’ve seen one too many stories of battery fires. Always be around when you’re charging your scooter, and unplug it when it’s finished charging.

Try to avoid the rain. You’ll want to check your scooter to see whether it has official IP water- and dust-resistance ratings. If not, avoid riding in the rain. If there is a rating, it’s still a good idea to get out of the rain quickly. More importantly, do not plug the charger in without wiping down the charging port and ensuring that it’s dry.

Don’t store your escooter in excessive temperatures. Extreme heat and extreme cold are not good for batteries. Store your escooter indoors in a cool, dry place, like you would your breakfast cereal! 

One rider only, please. Unless a manufacturer explicitly states that an escooter can carry two people, only one rider should be on the deck. These vehicles can go pretty fast, and you don’t need to go more than 20 mph to be in a serious accident. It’s also a good idea to check the weight limit on your scooter.

Check the manufacturer’s servicing and repair options. Before you invest in a new scooter, check if the manufacturer offers spare parts or is able to service your scooter if any issues arise. You may want to connect with local ebike and escooter shops to see if they have experience with the brand you’re going with.

Don’t leave your escooter unattended outdoors. Scooters aren’t very easy to secure, so it probably goes without saying that they’re very easy to steal. Roll them indoors if you need to, but keep them within sight if you don’t want to walk home, helmet in hand.