Gear Guide: Our Spring Must-Haves

As spring inches closer, we begin to itch for something new. We long for the feel of dirt underfoot, of rock beneath our fingers. The eternal changing of the seasons lets loose the gear junkie in all of us as we pour over product reviews and specs to prepare for warm-weather activities that are just around the corner.
If you’re like us and get stoked by new gear, check out our round-up of exciting spring products to prep for all the good times ahead, no matter what activity inspires you to #OptOutside every day.

Hit the Dirt—Our Favorite Hiking Picks

We’re not saying that one shoe fits all, but the lightweight Vasque Breeze III comes pretty close. One of our most popular hiking options for women and men and an exclusive to REI, the Breeze boots are ready to take on less-than-ideal conditions. The outsoles have been updated with stickier rubber for more grip than ever before on wet rocks and muddy trails. The breathability has been amped up too, so that moisture is easily released through the toes and heels to keep feet cool and content when logging miles.

Women’s feet are built differently than men’s, and Keen has designed a pair of hiking shoes specifically for ladies who love to spend their free time in the mountains—and you can get them only at REI. The waterproof Terradora shoes, available in either low- or mid-height, feature contoured heels designed to lock narrower feet in place, preventing hot spots and blisters. Dual-density PU foam footbeds and mesh uppers ensure your feet stay cushioned and comfortable, while padded rear panels prevent the shoes from cutting into your Achilles tendons. Grippy tread digs in on the uphill and brakes on the downhill so you have confidence on any trail.

Footwear may be the most important piece of hiking gear, but a rain jacket isn’t far behind. The North Face HyperAir GTX rain jacket offers lightweight, waterproof, eco-conscious protection. It was the first jacket on the market to feature Gore-Tex® Active® reverse-membrane technology, meaning it is incredibly breathable and will never wet out or need a DWR refresh. The innovative construction uses fewer layers to achieve serious waterproof, breathable performance and is made with fewer chemicals than most shells. It also weighs in at a mere 6.7 oz. for women and 7.2 oz. for men, so it’s easy on both the planet and your pack weight. Win-win!

A good backpack is an extension of your body, moving with you and evenly distributing weight. The classic Arc’teryx Bora pack has been revamped with a revolutionary new hipbelt and back panel. The RotoGlide™ hipbelt sits on a track and glides up and down as your back lengthens and shifts on uphill climbs, rotating with the movement of your hips and making your natural stride more comfortable on-trail. An ergonomic, thermomolded back panel provides ventilation and cushioned impact resistance. Available in two sizes for men (50L and 63L)and women (49L and 61L) in both regular and tall versions, the Bora is also highly weather-resistant to protect gear on wet treks.

A good pair of pants is more than just clothing. They can make you feel comfortable, confident and ready for anything. The women’s new KUHL Strattus pants will do just that. Whether you’re hiking on local trails or on an international adventure, you’ll stay cool and wrinkle free thanks to air-permeable fabric that breathes well, stretches with you, retains its shape and packs down small for travel. The pants also feature an internal drawcord waist and bottom-hem cinches so you can customize your fit and length. We suspect you’ll want them in both colors! Available in sizes 0–16.

Get the Beta—Our Favorite Climbing Picks

Climbing’s popularity is growing by leaps and bounds, with new gyms popping up all over the country. The easy-on La Sportiva Finale shoes, in both women’s and men’s models, are the perfect pair to help you progress from noob to knowledgeable, whether you’re in the gym or out at the crag. Sticky Vibram® soles grip surfaces so you can trust your feet on tiny holds. Medium-stiff midsoles let you feel the rock while still providing stability, and the lace-up style lets you really dial in the fit. The tensioned heel rands and Powerhinge design hold edges effectively, since only the back half of the Finale stretches (which keeps your toes on the rock). Time to send that project!

When you’ve found a belay partner and are ready to tie in, reach for the Black Diamond women’s Primrose or men’s Momentum harness. These all-around harnesses can be used for a variety of climbing styles. The time-saving design features a Speed Adjust waistbelt that can be operated with one hand for on-the-fly adjustments. The belt’s Dual Core construction is super comfy, even during long hanging rests or hanging belays. Easily adjusted leg loops let you customize the fit fast, and multiple gear loops hold all the quickdraws and protection you need for long routes.

Most climbers won’t get very far without one critical piece of gear: a rope. The Edelrid Ibex 10mm x 60m non-dry rope is an affordable dynamic single rope perfect for gym or crag, trad or sport. Each individual yarn is heat stabilized to maintain a supple feel for easy handling. The 10mm width is durable enough for regular use but light enough for a multi-pitch, and the woven kernmantle design, originally invented by Edelrid, features a strong outer sheath that protects against dirt and rock. Bonus: The Ibex rope is bluesign® certified, meaning Edelrid has reduced environmental impact by using less energy and fewer resources and chemicals to manufacture it.

Find Your Stride—Our Favorite Trail Running Picks

What’s not to love about trail running? You get a ton of cardio surrounded by the beauty of the outdoors instead of gym equipment. If you’re looking for shoes to get you out there, look no farther than the REI-exclusive Vasque Constant Velocity trail runners (available in women’s and men’s). Designed for traditional heel-strikers, they provide cushion and energy return where you need it and can transition from road to trail. Integrated rock plates protect sensitive spots, and heel crash pads soften your landing on rough terrain. Wide toe boxes allow feet to spread naturally for a stable stride, while aggressive tread grips the trail no matter what type of debris you’re tackling.

Trail running means moving light and fast, but you still need weather protection; enter the Patagonia Stretch Rainshadow. This waterproof 2.5-layer jacket blurs the line between hard and soft shell, and stretches to move with you while protecting from water and wind. Pit zips dump heat, while hook-and-loop cuffs and a drawcord hem seal out the elements. It also stuffs into the zippered chest pocket and has a carabiner clip so you can easily take it with you on any run. And you won’t even know it’s there (until you really need it)—the Rainshadow barely tips the scales at 9.2 oz. for women and 10.4 oz. for men.

Play in the Snow—Our Favorite Extended Winter Picks

Just because we’re excited for spring doesn’t mean that the snow will melt tomorrow. Winter likes to have the last word, and so our final pick pays homage to the chilliest season. The waterproof Merrell Vibram® Arctic Grip footwear collection fights back against icy roads and trails with proprietary new outsoles that activate in cold weather to provide extra stick in slippery conditions. Take on snowy trails with or without snowshoes in the Capra Glacial Ice Mid boots, an REI exclusive, or take the dog for a chilly trek in the men’s Overlook 6 Ice+ or women’s Aurora Ice+ boots. There are a variety of styles and insulation levels to choose from, so you’ll find just the right pair to explore the winter wonderland.

So whether you’re anxious for spring or savoring the snow, have fun, #OptOutside and don’t forget to share your adventures with us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

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