Unlike a previous post of mine, to warn of ineffectual AND especially potentially dangerous gear/items, in this one you CAN nominate items you were pleased with from other sources, or good ideas you've seen online. NOTE: I'm guessing not all stores carry the same merchandise, but if it's not on REI's website, I'd say it's a good guess it's not in the stores.
In no particular order, my first nomination in this category is:
A few years ago, I bought two decks of cards on identifying wild edibles as gifts for a couple of backpacking friends. They were a hit! Instead of annoying... I mean, asking me, they simply shuffled through their cards in a hurried attempt to identify what we passed as we made our way into the backcountry. Maybe I'll go back this winter and show them how to get home.
Seriously though, pocket cards, books and laminated charts on a variety of things are out there on eBay, etc. They're great for kids and anyone interested in learning something about their surroundings. Be sure they are applicable to the area/s you'll be in.
I would love to purchase an item or items that woul reverse agingand/or the effects of aging (speaking as one who sees the bloom of youth inexorably slipping away). I am sure others would be interested.
If sold as a members only item, REI's membership would probably increase.
It would be nice if this were available by March,2021, so that I could apply my dividend.
@hikermor great suggestion - we'll pass it along to our Membership team and see what magic they can make!
EXPED-ALPACA CONVERTIBLE TREKKING POLES/PADDLES
At ABOUT $200 a set, they may be a bit much for most, but as I often say, "Good gear costs good money!" Then again, it's one of the standards I measure other packers by, especially those who ask to tag along. Still, you get what you pay for with these!
These are a specialty item, collaborated on by Exped (known for trekking poles) and Alpaca (Known for packrafts), and the last time I checked, they don't produce these often or in great numbers. They are rated for class-2 water (though I've used them in class-3), and they are SUPER light!!
EXPED-ALPACA CONVERTIBLE TREKKING POLES/PADDLES At ABOUT $200 a set, these are not for everyone, especially when you can get a pair of poles for about $20, but then as I say, "Good gear costs good money!" These are a specialty item, collaborated on by Exped (known for trekking poles) and Alpaca (known for packrafts), and the last time I checked, not produced in great numbers. Are they worth it? I'm on my second set and would be willing to buy a THIRD! They are ultralight and tough/durable, and I am NOTORIOUSLY hard on gear! I have used the trekking poles to beat at brush, wedge my way through thickets, even as two legs of a tripod over cooking fires and the only damage I'm aware of is the gnawing of my grips by a squirrel or two. The carbon fiber paddle blades are feather light, and while rated for class-2 water, I've used them in class-3 and on somewhat windy seas.
KLYMIT LWD (Light Water Dinghy) ULTRALIGHT PACKRAFT
The PERFECT match for the Exped-Alpaca poles/paddles! If your planned trek involves serious detours (and/or fishing!) around calm-ish or slow-ish water, I can't say enough about this! It can handle fairly big guys AND big loads, weighs about 3 pounds, is pretty tough, and folds down to almost nothing!
Also rated for class-2, it comes with an inflation bag (though the raft is so small, I rarely bring it) which can double as a dry bag, and it has an optional 'booster seat' (I think it's fine without). And there are tie-down loops around the edges to secure... whatever.
PETZL TIBLOC 2 This one's more for climbing packers, but most/many climbers know it well! Sadly, EVERY time I went into an REI (several of them!) and asked if they carried this item, the initial response was always a blank, eyes glazed, look followed by, "... Um-m-m..." (sorry, I got mine!) This is a BRILLIANT, ultralight piece of climbing/rappelling/rescue gear! About as small as the Wild Country Ropeman 2 (which I also have) but at a fraction of the weight, it works with a carabiner (which I use as a grip) as an ascender or a progress capture. To be fair, the Ropeman doesn't require a carabiner since it's spring-loaded, but it's WAY heavier.
GAS TRANSFER VALVE (ya, THAT'S what it's called, generically speaking)
This is how you avoid collecting partially used gas canisters or tossing out cans with gas still in them! By connecting two cans to either side of this valve, then inverting the whole thing so the can you want to fill is on the bottom, you can transfer gas from one can to the other. BRILLIANT!
The one pictured is by G-Works and I think is their latest model, I have an earlier one of theirs (though I think it's a little smaller), but there are other makes and versions. I got mine on Amazon but they are on eBay, too. There are also smaller ones, but they can be SO small as to be impractical. Better to have one you can control!!