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.
On the high end, I would like to see REI offer at least some of the Zebralight headlamps - like the H600 line, which take 18650 lithium-ion batteries and the H53 (AA size). Very high quality and popular with cavers, for whom dependable lighting is critical. To my surprise, these would not be the most expensive in the current line.
On the other end of the scale, please consider Mora knives. The Mora Companion, at around $15 or so, is an all time bargain and an extremely effective outdoor tool.
I want a small distillation kit that works with my Toaks pot - Often on trail, I am walking past fields of corn or wheat/rye, so being able to distill my own...
Oops, I mean, it would be great to distill water on the trail. Yeah, that's it. LOL
ETA: this is a humorous post (or an attempt at it). Distilling your own is both dangerous and illegal (without a license).
CNOC WATER Bags [Pictured with a Sawyer Squeeze MICRO]
Okay, now THIS one should already be a no-brainer! If you have a water filter, this is a MUST have!! Yet REI doesn't seem to catch on!!!
First, it's durable and dependable, qualities I insist upon, and it seems to work well with a variety of water systems. A DEFINITE step up from the Sawyer bags, I routinely SIT on it to push the water through my filter, and not just because it feels good under my bum. 😊
And it's multi-functional; You can use it as a water-collection bag before you filter it, or as a water bladder to carry extra water, you can use it like a hot/cold water bottle, or if you're creative, punch a few holes in a cap and you've got a SHOWER! I'm getting the 3-liter version, fewer trips to the water source when camping (I only need one bag, so I'll give my 2-liter CNOC away).
I literally just closed a browser tab from buying one from the manufacturer so that I can gravity feed my Sawyer. Would have been much simpler to walk a couple of blocks to my REI store... 🙂
SQWUREL 3 RAPPELLING DEVICE
GREAT for canyoneering, this is the third iteration of this innovative design which lets you easily increase OR decrease friction while on the rope AND in motion! (nice on long decents with full packs, even on complicated decents!!)
This V3 edition almost completely eliminates rope twist, and compared to the V2, it's shorter, narrower, and lighter.
While it can work on a double rope, I use SRT which works brilliantly with this. Easy lock-off, too. It’s rated for ropes 8mm to 11mm, but I use a 7.7mm rope and it works just fine!
For that matter, it would be nice if REI stocked rappel racks.
I guess, but I don't plan on rappelling El Cap' and I'm usually backpacking, so I mostly like a minimalist, ultralight rig.
I do have a general climbing rig and a WET canyoneering rig, but the main difference between them are really in the harnesses I use.
My minimalist rappel rig is the dulfersitz. All I need is an anchored rope (and I have the scars to prove it).
I prefer the rappel rack, not for use in long rappels, but for the unmatched control it provides. This becomes quite handy in my specialized application of rapping own the sea cliffs and canyon walls of the Channel Islands to recover archaeological and paleontological items, a process that requires a bit of time and the need to make small, frequent adjustments of elevation.
REI already markets quite a lineup of belay/rappel devices, so I imagine a specialized. rap only, gadget doesn't appeal. If it does, they might also consider the bobbin, the rap device of choice in Europe (with cavers, at least).
LOL! No body rappel for me (why even do that to yourself?!.!). I've only seen one bobbin style decender, and I see the appeal, but I think it could use a few evolutions before I buy one.
Rappel racks, and bobbins, are fine, and EVERYONE sells tubes like the ATC, but racks and bobbins are FAR more speciized than the SQWUREL, which much like the Pirahnais (which REI also sells and is a good comparison) is just a plate.
I like my Piranha in wet canyons and my SQWUREL in dry, but I've used it in water too.