REI Co-op announces the fall 2021 Editors’ Choice Awards

Accolades honor best-in-class gear at the co-op to help people get outside

Nov 2, 2021

REI announces new additions to its REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Awards, a designation honoring top-performing gear and apparel from brands sold at the co-op based on field testing, REI expertise, co-op member and customer feedback, and sustainability attributes. Products recognized include both time-honored standouts and the latest innovations to hit shelves at REI.

“Our Editors’ Choice Awards are one of the many ways the co-op helps people find great gear for all the ways they recreate,” said Michelle Flandreau, managing editor at REI. “We’re thrilled to recognize our next round of award winners, which include protective gaiters and versatile trekking poles. As we head into fall, these products are well-suited to help people spend time outside, even when the days are short, and the weather is wet and cold.”

The REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Awards program is part of REI Co-op Studios. This hub produces films, podcasts and in-house editorial content published on Expert Advice and Uncommon Path. This fall’s recipients of REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Awards include:

  • Big Agnes Echo Park 20: “This sleeping bag is comfy, warm and spacious, and will satisfy most car campers in the market.” A standout in our round-robin inclusive-size sleeping bags test, the Echo Park 20 should keep sleepers toasty in subfreezing conditions, and measures 80 inches around the shoulders and 74 inches around the hips. It’s more affordably priced, too.
  • Outdoor Research Crocodile GORE-TEX Gaiters: For ultimate protection, hikers and mountaineers should reach for the time-tested Crocodiles, the top performer in our gaiters field test. A tester added, “these gaiters are knee-high and made of ridiculously tough nylon—water, snow, grit and debris stand no chance.”
  • REI Co-op Traverse Trekking Poles: These versatile trekking poles were the best all-around performer in our field test. The Traverse trekking poles are adjustable up to 140 cm and telescope down for easy packing and storage when not in use. The huge size range should satisfy everyone in the family, while thoughtful details like an oversize grip and padded wrist straps enhance comfort. The Traverse trekking poles come with hiking and powder baskets, so you can use them year-round.
  • Light & Motion Vis Pro 1000 Trail Headlight: The Vis Pro 1000 is an all-around great light for cyclists. It’s bright enough for mountain bikers to use on singletrack and has traffic-friendly red side lights and a low profile that please road and casual riders. Lightweight yet boasting 1,000 lumens and enough battery to beat the dark home, this little light earned frequent placement on the handlebars of REI Co-op Member testers.

REI recognizes these products as top performers in a head-to-head round-robin test. Product reviews on REI.com and customer feedback, along with sustainability attributes based on REI product impact standards, are also considered in the process. Testers include REI employees and co-op members from across the nation, who evaluate everything from a product’s usability to its features in a variety of climates, terrain, and weather. They report back on their experiences with qualitative and quantitative data collected along the way.

Some tests can last months, or even up to a year depending on the category, to see how the products perform through various seasons and scenarios. The top-scoring products are featured in Gear Guides on Expert Advice, REI’s gear and expertise learning library. The best of the best also receives an REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Award.

Gear considered must be sold at the co-op. There is no set timing or number of recipients that may receive this accolade. Products are continually tested and can be recognized with an REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Award designation anytime through the year. A list of past award winners can be found here.

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 20 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 174 locations in 41 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.