REI Co-op Editors' Choice Award Logo

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

Accolade honors best-in-class gear at the co-op to help people get outside

Jun 21, 2021

SEATTLE – 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.

"We are excited to inform and equip people on all their outdoor pursuits—whether it’s a quick run around their neighborhood or a week-long backpacking trip,” said Michelle Flandreau, managing editor at REI. “REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Awards are a great way to discover best-in-class gear and apparel at the co-op. This summer, we’re recognizing awarding-winning road- and trail-running shoes, a sleeping pad, lanterns and more.”

REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Awards are part of REI Co-op Studios. This content hub produces films, podcasts and in-house editorial content published on Expert Advice and Co-op Journal. This summer’s recipients of REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Awards include:

  • Bedrock Cairn Adventure Sandals (Women’s, Men’s) – The clever Y-style harness of the Bedrock Cairn Adventure leaves the forefoot entirely free to swell, breathe and enjoy nature, while an adjustable heel strap secures the foot in place. Our testers lauded the traction of the sandal and the friendly price point.  
  • Brooks Glycerin 19 Road-Running Shoes (Women’s, Men’s) – One co-op member-tester felt like they were “running on clouds,” after a month of pounding the pavement in these sneakers. Comfortable shoes can still feel clunky or heavy—not so with the Glycerin 19. Thanks to soft EVA foam with harder rubber and air pockets throughout the midsole, the Glycerin is both plush and fleet-footed, making it a perfect daily driver for runners with a neutral gait.
  • Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 Lantern – Ideal for car camping and basecamping, this incredibly powerful lantern (max output is 600 lumens) easily illuminates an entire tent site. It recharges via USB, solar, or by using a hand crank—a favorite feature for our testers. One minute crank provides 10 additional minutes of light—one of the best ratios our testers have seen.
  • La Sportiva TX4 Approach Shoes (Women’s, Men’s) – The TX4 falls into the sweet spot for all-day comfort, hardy support, and sticky traction, making it a versatile approach shoe for climbing and hiking adventures. After climbing five pitches in New Hampshire, one co-op member-tester applauded these for being “bold and solid,” and thought they shined while climbing slabs.
  • LuminAID PackLite Max Phone Charger Lantern – This packable lantern doubles as a portable power pack, so illuminating the campsite or juicing up devices is simple in the backcountry. It recharges via solar power and weighs half a pound, so hikers and backpackers can take it on the move. A co-op member-tester praised it for having “so many useful features in such a small package.”  
  • Nathan Pinnacle 12L Hydration Vest (Women’s, Men’s) – This vest has a longer-than-average back panel to help disperse weight well, making the svelte-yet-roomy Pinnacle 12L a prime pick for runners going any distance, but especially those heading out for several hours. Co-op member-testers raved about this comfortable vest, one said, “it slips on like a T-shirt, even when I was loaded down with bladders and layers.”
  • NEMO Roamer Sleeping Pad – When it comes to car camping, comfort should reign supreme, and it certainly does with this 4-inch-thick, extra-wide, portable pad. One REI tester shared they could “haul it under one arm while toting a kiddo in the other, store it on the top shelf in the garage, and maneuver it inside tighter quarters with ease.” It was a top scorer in comfort, portability, durability, fitting in tents and overall value.
  • The North Face VECTIV Infinite Trail-Running Shoes (Women’s, Men’s) – REI’s testers felt like they were flying over the trails in the VECTIV Infinite thanks to Pebax, a high-energy-return plastic more often used to make road-running shoes, and a rockered midsole designed to help propel runners forward. These shoes were a top pick by REI testers. One said, “these shoes have some get-up-and-go,” and would “be good for experienced runners training for races or trying to set a PR.”
  • The Salomon Sense Ride 4 Trail-Running Shoes (Women’s, Men’s) – The previous model of this shoe, the Sense Ride 3, earned an Editor’s Choice Award in 2020. For this latest version, Salomon kept many of the award-winning details, but added padding around the heel counter, upping protection and allowing a more secure fit. This results in a versatile shoe beloved by beginners and weekend warriors alike.  

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 receive an REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Award.

Products 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 168 locations in 39 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.