Sep 10, 2023
45 Best Memorial Day Outdoor Deals: Tents, Camp Chairs, and More
Scott Gilbertson Gear Team Every year, the sun emerges from behind the clouds. Like newborn horses, we shake out our wobbly legs and totter, blinking, back onto the trails. And every year, outdoor
Scott Gilbertson Gear Team
Every year, the sun emerges from behind the clouds. Like newborn horses, we shake out our wobbly legs and totter, blinking, back onto the trails. And every year, outdoor retailers like REI, Backcountry, and Moosejaw hold massive sales so we can replace that leaky old tent before the first camping, climbing, or mountain biking trip of the year.
This year, REI's anniversary sale runs from May 19 to May 29, with up to 30 percent off select gear. If you're an REI Co-op member, you also get 20 percent off one full-price item at REI and REI Outlet with the code ANNIV23. There are also some deal that are available only to members. You can join today for a one-time fee of $30. Outdoor retailer Backcountry is running a competing sale, and Moosejaw is offering 20 percent off one full-price item with the code CHEESEBURGER.
Still trying to figure out how you're going to navigate all this bounty? Don't forget to check out the rest of our summer guides, including our guides to the Best Hiking Boots or the Best Camping Cookware.
Update May 28, 2023: We've added more deals and refreshed links and prices.
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Don't see anything you like here? Check out our guides to the Best Fitness Trackers and the Best Base Layers.
All spring, all the cool girls have been wearing these pants to go climbing and hiking, and I want a pair. This is REI's collaboration with Outdoor Afro, a nonprofit that celebrates, connects, and inspires Black leadership and community in the wilderness. These pants fit a wide variety of body types, are made from breathable, durable-water-repellant nylon/spandex fabric and come in an array of eye-catching colors.
Janji makes sustainably minded running apparel and frequently collaborates with artists and athletes for limited editions. The company has committed to eliminating PFAS from its rain apparel and its clothing has a five-year guarantee. I have had this running bra for almost that long, and it's still in great condition after years of weekly use.
If you need to re-up on rain jackets, now is a good time. Outdoor Research's Helium line is a great, moderately priced hiking rain jacket. It's also available at Backcountry in a somewhat more limited size and color range, in both men's and women's sizes.
Smartwool Merino Boxer Briefs
Wool isn't just for cold weather. These boxer briefs are made of itch-free merino wool just thin enough to provide comfort without capturing excessive heat on warm hiking days. There's 13 percent nylon mixed in to give them the right amount of stretch, and wool has a tendency to stink a bit less than polyester base layers.
Product reviewer Scott Gilbertson and I are in agreement—merino wool is the lightweight, versatile fabric of kings. You might think that summer is not an ideal time to buy base layers, but if you're camping or climbing at altitude, it will probably get cold at night. These are soft enough to double as camp jammy-jams. WIRED-recommended Smartwool base layers are 25 percent off, too.
I have a $15 down jacket I bought off Alibaba that looks (and feels) like a live goose stuffed in a trash bag. Don't be me. Spend a little more and get something that actually fits you, like this REI down jacket. It'll keep you warmer and last far longer than the cheap stuff. If you're not into sleeves the vest is also on sale for $56 ($24 off) in men's and women's sizes.
Our favorite barefoot sandals are on sale right now. These are the only shoes that have ever inspired me to write 1,000 words. They are really that good. Think of these as the barefoot answer to Chacos. Except where Chacos are like putting tractors on your feet, the Z-Trails still flex and bend as you walk, giving your feet the freedom of movement you expect from a barefoot shoe. If you're new to barefoot shoes, read through our guide for some pointers on making the switch from tractors to your feet.
Buying adventure shoes for little kids is tough. Go too cheap, and they won't be able to hike or enjoy themselves because of blisters and other issues. Go too expensive, and you've blown big bucks on shoes that will fit them for five months, tops. I usually pick up my kids' shoes and rain jackets during the annual REI sale, but you can find sales at Amazon too.
Altra Lone Peak
Altra is a small Utah-based company that makes shoes that replicate the barefoot experience as much as possible. They have zero heel-to-toe drop and a wide toebox to let your tootsies spread. This year's iteration has a more streamlined, stitchless upper (and better colors) than last year's, but it still has the rock plate and the big lugs on the soles. These are one of our Best Hiking Boots and Shoes picks.
If you're looking for one barefoot shoe to rule them all, I recommend these. Xero calls them “athleisure” shoes, which gets most of their appeal into a single word. They're trim, light, flexible, and well ventilated, making them good for a run, but they're also nice enough to wear around town as a causal shoe. The Prio Neo Suede, which I am wearing as I type this, are also on sale for $82 ($27 off).
My daughter lives in these boots. When she wears shoes at all, these slip-ons are the only ones she'll wear. It does have an adjustable strap that runs from the top of the arch down to the sole and then through a buckle near the back, which means you can snug it down a little if you need to. The fit on these is pretty true to size, so unless you have a very low arch, you shouldn't need the strap much.
For years, multiple reviewers at WIRED have agreed: Garmin's Fenix series is the best outdoors fitness tracker if you love every outdoor sport. It connected to multiple satellite positioning systems faster than any GPS watch I've ever tried, even under cloud and tree cover; it measures every biometric under the sun, collects loads of sports-specific data, is durable and sharp-looking, and has excellent battery life. During the sale, all the Garmin Fenix and Epix watches are $200 off, but you can't apply your member coupon.
Exped is known for its durable, no-nonsense, moderately-priced outdoor gear. I've been testing the Typhoon pack for about a month. The rolltop closure and seam taping make it the perfect waterproof daypack, either for an extremely variable climate or if you like paddleboarding or other water sports. All Exped packs, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads are 25 percent off; I also have my eye on the Megamat for my family tent.
I have a lot of backpacking gear, but probably the items that get the most use are these camping chairs; I've had versions of these that are over a decade old. This latest version is made from Bluesign-approved polyester, but it has the same basic four-leg pole design with a seat suspended via tension points. It's pretty comfortable, easy to set up, and packs down very small.
Not everyone needs a satellite messenger—and having one does not mean you can call Search and Rescue if you're scared you won't make it back before dark. However, if you're an experienced backpacker or mountaineer, or you frequently hike alone, you probably have an inReach Mini dangling from your backpack. As with any satellite messenger, you will have to subscribe to a safety plan, in addition to buying the device itself. If you only go on one or two big trips a year, you might want to consider a personal locator beacon (PLB) instead.
This no-nonsense day pack is comfortable with loads up to about 10 pounds, and has plenty of pockets for organizing your gear. This is an updated model from the version my wife has been using for years, and adds the ability to remove the hip belt, which is nice for smaller, lighter loads. It's also now made of recycled materials.
Our new guide to sleeping pads will be published soon, but in the meantime here's a great deal on one of our favorite car camping mats. The MegaMat is a legend in some circles and for good reason, it's a 4-inch thick, non-slip, reasonably quiet, double bed size square of comfort. The larger and wider size is also on sale for $300 ($100 off).
This is the top pick for ultralight sleeping pads in our forthcoming guide. It weighs a mere 14 ounces, packs down to a 3-inch roll, and somehow, miraculously, is super quiet to sleep on so you won't wake your tentmates swish-swishing around all night.
Coleman's ubiquitous green camp stove has been a mainstay of campgrounds since your grandparents were kids. It's well-built, sturdy on a table, and just works. It's not the most powerful stove, but it's capable of holding a low flame, simmering soups, and cooking scrambled eggs without browning them.
An upgrade from the Classic above, Coleman's Cascade (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is our favorite luxury camp stove. It's well-made with sturdy cast-iron cooking grates and includes a griddle and grill plate for more cooking options. The latch and handle keep it securely closed, and it's easy to carry around. Combine that with the electronic ignition and the excellent flame control that can even simmer, and it's hard to find anything to complain about other than the price. That's why you buy it now, on sale.
While most campsites provide a picnic table that you can use to cook on as well, sometimes it's nice to keep the stove away from the table, which is where this camp table comes in. It's not huge (a 27-inch square), but it's enough room to stick your stove and have a little space left over for fee prep.
Why do you need to shower outside, you ask? This is video producer Alicia Cocchi's favorite piece of surf gear, for easily rinsing off skin-irritating sunscreen and salt when you're heading off the beach. My son has extremely sensitive skin that gets red and rashy after a few days of camping, so we'll be picking up one of these this year.
This is the time of year when we all go through our camping bins and discover that every water bottle we owned has somehow walked away between the ski lodge and the gym. REI's Nalgene's are cute, classic, and oh so cheap. This latest iteration is made from Tritan Renew, a recycled, BPA-free resin, is dishwasher-safe, and has a wide mouth for fitting in ice cubes.
We wrote about these for 2022's Wish List, and I still have two. They're made from a light microsuede, soft enough to wipe noses with and tie around your neck but absorbent enough to suck up a whole water bottle if you accidentally forget to screw the top on tightly when you throw it in your climbing bag.
Dometic's Go jug has two features that set it above the average plastic water jug: the large opening that allows you to reach inside and clean it and the spigot that screws in when you want to dispense it. If you really want to get fancy you can add the pump faucet for $80 ($20 off) to turn it into a running water system.
I was skeptical of this when it first came out but have since become a convert. Fill the water bottle and press to filter out not only viruses, giardia, and protozoa but also off flavors and odors. This is a great way to keep from buying single-use bottled water when you're traveling.
This 100-watt folding panel set is one of the most compact options we've tested. It's not the cheapest—you typically pay more for compactness—but if you're short on space, this is our top pick in our forthcoming solar panel guide.
This is the most compact of Goal Zero's portable power stations. It's also the lightest and easiest to carry around. It holds 187 watt-hours, which is enough to keep phones and tablets charged up on your next trip. It pairs well with the Nomad 100 solar panels above if you're going to be away for a longer period of time and need to recharge.
With over 3,000 watt-hours, this massive power station can keep your life running even when the grid isn't. There's a wide range of plug options, including AC plugs to power your refrigerator or power tools and charge up ebikes and whatever else you need to fend off the zombies. If they just keep coming (and zombies always do), the even bigger Yeti 6000X is on sale for $4,800 ($1,200 off).
This is your chance to save on our favorite two-person tent. It's rugged, easy to set up, and offers generous living space for two with gear. The mesh design, when coupled with the rain fly and good staking, will stand up to storms and not roast you when camping in the midsummer heat. The dual doors with dual vestibules ensure you aren't climbing over your partner in the middle of the night. The only real drawback is the vestibules, which are on the small side.
Our favorite ultralight backpacking tent, the Big Agnes Copper Spur series is tough to beat. I've used both the two-person and four-person models over the years, and Big Agnes has continually refined the design to the point that I have nothing left to complain about. We recently tried the updated one-person Copper Spur (8/10 WIRED Recommends) and loved it. If you can afford it, this is one of the best tents on the market.
I tested the one-person version of this tent, the Alto TR1 (8/10, WIRED Recommends), and surprised myself with how much I liked Sea to Summit's first entry into tent-making. The Alto is a semi-freestanding design—meaning some guy lines are required to maintain the full shape of the tent—but it remained rock-steady in high winds and there's above-average headroom. This is a premium tent, and you pay for the fact that it weighs a scant 3 pounds, 4.3 ounces. But alongside the Big Agnes Copper Spur, it's among the very best three-season tents on the market.
I don't get to do many solo trips these days, but when I do this is the tent I want. It's super light (just over 2 pounds) yet roomy and comfortable. It guys out very securely, and the steep sidewalls and decent headroom make it feel larger than it is. It's also made of the same chemical-free fabrics as the Dagger below.
Nemo's Dagger Osmo 3P tent (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is one of my favorites. It's incredibly sturdy, well-made, and lightweight. That is pricey, and if you're into a million pockets and interior organizational options there are better tents. But if you want a light, virtually bombproof shelter to see you through the night, this is a great option. We also like that it's made of 100 percent recycled nylon and polyester yarns, with no flame-retardant chemicals or fluorinated water repellents (PFC and PFAS).
Don't let the name fool you. The Blizzards can be used for both snow and sand. As you head into the deserts, you'll find that standard tent pegs don't stay put very well in deep, shifting sand. You need wider stakes. With the Blizzards' greater surface area, they’re better at resisting pulling out. The quality of these lightweight-but-tough aluminum stakes impressed me after deflecting a few ill-placed strikes by my fellow climbers with their metal shovels, so I know they can take a beating. You can also buy them individually for $7 ($3 off).
REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag
I've been testing sleeping bags for over two years (guide forthcoming), but when I need a bag that can handle just about everything, this is the bag I reach for most often. It's warm enough for those iffy shoulder season trips, but not overbearing in the summer (when I often use it as a blanket rather than bag. It is a little on the small side, it might be worth trying it out at your local REI if you're unsure, but overall this is a very good deal on a very good sleeping bag.
Yeah, it's summer in the northern hemisphere, but those nighttime temperatures can still drop low enough to chill you. Still, you don't need a full-blown three-season sleeping bag. For summer hikes and camping, I use the NanoWave 55. It's warm without being too warm, its synthetic insulation dries out quickly during the day, and it weighs practically nothing and packs down to the size of a fist.
It's biking season! Don't forget to check out our guides to the Best Bike Accessories and the Best Electric Bikes.
I liked the Burley trailer's moderate price point and ease of use when I tested it several years ago; I had some concerns about its durability, but it's slimmer and easier to assemble and pack down (and much cheaper) than the Thule Chariot. It needs a lot of attachments to make it useful, but luckily, all Burley trailers, accessories, and strollers are 20 percent off.
Thousand's helmets are standard for anyone who wants to casually bike around town without looking like a committed biking dingus. It has the multidirectional impact protection system), which protects your noggin against rotational forces during an impact, along with delightful Thousand features like a pop-out loop to lock it to your bike, plus lights and a visor.
I feel obligated to inform you that if your little one is ready to start on a bike with pedals, there are probably dozens of newly outgrown bikes floating around your neighborhood for free. The main reason to go with REI's kids' bikes (besides this very reasonable price) is to take advantage of REI's in-house shop services, which are quick and extremely affordable for co-op members. I've spent only $20 for a new tube in more than three years of getting my daughter's bike serviced.
If you haven’t picked up paddleboarding, let this be the summer. It's a low-key, versatile sport that lets you dunk your feet, get a workout, or explore hidden corners of a marsh. Gilbertson says this board (7/10, WIRED Recommends) packs up small, is stable enough for beginners, and has lots of fun accessories.
These dry bags from Sea to Summit have double-stitched, tape-sealed seams that have held up well over the years. I also really like the external lash loops that make it easy to strap to anything with a tie-down anchor, like the Bote paddleboard above.
Scarpa Origin Climbing Shoes
These are great shoes for beginners. They're much less aggressive—your foot is flatter and much less flexed than it would be in a more aggressive climbing shoe. These are comfortable, they smear well, and they last for quite a while.
Time to replace your carabiners? Or maybe you just want to lighten the load on your harness? These Dyons are only 33 grams each and have a unique hybrid gate that tapers into a single, thick wire at the opening end, which allows for a snag-free hook that won't catch on gear loops and ropes.
Leave it to the Italians to make a piece of ordinarily nondescript gear into a fashion statement. Whether you want leopard print, rainbow, (faux) python skin, or plain ol' black, the Trend offers four gear loops for plenty of carabiners, a sturdy belay loop, and padded leg loops for comfort. Plus, it's Grivel, one of the originators of climbing equipment, so it's dependable and fully tested to a safe standard.
Tim BarberANNIV23CHEESEBURGER1-Year Subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off)