The core of any backpacking kit, the gear term “big three” refers to a backpack, tent, and sleeping bag+pad.
For most hikers, the big three are the heaviest, most expensive, and largest items carried. And right now you can get a great deal on these products at a steep discount, easing entry into the backpacking world.
We scoured the REI Anniversary Sale to find our favorite sale items for new backpackers. It’s worth noting that these are all solid, versatile backpacking choices. They don’t fall into the ultralight realm but instead hit a nice lightweight range, with durable builds that should suit the vast majority of hikers well.
Backpack: Deuter ACT Lite 65 + 10 (25% off)
Available in 60+10 and 65+10 SL models, these packs will work well for multiday or week-long treks. The top of the pack can expand for extra storage and stow away when not in use, hence the “+10” in the name.
On the back of the pack are an aluminum frame and adjustable shoulder straps. The pads on the back compress and expel warm air but allow cool air to flow in, effectively reducing perspiration by 15 percent, according to Deuter. Lash points line the rear of the pack, and a dedicated sleeping bag pocket on the bottom rounds out the ACT Lite.
Tent: Big Agnes Copper Spur (25% off)
This is your chance to pick one up at a great discount, so choose one that suits your specific needs.
Of the line, our top choice is the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent. This lightweight tent sleeps two people and adds a scant 2 pounds 12 ounces to your pack. Bugs not an issue? Leave the tent body at home and pitch just the fly and footprint for a minimalist 2-pound 2-ounce shelter. The main drawback of this one is the price. But thanks to this sale, you can now get one for $335 (marked down from $450).
Still too rich for your blood? The REI Co-Op Passage 2 tent is also on sale for just $99! Yes, it weighs almost twice as much, at 4 pounds 13 ounces. But if you don’t plan to hike big miles and just want to get into the sport, it will do the job. Plus, the Passage 2 is durable and will serve you well as a car camping option.
Sleeping Bag+Pad: REI Co-Op Joule, Igneo & Flash
Yes, a sleeping bag and pad are two products. But many backpackers lump these into a single unit when packing, as they function in tandem. And to us, this is the most important place not to skimp when it comes to backpacking gear. Not only do good bags and pads result in good sleep, but they last for many years if well cared for.
For sleeping bags, REI offers a heck of a deal with the women’s Joule and men’s Igneo down sleeping bags. Both are stuffed with 700-fill down, which means they will provide a lot of warmth at not a lot of weight. This also adds to the price, but this is a great place to invest. High-fill power down is still our favorite insulator, especially for backpacking with limited space inside your pack (as down compresses beautifully).
Take 30 percent off these 17- and 21-degree sleeping bags and stay comfortable through spring, summer, and fall backpacking. On sale now for $189 to $230 depending on size.
Pair your sleeping bag with a new Flash sleeping pad, and you’re in business. The REI Co-op Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad (on sale for $70 to $83) weighs in at just 15 ounces. With an R-value of 3.7, it’ll keep you warm on cool nights too, and it doesn’t break the bank at 30 percent off.