Gear-shopping is to camping what foreplay is to ... well, you know what comes after foreplay.
To help get you excited for the upcoming three-day weekend, we’ve paired five American adventures with the gear essentials you need from REI’s Labor Day clearance sale.
The Outer Banks Cycling Trip
The Route: You want to stick to the northern beaches, from Carova to Nags Head
Stay: It’s too hot to camp. Grab a room at the Beachwoods Resort.
The Bike: Co-op Cycles ADV 1-1. Comes with a rear rack and a double-butted chromely steel frame that’s sturdy and lightweight.
The Toolkit: Topeak Deluxe. Includes a pump and a 7-key multi-tool and patches for your tires.
The Bag: The Topeak Compact Handlebar. Makes it easier to grab things you need on the fly, and converts to a waist bag when you’re on foot and heading for the beach.
The Lexington Kentucky Climbing Trip
The Location: You wouldn’t think Kentucky would be a climbing destination, but you’re wrong. There are a tons of limestone canyons, and you’re not far from bourbon country. You want to go to Red River Gorge.
Stay: if you’re looking for culture in the evenings, stay at 21c Hotel in downtown Lexington. For camping, stay at the Whittleton Campsite in Red River Gorge.
The Shoes: La Sportiva's Mythos is one of the most popular climbing shoes for a reason: it’s kinda perfect. The leather is soft and flexible, and the low toe keeps you stable.
The Chalk: You probably need a reup, and Black Diamond Uncut White Gold is 25% off. Grab it (no pun intended).
The Bag: Patagonia’s Cragsmith bag is a 35L gear bag that’s lightweight and comfy for a day climb.
The Catalina Kayaking Trip
The Location: Catalina Island, CA. You can put in at either harbor and paddle around the island. It’ll take you a while, so focus on just a simple trip. Start in Avalon with the goal of going to Two Harbors.
Stay: Two Harbors Campsite
The Kayak: The Oru Coast XT Kayak has bulkheads where you can store your gear. We’ve taken these on a three-day trek with no problems. It folds and can be checked or thrown in your trunk.
The PFD: The Kokatat Poseidon is a PFD that can survive a big swell. The neoprene straps dry fast and ride comfy.
The Dry Bag: Sea to Summit's Hydraulic bag is good for getting out of the boat to hike around — it'll let you take some gear with you.
The Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Trip
The Location: Rocky Mountain National Park is a stunning location with elk, river valleys and some of the highest peaks in the Rockies.
Stay: Moraine Park Campground, near Beaver Lake, is stunning.
The Sleeping Bag: People love the Nemo Riff because it lets you customize to meet your sleeping style. It’s also good for three seasons, which means you’ll get some use out of it.
The Tent: The Big Agnes is a three-season tent that collapses to 2 lbs.
The Hiking Shoes: Salomon's X Ultra 2 GTX is lightweight and waterproof — meaning it even works for trail-running.
The Portland Urban Explorer
The Location: Portland has a great art and dining scene, and there are plenty of hiking trails and kayak trips nearby.
Stay: The Nines Hotel is a boutique set in a former department store in the heart of downtown.
The Shoes: The Five Ten Approach is a lightweight shoe that’s great for scrambling around rocks and rivers.
The Bag: The Osprey day pack is what you need for those day trips around town.
The Jacket: It rains in Portland. Go prepared with a lightweight, breathable rain jacket from REI for the just-in-case.