REI recommendation

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REI recommendation

Postby 1Trax » June 27th, 2018, 1:09 pm

I'm planning on taking my daughter to REI this weekend for backpacking gear. I'm curious if all the SE Michigan REI's are similar or if someone has a recommendation as to which one has the best selection or best equipped to answer questions and help with equipment and footwear recommendations for backpacking the southern Sierra Nevadas.
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Re: REI recommendation

Postby WICCMB » June 27th, 2018, 2:45 pm

I have never been to the Ann Arbor location, but Northville and Rochester seem to be about the same.
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Re: REI recommendation

Postby b_b » June 27th, 2018, 7:26 pm

Crap-shoot depends if the person helping you knows their stuff or not.
You don't need to be an outdoor expert to work there although some are.
I organized a Boy Scout backpacking trip to Philmont NM last year.

Skurka really knows his stuff if she wants to go light (highly recommend).
His book is a good buy for a beginner to help buy gear right the first time.

Some lightweight examples, but not ultralight.
Tent ~2.5# e.g. REI Quarter Dome, BA Copper Spur, MSR NX
Pack ~2.5# e.g. Osprey Exos
Bag ~2.0# e.g. Rei Igneo, Marmot Hydrogen/Helium, Western Mountaineering is top but $$
Pad ~1.0# e.g. ThermaRest Zlite (foam), Neoair Xlite (air)
I'm spoiled with Xlite air pad but kids are fine with Zlite and can use for sitting/lounging.

Shoes - Very important and fit/comfort are key. Try on many brands/styles. REI has good selection. Need some extra space up front since feet swell hiking. Don't need heavy leather "hiking" boots. I like synthetic trail runners or some prefer mid height e.g Merrell Moab Mid. I like NON waterproof breathes much better for my sweaty feet.

Backpack - Also very important to get good fit and comfort. Load up with some weight and walk around. Probably best to get last after have all gear to get proper size. Mine is 50L but she may need 60L+ if gear is bigger or need more days food. I've carried 5 days.

Canister stoves work great e.g. msr pocket rocket, snow peak gigapower, soto amicus (mine). Jetboil is nice but heavier only need 0.8L "lite" or "zip" since usually just boiling about 500ml water to rehydrate food.

Don't need extra clothes, but do bring stuff needed to stay warm/dry. I carry puffy (also my pillow), rain gear, lightweight base layers, socks, fleece hat. I wear same clothes and wash when possible in gallon ziplock bag ring out and put back on to dry and socks rotated each night.

There's also many great cottage companies - Tarptent, Zpacks. Gossamer Gear, LightHeart Gear, Six Moons Designs, ULA Equipment, Enlightened Equipment, Feathered Friends to name a few.

I've not seen an REI 20% July-4 coupon yet. :(
Moosejaw in Birmingham is another good place.
Some online retailers that often have deals.
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Re: REI recommendation

Postby Roy » July 1st, 2018, 1:42 pm

The Sierra Nevadas can be very dry with relative humidity as low as 10%.
Take some kind of skin cream or oil.
Find out how much water you will need to carry and/or will you need to carry water filters and a UV pen.
Find out what kind of Bear proof food containers you will need.
Understand the Fire hazard level you will be facing
And most important, do a dry run here close to home.
Don't depend on REI to answer all your questions.

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Re: REI recommendation

Postby 1Trax » July 1st, 2018, 6:15 pm

Thank you all for taking your time to reply. We ended up going to both Ann Arbor and Northville. Northville is a little bigger store. We have previously been to REI's in Denver and Seattle (both flagship stores) so our expectations were a little bit higher than what we experienced. None the less, we did end up with some boots and small items. As expected and the reason I posted, there was not a ton of experienced advice with the employees. Apparently there are some employees at Northville who have hiked the JMT, but they weren't working today.

She is backpacking the JMT at the beginning of August.
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