Fall is a wonderful time to head outside. The leaves are changing color in Vermont and the sweltering summer temperatures are easing off—just a little—in West Texas. In almost every part of the United States, it's pleasant to pitch a tent or go for a hike in autumn. Just make sure your bed is comfy and your feet are well cared for when you head out on the trails.
Some of our favorite retailers, including REI and Backcountry, are holding Labor Day sales to help you stay warm, dry, and well-fed as the mercury and the leaves both start to drop. If you need some ideas on what to get, don't forget to check out our buying guides on the Best Camping Gear, the Best Tents, and the Best Camping Stoves. Looking for more deep discounts? We've rounded up our favorite Labor Day Deals and Labor Day Mattress Sales here.
Updated September 6: We've removed a handful of deals that sold out, but added several more.
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REI Co-Op 650 Down Jacket 2.0Photograph: REI
Goose down beats synthetic insulation in warmth per ounce, and it packs down smaller, too. If only it weren't so expensive. REI's house-brand jacket is a steal even at retail price, and now it's on sale. The women's version is here for the same price.
Merino wool won't feel itchy or clammy on your forehead like synthetic fleece, and SmartWool's lightweight fabric is still warm enough for winter hikes in the snow. This is my beanie of choice whenever it's chilly out, from the city to the mountains.
Even on a day hike in most climates, it's a good idea to take a rain jacket. Getting soaked can lead to hypothermia in even temperate conditions. The Rainier is our favorite budget rain jacket and packs down tightly into its own left pocket. Check out the men's version here.
WrightSock CoolMesh II Quarter SocksPhotograph: REI
Each WrightSock has two layers, and the inner layer slides against the outer to alleviate blisters. The synthetic fabric is thinner and less bulky. There are other versions and lengths, too. I love WrightSocks and use the CoolMesh IIs for mountain climbing.
Wool socks wick away moisture and don't smell. On cold-weather hikes, I always bring a third pair of socks for sleeping and as a backup to my other two pairs, and they're always thick wool Darn Toughs. The men's version is also on sale.
Buffs can help keep your hair tied back and protect your neck and chest on sunny days. This one is lightweight enough to not overheat you and is rated UPF 50. It's also on sale at Backcountry. Check out more of our favorite sun protection clothes here.
Camping and Hiking Deals
BearVault BV450Photograph: REI
If you're in bear country, you need to cook away from your tent, seal your food in a bear-resistant container, and toss it far, far away from you. This one stores approximately enough food for four days. It's also on sale at Backcountry.
Mirror compasses weigh a little more than basic compasses, but they offer greater accuracy. The MC-2 is my favorite full-featured compass. With adjustable declination and a clinometer (for measuring angle of slope), you'll never need to upgrade your compass again.
Signaling mirrors are used for broadcasting your position to rescue aircraft if you find yourself in a dire situation. Just aim it at the aircraft through the hole in the center. Plus, you could always use a mirror for more mundane needs.
I gave the Classic top marks in my guide to the best reusable water bottles. I've been using one for almost four years and aside from some very light scratches in the powder-coated finish, it's still as good as new.
Grayl Ultralight Water Purifier bottle.Photograph: REI
If you're backpacking, the Grayl is dead simple to operate and means you don't have to pack a separate filter and water bottle. It takes less than a minute to filter 99.999 percent of common backcountry viruses, bacteria, and protozoan cysts from water, as well as sediment.
Free up some room in your pack by putting your sleeping bag and clothing in one of these. The cinch straps squeeze the air out and the whole sack compresses into a small ball. Just don't store your things compressed long-term.
Synthetic sleeping bags dry out more easily than goose down. This one is rated for an optimistic 30 degrees Fahrenheit; it's also on sale at REI. You'll probably need a sleeping pad, too. The excellent Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL is on sale for $34, which is $12 off.
Stanley Pour-Over Coffee SetPhotograph: REI
The true beauty of car camping instead of backpacking is that you can bring a proper coffee setup without sweating the weight. Tell instant coffee to shove off and instead bring your best whole beans for a decent cup of real coffee. Pick up a Hario Skerton Pro manual coffee grinder ($47) while you're at it.
This stove includes an 800-milliliter cooking pot that's sized for a single hiker and weighs only about 12 ounces. Jetpower isobutane/propane fuel canisters are widely available all across the US and Canada.
Wear your illumination on your forehead to keep your hands free for setting up a tent in the dark or packing for a pre-dawn departure. This one is water-resistant rated to IPX8, which can withstand submersion in water, and it runs on three replaceable AAA batteries.
Eagle Creek bags are treated with a water-repelling polyvinyl coating to withstand rain showers when you're out and about. There are backpack-style shoulder straps, too, in case you get tired of holding it.
Climbing, Biking, and Skiing Deals
Portland Design Works Full Metal City Bike FendersPhotograph: REI
When somebody asks for a harness recommendation that's good for indoor climbing or outdoor sport routes, I point them to the Solution. It's well-padded and comfortable on long hangs. Plus, Black Diamond is known for its build quality. The men's version is on sale for the same price.
These are ideal beginner climbing shoes because the toe is not too aggressively pointed and downturned. A lot of experienced climbers also like this particular shoe shape for routes that require lots of smearing, or surface contact between sole and sloped rock. The women's version is on sale in limited sizes for $74 ($25 off).
Smith I/O ChromaPop Ski GogglesPhotograph: REI
Smith's ChromaPop lens technology makes colors pop when you need good contrast for visibility, like in low light, foggy skiing conditions, or when mountain climbing. Fogging is also less of an issue with more ventilated, bubble-shaped goggles like these.
Upgrade your cheap plastic fenders to these sturdy aluminum ones. Installation takes a little time but the coverage on these is extensive. You won't have to worry about your tires kicking up road water and painting wet skunk stripes up and down your back—or on the faces of people riding behind you.
Retailer Sale Pages
Want to hunt down Labor Day sales yourself? We've rounded up our favorite retailers.
- The Home Depot
- Best Buy
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