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.
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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.
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 are useful for everything from keeping your hair tied back, keeping blowing grit out of your nose and mouth, and covering 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
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.
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.
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.
Not everyone wants to toss water into a packet of dehydrated food all weekend long. If you’re up for some real cooking, chances are you need a pan. This aluminum skillet is coated in ceramic for a nonstick surface that isn’t Teflon. At 7 ounces, you can take this camping or haul it in your pack for multi-night hikes.
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.
REI’s chairs are sturdier than most brands of camp chairs that I’ve sat in. This one calls itself a lawn chair, but it’s portable enough for camping trips, beach trips, tailgating, and watching fireworks.
You can set this up inside your vehicle or in a large tent. This queen-sized air mattress set is rated for 40 degrees Fahrenheit and includes a manual hand pump, sheets and an insulated top quilt to keep you and/or a partner warm on cold nights.
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 are treated with a water-repelling polyvinyl coating to withstand rain showers when you’re out and about. This one has There are backpack-style shoulder straps, too, in case you get tired of holding it.
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.
Climbing, Biking, and Skiing Deals
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.
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.
Smith’s ChromaPop lens technology makes colors pop when you need good contrast to see, like low-light or foggy skiing or mountain climbing. Fogging is also less of an issue with more ventilated, bubble-shaped goggles like these.
Retailer Sale Pages
Want to hunt down Labor Day sales yourself? We’ve rounded up our favorite retailers.
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