My Favorite Summer Hiking Essentials from REI

The following is a sponsored post brought to you by REI.

Backpacking season is officially in full swing, and if you’re anything like me then you’ve been spending the last few months squeezing as many on-trail miles into long summer days as possible. And after a few jam-packed months in the backcountry, stuff is starting to wear out. Late summer always tends to be the time each year when I need to start replacing a few gear items to prepare for the last few backpacking trips of the season.

This year, a lot of these gear replacements were in the apparel area and I spent the past weeks testing out a few items from REI. From sun hoodies to hiking shorts, I discovered a few game-changing summer essentials that have been amazing on trail so far this season. Below, I break down the details and key features of some of my favorite new pieces of gear.

REI Co-op Trailmade Pants

Price: $69.95

I always thought that I preferred leggings over hiking pants – that is, until I tried the Trailmade Pants. They are insanely durable and made with tear, abrasion, and snag-resistant fabric. The best part? Most durable fabrics are heavy and hot on the trail, but the Trailmade pants are made with a lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying mix of nylon and spandex that is extremely comfortable throughout long hikes.



The pants feature UPF 50+ fabric to shield against harmful UV rays. They are also treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) to help keep you dry during afternoon showers. The pants are also manufactured with bluesign approved materials, which is a plus for eco-conscious shoppers.

I absolutely loved the ease of movement in these pants. Truly, I never knew hiking pants could be so comfortable. The ankle bungee adjustments made it easy to wear any sort of footwear, and the huge pockets made it convenient to carry snacks, my phone, and more during hikes.

Overall, these pants check all the boxes. They are rugged and thoughtfully created for the trail, while still featuring lightweight materials for a full range of comfortable movement. I even foresee myself wearing these pants throughout the fall, and again in the spring. The lightweight fabric feels warm enough to wear the pants as a layer in slightly colder temps, but light enough to stay breathable in the summer.

Shop the Women’s Trailmade Pants

Shop the Men’s Trailmade Pants

REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie

Price: $49.95

This sun hoodie is a game-changer for anyone planning to spend the summer above treeline, in the desert, or hiking any trail with minimal shade.

The Sahara Shade Hoodie offers UPF 50+ sun protection with a lightweight design that doesn’t leave you sweating throughout your hike. The polyester and spandex mix is incredibly soft and features both a quick-drying effect that wicks away moisture and an antimicrobial treatment that prevents odors, making this ideal for multi-day trips.



My personal favorite feature of the Sahara is the hood. I used it a ton while hiking above treeline to keep the sun off my neck and shoulders. The 3-panel hood design features a drawstring, so it was easy to pull the hood tighter as the wind picked up. And you can keep it loose to allow air circulation during hotter stretches.

This hoodie really is a champion when it comes to summer hiking. I used it in the mornings and at night as an extra layer when the temperatures started cooling down. I also absolutely loved the loose fit design that ensured I didn’t get too hot while wearing it on sunny, warm stretches of trail.

READ NEXTHow to Pick the Perfect Sun Hoodie for Your Next Hike

The Sahara features thumb holes to both help you stay comfortable and to keep sleeves in place. The icing on the cake is that this hoodie also uses bluesign materials, giving it the green light for earth-conscious hikers. I plan to use this hoodie into the fall as a versatile multi-season layer, and am excited to continue testing it out on a ton of adventures to come.

Shop the Women’s Sahara Shade Hoodie

Shop the Men’s Sahara Shade Hoodie

The North Face Class V Shorts

Price: $44.95

I’m always on the hunt for comfortable and practical hiking shorts, and the Class V shorts hit the mark. In fact, they have been my go-to trusty sidekick on backcountry adventures over the past few weeks.



The North Face Class V Shorts are lightweight and extremely versatile. Featuring 6 pockets (a rarity in women’s apparel), the shorts strike the perfect balance between providing utility, while still incorporating a more relaxed and athletic fit. The women’s version of these shorts also comes with a 4-inch inseam for extra coverage that increases the ease of movement on long climbs and rock scrambles.



I absolutely love the feel of these shorts. They’re lightweight and breathable, with a durable finish that repels water and keeps you comfortable through any trail conditions.  The durability feels top-notch from the handful of hikes I’ve taken the shorts on. Combined, these shorts literally feel like they can take on the world.

The shorts offer UPF 50+ sun protection, and come in a ton of bright, fun colorways. The Class V shorts also use bluesign materials which, again, is a win for eco-conscious hikers.

Shop the Women’s Class V Shorts

Shop the Men’s Class V Shorts

Outdoor Afro + REI Co-op Trail T-Shirt

Price: $39.95

This shirt has been my new backpacking go-to this summer. The Outdoor Afro + REI Co-OP Trail T-Shirt is incredibly soft and lightweight. However, my favorite part is the relaxed fit for ease of movement.



The shirt is designed with a quick-drying blend. It features an insanely soft feel and comfortable stretch ideal for long days on trail. The relaxed fit helps you stay cool in the summer heat, and the UPF 30 sun protection keeps the sun off your back on exposed stretches of trail.

I loved the comfort of this shirt, even after wearing it for multiple days in the backcountry, and the fun, bright colors are an added bonus. The t-shirt is also designed to be a little longer in the back, which I thought was a great feature to prevent it riding up while carrying a pack all day.



Designed in collaboration with Outdoor Afro, the line was created in celebration of Black joy, connections in nature, and more inclusion in the outdoors. It was also developed to fit a broader range of body types to enable hikers of all shapes and sizes feel comfortable on the trail. And you guessed it, the Trail T-Shirt is manufactured with bluesign materials.

Shop the Women’s Trail T-Shirt

Shop the Men’s Trail T-Shirt

Finish Summer Strong

As we approach the final stretch of backpacking season, now is a great time to make gear replacements to carry you into next season. After a summer full of sunny days in the backcountry, I’m excited to replace a few well-worn pieces of gear, and fill holes in my gear closet with some items I’ve been wanting to test out.

This collection of summer essentials from REI really hit the nail on the head for me. From durable trail pants, comfortable t-shirts, and the shorts in between, I’ve been loving these versatile pieces. As fall approaches, I’m excited to continue testing them on the final backpacking trips of the season.

Happy hiking!

Featured Image: Photo by Colleen Goldhorn. Graphic design by Chris Helm.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 1

    What Do You Think?