REI (Recreational Equipment Cooperative) is one of my favorite outdoor stores. I can spend hours in one of their retail stores, browsing their selection of outdoor gear.
REI is especially strong in camping gear – tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, stoves, and everything else you need to travel in safety, comfort, and convenience, whether you're roughing it in a primitive campsite, traveling with a cycling tour group, or living the life of luxury in an RV.
REI also has a very good bicycle shop, with their own line of bicycles and gear, as well as the most popular lines from other manufacturers.
In addition to the great lineup of outdoor gear at REI, they offer several absolutely killer features you can't get anywhere else:
REI is a membership club. You pay a small one-time fee to join ($20, as of this writing, for a lifetime membership), and this gets you special members-only discounts, plus the amazing REI Dividend. Simply put, each year you get back a certain percentage (currently 10%) of qualifying purchases, which you can spend for more great gear! Become an REI member now.
The REI Visa Card is another great benefit. The card pays you a rebate of 5% on each purchase from REI (over and above any dividend earned), and 1% on all other purchases (food, lodging, travel, fuel, services, etc.). There's no annual fee, and you can use the card anywhere that Visa is accepted (which is pretty much everywhere). You also get a $100 gift card the first time you use your new credit card. Free money!
REI offers a rock-solid 100% satisfaction guarantee, with no expiration. If a product you purchase from REI ever fails to meet you expectations, you can return it for a replacement or refund. That means that no matter what the manufacturer's warranty is, if a product breaks, tears, discolors, or whatever – even if it's ten years after you bought it – REI will take it back, and either give you your money back, or replace the product. For those of us who are hard on our gear, this means an awful lot. If you're a member, you don't even need to keep the receipt – REI will remember your purchase for you.
The REI Outlet Store offers huge discounts, often 50% off or more, on outdoor gear and clothing, but quantities are often limited, so you need to move fast.
Unfortunately, there are no REI stores in Kansas. The nearest retail stores are in Colorado, New Mexico, St. Louis, and Texas. But you can get all of the benefits of REI by shopping online. Plus there's no sales tax charged for Kansas residents. What a deal!
Note: We recommend that you purchase bicycles, components, accessories, and other gear from your local bike shop. If we don't support our local businesses, they can't support us. But if there is no bike shop nearby, or if they don't carry the items you need, an online purchase is entirely appropriate. And sometimes the online deals are just too good to pass up!