12 Reasons to Become an REI Member

Being an REI Member comes with perks like REI coupons and discounts on gear rental. Learn all the benefits you get when you join the program.

I became an REI member 17 years ago right when I finished college and decided I wanted to get more into camping. I remember being in the Seattle store buying my first Gregory pack while the guy in the green vest helped me stuff the pack full of sandbags, and then I walked around the store for a bit before I decided to take the plunge.

Two weeks later, I returned home from my first backpacking trip, and as it turns out, I didn’t like the pack all that much. Luckily I bought it at REI and they have the best no-questions-asked return policy, so I was able to exchange it for something I found to be more comfortable.

Since joining, my Lifetime REI Membership has saved me well over $3000. The annual dividend, their no-questions-asked return policy, member-only sales and coupons, free shipping, used gear trade-in program, and their outdoor skill workshops are just a few of the reasons I shop there and chose to become an REI Member. I even decided to get a part-time gig at REI in 2014 when I was first starting Bearfoot Theory, and I couldn’t believe they gave me three weeks off to go hike the John Muir Trail – proof that the company practices what it preaches.

REI is a 100% member-owned co-op (meaning you get a share of REI’s annual profit) and in this post, I share all of the perks you get as a lifetime REI Member and the benefits that keep me coming back after all of these years.

Looking to become an REI Member? Read on to learn all about the REI Member benefits below!

Sponsored by
REI Co-op

REI has been one of Bearfoot Theory’s biggest supporters over the years, and we are so proud to work with a brand that is consistently putting their Co-op members first with amazing REI Member benefits. You can become a member here if you’re not one already, and with their expanded benefits, now is a great time to join.


How the REI Membership Works

A lifetime REI Membership costs $30. It’s a one-time fee and once you’re in, you’re in forever. You can purchase a membership online or at any REI store. This lifetime membership fee quickly pays for itself, so even if you’re only an occasional REI shopper, becoming a Member will save you money, and the benefits easily outweigh the one-time fee. Their Membership is one of the best value deals for outdoor gear and comes with access to all kinds of benefits that we detail below.

REI is an industry leader for carrying top quality, name brand outdoor gear from eco-friendly outdoor brands and they also have a huge product selection. Their customer service is unparalleled, their return policy is amazing, and they treat their employees well. REI is exactly the kind of company I love to support – one that supports getting all people outside and teaching them how to do it responsibly.

REI is built on membership, and in 2022 they did the biggest revamp of their Membership program yet. With 5 new perks for Members (on top of the existing perks), we can’t stress enough how great becoming a Member is!


REI Member Benefits

#1 – Get 10% Back on Your Purchases With Your Annual Dividend

Every year in March, REI Members get 10% back on everything they’ve purchased over the past year, excluding sale items and REI travel, classes, and adventures. This dividend can be redeemed at an REI store, REI.com, REI Outlet, for an REI adventure travel trip, or via the REI app.

With the 10% dividend, it’s like getting a sale price on every purchase you make from REI!

REI screenshot: Success! Your REI membership number is (blank). Your dividend balance is $136.73

My REI Member dividend was $137 last year. Every year I look forward to this, especially as we head into summer, and there’s usually some new piece of gear I’ve been eyeing. This year, I’m in the market for a new car camping sleeping pad and will likely use my dividend towards this super comfy Hest sleeping pad system.

#2 – REI Member-Only Coupons

Throughout the year, REI has a number of sales, and during those sales they offer additional discounts to Members. Typically during these sales, Members get 20% off one full priced item and an extra 20% off an already discounted item, although this can change based on the sale. The best part? These special coupons are given to Members all throughout the year, not just once.

If you’ve been saving for a big ticket item, like REI’s Half Dome 2 Tent, 20% off saves you $66. That’s gas money for your next weekend road trip!

REI Member Coupon

#3 – REI’s Return Policy

I already mentioned REI’s awesome return policy, but basically, you have 1 year from the date of purchase to return something if it’s not working out. This doesn’t mean use and abuse your gear and return it 364 days later, but it does mean that if you take those new hiking boots on the trail and if they are killing your feet, then you can return them for a full refund. Or that tent that ended up being just a little bit too small for you, your partner, and your dog on your first overnight outing? You can return that too and get something that works for you.

This return policy applies to all REI shoppers, both Members and non-Members, but the benefit of being a Member is you don’t have to have a receipt. You can show up with the item and they can look up your purchase history with your phone number – easy peasy and you don’t have to worry about hanging on to your receipts.

a woman wearing a jacket and daypack looks out toward a mountain with lots of trees in the distance

#4 – REI Members Get Free Standard Shipping

New for 2022, REI Members now get free standard shipping on all REI.com purchases, no minimum purchase required! This is a huge perk and makes shopping online quick and easy. Just think about how much money you’ll save on shipping costs – this alone makes the $30 lifetime membership so worth it.

#5 – Member-Only Garage Sales

So what does REI do with all that gently used stuff that gets returned? They sell it at their Members Only Garage Sales and now on their used gear site where you can score ridiculously good deals. In the past, REI Garage Sales happened on certain weekends throughout the year but due to their popularity, some REI stores now hold them every weekend. Call your local store to learn about when they typically host their Garage Sales. It’s best to get there early as these sales are very popular, but those who make the effort often end up with awesome new gear, including big ticket items at a huge discount.

Buying used outdoor gear is also great for our planet considering the impact new gear and apparel have – we love supporting brands that are advocates for secondhand gear!

a man stuffing a sleeping bag into a compression sack next to his tent on a backpacking trip

#6 – Save on REI Classes & Trips

Did you know REI offers a ton of different classes? From backcountry navigation to bike maintenance, camp cooking, and full-blown Wilderness First Aid courses, REI classes are a great way to improve your outdoor skill set. Some classes are even free, like the John Muir Trail course I taught a couple of years back at the Henderson store. For the fee-based classes, REI Members save $20-30 off the list price. Boom. REI Membership paid for.

REI also leads amazing trips all over the USA – from their Yellowstone and Grand Teton Hiking and Camping trip to their guided backpacking trip along California’s Lost Coast. Members get a hefty discount on these trips too and you also get to meet other amazing Co-op members.

a group of hikers smiling on top of a mountain in Washington
The amazing people I met on REI Adventures Olympic National Park trip in 2018

#7 – Outfitting Appointments & Gear Tune Ups

The folks at REI know how important it is to have gear that fits well and really works. So, as a lifetime member of the Co-op, you get access to virtual individual outfitting appointments with an REI expert to tune things up and make sure your gear is just how you like it. Whether you need your backpack adjusted or need to get outfitted for an Everest Basecamp Trek, the folks at REI will get you dialed. This is the perfect way to have one-on-one assistance to ensure you have the right gear for the right activity – REI can help you with anything from backpacking, kayaking, biking, roof racks for your vehicle, cross country skiing, and more! These appointments are 100% free and there is zero expectation to buy anything at the end (really).

Beyond helping you purchase the right gear, REI also helps you tune up your gear in store. Did you know most REI stores have full-on bike and ski shops in-house? Even better: Starting in 2022, members get 20% off these services, plus free cycle flat tire repair and machine wax.

4 people with backpacking packs and trekking poles hiking through a grassland next to a lake

#8 – Discounts on Gear Rental

Want to try a new outdoor activity but don’t want to commit to buying all the right gear? Traveling out of state for an adventure and don’t want to fly with all your gear? You can rent gear from REI for all sorts of activities like backpacking, canoeing, climbing, cycling, and snowshoeing. Don’t have bike rack or a roof rack? REI rents those too. Although anyone can rent gear from REI, REI Members save up to 33% off all gear rentals.

3 men and 1 woman smiling for a selfie along a river

#9 – Your Membership Gives Back to the Outdoors

In 2020 alone, REI gave $6.3 million to support over 461 non-profit organizations. That means your membership and purchases are worth more than just the gear you buy. Through your membership and purchases, you’re helping REI provide funding for parks, public lands, sustainable transportation, and efforts to “rewild” our cities with green spaces. So maybe a simple $30 membership isn’t so simple when you think about it; it’s a contribution towards a healthier, wilder, and better future for everyone.

In total, since 1976 REI has donated more than $77 million to its non-profit partners for outdoor stewardship projects. That’s 70% of its profits going right back into the outdoor community, and as REI grows, their contributions do too. By being an REI Member, you are giving back and having a direct positive impact on the trails and parks in your community. As a Member, you also get to vote in their annual Board elections, having a direct impact on the decisions made by the coop. You can see a full list of partners and REI’s full giving report here. Take a look, and there’s a good chance you might recognize an organization or two in your town.

REI Giving Report with text: 2.75 billion in co-op sales during 2020, 20 million members, plus nearly 15,000 employees. 6.3 million invested in 400+ nonprofit partners, 112.4 million distributed in member rewards
From REI’s website

What’s even better? Starting in 2022, REI will donate $5 to the REI Cooperative Action Fund for every new Member, which helps offer grants to nonprofits that promote justice, equity, and belonging in the outdoors.

#10 – You Can Trade-In Your Used Gear

REI Co-op Members can trade in gently used outdoor gear in exchange for REI gift cards through their new Re/Supply program – what an amazing perk! REI accepts gently used gear that REI has sold in the past 6 years including most men’s, women’s, and kids’ clothing and shoes, as well as gear like sleeping bags, backpacks and tents – you could receive up to 50% of the retail value. The best part? You can trade-in gear that you didn’t even buy from REI (as long as REI also carries that product, of course). This is not only a great way to offload your used gear, but also reduce the amount of used clothing that prematurely ends up in landfills – a win for our planet!

Screenshot from REI with text: Step 1: Look through your closet, then find your items online. Step 2: We send you a shipping label, you send us your gear. Step 3: You get an REI gift card, and your gear gets back on the trail.

#11 – You Get Early Access to New Gear + Exclusive Gear

New starting in 2022, Co-op members will receive early access, limited editions, special offers, one-of-a-kind collaborations, and more awesome deals on gear. For example, right now Members can get early access to the new Garmin Inreach Mini 2, which is the lightest, most efficient, longest battery-life emergency location beacon on the market!

Screenshot image from the REI website with text "Member Collection Early Access: For a limited time, only REI Co-op members may shop these items. This is just one of the many new memberships you get with a lifetime membership of $30. Plus, free standard shipping! (May vary by location. While supplies last. Exclusions may apply.)

You can check out all the latest REI Collection deals here.

#12 – You Will Be Part of an Inclusive Outdoor Community

This REI membership benefit doesn’t have a price tag on it. REI advocates for people just as much as they do the outdoor spaces that we all enjoy. Plus, they have a strong focus on enhancing and uplifting their fellow outdoor enthusiasts by staying committed to keeping the outdoors a diverse and level playing field that welcomes everyone just as they are. And they put their money where their mouth is. For example, REI donated $100,000 each to the National Urban League and to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, historic civil rights and advocacy organizations that work to fight injustice and inequality.

As we know, people of color have different experiences in the outdoors and it is our job to be allies to all who wish to enjoy the outdoors. REI also offers an online forum to connect Members and foster communication between members to share travel tips, gear recommendations, and more.

A group of hikers jumping in the air wearing yellow, blue, and red jackets with a low hanging cloud in the background

Are you an REI member? If so, let us know in the comments what your favorite member benefit is! If you have any questions about REI’s membership program let us know below!

Written by Kristen Bor

Hey there! My name is Kristen, and this is my outdoor blog. I discovered the power of the outdoors in my 20s, at the time I needed it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that critical connection with nature continues to improve my life. My goal at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the tools and advice you need to responsibly get outside.

9 comments on “12 Reasons to Become an REI Member

  1. Yes, last few years I just bought few hiking shoes and some apparels.. Last week I was contemplating to buy a $160 hiking pole, turned out I got %55 dividend in my account and all of sudden the hiking pole appeared to be cheaper than the cheapest one in the store :), I also signed up for few classes in preparation for the upcoming Alaska hike..

  2. Hey there this is somewhat of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually
    code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience.

    Any help would be enormously appreciated!

    1. The REI.com homepage has a store finder in the top right corner. You can search by city or zip code

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