BEST OUTDOOR ADVENTURE SUPPLIES - REI - Why do these guys seemingly always win the sporting goods/outdoors category? Because at REI, you can get unusual stuff: For hikers, Petzl Tikka LED headlamps. For campers, Counter Assault Bear Spray, with Holster. For the "way honed" rock climber, training boards to build climbing walls at home. For cyclists, 23 different kinds of back-mounted hydration packs. For the canoeing/kayaking crowd, flexible yet waterproof cases for taking your cell phone and GPS along through the rapids. Tote bags for your snowshoes. Forty-three kinds of cross-training and trail-running shoes. Pedestal vises for fly-tiers. A Nonin SportStat Pulse Oximeter (for measuring blood oxygen saturation, helping mountaineers to ward off hypoxia and AMS, Acute Mountain Sickness). Priced to go at $500, a Garmin GPS device (accurate within three meters, it beeps to tell you when to turn in any metro area). Yakima LandShark Saddles, for strapping your canoe to your car rack. Eight different kinds of Teva sandals for kids. Oh, and they have parkas, too. In periwinkle, indigo and paprika. They come in a few other colors, too.
2nd: Mountain Gear
3rd: Gart Sports
Michael Bowen is a senior writer for The Inlander and a respected local theater critic. He also covers literature, jazz and classical music, and art, among other things. Since 2005, he has authored Stage Thrust, a local theater blog.