Being an outdoor enthusiast isn’t cheap. Mountaineering, backpacking, camping, and even short hikes all require their own special gear that can easily rack up big bucks. Luckily for REI members, those purchases pay off come springtime.
In case you aren’t a member or need a refresher, you can purchase a lifetime REI Co-Op membership for a mere $20. This membership includes all kinds of fun benefits with the major one being those coveted annual dividends.
To enjoy this splendid benefit, all you have to do is shop REI all year until your heart’s content, then come March REI will dish back 10 percent of your annual spending on full-priced items. Don’t you just love community?
How the REI Dividend Began
It all started when Seattle-based Lloyd and Mary Anderson sought to purchase a quality ice axe at a reasonable price. Unhappy with their local options, their quest led them to start a Co-Op with 21 other members, each paying a $1 lifetime fee with the bonus of dividends.
“Intent of the founders of this organization was to secure sufficient membership to make group buying possible; to distribute the goods with as little overheads expense as possible, using membership cooperation with the work as much as possible; to gradually build up a reserve for purchasing stock; to have the membership fee ($1.00) so that everyone interested will be financially able to join,” Lloyd Anderson penned on November 30, 1938.
Others quickly jumped on board the gear train, and well, you know the rest.
When do REI Dividends Come Out?
REI dividends are sent out in March, and the credit is good for 21 months. For instance, a dividend issued in March 2019 does not expire until January 2021.
Finding your dividend is simple. As soon as you receive your notice from REI, you can login here. All you need to do is enter your name and account number and it’s payday.
How to Redeem Your REI Dividend
Using your REI annual dividend is pretty straight forward. As soon as you receive notice of your balance, you can start spending. It’s good at any REI retail location as well as online and by phone. You also have the option of receiving your dividend in cash money or by check.
If you’re the altruistic type and would rather help foster a thriving community of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts, you can donate your dividends to the REI Foundation. Either way it’s a win.
Window Shopping: What to Buy
Here comes the fun part: what to purchase with your dividends.
A good starting place? The REI Clearance Sale.
You’ve probably had your eye on a special piece of gear or two and now’s the time to pull the plug. However, if you just can’t seem to decide, here are a few items we’ve been eyeballing to help you make up your mind.
In true springtime fashion, we recommend hanging out in the trees lakeside with the Eno National Park Foundation DoubleNest Hammock. This lightweight, compactable two-person hammock stuffs down to the size of a grapefruit in its own compression sack. Clip it onto your pack and hit the trail.
It can hold up to 400-pounds so you can curl up with your sweetie or your furry friend once you reach a pristine alpine lake. And since it is the National Park edition 10-percent of proceeds go towards preserving the parks.
For the big spender, finally take the plunge and get yourself a YETI. While they have a line of drool-worthy options we’re sure you’re familiar with, we love the YETI Tundra 45.
This heavy-duty hard shell cooler is a road-tripper’s dream. It can hold up to 32.9-liters and has 3-inches of insulation so you can keep your food or those 28 beer cans chilled for days. Use the tie-down slots to secure it to your boat or lock it down in the truck bed. Camping, traveling, or fishing by the stream, you’ll be stoked to have this guy by your side.
If your bonus check wasn’t quite as much as you’d hoped for, no worries. There’s still some thrifty purchases well worth your buck like the MPOWERD Luci 2.0 Solar Inflatable Lantern.
We’ve got multiple of these hanging around and absolutely love them. Their super lightweight, waterproof, and can provide up to 24 hours of light when fully charged. Plus, they’re so compact and versatile you can always have one on hand.
Small or big, come March you’ll be happy to add a shiny new piece of gear to your ever-growing collection. For more deals, check out REI Outlet, or discover some of our favorite hiking backpacks under $100.