Most people know that REI is one of the niftiest ultrathermal sleeping bag clearinghouses, but not as many of us stop to consider its fashion fringe benefits. Forget those purveyors of a faux sports and camping aesthetic such as Eddie Bauer: The real thing wins every time. Not only does the store offer that new ultralight headlamp you just have to have, it also sells a complete line of sports shirts and pants that range from simple cotton shirts to down jackets, fleece, and the fanciest rainwear you can find. Don't underestimate the fashion power of microfiber. Sure, those omnipresent pants that unzip and convert into shorts look a little goofy, but REI's line of softgel clothes, a tightly wound fleece fabric that beats back the rain yet feels as light as a feather, also are mighty practical. Along the way you might even rethink your notions of looking sharp. After all, the folks at REI know that nothing is more fetching than a guy trudging up a steeply graded peak, his face flush with fatigue, and his boots crusted with mud.
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