Best Camping Equipment (2002)
Don't get us wrong. We love quite a number of Dallas' outdoor boutiques, the ones selling full lines of Patagonia fashions and some of the coolest shoes known to man. But when it comes time to spring for a serviceable sleeping bag or a backpack, REI's prices and selection are the ones to beat. A few years back we bought some first-rate North Face bags, and nobody could top this warehouse-sized, outdoor category killer. And that didn't include the 10 percent year-end refund, which goes along with the co-op-style way REI does business. Some of the fine, high-end outfitting stores in the area are more likely to meet the demands of back-country winter hikers or rated mountaineers. But for all-around outfitting and camping stuff for the whole family, REI gets the nod.