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It is that time of year, again... REI Dividend season.

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
3 min read

So, friends, it’s that time of year. Chris and I do just about all of our spending on our REI card, which means that we get a teeny bit of REI dividend for buying gas, Christmas shopping (in theory — we haven’t so much Christmas shopped for a few years), plane tickets (ditto — seriously, we basically use the card for gas, and sometimes groceries). That teeny bit, added up over the course of the year, means a shopping trip during the spring. We’re working on our wish list, which will probably include a new climbing rope and two bivies… and which will also far exceed both the dividend and the budget. Sigh. The rope is the first priority… I’ve had my heart set on a Sterling thin single rope since climbing on our friends during trips the last few months, but after comparing fall ratings and shopping around, I’m still in the market. I’m hoping for a 10-ish, 60 meter, dry, bicolor rope with a high fall rating. Edelweiss has some possibilities, too… but this particular project is going to take some more research.

Anyway, my shopping list is shorter this year thanks to a sizable box that arrived in the mail yesterday from my friends at Urban Climber Magazine (hi, Joe and Justin!). One of the perks of my new freelance side-gig is an occasional box o’gear. It’s funny… pawing through this generous treasure trove of climbing gear goodness… in the beginning, the climbing gear wish list is just so terribly long. First there’s the starter kit — shoes, harness, chalk bag. Then, depending on whether you prefer small rocks or big rocks, the bouldering pad, and/or the rope, draws and belay device. When you reach rope and draws level, a pack becomes a necessity. A sleeping bag, a bivy, and then once you’re leading, you may gravitate toward some traditional gear so that you always have something to plug in somewhere when you get sketched out. That leads to a full rack — or at least, a half a rack to share with your climbing life partner’s other half rack — and then a funny thing happens.

An entire room in your house is devoted to climbing gear, and suddenly, there’s no more shopping to do.

Sure, stuff wears out and needs to be retired. There’s an occasional less common piece of gear that makes it onto the wish list — a fifi hook, Alex? But really, when it comes to deciding how to spend the REI dividend now, it’s more about replacing the basic gear that we’ve loved to the end of its life.

Shiny new climbing goodies stick out like a sore thumb among climbing friends — I’ve already endured teasing about my spiffy new Patagonia kicks — and the new harness might make its debut in the gym tomorrow. Stay tuned for reviews.

So, while we’re poking fun at me and my gear, I might as well confess my latest wishlist item. I was reading the latest issue of Climbing magazine tonight (so dark! More on that in another post, though) and reached the ads on page 84 and stopped in my reading tracks. There it is. Nirvana in yellow. A replacement for the twenty-year-old down sleeping bag I currently line my synthetic bag with to keep warm in temperatures below 35 degrees or so.

It’s a Selk’bag sleep <-> wear system. Now, anybody who’s been camping with me knows… I’m cold. Pretty much, all the time. I sleep in two bags during most trips, and around the campfire, I’m generally in a down puffy, several layers of fleece pants, hat, gloves, AND my sleeping bag. I tried a fleece version — affectionately nicknamed the Big Blue Wooby — but it’s decidedly NOT outerwear and has never left the tent. This wacky puffy getup seems like just the ticket. Snuggle in (plus gloves) around the campfire, then shimmy into my sleeping bag for nighty night. Sweet. And toasty.

So, there you have it. Some girls daydream about diamonds… others about designer clothes. For me, it’s a rope, perhaps some rock shoes, and a puffy “sleep wear system.” Oh sure. Make fun of me now. I’m tough, I can take it. But then let’s see who’s not shivering around the next campfire at Joshua Tree or Red Rock in December….


Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.