REI Wallace Lake Collection review — outdoor apparel for everyday wear

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  • After 80 years, REI has started making its own line of lifestyle clothing.
  • The new collection, Wallace Lake, is named after the co-op founders’ first hike there, which eventually led them to create REI. 
  • The line covers basically every major outdoor essential you could want: puffers, flannels, chunky knit sweaters, and lots more. I tested a couple staples, and they each exceeded expectations.
  • Shop the entire line here, and check out REI’s $20-lifetime membership if you’re interested (we think it’s a good value). 

After 80 years of expertise in the field of apparel for adventurers, REI has released a new line of virtually every outdoor staple you’ve ever had on your to-buy list.

The collection, dubbed “Wallace Lake” in homage to the co-op founders’ hike there that lent inspiration for REI itself, is the company’s first-ever comprehensive sportswear collection. 

However, the line itself feels familiar and nostalgic. The company has pulled details and prints from REI’s archives and reintroduced select replicas of some of REI’s first pieces — like the 1972 High Country Parka and a redesigned rucksack based off the original issued in 1958. 

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Lake Wallace is full of modernized cold weather staples done in the old-fashioned way. The products were designed as “all-terrain apparel” — meaning they’re meant to be worn wherever you decide to wear them: on a trail or at a bar. As REI says in their blog about the collection, it may have taken them about 80 years to make it, but it might last the next 80 anyway.

In many ways, Wallace Lake feels like a renewed thesis statement for REI — a declaration of the importance of quality gear. 

The company has had a relatively wholesome reputation for decades thanks to its no-frills commitment to the outdoors, integrity, and to community impact. Over the years, the company’s unbelievable no-questions-asked return policy (now curtailed), employee benefits, and $20-lifetime membership were points of proof for people who identified with the label almost as readily as they identified as “outdoorsy.”And it makes sense why they might feel connected, thanks to communal perks like REI adventures and an unusual amount of democratic power over the vision of the company itself (lifetime members can actually vote on the company’s board of directors).

liveThe Wallace Lake Collection is basically REI’s take on all the classic products associated with the outdoors: puffers, flannels, leggings, and oversized knit sweaters.REI

REI sent me three products to test in person, and my experience was uniformly positive — each piece impressed me. Costs were reasonable, but quality was much higher than I expected at the given prices — the pieces are sturdy, thoughtfully and intuitively designed, and are everything you want them to be without the frills. The chunky oversized sweater and thick flannels feel like something I would have gotten from my grandfather’s cedar closet in the Midwestern cabin we still don’t have running water in (I think as a point of pride). In other words, they’re built to be used, and they’re built to last.

Below are the Wallace Lake pieces I personally tried, as well as a few other selections from the collection. To find everything, click here

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