Outdoor 'Gear Of The Year'

In this Sept. 4, 2009 photo, Jeff Buzhaker looks at HP and Compaq laptop computers at a P.C. Richard & Son appliance store in New York. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Each year, lovers of the great outdoors eagerly await Outside magazine's recommendations for the newest, coolest gear on the market.

After testing hundreds of items, the magazine awards 16 products a coveted "Gear of the Year" award.

Outside magazine's senior editor, James Glave, visited The Saturday Early Show to give our viewers a special sneak peek at some of the winners. On Monday, April 28, the magazine will publish all 16 of the best products they reviewed.

Glave also offered a couple of "Killer Value" gear recommendations from Outside magazine's list - providing cheaper alternatives for people who love the product but not the price tag.

Outside magazine's experts spent countless hours testing over 1,500 pieces of outdoor gear in search of winners for the highly coveted "Gear of the Year" awards. The magazine chose products for their design, functionality and performance.

Glave says some of the products will appeal mainly to true outdoor adventurers, but other products will interest anyone who leads an active lifestyle.

Here is what Glave had to say about the gear he displayed on the show:

Digital Camera: Olympus Stylus Digital 300, $400
This is the first waterproof digital camera. Until now, water and humidity have been the bane of these high-tech cameras. This one can weather the spray of a water-park ride or even brief immersion in water. But, Glave says, you cannot use the memory cards you have for your current digital camera. Consumers will need to buy a new one, which costs about $100 and will store 50 images.

Binoculars: Brunton Epoch 10.5x43, $1,500
Glave says the Brunton Epoch is "the Lexus of binoculars," and while the price might make you choke, you definitely get what you pay for. Big lenses let in lots of light for a sharp image. (You can clearly read a license plate from a mile away.) Lightweight and waterproof, the binoculars also come with a spotting scope that allows you to double the magnification. The scope screws onto one of the eyepieces and you use the Brunton Epoch almost like a telescope by setting them on a tripod.

Jacket: Patagonia Core Skin, $250
This soft-shell jacket (as opposed to a parka) is an "all-in-one, lightweight, breathable, packable piece for cool weather," Glave says. It's perfect for anyone who is athletic (hiking, running or even walking the dog) because unlike other jackets that seal you off from the weather, this one allows your skin to breathe and thus dry out, cool down and warm up, according to the manufacturer. Lined with high-performance fleece, the jacket will keep you warm in cool weather and does repel some water. It also weighs less than two cans of soda.

Bike: Specialized S-Works FSR, $4,880
Glave says the Specialized S-Works FSR is a dream ride for mountain bikers. Hard-core bikers hit a lot of bumps in the road, but this cycle has a gadget called "the brain," that adjusts shocks to suit whatever terrain you may be experiencing. The bike is fitted with top-of-the-line shifters, brakes and other parts.

Luggage: Victorinox E-Motion 360º 26-inch Pack Plus, $345
The bag that looks like a backpack on wheels is just what you would expect from Swiss Army, says Glave. It is versatile, organized and red. The suitcase can also convert to a pack with zip-out shoulder harnesses and a hip belt. You can attach three different-sized daypacks to the front.

Backpack: Osprey Aether 75, $240
This pack is highly adjustable and supportive, says Glave. It has mesh to help keep you cool, and the "lid" of the pack zips off to become a waist pack.

Tent: REI Roadster, $130
This roomy one-person tent is easy to set up, says Glave. And the "vestibule" is large enough to protect your pack and boots from the elements. It's also pretty light and folds down to the size of a loaf of bread.

Here is some of the less expensive gear Glave brought with him:

Binoculars: Pentax UCF X 8x25, $100
Want some good binoculars but don't want to break the bank? Glave says that these pocket binoculars are the best deal near this price point. When you pay less, you sacrifice clarity and how far you can see. However, he says, these offer great color and clarity at a range of about five feet.

Bike: Schwinn Moab DS2, $750
The Schwinn bike is a great value for its price, says Glave. It has a dual-suspension cycle with shocks on the front and back tires - allowing for plenty of up-and-down movement. The brakes let you stop on a dime.
  • Rome Neal

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