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Cool Gear For All

Each year, Outside magazine compiles a list of the toughest, coolest, top-performing outdoor gear. The best of the best receive a coveted "Gear of the Year" award.

Outside magazine's senior editor, James Glave, stopped by The Saturday Early Show this weekend to show off some winners.

The "Gear of the Year" award-winners are featured in Outside's annual Buyer's Guide, a handbook of the newest, coolest, best gear available. Some of the items are for true adventure-enthusiasts. But, the casual athlete or traveler can also enjoy all the gear featured by the magazine.

Glave says the average person may not want to buy a really expensive item featured by Outside magazine, so he also showed some alternatives that won't break the bank.

Sunglasses, Julbo Advance, $99
These stylish-looking glasses sport photo chromatic lenses, which means they lighten and darken automatically. Glave says this comes in handy when you are mountain biking, for example, and constantly passing through sun and shade. The shades also do a wonderful job of protecting eyes from the glare of snow and ice when skiing or driving. Bendable rubberized earpieces allow you to lock the sunglasses onto your head. They are all one piece, so nothing will pop off or break.

Watch, Nike Triax Elite HRM/SDM, $369
This watch is actually a sophisticated training tool for real fitness buffs. A pod that clips onto your shoes tracks your distance and speed, and then transmits the information to the watch wirelessly. A chest strap sends your heart rate to the watch. When you get home, all of this data can be instantly beamed into your computer where it is saved and charted.

There are lower-end versions of this device that don't come with all of the pieces. The devices, however, perform some similar functions for around $100. No matter what version of the watch you choose, you can bet that you won't be straining to read your watch - Nike has the biggest digits in the business, according to Glave.

Camera, Pentax Optio S4, $350
Killer Value, not Gear of the Year winner
This digital camera is so tiny it can fit inside a small Altoids container. Glave says he loves the fact that it's so discreet. When you're traveling, he pointed out, you don't always want to advertise the fact that you have a nice camera in your bag. This camera may be small, but it turns out photos with stunning image quality. You can easily blow up your shots without having them get grainy. Also, the camera can shoot 30- to 60-second movie clips. And, it's easy to use.

Bikes, Santa Cruz Blur, $2,380
Schwinn Fastback $749 Killer Value, not Gear of the Year winner
The Santa Cruz is "almost revolutionary," says Glave, thanks to a unique suspension system. It soaks up any bumps you might encounter. The bright orange bike is definitely built for tough riding.

Schwinn Fastback $749
Killer Value, not Gear of the Year winner
This is a road bike. Road biking is booming, Glave says, fueled in part by the Lance Armstrong mania. Of course, the sport's popularity goes beyond Armstrong. Glave says bicycling is great exercise that you can do anywhere; you don't need rivers or mountains. Although the Schwinn may look a little like the 10-speed you had 20 years ago, Glave explains it certainly doesn't ride like your old bike. The design, suspension and materials on the bike -- including carbon-fiber -- are rarely found for under $1,000.

The Schwinn is an outstanding deal, Glave says.

Jacket, REI Momentum Pullover, $119
The urban style of this pullover is actually hiding a very technical piece. It's built for cycling and other activities that involve a lot of reaching and movement. The jacket materials are breathable and they wick away moisture, which keeps you warmer. But, it's not a good choice for a rainy day because it isn't waterproof.

Luggage, Red Oxx PR5 Safari-Beano's Bag, $175
This carry-on bag is made by a small start-up company in Billings, Montana. The father-son team are former military parachute riggers who, as Outside magazine states, "are as intolerant of weakness in their duffles as they were with their chutes." In other words, nothing is going to destroy this bag. It's made of the highest-grade nylon and has no plastic parts -- all zippers and clips are stainless steel. Oversized webbed handles wrap completely around the duffel and are then double box-stitched to the bag.

Backpack, Dana Design Raid Z, $200
This is a total rethink of what a pack should be, says Glave. The shoulder straps, back frame and waist belt serve as a harness for a "dry bag." This looks a little bit like a sleeping bag's stuff sack and it seals up completely to keep your gear totally dry, no matter what kind of conditions you find on the trail. The pack comes with a dry back that's big enough to accompany you on a weekend adventure; you can buy a bigger bag for longer trips if you wish.

Hiking Boots, Lowa Vertex GTX, $225
The ankle support in these boots makes them a standout. If you are carrying a backpack or hiking steep hills, you need a boot to cover your ankle. This boot satisfies that need with a plastic cuff on the outside of the boot that keeps your ankles in place. They do have hinges so the cuff moves with you. The boots are waterproof and lightweight.

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