The Gear Junkie: Top 10 Gear of the Year

The Spot Messenger locator beacon with GPS tracking
From marathons to mountain climbs, 2008 proved to be another epic year for The Gear Junkie. But without the right apparel and equipment, these adventures would not have been possible--or at least not quite as fun. Here are 10 top products that helped make it happen--rain, hail, rock slides, ice, whitewater and all.

1. Salomon Speedcross 2

SolomonSpeedcrossAs my favorite winterized trail-running shoes from 2008, the insulated Speedcross 2 shoes (www.salomon-sports.com, $110) let me pound out miles on the worst of days. Underfoot, a unique "Winter Contagrip" tread has dozens of V-shape lugs made of a soft rubber, creating a pliable grip that gives traction by staying supple no matter the outside temp.

2. Light & Motion Seca 700 Race bike light

LightanMotionSharp, high-contrast light flows from the Seca 700 Race (www.bikelights.com), a top-end bike light that breaks a mold by bringing L.E.D. into a category previously dominated by old-school HID bulb lights. At $550, this light doesn't come cheap. But what you get is a 100-foot window of virtual daylight burning ahead to ride aggressive single-track trails in the dead of night.

3. Jetboil Helios

JetBoilHeliosDubbed a "high-performance cook system," the $150 Helios is an all-in-one kit--pot, stove and fuel pack together--perfect for campers in need of convenience and high heat output. The rocket-engine burner (www.jetboil.com) in my tests produced a dancing blue genie of a flame that boiled a cold liter of water in 2.5 minutes flat.

4. Duofold Varitherm Base Layers

WomensFirstLayerFine and non-itchy wool is my preferred material for base-layer clothing. But most companies' sheep fuzz offerings hover at $80 or more. The Varitherm line (www.duofold.com) is inexpensive, starting at $39, and it performs with a wool-based wicking fabric that's topped with a treatment called Dri-Release to further move moisture during activity in the outdoors.

5. CamelBak Better Bottle

CamelBakBottleBPA is dead. That's short for bisphenol A, a now well-known controversial compound found in polycarbonate water bottles that some studies have shown mimics the hormone estrogen. CamelBak's $8 Better Bottle (www.camelbak.com)--made of a non-BPA polycarbonate alternative called copolyester--was an industry bellwether to eliminating BPA from the outdoors-hydration category.

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