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New winter gear

Best Gear of Outdoor Retailer 2013

Every six months all the major players in outdoor sports get together to show off their latest and greatest wares for the season. It’s like Comic Con, except cool: Outdoor Retailer has been the launch platform for just about every groundbreaking piece of skiing, climbing, backpacking and paddling gear that’s come to market. We were on the ground at this year’s winter show, and here are the fruits of our efforts: the best gear of Outdoor Retailer 2013.

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No cubes in this icebox

Black Diamond Ice Box

Guys like to climb stuff — trees, corporate ladders and, of course, icy mountains. The scarier, the better. The Black Diamond Ice Box ($80) is a great solution for storing lots of pointy gear that needs to be handy at a moment’s notice. The box holds four tools, a pair of crampons (stop giggling, dammit)…

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Sick paddlin, brah

Three Brothers Paddle Boards

Northeast dwellers currently whimpering through this nasty cold snap may take solace in dreams of Three Brothers Paddle Boards ($1,200+). How can anyone not feel warm and fuzzy while imagining a calming upright cruise through warm coastal waters? Based out of Daytona Beach, Florida, Three Brothers hand shapes some of the best paddle boards —…

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FISH ON!

ForTiTude Titanium Spinning Reel

ForTiTude Fishing’s titanium spinning reel ($490) is stronger than the traditional aluminum and won’t rust or pit. This is especially vital in saltwater, where the elements attack gear like a piranha on a naive tourist’s leg. The solid titanium construction is also 30% lighter than aluminum. That means slinging your Rapala at the weed line all day won’t make you quite as stiff.

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Serious Camp Solutions

Bush Smarts

Holding on to heritage for dear life while still being picky about efficiency, quality and practicality is taking the tough path — but produces the kind of results we dig. Bush Smarts, a New York-based builder, designer and sourcer of prime camp gear, has created a library of outdoor gear that eschews flash and gimmick…

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I ain't afraid of no snow

Kit: Best Winter Mountain Biking Gear

Winter is the time of year when we reflect on those epic single track rides that cleanse the soul and remind us why we ride in the first place. But it’s also a season to remember that while you’re sitting on the couch with your rig hanging on a stand your fitness is disappearing faster than the sun. Let’s not let that happen. There’s no need to hang up the bike when it gets cold.

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Now we're really piste off

Kit: Backcountry Skiing Essentials

With record storms dumping fresh powder in the Rockies and Pacific Northwest, we couldn’t think of a better way to ring in the New Year than celebrating with a trip to the nearest ski hill. What fun would a resort trip be without ducking under the safety ropes to sneak a few turns in the untouched backcountry? With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of gear that will be equally useful bombing through 20 inches of fresh powder and charging lines of freshly groomed corduroy snow inbounds.

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Just in case

Putting SYSTM Smartphone Cases to the Test

A tsunami of protective cases soon follows every major smartphone release. Some are functional, some are stylish — but few are both, and most are forgettable. So when we were offered a trio of new cases from SYSTM to try out on an iPhone 5, we were understandably skeptical. A month of testing has proven…

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Split the work

Homelite 5-Ton Electric Log Splitter

You’ve got your cabin. Built it with your own contracting work, on land you inherited from a rich second uncle. All that effort! And now you’re expected to split your own wood for the long cold winter? Screw that. Ask grandma for the cash to buy a Homelite 5-Ton Electric Log splitter ($299) and relax with a Scotch on your wraparound front porch during all the free time you’ve earned.

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Adventure-proof

Olympus TG-2

When you need a camera to schlep to the top of the Rocky Mountains, very few can get the job done like the Olympus TOUGH series. The line’s new 12MP Olympus TG-2 ($380) is no exception, thanks to the plethora of features loaded into this little shooter. For starters, you can take the TG-2 along…

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The real gear you'll need to survive when it all falls down

Apocalypse Essentials: The Almost Serious Survival Guide

The world isn’t going to end in 2012. But things could still get hairy sometime in the future. So, what would you need to carry on after the grid permanently dissolves? What are the necessities, and how could you improve your chances of accessing them over the long haul? As a team of curious souls, we decided to dive into the brain trust of the unsociably paranoid and prepared — the sharers of secrets across dedicated survival blogs and forums — in search of answers.

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The connected outdoorsman's best friend

Wenger Portable Solar Chargers

A guy used to make it out of the wilderness alive with nothing but his wits and a sharp knife. These days, a stranded Average Joe sans cell phone might not make it to his next birthday, let alone his next Twitter feed update. Wenger has always made tools for the traditionalist survivorman; the master…

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Get down(hill)

POC Receptor BUG Communication Helmet with Beats by Dre.

Music and snow sports go together like Rick Ross and cheese covered honeybuns, but squeezing your favorite cans inside a helmet is rarely a formula for comfort. The POC Receptor BUG Communication Helmet (~$330) skirts this dilemma by integrating Beats by Dr. Dre headphones into the helmet neck roll, which combines bass-heavy tunes with a…

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Wear your heart on your wrist

Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor

Beyond catering to the fitness obsessed, this wonder watch would have been useful during that little apoplexia-inducing turkey feast we like to call Thanksgiving. Known as the Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor, this wristwatch on steroids “senses” the amount of blood under your skin and replies with a digital readout of your heart rate. Through…

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It's not Jarvis...yet

Design Spotlight: Oakley Airwave Goggles

Oakley’s Airwave goggles are a new breed of advanced snow sport eyewear equipped with a heads up display that simulates viewing a 14-inch screen from five feet away when a user looks in the lower right corner of their peripheral vision. That description sounds confusing, but the important thing to remember is that the technology…

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You Are My Sunshine

Design Spotlight: AE Light SolarMine Emergency Lantern

The Boy Scouts of America’s motto is simply “Be prepared”. They’re spot on: failing to do so can lead to some seriously bad outcomes when true disaster strikes. The AE Light SolarMine Emergency Lantern ($115) is made to give you light in exactly that unfortunate occasion, and having proved itself during Japan’s horrific 2011 earthquake…

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Draw the Lines

XFire Bike Lane Safety Light

Biking in the city can be a wonderful experience, especially when the sun starts to fade and the world quiets down. Unfortunately, it can also be a deathtrap, overshadowing your pleasure with the fear of being made into road goulash by an oblivious suburban mom in an SUV the size of your 2nd grade classroom….

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Post-modern pump

BioLogic PostPump 2.0 Seatpost

The BioLogic PostPump 2.0 Seatpost ($50) is a useful, high-capacity floor pump that’s been integrated into a seatpost, providing you with air stashed safely and efficiently… under your bum. The patented design has a flip-out foot stand, Presta/Schrader valve adapter and allows you to use the saddle for convenient pumping; it only takes around 40…

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No Brainer

ICEdot Crash Sensor

Statistics don’t look good for male cyclists: 200,000 traumatic brain injuries are attributed to recreational accidents each year; two-thirds of cycling injuries involve damage to the noggin; and men are more than twice as likely to mangle their melons than women. A good helmet is an obvious must-have, but in absolute worst cases the ICEdot…

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Steady on the eyes

Fraser-Volpe Optics Mariner Binoculars

A solid pair of binoculars in the field is vital — and when you’re trying to avoid being run over by a fast-moving barge or spot a pal that’s gone overboard, they’re absolutely key. But in order to weather tough watersport conditions, they have to be rugged, too. Having supplied binoculars to the military for…

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Roughing it just got easier

In-Depth: BioLite CampStove

Earlier this year, we told you about the innovative new BioLite CampStove, which promised to not only cook your wieners but also charge your smartphone using only firewood. This summer, I had a chance to take one camping to see how it worked in the wild. I took it on a road trip to northern…

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Knife Light

SOG Blade Light

Cut down on your EDC bulk by combining a couple of items into one. No, the smartphone/cigar lighter hasn’t been invented yet. Until it is, you can occupy your time with the SOG Blade Light, a combination 3.9 inch 9Cr18MoV Stainless Steel folding knife and LED flashlight that cuts through the darkness and other evil…

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An App for your Aorta

Cardiio

Nowadays, there are more health-monitoring apps than we can shake a Powerbar at. The Cardiio ($5) uses accurate (and somewhat mind-blowing) MIT innovations to give you a simple, easily obtained BPM heart rate. Just point your iPhone’s front-facing camera at your face, and Cardiio measures the light reflection on your skin (which is directly affected…

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Sayonara helmet hair.

Design Spotlight: Hövding “Invisible” Bike Helmet

Helmets save lives at the “expense” of what some misguided cyclists think of as “looking cool”. They’re also bulky, and a pain to schlep once the ride is over. Two female Swedish design students spent seven years researching crash data and over $10 million developing a new form of head protection that avoids both of…

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Coaching 2.0

Adidas miCoach Elite System

Adidas introduced the concept of “boots with a brain” to the world last fall with the launch of the miCoach-toting Adizero F50 soccer cleat — but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Today, the global sports brand announced the miCoach Elite System, designed to track player performance for an entire team in real-time….

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Cool Out(doors)

BaseCamp Refrigerator & Freezer

Love camping but hate truly roughing it? BaseCamp’s monster 42-quart Refrigerator/Freezer ($860) plugs right into your car’s 12V DC power system and can keep food/beverages/fresh kills cold at a 0°–45°F in one of two storage bins — leaving you to sit by the fire imagining whether you’d make it as a cowboy in the old…

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We thought it'd be bigger

Knog Strongman U-Lock

There’s a reason bouncers at clubs look like suited-up gorillas with earpieces—perception is a key proponent to security. If you look like you shouldn’t be messed with, chances are, you won’t be. The Knog Strongman ($100) follows this line of thinking with its aggressively designed, silicone-molded steel frame, and backs up its looks with a…

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Who needs matches?

Heatstick

Developed with the Special Forces in mind, the patented, flameless, anodized-aluminum Heatstick ($460) can quickly and turn your 1L Nalgene into a disinfecting kettle. Just attach the fuel, hit the igniter and integrate Heatstick into the included water container, or your own, and boom: hot, clean water. Ideal for turning freeze-dried rations into a outback…

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Bespoke security, emphasis on spoke

Atomic22 Infinity3D Bicycle Component Locks

Even with the best of locks, pieces of your bike can still be snatched up by enterprising hoodlums. So for years the only way to achieve complete peace of mind was to bring your bike inside. UK based Atomic 22 has finally created a simple solution that could change the commuting game for good —…

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Weigh Smart

Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale

Now that beach season is here, we all could use a little help shedding the last of our hibernation weight. Luckily, the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale ($130) leverages high-tech tools to help speed up your battle of the bulge. Like the portable Fitbit Ultra, the scale tracks a variety of useful health metrics including…