Benjamin Franklin is often quoted, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety". You don't have to be a scholar of the Founding Fathers to understand that there are trade-offs in life, a fact that applies to products as well. The spork notwithstanding, hybrid products typically appeal to a broader swath of the population in exchange for being less desirable to enthusiasts in either of the original disciplines. So when we first got our hands on a pair of the Adidas Terrex Fast R GTX hiking shoes, we wondered if combining the swiftness of a trail runner with the ruggedness of a hiking shoe would produce a shoe that had real purpose in the mountains. We came away impressed.
The foundation of the Fast R is a rubber sole developed by Adidas with tire maker Continental. It's based on the latter company's Black Chili compound for bicycle tires, a rubber that Continental says is faster, grippier and more durable than competitors. Likewise, Adidas says the rubber sole on the Fast R offers up to 30 percent more traction than competitors on wet and dry surfaces. The rubber works together with a variety of other proprietary and partner technologies, including Foremotion, an Adidas design that in this shoe decouples the heel from the rest of the sole to soften impact and reduce knee and ankle load. The Fast R also has a Gore-Tex liner, anti-microbial and moisture-wicking properties and a molded EVA tongue. Though the shoe launched in 2012, it was updated in 2013 with an improved speed lacing system and a profile that brought it lower to the ground -- all of this at a weight of roughly 13 ounces (size 9), less than some popular road running shoes on the market.
There are other excellent lightweight hikers (or "multi-sport" shoes, not to be confused with triathlon products) on the market, like the Vasque Velocity 2.0, Keen's Marshall WP and the Xplorer from La Sportiva. The Fast R stands out for being both nimble and rugged; it's not a compromise, but an elevation above and beyond what exists in the category. We charged hard in the Fast R on long speed hikes in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire's White Mountains -- in the sun and in pouring rain -- and found it to be an exceptional companion. You might say we gave up the Safety of a hiking boot for the Liberty of a trail runner -- and got exactly what we'd hoped for.
Excellence, innovation, craftsmanship, and an unwavering desire to challenge expectations -- these are the constants that have captivated our attention since Gear Patrol's inception in 2007. This year we're proud to announce the next step in our role as a champion of quality in product design and execution: welcome to the GP100. Our inaugural product awards are dedicated to honoring the 100 best consumer products released during the calendar year by companies of all sizes and scope.
The GP100 is not a ranking or a contest. These selections represent the collective expertise of our entire editorial staff, who have scoured every corner of the vast product universe -- from automotive and electronics, to men's style essentials, home goods, spirits and outdoors -- to find the inspiring and the practical, the ground-breaking and the traditional, the priceless and the accessible. In short: products that define or defy their respective categories to better the life of the modern man.
The GP100 is not a contest influenced by marketers or brands, nor is it a ranking by specifications as determined by uniform tests. Instead, it starts with a comprehensive list of nominees released in the calendar year, researched and compiled by our editorial team of obsessed experts across all of Gear Patrol's major areas of interest including Motoring, Technology, Style, Home, Spirits, Outdoor and Watches. Brands are not part of the selection process. Nominees are then debated in context of the past, present and future of their respective fields. Which selections stand as significant innovations, category busters or faithful monuments to the icons of history? Do they adhere to Gear Patrol's core tenets of excellence, design, utility and the spirit of adventure? Distilled to the following 100 items, the GP100 represents the best products on earth released in 2013 -- easily inspiring consumers and creators alike during their search for guideposts of excellence in a vast world of products.
Motoring Watches Style Technology Sports Outdoors Home Spirits
Jeremy BergerBen Bowers