Holiday Gear Guide 2012: More than 100

Holiday Gear Guide 2012: More than 100

The Chrome Lower Southside Pro is a stylish and comfortable alternative to clunky cycling shoes (and, for commuters, to hauling extra shoes back and forth). A hip street shoe made from full-grain leather and polyester, but with the added bonus of clip-in performance.

This tiny, lightweight water purifier uses ultraviolet light to destroy 99.9 percent of protozoa (including Giardia), bacteria and viruses. The smallest renewable purifier on the market, it’s a great gift for ultralight backpackers. In the spring, SteriPEN's adding a small Freedom-specific solar recharger to its line, so they'll be able to keep going as long as the sun shines.

Nearly $150 seems like a hefty price tag for a light—until you realize that this 250-lumen contraption can function as a headlamp, bike lamp and helmet/miner light all in one. Five settings allow you to pick the strength of your light—or conserve battery (on the “reading” setting, it will stay strong for 100 hours). Plus, with a fast-recharging battery, think of how much you’ll save on AAs.

Globetrotters will love this lightweight travel pack transformer that can be shouldered like a full-featured backcountry bag, but morphs into a structured, carry-on-compliant duffel. With zip-away shoulder straps and hip belt, and inner and outer compression straps for stabilizing your load, this is the pack of choice for fast, light travel. Just stuff, smoosh secure and go.

This wrap is the ideal for lounging around the ski lodge. It’s made with a combination of Merino wool, pure mulberry silk and, here’s the kicker, possum fur. The fur of the Brushtail Possum—an invasive species in New Zealand—is known to be softer and an even better insulator than wool.

Rare is the winter boot that's both warm and easy to pack, but Teva managed this combination with its Jordanelle (women’s) and Chair 5 (men’s) boots. The lightweight winter walkers fold down to the size of normal shoes while touting the benefits—rubber soles, waterproof uppers and sealed seams—of bulkier boots. Bonus: The removable boot liner makes a comfy slipper for fireside lounging.

No, these ski specs don’t display your stats Terminator-style on the inside of the lens while you schuss (no self-respecting ski bum would drop $600 on goggles, after all), but they do boast better anti-fog technology than any other goggles on the market. They do it by using tiny Christmas elves a chemical dip to etch microscopic texture onto the lens, vastly increasing the surface area and, thus, moisture evaporation. Unlike a gimmicky heads-up display, this tech actually helps you see where you're headed.

This headlamp doesn’t just shine where you look. It knows. Knows if you’re looking far down the trail or right down at your untied bootlace—and adjusts the brightness and pattern of its beam accordingly. Brilliant.

—catharine fleury

Where are you going? Wait—it doesn’t matter! From that party that your wife is dragging you to, to the office, to the slopes, to sitting on your front porch with a cold one, the Hardscrabble is your jacket. Insulated without bulk and stretchy enough to allow movement but durable enough not to stretch out, it’s always time to zip up—you’ll be glad you did.

Nothing dolls up a bike quite like a buttery, honey-colored English leather racing saddle. Brooks has been handcrafting them for more than 140 years—it started as a saddle company—and the Swift is, in many ways, the culmination of all those years of tinkering. It’s sleek, lightweight (drop a quarter-pound by upgrading to the titanium version, $350) and, above all, gorgeous.

The 11-liter Pilchuck is a nice starter kit for backcountry novices. Big enough to hold snacks, skins and extra layers, it comes equipped with solid life-saving avalanche gear including a metal-scoop shovel and 230cm rescue probe. Throw in a beacon to round out the set.

This alchemist may not turn your liquids to gold, but this pack is a chameleon worth its weight of it. A comfy 40-liter daypack for short trips, it expands to easily hold up to 55 liters—and it's durable enough for your heaviest loads, to boot. Pair that with its own lightweight construction, wide-mouth opening, water-resistant construction and included BFF (bivi, frame and first aid pad), and you might never find an occasion it's not suited for.

These boots were made for lounging—specifically in a big armchair, next to a fire, with a spiked hot cocoa in hand. Sure, you could take them into the powder outside—the waterproof rubber foot, full-grain leather upper and bungee top closure means your feet will stay toasty and dry—but when you look this good, we suggest just pulling up an ottoman and basking in fellow après-goers’ boot envy.

One of the biggest innovations of 2012 is water-resistant down—and Sierra Designs is leading the way with its DriDown feather, which stays dry 10 times longer than untreated down and dries 33 percent faster. The Gnar Lite DriDown Jacket doubles as an outer layer for brisk days and a cozy, insulating mid-layer for when winter blows in.

—catharine fleury

Running with the Pear is like having a personal coach whisper into your ear, only much cheaper and way less creepy. The pedometer and heart rate monitor interacts with an online fitness tracking portal, but raises the bar on the competition by coaching you in real-time. Free, downloadable, heart rate-based workouts and plans are automatically adapted to your fitness level and goals, helping you PR in everything from a 5K up to a marathon. It’s technical training made accessible. Just press play and go—the rest is taken care of.

It’s made from merino wool, but feels like soft, cuddly fleece. (How’d they do it?!) Toss up the hood in the rain or snow and head out for a muddy trail run—an eco-friendly treatment makes this jacket resistant to any liquid you throw at it.

Danner’s new American-made Crater Rim trail boot is all you’d want in an all-round hiker: a tough, high-traction Vibram outsole; full-wrap Vibram rand for protection against scuffing and mud; classic styling with a Nubuc leather upper; Gore-Tex lining; soft fit with little break-in required. Troops in Afghanistan loved it, Outside gave it a Gear of the Year Award, and we agree: It’ll be your recipient’s versatile footwear centerpiece for years.

An axe is a beautiful tool to begin with, but NYC-based designer Peter Buchanan-Smith is in the habit of turning them into high art at his Best Made Co. Starting with hand-forged and tempered steel heads from one of Americas oldest axe companies, Smith pairs them with 36-inch American hardwood handles, which he hand-paints and polishes. Functional and friggin gorgeous.

Go big or go home with the newest, most-advanced model from GoPro. The Black Edition is 30 percent smaller, 25 percent lighter and twice as powerful as any previous model. Also, the camera has built-in WiFi and includes a control for setting up shots remotely. Your adventures—no matter how big or small—are about to look more epic than ever before.

The Fenix combines Garmin’s industry-leading GPS technology and all the ABC (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass) functions of other models into one sleek, rugged package. Whether you’re tracking preset waypoints or blazing your own trail, the Fenix will help you get there.

Let’s get this out of the way—the Switch ain’t cheap. But it’s also one of the only truly year-round, virtually bombproof shells we’ve come across. Heavy ripstop nylon and stronger-than-average stitching keeps this jacket looking like new, no matter how much you abuse it. The fairly lightweight (jacket weighs in under a pound) Polartec NeoShell fabric sloughs off snow as easily as it deflects mid-summer gully-washers, yet remains highly breathable because of its fibrous membrane. Just pair it with a puff jacket when the snow flies, and this summertime shell instantly becomes a cold weather go-to.

Mammut's new R.A.S. (removable airbag system) isn't just a safety device—it's a convenience. Unlike most avalanche pack setups, the 150-liter balloon in this one only displaces about two liters of volume, leaving you the space you need for a comfortable backcountry load. Convenience #2: The entire system can be removed and transferred into a larger or smaller compatible pack (choose from 11 sizes).
*30-liter pack with balloon ($175 air cylinder not included)

—catharine fleury

Ramp skis are handmade in Park City, Utah and come in a variety of sweet, natural-looking designs. The cheaper skis are for kids, but their adult models are also affordable, too (in fact, affordability is a company priority!), thanks to a direct-to-consumer model and a revolutionary manufacturing process. Ramp is also committed to good environmental practices, using sustainable forestry bamboo for the core of its skis.