After looking at some of the new gear for 2009, and reading gear review after gear review. Here is a list of some of the good buys for 2009. It seems with the pocket book a little tighter this year, gear is a little more practical and affordable.

Mountain Hardwear Ardica Jackets: Price varies, out this fall


This line of jackets uses a built-in, wall-chargeable battery pack that infuses the jacket with heat. I’ve seen heated jackets before, but this one is more than a wearable electric blanket—it packs enough power in its lithium-ion battery to simultaneously charge gadgets using an in-pocket USB jack.

If anyone has a gear test on this jacket, I would love to know how this works?

The heat-enabled jackets should cost about $150 more than their unpowered kin. Really not bad, considering how cool the tech is.

The North Face Crimptastic Hybrid Jacket $230, out this fall


This packable 800-fill jacket weighs just 12.2 ounces. That’s great, but it’s been done before. What’s really remarkable is the sticker from the often-premium-priced The North Face: $229. According to TNF, their retailers were worried about the economy, and challenged the manufacturer to produce the best jacket it could at an accessible price. This was the result.

Sierra Designs Lightning XT 4 Tent $450, out this spring


Most four-person car-camping tents weigh at least 10 or 20 pounds—too heavy to double as shelter for backpackers. This four-person tent weighs just 7 pounds 6 ounces packed, meaning it’s light enough (barely) for backpackers. And its 57.5 sq ft of surface space should still satisfy car campers.

Although the manufacturer isn’t publishing the tent’s interior cubic feet (a key indicator when four people are sharing space), it appeared to be generous enough for a family to comfortably camp. According to the company, the key is a unique, arching pole-support system that keeps the top of the tent far higher than in comparably-sized tents.

Timex Expedition WS4 Watch $199, out this spring


I saw this watch at Trail Days 09 and it looked really cool. In order to see all the info a multimode watch has to offer, users typically need to press buttons to scroll between readout modes. The enormous face on this watch allows users to view all it has to offer (altimeter, barometer, thermometer and compass), without pushing a button. While this may be useful for climbers who have their hands full gripping cliff faces, it could be just as practical for strap-hanging subway riders who are jammed between fellow commuters.

Merrell Hurricane Jacket $200, out this fall


From a distance, this jacket looks like a plain old peacoat, but up close, it reveals itself to be made of performance-oriented soft-shell synthetic—waterproof and breathable. Although it’s unlikely any skiers or climbers will take to it, there’s something bizarrely modern about the combination, and I can easily imagine fashion designers taking cues and working similar materials into their lines.

Snow Peak LiteMax Stove $55, out now


Another Outdoor Retailer show, another claim at being the lightest/smallest/fastest at something. This time: a 1.9-ounce, three-prong camping stove (this is the first we’ve seen that weighs less than 2.5 ounces). Thankfully, this stove’s diminutive nature doesn’t appear to come at the expense of performance (it can reach 11,000 Btu) or price (it’s just $55). The stove can handle 110- and 220-gram containers of isobutane/propane mixes. Not sure if I’ll get rid of my Pocket Rocket yet, but this maybe a good alternative.

Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Mat $150, out this spring


Check out Backpacker Magazines Video Gear Review

When packed, this inflatable three-season camping mat takes up as much space as a Nalgene bottle. In fact, the manufacturer claims it’s the lightest (it weighs just 14 ounces) and most compact uninsulated mat on the market. But unfurled, it is remarkably strong, stable and warm. The warmth comes from a reflective interior lining that reflects heat to sleeping campers’ bodies. The stability comes from a honeycomb-shaped nylon interior cushion, which the manufacturer claims provide as much stability as a traditional foam mat, at a fraction of the weight. I took a test nap on it on the showroom floor, and left impressed—it held up well enough to keep me from feeling like I was sinking into the inflated mat.

There is alot more cool gear for 09 that I’m sure I missed. If you have any, post them here. Or, go to our Forums page and post it in the Gear section

Some of these picks came from “Popular Mechanics” By Seth Porges
Published on: January 28, 2009

Staff Writer

What can I say? I love being out in the Backcountry. I am the crazy guy that likes hiking and camping in bad weather. One of my all time favorite hikes is the Appalachian Trail. If you have an Article, Video or story you would like to share on send me an email at

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