Top 10 Gear List 2008 — Under $30 Picks

These under-$30 gear picks represent some of the best products I reviewed all year, a quick best-of-the-best list with 10 top items -- blister gel, bike bottles, a signal light and a camp chair all included in the mix. . .

1. Petzl Signal Emergency Light

It weighs just 8/10ths of an ounce. But this tiny “multidirectional performance safety light” can make you visible to traffic or signal your position while lost in the woods. A must-have product for $14.95.

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2. Justin’s Nut Butter

My favorite energy-food discovery of the year. These peanut butter squeeze packs are filled with nothing but organic nut paste — a perfect energy source for long adventures and endurance events.

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3. Adventure Medical Kits GlacierGel blister pads

These unique blister pads have a “hydrogel” that puffs up to cushion an abrasion underfoot as you walk. I wore one pad up several thousand vertical feet on Kings Peak in Utah, and the pad stayed in place for the whole climb.

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4. CLIF Mojo energy bar

Nutty and granola-bar-like, the Mojo packs the necessary nutrients for an outdoors adventure into a highly-eatable rectangular package. This is the rare energy bar form that you may actually be moved to eat for a snack at home.


5. CRAZY Creek Hexalite camp chair

This lightweight camp chair costs $33 (close enough) and folds and rolls into a package so tiny that I am motivated to take it along while backpacking. Its comfort does not approach that of Crazy Creek’s beefier models, but the Hexalite is a wonderful alternative to sitting around the campfire on a sawed-off log.

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6. RITE in the Rain Notebooks

They cost $6 and up, but these simple notepads are waterproof and bomber. With acrylic-based paper, water rolls right off the pages. Perfect for use as a journal on the trail.

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7. Sigma Illux Bike Light

For $18, this light provides three white L.E.D.s to keep you seen while pedaling after dark. It has a twist-off feature to let you quickly remove it from the handlebar mount after you lock up the bike.


8. Bear Naked Trail Mix

The Pacific Crest Mix flavor has organic mangos, cashews, raisins and other high-quality constitutes. . . yum. It converted me back to trail mix after years of only eating energy bars in the outdoors.

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9. CamelBak Podium bike bottle

Dubbed a reinvention of the bike bottle, the Podium has a self-sealing valve so users no longer have to slap a tab on their hip after a sip. Bonus: a switch seals it closed so you can safely store a full bottle inside a backpack without worries of it leaking.

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10. National Geographic Trails Illustrated maps

Amazing feature detail, accurate trails, and superb topographical representation via shading and crisp printed lines on the page. I navigated off-trail to find a stream for a water source with this map deep in the Utah backcountry — it was dead on.

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Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.