Top 10 Gear List: 2007

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From marathons and mountain climbs to kayak trips through the jungle of Quintana Roo, 2007 proved to be another epic year for The Gear Junkie. But without the right apparel and equipment, these adventures would not have been possible, or at least not quite as fun. Here are 10 top products that helped make it happen — avalanches, whitewater, crocodiles and all.

1. Newton Running Gravity Shoes
On runs ranging from my nightly neighborhood romps to the 26.2-mile Twin Cities Marathon, Newton Running’s Gravity shoes kept me upright, forward and feeling fast. (Click here for my full review column on the Newton shoes: http://thegearjunkie.com/newton.) What makes them so special? The shoes’ rubber lugs — called “actuators” — extend a quarter-inch from the sole, promoting a more efficient and natural running technique. $175, www.newtonrunning.com

2. Atomic Snoop Daddy ski
On one long day last winter I put more than 15,000 vertical feet on these skis in the Utah backcountry. The Snoop Daddys — fat hourglass skis with 125mm tips and 111mm tails — took to the powder bowls, trees, chutes and in-bounds ice and moguls all with equal aplomb. $855, www.atomicsnow.com

3. Adventure Medical Kits Thermo-Lite 2 Bivvy
This 6.9-ounce bivy bag is essentially an improvement on the decades-old concept of the Space Blanket. Put one in your pack and hope you never have to use it. But if you do need it — as I did on a recent mountain bike adventure — the 36 × 84-inch emergency sleeping bag works in temps down to 50 degrees. $33, www.adventuremedicalkits.com

4. Inov-8 Race Pro 12
Dubbed an “elite lightweight hydration pack,” the Race Pro 12 was made for trail running, mountain biking, adventure racing and similar pursuits. I ran with this 12-liter pack loaded during multiple races last season, and it stayed solid and comfortable. The kicker is its horizontal hydration bladder, which minimizes bouncing while on the run. $105, www.inov-8.com

5. Kahtoola Inc. FLIGHTsystem
If moving fast over packed snow is your goal, the FLIGHTsystem is the product for you: The two-part footwear system is comprised of the FLIGHTboot and the FLIGHTdeck snowshoes. Add your trail-running shoes — which slip inside the FLIGHTboot shell — and you’re ready to go. $334, www.kahtoola.com

6. Kona Paddy Wagon
Want a quick and legit entrance into the single-speed scene? The low-price (but high quality) Paddy Wagon is strong, simple and fast enough for city riding. Bonus: The rear wheel flips to convert the bike to a fixed-gear configuration. $649, www.konaworld.com

7. Polar RS800G3 Multisport Training System
Undeniably expensive. Undeniably cool. The RS800G3 system includes a watch, a heart-rate strap, a GPS unit, and software to analyze workout results. With GPS, the system measures your total miles traveled on an outing and provides real-time speed in a miles-per-hour readout on the watch face. $499.95, www.polarusa.com

8. Big Agnes Dream Island Sleeping Bag
If you can’t be in a bed, the Dream Island is your second best choice. This double-wide couples model measures more than 50 inches wide and lofts high with 4.5 pounds of insulating fill. A pad sleeve lets you mate it with an air mattress, creating a platform of comfort heretofore reserved for the bedroom. $239 (Dream Island bag); $140 (Hinman air mattress); www.bigagnes.com

9. Ibex Qu T shirt
Among the most pricey T-shirts on the market, the merino wool Qu T is worth the cost for the right consumer. The shirt looks nice, breathes well, insulates, wicks sweat and never stinks. It can go days without a washing, as wool is naturally antibacterial, making it great for travel. $85, www.ibexwear.com

10. Salomon S-Lab XA Pro 3
Take one of Salomon’s best shoes, trim its weight by 15 percent, add an integrated gaiter and you have the S-Lab XA Pro 3, a trail runner made for racers and backcountry wanderers banking on speed. Its breathable mesh uppers, a cincher lacing system, and a somewhat flat-footed feel that keeps the shoe from rolling make for footwear stable on all type of bumpy and variable terrain. $140, www.salomonsports.com

(Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eight U.S. newspapers; see www.THEGEARJUNKIE.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog, and an archive of Regenold’s work.)



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