2014 Holiday Gear Guide: For Big Spenders
FOR THE THOSE LOOKING TO DROP SOME SERIOUS COIN
Our favorite high-end products of the year — tested, approved, and ready to wrap.
YETI TUNDRA COOLER
If you’ve got a guy on your list, you can’t miss with the Yeti Tundra Cooler. As you might expect at this primo price, it’s exponentially superior to your standard WalMart cooler. Yetis are built similarly to whitewater kayaks, making them able to withstand the bangs and dents that come with life on the move. $300 - $1400.
THERM-A-REST MIRA 15 AND ANTARES 15 SLEEPING BAG
If you’re thinking about picking up the best, most versatile sleeping bag on the market this season, we’d steer you to Therm-a-Rest’s Mira 15 (and Antares for men). Winner of our 2014 Best in Class award among 15-24F bags, the Mira was both the lightest bag in the category, boasted the best warmth-to-weight ratio during the test, and packs into a miniscule compression sack. If you’re looking for lightweight and a comfy design, this is it. $400.
BIG AGNES HELINOX COT ONE
Take your slumber up a notch by getting off the ground. Big Agnes’s simple to use, lightweight Helinox Cot One is a 4-pound bundle that’s a snap to put together and makes rolling out of bed in the morning a touch more civilized. You’ll probably use this most at car camping sites, but it compacts well enough into a stuff sack that you can even pack it into the backcountry if you become too addicted. $300.
SYLVANSPORT GO CAMPER
Dying to own a camping trailer but don’t own a truck? No problem, the SylvanSport Go Camper is a meager 860 pounds, so even a Mini Cooper can tow this thing around. It hunkers down in a low-profile trailer when driving, can be stacked with car racks for bikes and kayaks or even carry dirt bikes while in transit, and then—with the crank of a handle—blossoms into a spacious 4-person tent. Even the mattresses are eight feet long, resting dreamily off the ground right in the cross-breeze. $8000.
THERM-A-REST VELA DOUBLE BLANKET
Normally, we wouldn’t tell you to spend $280 on a nylon blanket. But, Therm-a-Rest’s new 650-fill down Vela Double Blanket is the perfect splurge because it cinches down over a pair of sleeping pads, making for a cozy car-camping nest for two. Not only does this let you move how you like (unlike a mummy bag), it also helps you regulate your temperature along with your partner’s. Snap it to most mattresses with the included Loop Kit—although we’d recommend using Therm-a-Rest’s Dream Mattresses for the ultimate luxurious camp bed. $280.
FUGOO TOUGH BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
The Fugoo Tough is a beautiful, full-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker with 360° of pristine bass and treble tones along with outstanding durability, battery life, and design. Two tweeters deliver chirpy highs, two mid/sub drivers give a nice midrange punch, and two passive radiators thump out tight, deep bass. Battery life is rated for up to 40 hours. There are three different swappable “coverings” available for the speaker: Sport, Tough and Style, and all three handle a variety of mounting options. There's speakerphone integration with Siri and Google Now. Finally, with an IPX rating of 67, the speaker is both dust proof and waterproof. $230.
NSP FLATWATER COCO MAT STAND UP PADDLEBOARD
Made from earth-friendly coconut husks, the NSP 14’ Flatwater Coco Mat SUP is touted as being lighter and stronger than other boards on the market. While we can’t confirm that, we know that this flatwater board is great for speed and touring because it tracks so well. It’s a little narrow for the beginner paddler, so we recommend it for someone who already SUPs. The coconut also gives it a cool look. $1500.
LIGHT & MOTION URBAN 800 FAST CHARGE BIKE LIGHT
Whether you’ve got a daily commuter or a singletrack addict on your list, they’re going to droll over this one. The new line of 800-lumen Urban lights from Light & Motion have side-facing beams (for better on-road visibility), a battery gauge on the back, handlebar and helmet mounts, and a golf ball-like beam pattern that disperses the light more evenly than other lights. A USB adapter makes it easy to keep this baby charged. $180.
THULE EASYFOLD 9032 BIKE RACK
By nature, bike racks are large and unwieldy. Not so the Thule EasyFold 9032. This foldable bike rack packs up into the size of a suitcase when not in use. Ready to hit the road? Simply unfold it and mount anything from a hulking E-bike to a downhill bike with a long wheel-base. There’s even a removable ramp for easy loading and unloading. $700.
BENCHMADE 300 AXIS FLIPPER
Cut from the same stuff as boutique custom knives but at the price of a production knife, the Benchmade 300 Axis Flipper scored a perfect 100 in Gear Institute’s knife test—an almost impossible feat given how hard our test director, Nick Lefort, is on his blades. This flip-style knife uses G10 Scales on the handle to aid in durability and weight-savings, while its stainless steel blade is so sharp, we don’t see you needing to sharpen it for a whole year. $175.
Oru Kayak may look like a piece of art (it’s actually in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), but it also a serious watercraft. Even expert kayakers will attest to this boat’s glide on the water. Stash compartments hold enough gear for a day tour while the foldable structure means it’s easy to keep it berthed in, say, your San Francisco apartment. The best part? The boat is completely recyclable at the end of its life and is being manufactured in the U.S. $1195.