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Gadgets and Gizmos:
The Latest, Greatest High-Tech Toys for Adventurers

James Bond would be the ideal adventure companion. It’s not because 007 is a particularly fit endurance athlete — how could he be with all of the martinis and caviar he consumes? — but because he has the coolest electronic gadgets you could ever imagine. We don’t have any connections with Bond’s employer, Secret Intelligence Service, but we’ve still been able to round up a bunch of tricked-out gizmos that just might help you stay out of harm’s way on your undercover adventures. Just don’t expect a personal call from Her Majesty when you get back.

Nike Oregon Series Alti-Compass Nike Oregon Series Alti-Compass
Weight: 3.0 ounces, Batteries: Replaceable

A stylish wrist-top computer, even by standards of Mr. Bond himself, this altimeter-compass from Nike timing has all the features you need for your outdoor adventures. An easy-to-calibrate altimeter logs ascent and descent rates. The digital compass works accurately, and the barometer shows trends and reads temperatures. Special adventure-race specific features include a 1000-hour chronograph for expedition-length races and an extra-loud alarm that may help you wake from that mid-race cat-nap. The downside to this super-suave gadget is it’s size and weight; the Alti-Compass weighs in at a burly 3 ounces, but the large-faced monitor makes reading the display a cinch, even when you’re so tired that you’re seeing double. www.niketiming.com
— Lisa Jhung

Magellan SporTrak Color GPS Magellan SporTrak Color GPS
Weight: 6.1 ounces, Batteries: 2 AA

Last summer, an experienced outdoorsman got lost in Utah’s labyrinthian Canyonlands National Park for five days, despite the fact that he was carrying a GPS unit. The bottom line on GPS is that the satellite system can usually tell you where you are, but it can’t tell you how to get where you want to go. Magellan’s SporTrak is a step forward: the unique colorized screen makes navigation much easier than it is with a monochrome display. Additionally, the unit features a well thought-out array of functions, including a large, easy-to-calibrate compass, current destination coordinates on a single screen, a cool speedometer, and a satellite map that tells you when you are likely to gain or lose a signal. The unit has a one-year warranty and is ruggedly housed in a plastic frame; it even floats if you dunk it in a river. (Yes, it’s waterproof.) (800) 707-9971; www.magellangps.com
— Mark Eller

SteriPEN by Hydro-Photon, Inc. SteriPEN by Hydro-Photon, Inc.

Weight: 6.5-8 oz. w/ batteries (4 AA)

Don’t want to drink contaminated water? Use the force, Master Luke. Like something you’d only see in the movies, the SteriPEN is a high-tech contraption that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy bacteria, viruses and protozoa, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Short wavelength UV light has been used to disinfect drinking water for over 60 years in the U.S., because it causes molecular rearrangement of the microorganism’s DNA, rendering the organism unable to reproduce. Turn on the SteriPEN and insert the lamp into a 16 oz. container of water, and in less than a minute, your water is safe to drink. (32 oz. of water will require a longer treatment). The SteriPEN uses four AA batteries and can provide up to 150 treatments (based on 16 oz. of water), depending on the type of battery you use. Feel the force, Luke, and drink safe water! (888)826-6234 or www.hydro-photon.com
— Mark Ruscin

Apple iPod digital music player Apple iPod digital music player
10-gigabyte model $299*,
Weight: 5.6 ounces, Batteries: N/A

Take your entire CD collection up Denali with you, or on any adventure that begs for some tunes. Apple’s iPod digital music player lets you store literally hundreds of albums in its cigarette-pack-size frame. The sleek little music box provides quick access to the loaded albums via a simple menu interface and touch-sensitive navigation wheel. And don’t worry about your song skipping if the trail gets rough. The iPod’s skip protection works by continually pre-loading up to 20 minutes of music. And batteries are not required. The iPod’s internal power supply automatically recharges each time you dock it to the computer to add another album or two, and it plays more than eight hours of music between charge-ups. (*15GB model, $399; 30GB model, $499) (800) 692-7753
— Stephen Regenold

Pentax Optio S digital camera Pentax Optio S digital camera
Weight: 3.5 ounces, Batteries: Lithium-ion or AC adapter

This 3.5-ounce digital camera is so small it fits in an Altoids tin. But despite its diminutive size the camera packs a 3X optical-zoom lens, auto focus, multiple manual and automatic modes, three light-metering settings, and a movie mode for recording short video clips. With 3.2-megapixel resolution, images from the Optio S can be printed out as high-quality photos up to 8 x 10 inches in size. The camera’s 1.6-inch LCD lets you instantly preview images and erase the blunders. The Optio S has 11 megabytes of onboard memory for storing about a dozen high-resolution pictures, and you can add to that capacity by inserting an SD memory card into the camera’s drive. It has an aluminum-alloy body and is tough enough to go with you on your adventures. (Just don’t submerge it in water.) (800) 877-0155; www.pentaxusa.com
— SR

Wildwasser Info-Center Polar M61 Heart Rate Monitor
Weight: 1.4 ounces (wrtist-top); 2.2 ounces (transmitter belt), Batteries: user-replaceable

Polar introduces its newest technology in heart rate monitors in the WearLink transmitter belt – a great alternative to uncomfortable plastic across your chest. The WearLink strap is made of a comfortable and washable fabric, with the electrodes that pick up your heart beat woven within. The M61 model (one of two, with the M32, that come with the new WearLink strap) features: OwnIndex, which predicts VO2max; the ability to program settings for two users on one unit; average heart rate; exercise reminder; OwnCal, which calculates calories; percentage of fat burned; and a new OwnZone feature, which automatically determines each day’s target zone. (800) 227-1314; www.polarusa.com
— LJ

Suunto X6hr Suunto X6hr
Weight: 2 ounces (wrist-top), 2.1 ounces (transmitter belt), Batteries: Replaceable

Suunto has taken the precision of its outdoor wrist-top computers to a new level with its X6hr — an all-around outdoor-person’s dream machine with altimeter, compass, ascent/descent rate, chronometer, heart rate monitor (chest strap included), heart rate limit monitor, and of course, watch. But, what ties all this data together into a functional package is the Suunto Activity Manager (SAM) software. SAM allows you to download records of your activities (time, intervals, heart rate, altitude, etc), analyze your workouts and races using a variety of graphs, and create a truly interactive and useful training diary. (800) 543-9124 www.suunto.com
— Kip Koelsch

Ortovox X1Ortovox X1
Weight: 9.5 oucnes, Batteries: 2 AA

For winter adventures like backcountry skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering and sometimes even snowshoeing, avalanche beacons are a safety necessity. The new X1 from Ortovox combines proven analog capabilities with newer digital technology. (It is the first beacon to automatically switch between analog and digital.) While analog provides a wider search range (80 meters in the case of the X1), a digital signal offers more precise information like exact distance and direction to the buried beacon. In the field, the X1 starts out in analog mode, emitting a beep that gets louder as you near the buried beacon (for multiple burials, the X1 will emit multiple, distinguishable beeps). Within 35 meters of the buried beacon, the X1 displays a digital readout of the distance, constantly updating as the distance changes. At 10 meters, the X1’s digital capabilities really kick in to gear by providing a left, right or straight indicator (while continuing to show distance) that pinpoints the search to the buried beacon. (603) 746-3176; www.ortovox.com
— Eric Dec

ACR Electronics GyPSI Personal Locator Beacon ACR Electronics GyPSI Personal Locator Beacon
Weight: 17.6 ounces, Batteries: Lithium cell

If things go seriously wrong during backcountry adventures in any season, what are your options for calling in a rescue? Two-way radios have limited range, and cell phones often don’t work in wilderness locations. Until recently, signal mirrors and smoke flares were the only other last-ditch measures available. Safety took a major leap forward this past summer, when the FCC approved GPS-based rescue beacons for use on land. When you activate the GyPSI, a 406 MHz transmitter sends a personalized rescue message, including your position (supplied by a separate GPS unit), to one of seven satellites circling the planet. The signal is then relayed to a ground station, which notifies the search and rescue teams closest to you. Since they’ll know your position to within two and a half miles, help should arrive fast. A word of caution: Once you break the safety seal and activate the unit, a rescue will be initiated, and you may be financially accountable. But at least you’ll be safe. (800) 432-0227; www.acrelectronics.com
— ME

Maptech Terrain Navigator map software Maptech Terrain Navigator map software
$100 (per state or region)
Weight: N/A, Batteries: N/A

It’s always exciting to pore over a new USGS topographical map planning that next big adventure, but it can take much longer than anticipated if you’re plotting points the night before an adventure race. Maptech’s Terrain Navigator software offers digital topos of each U.S. state in 1:24,000 and 1:100,000 map scales, letting you zoom in on any given region, mark points of interest, and print out a personalized map for your trip. For a race, you can plug in UTMs of checkpoints into the software, then transpose the exact positions onto your own map. In addition to the traditional two-dimensional map view, the program has a 3D mode that tilts the plane, and puts the topo lines to work creating a textured, real-life look at the terrain you’ll encounter. To boot, you can also customize a map and load a route or way points right to your GPS device, and the company includes a pair of those funky red and blue 3D glasses with the program to further enhance your viewing experience. (888) 839-5551 www.maptech.com
— SR

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