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'Junkie' lists the best gear of 2012

Light sources, bike boots, cell phone case among the top products for outdoors.


Light sources, bike boots, cell phone case among the top products for outdoors.Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part “Gear Junkie” column on the best gear of 2012. Part No. 2 will be published in this spot on Jan. 3. By Stephen Regenold For the Journal

From sea kayaking on Lake Superior to a remote trek down California’s Lost Coast, 2012 for me offered no shortage of outdoor adventure. Along the way I put dozens of products to the test. These five items below emerged as a few of the best.

⋄  Revolutionary Bike Lights. A new concept, RevoLights gives a rider 360 degrees of visibility at night with wheel-mounted L.E.D. lights. The lights are timed in sync via tiny magnets and an accelerometer unit on each wheel. The result is wheels that spin and magically produce white and red arcs that paint the road like laser beams in the night. $250,

⋄  Power-Producing Cook Units. Two camp-oriented cooking products this year impressed with a side benefit beyond just boiling water. Both the BioLite stove ($129, and the PowerPot cook pot ($149, have integrated modules that turn heat from a fire into usable electricity that can then be pumped through a cord to recharge a device. Boil your water, recharge your GPS – that’s the reality with either of these unique new camping products.

⋄  Bombproof Case. My iPhone comes on bike rides, trail runs, and hikes to track GPS data, distance, and speed. I keep the phone in a LifeProof case, which offers a slim, solid shield from rain, dust, snow and anything else nature puts in its way. Without a LifeProof case, my phone simply would have to stay home more often when I head outdoors. $69.99,


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⋄  Winter Bike Boots. No more cold feet. That’s the simple premise with the Wölvhammer, a boot from the brand 45NRTH, that is made for winter biking. It has Thinsulate insulation and a cold-blocking insole. The outers are a waterproof Cordura nylon, and on the bottom is a rugged Vibram sole more reminiscent of something used for mountaineering than riding a bike. $325,

♦ Self-Adjusting Light Source. The NAO headlamp from Petzl is a sensor-equipped light that “self-adjusts” its beam depending on your situation outdoors. Be it looking at a map where low light is needed, or spot-lighting a distant object in the dark, the NAO adjusts automatically from 8 lumens to a blazing 355 lumens in a literal blink. $175,

Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of Connect with Regenold at or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie..