The 6 Best Hiking Gadgets of Summer 2012

Brunton Get-Back GPS

In certain situations—say, running or hiking or mountain-biking around an unfamiliar but not particularly remote trail system—carrying a full-blown GPS might be overkill. But a simple, tiny (1.3 ounces) device like the Get-Back, which stores up to three waypoints and steers you to the trailhead, might just literally save your butt.

MSR WhisperLite Universal

It burns liquid fuel as hot and efficiently as a canister, and switching between the two modes is a snap. It performs as well in sub-zero temperatures as it does at high altitude. Like its predecessors, it’s easy to fix in the field. Add it all up and you’ve got the most versatile, reliable stove we’ve ever tested.

MSR SureLock TR-3

At 20 ounces a pair, the TR-3’s aren’t ultralight. But while you can find poles that weigh half as much, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any as sturdy or as strong. Credit that to the smartly designed locking mechanism. Best for bigger dudes or anyone who is hard on their poles. Included snow baskets means they can double as your ski or snowshoeing sticks.

Wenger RangerGrip 90

The oversize, nine-tool, 15-function Ranger-Grip is ideal for longer, gear-intensive missions—when things will inevitably need to be fixed, sawed, or sewn. It’s especially handy in cold temperatures, as the grippy handle and amply sized tools are easy to manipulate with  gloves on. The only bummer: the Phillips and flathead bits live in the carrying case and are easy to lose.

CamelBak All Clear UV

CamelBak All Clear UV
CamelBak All Clear UV (Inga Hendrickson)

UV germ zapping + the ideal bottle design = an elegant solution to travel malaise. Fill it, press the button, and flip it over a few times to purify .75 liters of water in 60 seconds. We relied on it for fill-ups on a hot Sonoran Desert ramble, but it would come in just as handy in a dodgy hotel room. To screen out sediment from muddy streams, add the $15 filter.

Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit

Need gadgets on the trail? This is the best insurance policy we’ve found. Recharge a phone, iPad, or iPod from the USB port, or top off the four rechargeable AA batteries to keep your camera, GPS, or headlamp operational, day after day, as long as the sun is shining. Laptop users will want to scale up to the company’s Escape 150 ($200).

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