Gear of the Year 2012

Another year is in the books, and Team Paddle Junkie is looking forward to an amazing 2013.  Over the last few days we argued, debated and thoughtfully discussed what gear from 2012 we thought made the "super short list".  Honesty, this list could easily be twice as long as it is, but in our humble opinion these are the cream of the crop...

Maui Jim's Surf Riders:  Looking for a pair of shades to be your go-to option for everything?  These are the ticket.  Maui Jim's lenses are amazing and these frames perform as well as any "sport" styles we have tested. Best part is, they are as at home on the street as they are on the water. Read our full review.  MSRP: $219

Vostok-Europe's Anchar Titanium Dive Watch: Bomber dive watch from Russia???  Yup!  This thing is huge and thanks to a titanium case is still incredibly light and comfortable to wear.  It comes with 3 different straps and two wrences so you can swap them out whenever you want.  The mechanical movement inside keeps great time and never needs a battery.  Read our full review.  MSRP:  $649

Vasque's Rift Approach Shoes:  On your way home from "casual Friday" and you spot a hidden trail you have never explored.  No need to go home and swap out shoes if you are sporting these.  Everything you love about your favorite hiking boots, only in a shoe.  Boulder eating traction and rugged good looks make these a Team Paddle Junkie favorite.  Read our full review.  MSRP: $120

GSI's Java Press:  If, like me, you would never subject yourself to instant coffee even if you are 200 miles from the nearest Starbucks, then you need one of these.  This back-country java press cranks out 30 ounces of coffee heaven.  Bacon, eggs and a cup of Joe by a campfire is my definition of morning perfection.  Never drink crappy camp coffee again.  Read our full review.  MSRP: $33

Gerber's Epic Drop Point Fixed Blade:  It's like this knife was made for me specifically.  A stout and sturdy fixed blade with a tonto tip makes any cutting task a breeze. It stows away in a molded plastic reversible sheath with clip. Shred a branch for tinder, cut up your steak, and pop open your beverage of choice with the integrated bottle opener.  Brilliant!  MSRP: $43

Merrell's Barefoot Water Current Glove Shoes:  Minimalist, barefoot shoes that love to get wet.  They weigh basically nothing, and are ready to go for a swim anytime.  At first I was a bit skeptical of the lack of traction, but they performed beautifully in both wet and dry conditions.  They weigh practically nothing and dry out super fast.  You will find these sitting right on top of my canoe pack, just begging to come out and play.  MSRP:  $110

Dahlgren Footwear Socks:  Not all socks are created equal, and the hiker and light hiker socks from Dahlgren Footwear are on another level all together. They are like the Goldilocks of socks, not too much, not too little, everything is just right.  Fit, style, durability and comfort are all as good as it gets.  Their Dri-Stride tech is right on the money.  MSRP: $19.50 a pair

Abu Garcia's Orra S Spinning Reel:  You just finished your 4th portage of the day.  You set up camp and now it's time to go catch some dinner, and your reel broke on the way in.  NEVER gonna happen with this bullet-proof machine.  Dependable, smooth and just plain classy, this reel sets a new standard for compact spinning reels in my book.  Whether you are chasing small mouth bass in the lily pads, or 40 inch Northern Pike at the mouth of the creek, this reel can handle whatever you throw at it.  Flat out awesome at a bargain price.  MSRP: $70

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