Santa Fe, NM, April 17, 2006 — After months of rigorous field-testing, Outside announced today the 2006 winners of the magazine's coveted Gear of the Year awards. The 15 winning products—from mountain bikes, surfboards, and kayaks to digital cameras, GPS units, and sunglasses—represent the very best adventure gear available today. The Buyer's Guide will be available on newsstands April 25th.
"Our athletes and experts put these products through the wringer on trips from the Grand Canyon to India, in conditions where quality gear can have a dramatic impact on your experience," said Dennis Lewon, editor of the 2006 Outside Buyer's Guide. "We tested hundreds of new adventure-sport-related products to find those with outstanding technical performance and design.
Using a multi-tester system, we had more than 50 experts pound, stretch, pull, and pummel everything from tents to trail runners in order to bring you the best products for the 2006 Buyer's Guide. With comprehensive reviews of nearly 400 proven products, the 2006 Outside Buyer's Guide is the authoritative handbook for the latest active-lifestyle gear and apparel. Organized according to sport or activity, the Buyer's Guide makes it easy to find the reviews, technology news, and buying tips for the gear you need. Included in the Buyer's Guide are Killer Values – products providing great performance and design for the price.
This year's Buyer's Guide includes a 40-page special section featuring gear designed specifically for women. Outside is the first national magazine to devote such significant space and resources to a women's guide of this type. Today's active women have more choices than ever, and the core products featured in this section were tested by the same rigorous and thorough processes as were the Gear of the Year winners.
"Athletic women who have experienced the torture of man-size mountain-bike frames or backpack hipbelts that rub in all the wrong places know that when it comes to gear, everything is better when it's made for you," said Lewon.
In-depth evaluations of the winning products appear in the 11th-anniversary edition of Outside's Buyer's Guide, available on newsstands nationwide April 25th.
2006 GEAR OF THE YEAR WINNERS
BACKPACK: Arc'teryx Naos 55
With its welded seams and dynamic suspension, this revolutionary pack sets a new standard for blending comfort, durability, and waterproofness.
DIGITAL CAMERA: Nikon D50
This ergonomic, pro-quality digital SLR offers a sophisticated smart flash that solves tricky lighting for you, lightning-fast autofocus, and utmost creativity with the ability to swap out lenses and go manual.
GPS: Garmin GPSmap 60CSx
This palm-size powerhouse unit takes a sophisticated GPS—once found only in the hands of explorer-engineers – and puts it in every traveler's pocket, complete with an intuitive interface and long battery life.
LIGHT HIKER: Lowa Jannu Lo
By combining a tough upper with a solid platform and then lining the inside with soft leather, this shoe delivers an exquisitely plush but armored feel and stands out just as well on the sidewalk as on the trail.
KAYAK: Wave Sport Project
This is a pure aerial machine with a design that maximizes speed and a 360-degree release point, clearing you for takeoff.
LUGGAGE: Osprey Meridian 22
Wheel it, shoulder it, sit on it, kick it—this carry-on convertible is ultra-durable, spacious, easy to wheel through narrow train and plane aisles, and looks classy enough for a five-star hotel.
MOUNTAIN BIKE: Ellsworth Epiphany
Riding an inspired line between cross-country and downhill, this bike has five-plus inches of front and rear travel in a package that weighs just a few Allen bolts more than the company's venerated four-inch-travel Truth.
ROAD BIKE: Cannondale Synapse Carbon 2
With slack geometry, a moderately upright riding position, and the superior road-damping qualities of carbon fiber, this bike is built for luxurious, high-mileage riding.
ROAD RUNNER: ASICS Gel-Kinsei
This shoe adjusts to various foot types and running styles while improving performance across the board—its Space Age exterior conceals an equally futuristic interior with an intricate multipiece heel system that softens and speeds up steps.
SLEEPING BAG: Sierra Designs Trade Wind 15°F
This roomy 2.8-pound, 800-fill-down bag is a warm cocoon that pushes the edges of winter camping with a waterproof shell to protect the down insulation and a price that must keep the competitors up all night.
SHELL: Patagonia Spraymaster
Patagonia has virtually erased the line between soft shell and storm shell with this incredibly stretchy, astoundingly waterproof, and impressively breathable lightweight shell that fuses the best of both worlds.
SUNGLASSES: Zeal Optics Maestro
The amber tint amps up depth perception, intensifies contrast, sharpens edges, and performs masterfully in so many light conditions that you'd think they were photochromatic—but the lenses don't change; they're just incredibly versatile, allowing you to go faster and harder in and out of glare and shadows.
SURFBOARD: Hobie M-80
Shaped by Hobie veteran Terry Martin, this board is a fast, easy-paddling, mush-shredding machine that catches waves so early and easily it feels like cheating.
TENT: Black Diamond Skylight
With its generous interior and 42 inches of headroom, this tent boasts a silky, highly water-resistant fabric and has smart roof vents, room to stow overflow gear, and packs away like an ultralight.
TRAIL RUNNER: Vasque Blur
With a deeply contoured heel pocket, molded EVA midsole, sticky tread, and the breathability and water resistance of microfiber, this shoe makes the perfect hybrid, gracefully going from dirt to rock to road.