Backpacker 2008 Gear of the Year Announced

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Looking to find something to blow that fat tax return check on? Maybe that tax “rebate” that’s coming our way courtesy of the U.S. Government in a few months? Then look no further than Backpacker Magazine’s list of the 2008 Editor’s Choice Awards.

As usual, the list if full of some great gear, including the usual assortment of tents, packs, and sleeping bags. Other items of interest include a SPOT satellite messenger, which seems to have become quite the rage in the past months, as well as a pair of innovative new headlamps.

The official announcement of the winners will come March 11th when the new issue hits the stand, but the complete list is below.

Big Agnes Cyclone chair kit
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3 tent
Gregory Baltoro/Deva backpacks
GoLite Adrenaline Series sleeping bags
Everlite EL8 Solar Headlamp
SPOT Satellite Messenger personal locator beacon
GSI Outdoors Dualist cookset
Nite Ize S-Biner
MSR HyperFlow microfilter system
Scarpa Kailash GTX boots
Westcomb Specter LT Hoody rain shell
Rab Latok Alpine Jacket
REI Quarter Dome T3 tent
Mammut Lucido TX1 headlamp

Backpacker Editor’s Choice Gold Award: Marmot’s 850+ Fill Sleeping Bags
Backpacker Editor’s Choice “Green” Award: Marmot Catalyst Jacket and the Mountainsmith Phoenix backpack.

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3 thoughts on “<i>Backpacker</i> 2008 Gear of the Year Announced”

  1. Just to clarify the difference between PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons) and the SPOT Satellite Messenger (contrary to popular belief, SPOT is NOT a PLB). A PLB is the ultimate personal rescue device, period. As such, when activated it sends a distress signal to SARSAT geosynchronous satellites which is then relayed to the AFRCC (Air Force Rescue Coordination Center) from where the closest Search and Rescue agency is dispatched. Low earth orbit satellites passing overhead use Doppler technology to determine location coordinates accurate to within 300-400 yards. PLBs equipped with a GPS receiver (most are) will transmit location coordinates with an accuracy of about 100 yards provided the necessary GPS signal is acquired (this is an important potential limitation as inclement weather conditions and tree canopy can prevent acquisition of the GPS signal).

    The SPOT on the other hand has features not present in PLBs which include being able to track the movement (for an additional fee) using Google maps as well as being able to send specific pre-defined messages such as “Just Checking in” as a text message or to an e-mail address you’ve specified previously. As and emergency rescue device, SPOT isn’t a PLB. It’s primary means of providing location information relies on the successful acquisition of a GPS signal which can be spotty at best in inclement weather, under a tree canopy or in a canyon.

    There are many other differences including price so if you want a device that will get you rescued (just in case) get a PLB, if you want something with tracking features allowing you to check in but not as strong of a rescue device, get SPOT. If you want it all, get both. PLBs can also be rented at PLBRentals.com for about $49/week.

  2. Awesome info Kevin. Very detail and much appreciated. You really did a great job of explaining the differences between the two devices and certainly made it easier for me to wrap my brain around. Thanks much!

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