FIELD & STREAM 2005 BEST OF THE BEST AWARDS

This year, seven of our field editors looked through the thousands of new products offered by the outdoor industry, tested hundreds of them, and finally came up with a list of the 22 best. These are Field & Stream's Best of the Best.

Field & Stream Online Editors

[BRACKET "Fishing Craft"]
WATER STRIDER RAFT
The first time I rowed one of Dave Ink's inflatable kick boats, I'll admit to a faint taste of coins when I swallowed. How could a one-man, open-front polyurethane and PVC craft handle the Bulkley River's current of 20,000 cubic feet per second, through a canyon where one rapid chased another? Five hours and one 15-pound Canadian steelhead later, I was sold.

Here was the answer for the globe-trotting angler: a boat that weighed so little (17¿¿ pounds; 28¿¿ with oars, pump, and carry bag) that you could backpack it on a bicycle, check it as luggage at the airport, drop it out of a floatplane, and then pump it up bankside to run Class III water down any river on earth-all while carrying gear for a monthlong expedition (it has a load capacity of 515 pounds). Using fins, you can maneuver the 92x42-inch Water Strider to fish tight spots. You can portage it around waterfalls. Drape it with camo netting to sneak up on waterfowl. The only prerequisite for owning one, besides access to a fair chunk of change, is a sense of adventure. $1,395; 406-375-0251; waterstrider.com -K.M.