Best of the Best: Top New Outdoor Gadgets of 2008

Sorting through the latest advances in hunting technology is the best job of all, mostly because there is so much truly useful gear out there. Also, this stuff is just fun to play with.

Coast LED Lenser H7R Rechargeable Focusing Headlamp $100
THE H7R IS said to be the first LED headlamp that combines a dimming function, a focusable light, and a rechargeable battery, but the reason I keep strapping it on my forehead is power. You can expect 124 lumens of output over 65 hours of run time before you have to recharge the battery. That translates into a 500-foot spotlight shooting through the ink. Most headlamps this powerful will give you a headache, but the H7R is lightweight and compact, and a flip of the switch trades the long-distance laser for a flood beam. * 503-234-4545 * coastportland.com

Brunton Solo 15 Power System $650
WHEN IT'S CHARGED, this 4-pound lithium battery pack will power a laptop for up to six hours or a camcorder for 100. It can be recharged at a wall outlet or in a vehicle. If you add Brunton's solar panel, the pack can run indefinitely. All in all, it's the most powerful and versatile portable power unit we've seen. * 307-857-4700 * brunton.com

Spot Satellite Messenger $170
THE SPOT IS a communication tool that gives you peace of mind no matter where you roam. You can beam your GPS position to rescue authorities and ask for help; message friends and family to let them know you're okay; or send the coordinates of your location to designated recipients, who can then track your progress via Google Maps. * 866-651-7768 * findmespot.com

Garmin Colorado 400t GPS $640
GARMIN'S NEW GPS unit comes with preloaded U.S. topo maps that are displayed in 3-D color, making visual interpretation of terrain easy. Other built-ins include an electronic compass, barometer, altimeter, and thermometer. The Rock 'n Roller wheel—similar to that of an iPod—lets you quickly access all the menus. * 800-800-1020 * garmin.com

**Stealth Cam Prowler **$400
Many game cameras take photos of noses and rear ends—not exactly vital scouting information. However, the Prowler's one- to nine-shot burst mode captured every inch of the game that walked by my camera. The color images were sharp and clear, and the black-and-white infrared night photos were crisp. * 888-304-6125 * stealthcam.net

Midland GXT850VP4 26-Mile Radio $128
I DIDN'T HEAR anything at 26 miles, but I don't live on the prairie. Still, I could carry on a clear conversation with a buddy at 9 miles, and that's farther than I have ever gotten a consumer handheld to work. Rated at 5 watts, this unit has 142 privacy codes on 22 channels, plus NOAA weather info. * 816-241-8500 * midlandradio.com