Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger from SPOT, $74.89
The most important function of this device is to call for rescuers and send them your GPS coordinates when you're in trouble somewhere without cellphone service, but the marvelous feature of the Gen3 is what it can do when you're OK. Via satellite, you can send a pre-programmed message with your coordinates to your family, letting them know you're fine. As recently as a month ago, this device was retailing for $149.95, but there has been a sharp price decrease for the holidays. www.findmespot.com
Alite 4-Legged Mantis Chair, $119.99
Alite's Mantis chair is a lightweight sling chair that packs down into a small stuff sack, making it ideal for overnight backpacking trips.
The chair was surprisingly comfortable while out in the wilderness, especially compared with the rocks and logs our friends had to lean against. It's easy to set up, and it has been a great addition for camping, hiking and watching outdoor concerts. The chair uses an aluminum hub and pole system, reminiscent to a tent set-up.
The only drawback is you do sit closer to the ground than in a traditional camp chair. For us, that means being at eye level for dogs begging for food, but the chair being low can also make it tough to get out of if you are sore after a long day of hiking. www.alitedesigns.com
Bottle Top Propane Stove from Coleman, $34.99
This stove delivers a lot of compact cooking power. The specifications say it can fit an 8-inch pan, but I've put 12-inch cast-iron skillets on top of my Bottle Top and the stove has had plenty of stability and BTUs. The stove has percolated my coffee pot even in high morning wind. The joy is that the stove has just two light pieces (plus a standard camping propane canister) that fit easily into whatever else you're using to carry your stuff — whether it's a backpack or the trunk of your car. And you won't need to buy any specialty-size accessories or meal packs. www.coleman.com
Ultra-light Bino Harness from Rick Young Outdoors, $24.99
After carrying a camera on this elastic harness, it will be hard to go back to neck straps that allow your equipment to bonk against your chest every time you take a step. The harness' stretchy cords allow you to pull your camera or binoculars up to your eyes without unhooking or unzipping anything, and they hold items against your body while you're walking. Weight is distributed around your back and shoulders, sparing your neck from uncomfortable chafing. http://rickyoungoutdoors.com/basic-ultra-light-bino-harness
'Hiking Arches National Park: An Opinionated Guide to the Park's Best Hikes' from Traction Guides, $11.99
Whether you're planning your first visit to Arches or you're a frequent guest, you can learn some things with this new guide written by Tristan Higbee. He tells you about some hikes that aren't on the National Park Service's published maps, including a few trails that allow you to bypass the long lines and fees at Arches' main gate. At 120 pages, it can fit into a hiker's fanny pack — or a stocking. www.tristanhigbee.com