Helmet Cams, Gorillapods, and Skeletools: Reflections on Holiday 2009

January 11, 2010

What were some of the hottest outdoor sellers in Christmas 2009? Based on my experiences over the buying frenzy of December, this is what people were after:

Helmet Cams
This was the first Christmas for high-definition helmet cams, including the VholdR Contour HD ($325) and GoPro Digital Helmet Hero HD ($299). Both of these hit the market just months before the holidays and stores couldn’t keep them in stock. They record in high-def 1080p and can accommodate up to a 16 and 32GB SD card, respectively. Available recording time varies by resolution and frames per second (fps). For maximum fps and resolution, you’re looking at 2.5 hours for GoPro and up to 8 hours with the ContourHD.

I prefer the design of the ContourHD but the standard package has a near-fatal flaw: poor and limited mounting accessories for helmets and goggles. A variety of mounts are available, they’re just sold separately. The GoPro HD includes more, and more secure, mounts—my personal recommendation.

Joby Gorillapod
This twisty, grabby, go-anywhere tripod ($30) is remarkable not for its design (which is very slick and functional), but for the fact that this was the second Christmas in a row where store shelves cleared of these things. Why hasn’t any other manufacturer come up with a cheaper, knock-off version of this thing? Now also available as a mount for iPods and iPhones, SLRs, even an integrated flashlight.

Leatherman Skeletool
Leatherman’s latest, smallest, and lightest full-size pliers multi-tool sold strongly throughout 2009 and the holiday season. The Skeletool ($70) is elegantly engineered for minimum weight and bulk (5 ounces), though the extra tools are limited (knife, driver bit, and clip). The Skeletool was joined mid-year by the Freestyle, which stripped it down to its bare essentials: pliers and knife only ($45). Both are available in a CX version with anodized housing for corrosion resistance and higher quality steel in the blade ($20-$25 more).

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.