The 9 Greatest Recreation Innovations Of The Year | Popular Science

The 9 Greatest Recreation Innovations Of The Year

These are the Best Of What's New

Vibram Arctic Grip

Vibram Arctic Grip: A Shoe Sole That Won't Slip on Ice

Vibram’s Arctic Grip is a new type of rubber shoe sole that stops feet from slipping while walking or running on the most treacherous ice. Vibram designed the treads to mimic polar bear paws, which have tiny papillae and curved claws to increase friction (and thus traction) on ice. Arctic Grip—which debuted on shoes from six brands, including Saucony and Wolverine—uses an array of lugs crafted out of a unique ice-grabbing rubber compound to increase traction. When the wearer steps, the compound causes a split-second ­melt-then-freeze reaction; melting disperses the ice, and freezing against the textured sole creates more surface area for the lugs to grab onto. Styles from $150

Sam Kaplan

Giro Avance MIPS Ski Helmet

Giro Avance MIPS Ski Helmet: The Safest Ski Helmet

Two milliseconds is all it takes to injure the brain in a collision. Giro’s Avance does more than any other helmet to protect our gray matter. The helmet utilizes Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), a burgeoning head-safety technology. It allows the wearer’s head to move inside a helmet like a ball in a socket. An inner shell holds the head steady while the outer shell rotates. This movement deflects the forces that cause the worst brain injuries. For extra measure, Giro made the inner shell of premium foam to protect against successive impacts. $600

Sam Kaplan

OnCourse Goggles

OnCourse Goggles: GPS for Swimmers

It’s tough for open-water swimmers to cut through waves in a straight line. OnCourse Goggles keep them on track, no surfacing necessary. To set a route, a swimmer sights a way-point and clicks a button to lock it into an electronic compass and shore up the path. Green, yellow and red LEDs in the corner of each eye provide direction. Green in both means on course, red in the right eye means veer left, and vice versa. $200 (est.)

OnCourse

BSX LVL Wearable Hydration Monitor

BSX LVL Wearable Hydration Monitor: Dehydration Detector

Even professional athletes are terrible at staying hydrated. So BSX created the wrist-worn LVL, the first wearable to measure hydration in real time. Other wearables make surface measurements close to the skin, but LVL uses near-infrared light to peer beneath it and record changes in blood color, which are indicative of hydration levels. If the wearer is dehydrated, it alerts them with an on-screen message. Drink up! $199

BSX Athletics

Axe Element Hyperwhip Baseball Bat

Axe Element Hyperwhip Baseball Bat: Better Grip, Faster Swing

Round bats with round handles are as old as baseball. Now there’s a bat with a handle like an axe. Its ovular shape provides a better grip, and the tapered end protects from injuries when clobbering fastball after fastball. (Click here to find out what a pro thinks.) $225

Baden Sports

Callaway XR16 Driver

Callaway XR16 Driver: Aircraft-Grade Golf Club

Callaway wanted a driver that could slice through the air like a jet, so it turned to Boeing. Tiny ridges on the XR16’s club head cut air resistance by 30 percent over Callaway’s next-best driver. Faster swings add distance to drives. $350

Callaway

Hydra-Light PL-500 Saltwater Light and Charger

Hydra-Light PL-500 Saltwater Light and Charger: Beachside Power for Gadgets

There are no outlets at the beach, but there is plenty of salt water. The Hydra-Light turns seawater into juice for a lantern or USB-powered devices. In the reservoir, a magnesium alloy rod slowly oxidizes in salt water, releasing electrons in the process. A carbon-based cathode grabs and funnels those electrons to connected gadgets, providing more than 250 hours of power for illumination or charging electronics. $60

Hydra-Light

Sharkbanz

Sharkbanz: Wearable Shark Repellent

Muscles emit tiny electrical pulses as they contract. Receptors in a shark’s snout detect these minute signals when animals move through water, helping Jaws stalk its prey. Sharkbanz—a predator-repelling wristband—contains powerful magnets that scramble a shark’s ability to read these signals—almost like getting a bright light shone in your eyes. But don’t worry: It doesn’t hurt the animal. $65

Sharkbanz

The North Face Hyperair GTX Jacket

The North Face Hyperair GTX Jacket: No-Sweat Rain Jacket

Waterproof jackets might keep rain out, but runners and cyclists still end up soaked—in sweat. The North Face and Gore-Tex have made an ultralight waterproof shell that breathes. The fabric has a microgrid backer that airs out perspiration. As sweat condenses, the grid lets it out as vapor. It also has a membrane that’s tight enough to make sure water beads on the outside. Once the storm passes, the jacket can be shoved into a pocket. $249

Sam Kaplan

Read about the other Best of What’s New winners from the November/December 2016 issue of Popular Science.

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