Breathable rain gear, carbon-fiber trekking poles, a $3 map app: Hiking technology comes in many forms. Here's what's arriving just in time for leaf-peeping season.
The weather-resistant Kishtwar strikes a good balance—it withstands all but the worst rains yet doesn't trap sweat like fully waterproof shells do. Its fabric, Polartec Power Shield Pro, contains a polyurethane membrane woven into irregularly sized and stacked pores. This maze blocks moisture but lets in enough air to vaporize sweat and help it escape.
The North Face Kishtwar $280; thenorthface.com
CamelBak packs, which build in water containers and straws, just got comfier. Revamped containers are flat and wide to spread water evenly, welded in the center to end side-to-side sloshing, and held by a strap so they don't slump.
CamelBak Highwire $115; camelbak.com
Trekking poles add stability in tricky spots. These 47-inch ones fold up small and light for packing and extend quickly when needed. Each 9.5-ounce stick is made of three 15.6-inch carbon-fiber tubes, linked by a Kevlar cord. Pull the handle to tighten the cord and draw the tubes together in a snap.
Black Diamond Ultra Distance $150; blackdiamondequipment.com
The best GPS unit for casual hikers is a phone. This popular app for the iPhone 3G or 4 saves open-source topographic maps and uses the GPS chip and motion sensors to track location, speed and altitude. An update shows places en route that have been geo-tagged on Wikipedia; tap to read articles.
Motion-X GPS $3; motionx.com
This boot reduces blisters with curves that match a foot's shape, like indentations for toes in its upper. TrekSta laser-mapped 100,000 feet to create its ultra-detailed shoemaker's mold. Bonus: Fiberglass in the sole grips wet rock.
TrekSta Evolution GTX $130; trekstausa.com