A while back we told you about 10 Top Holiday Gifts for Powerboaters and 10 Great Holiday Gifts for Sailors, but what if you need some ideas for great new high-tech gadgets that boaters are sure to love? The new year brings with it a big crop of items ranging from advanced hardware to improved safety gear. Check out these top seven items:
Weatherflow Windmeter Phone Windmeter Accessory
One of the things people are looking for this year is how to better use one gadget they already have–our phones. A windmeter like the Weatherflow, for $39, is a perfect example. You can plug this device into your phone or connect over Bluetooth to collect real-time wind, temperature, humidity and pressure readings. Readings are recorded and displayed directly in the Wind Meter app. For more information visit Weatherflow.
Leatherman Tread Multitool Bracelet
You can never have enough tools, and the people at Leatherman have come out with this useful bracelet that lets you carry the functionality of a Leatherman tool everywhere you go. For $199, the Tread has multiple tools like Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, and box wrenches, available at a moment's notice. Adjustable to accommodate any wrist size, it’s fully customizable with links (tools) you need most. (We especially like the bottle opener, of course). The Tread feels substantial and looks like it will give you a workout just wearing it. For more information visit Leatherman.
Nature Power Lithium-ion Charger and Jumpstarter
A number of portable power options have become available in the past couple of years, like the Weego Emergency Jump Starter and the Cyntur Jump Starter. But for just $89, the Nature Power charger provides big power in a compact package. This jump starter will start your boat or recharge your phone in a jiffy, yet fits in a small space and comes with an LED flashlight with strobe and SOS emergency light functions, as well as plenty of adapters. For more information visit Nature Power.
The Mpowered Luci Light
Luci lights are solar powered inflatable lanterns. They’re about the size of a DVD when stored. But when inflated, they offer a surprisingly bright light. They can be used for a pocket-sized lantern, as a flashlight, an emergency light, or as a backup anchor light, all in one. Needing only sunlight to stay charged, the Luci is waterproof, lightweight, and extremely durable. They also have a version that has eight colors plus a color cycling mode. Prices range from $10 to $25. Visit Mpowered for more information.
Icom M25 VHF
Small floating VHF radios are a wonder, and with DSC distress buttons on models such as the Standard Horizon HX870 and West Marine 460, they’re more useful than ever. However, keeping them charged is always a challenge. The new Icom M25, however, incorporates USB charging that enables you to charge via a stereo or power bank. The Icom M25 costs $159. For more information, visit Icom.
ACR ResQLink+ Buoyant Personal Locator Beacon
I’m always keen to hear about new safety devices, and the size of the ResQLink+ personal locating device from ACR is very attractive. In fact, this is the smallest buoyant Personal Locator Beacon available today. It is meant to be worn on your PDF so if you end up in the water, you can hit the button to extend the aerial and call for help. The built-in strobe light is a great feature to increase your visibility. At $255, you get peace of mind for a reasonable cost. For more information, visit ACR Electronics.
Lowrance Elite 4 Fishfinder
Finding the fish can be difficult, but the Lowrance Elite 4 CHIRP can help. This compact and inexpensive ($299) fishfinder/chartplotter unit has a 4.3"diag screen, and combines CHIRP Sonar with “DownScan” imaging (read Sonar Smack-Down: Traditional Fishfinder vs. Down-looking Scanner-Imager vs. CHIRP to learn more about these systems). It also has a super-bright LED-backlit color display, a built-in GPS antenna, and high-definition mapping options. For more information, visit Lowrance.
You say you want a first-hand look at these goodies? We thought so—so we went to West Marine, and checked them all out (along with a few other cool new items) on camera.