It's hard to say if our ninth annual list of the year's greatest designs, gadgets, and toys is our best yet—actually, yes, we can say that. It was one hell of a year for gear. So don't just lie there staring at your record collection. Rewrite your wish list now.
Nobody'll Know How Little You Paid
Most days, there are as many of Herschel's color-splashed backpacks in the GQ offices as there are skinny ties. For 2012, this three-year-old Vancouver-based brand applied the same winning formula—functional, affordable, simple design in a Skittles array of colors—to its Novel duffel. Its killer app is a waterproof zip-up shoe hatch on the side, which also works as a dirty laundry quarantine or a safe space for prone-to-spill grooming products.
Herschel Novel duffel, $80. Available at herschelsupply.com
What You Get When You Google "Best Tablet"
Didn't Apple just come out with a mini tablet? Yep. Google did, too—six months ago. And I haven't put the Nexus 7 down since. It's my e-reader (thanks, Kindle app!), my fact-finder (Google's voice search makes Siri look sorry), and my assistant—it knows when I have a meeting and lets me know when I should leave based on traffic. Plus, at $200, I won't freak if I leave the Nexus 7 in the taxi.—Jon Wilde
Google Nexus 7, $200. Available at google.com/nexus
Rugged Enough for Deep Space. Cool Enough for Earth.
If you're ready to break from the canvas- rucksack masses, meet the Hyperlite Summit. Cut from racing sailcloth, it's waterproof and ghostly light, with no extra zippers or pockets. And it flips the bird at old-timey bags by looking like it's made for a moon landing.
Hyperlite Summit, $148. Available at hyperlitemountaingear.com
Blow Your Cover, Save Your Bag
Dragging an anonymous black roller to the airport? Nothing says This one's mine better than this slice of leather from Owen & Fred, hand-embossed with your details. And if your luggage game is already next-level (like, say, you snagged one of those Herschel duffels a few pages back), then all the more reason to tell the concourse it's yours.
Owen & Fred Custom Leather Tag, $45. Available at owenandfred.com
The Mean Green Espresso Machine
Presso asked how the urbane outdoorsman could make espresso without electricity. In answering, it also solved an age-old work problem: how to brew high-end beans at your desk without your office manager screaming, "That's a fire hazard!" The end result is the ROK Espresso Maker. Add a cup of hot water, flex your pecs to pressurize the grounds, then sip. Cue envious co-workers.
ROK Espresso Maker, $173. Available at rokkitchentools.com
Way Cheaper Than a Personal Trainer
The Nike+ FuelBand is your conscience, digitized. The smoky translucent strap lives on your wrist, measuring just how active you've been each day by converting body motion into NikeFuel and tracking all your data on a smartphone app. Sit on the couch and its score remains as sedentary as your ass. But meet your daily goal and the FuelBand's embedded LED display lights up in celebration. Cheesy? Sure. Addictive? Very. And that's exactly the point.
Nike+FuelBand, $149. Available at nikestore.com