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Sugoi Helium Jacket : Pocket-Sized Protection

I'm thousands of miles from home on a volcanic island the size of Rhode Island, east of Madagascar, smack dab in the Indian Ocean. The one Phoenix beer I downed at the yacht club in Grand Baie turned into three (okay, maybe four) and then a gracious French Mauritanian ordered a few bottles of white wine ... and now my sailing trip was on ice.

Soon it was diner time and, just before driving back to the hotel, pause to watch the fifth and final set at Wimbledon where Roger Federer and Andy Roddick proceed to play the longest fifth set in men's Grand Slam history. Of course, neither man knew that we were woefully low on gas so that by the time Federer won his sixth All English Title every gas station on the island was closed.

While I can't say for sure that I'm the first person to wear Sugoi's Helium Jacket to siphon gas at an airport in Mauritius, I can state with utter confidence that given the hours that I spent in the blustery, rainy night air I'd have been hosed without it.

Oh yeah: I was in Mauritius for the Mauritius Ocean Challenge, an 18-mile kayak race along the wind-swept southeast corner of the island. Given the wind and rain that defines Mauritius in the winter, the Helium jacket became my go-to garment as soon as the sun dropped below the horizon. But given that I was in and out of the water each day, I stuffed it in my shorts pocket each morning and wore it time and again during the day as well. Weighing a mere three ounces -- that's two large eggs without the shell -- the Helium Jacket is as light as a plastic shopping bag and so compressible it's easy to forget that its in my hip pocket.

Weighing as little as a nutrition bar, this soft, breathable and surprisingly stylish "wind shirt" has "laser" vents under the arms and a zippered pocket for keys, tunes, or a credit card.

Available in men's and women's sizes XS-XL, eight different colors.

Bottom Line : Perfect for runners and cyclists seeking protection against the wind and light rain, the jacket features 3M Scotchlite along the zipper so that drivers can see you riding, running or, should it be necessary, siphoning gas along the road at night.--J.G. (July '09)

Price : $100.00;,

Manufacturer's Site: www.sugoi.com

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.