West Marine's Top Product Picks for 2014

The Miami International Boat Show is a huge, almost overwhelming affair, and it's a great time to check out all the new gear and electronics that have come to market. During the show, I had a firsthand look at West Marine's Top Picks for 2014, and the roundup includes some very cool stuff indeed. Check it out!

Odyssey Paddle Craft Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP)

Stand-Up Paddleboards are gaining in popularity on cruising boats -- they offer good exercise opportunity and a nice alternative to a kayak. The Paddle Craft SUP is the result of three years of development and introduces patented impact-resistant thermoSUP™ technology. Designed and engineered by Open Air Dynamics, the Paddle Craft combines a durable ABS shell, with a honeycomb waterproof foam core, resulting in a weight of only 31 pounds, making it easy to carry and transport. The Paddle Craft can accommodate up to 300 pounds.Jen Brett

Odyssey Paddle Craft Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP)

Stand-Up Paddleboards are gaining in popularity on cruising boats -- they offer good exercise opportunity and a nice alternative to a kayak. The Paddle Craft SUP is the result of three years of development and introduces patented impact-resistant thermoSUP™ technology. Designed and engineered by Open Air Dynamics, the Paddle Craft combines a durable ABS shell, with a honeycomb waterproof foam core, resulting in a weight of only 31 pounds, making it easy to carry and transport. The Paddle Craft can accommodate up to 300 pounds.

NorthStar Thin Plate Pure Lead AGM Batteries

It isn't often that I think batteries are cool, but these are. If you've ever had to schlep a massive, heavy 8D battery down the companionway, you'll appreciate the way that you can remove and handle each of this battery's cells individually. This also means that if one cell goes bad, you only need to replace that one instead of the whole shebang. The “Thin Plate Pure Lead” manufacturing technology allows for superior cranking and reserve capacity, more cold cranking amps, plus four times more charging cycles than flooded lead-acid batteries. Pure lead technology also prevents the plates from sulfating; the number one cause of battery failure.Jen Brett

NorthStar Thin Plate Pure Lead AGM Batteries

It isn't often that I think batteries are cool, but these are. If you've ever had to schlep a massive, heavy 8D battery down the companionway, you'll appreciate the way that you can remove and handle each of this battery's cells individually. This also means that if one cell goes bad, you only need to replace that one instead of the whole shebang. The “Thin Plate Pure Lead” manufacturing technology allows for superior cranking and reserve capacity, more cold cranking amps, plus four times more charging cycles than flooded lead-acid batteries. Pure lead technology also prevents the plates from sulfating; the number one cause of battery failure.Jen Brett

Fraser Optics’ Stedi-Eye 14 x 40mm Monolite Monocular

I had a chance to try the Fraser Optics’ Stedi-Eye 14 x 40mm Monolite Monocular, and it's super cool and would definitely eliminate any guess work as to what a channel marker says. My favorite aspect though is the smartphone adapter that allows you to not only zoom in really close, but also use the phone's camera to then take a picture or video. Military grade and lightweight, it’s the world’s only gyro-stabilized monocular that removes up to 98% of image motion caused by hand or platform movement. The monocular is engineered using Fraser Optics’ STEDI-EYE® Technology.

Fraser Optics’ Stedi-Eye 14 x 40mm Monolite Monocular

I had a chance to try this out, and it's super cool and would definitely eliminate any guess work as to what a channel marker says. My favorite aspect though is the smartphone adapter that allows you to not only zoom in really close, but also use the phone's camera to then take a picture or video. Military grade and lightweight, it’s the world’s only gyro-stabilized monocular that removes up to 98% of image motion caused by hand or platform movement. The monocular is engineered using Fraser Optics’ STEDI-EYE® Technology.Jen Brett

Cayman 11.5 Sit-On-Top Angler Kayak

If you're into fishing while you cruise, check out this kayak. Designed for the angler, this kayak is rich in features and versatility. It offers an extremely stable platform for standing while casting, with enough buoyancy to support up to 500 pounds. The unique “double-decker” seat provides a low position for paddling and a high position for fishing, as well as a stand-up assist strap. Additional benefits include: four molded-in rod holders behind the seat, molded-in gear trays and accessory attachment areas, mid-ship hatch and bow deck plate hull storage access. The Cayman includes a pre-installed anchor trolley system, a large storage compartment in the stern with a molded-in recess for a bucket, and shock cord rigging for securing gear in the storage compartment. Comfortable handles at the bow and stern allow for easy transport.Jen Brett

Cayman 11.5 Sit-On-Top Angler Kayak

If you're into fishing while you cruise, check out this kayak. Designed for the angler, this kayak is rich in features and versatility. It offers an extremely stable platform for standing while casting, with enough buoyancy to support up to 500 pounds. The unique “double-decker” seat provides a low position for paddling and a high position for fishing, as well as a stand-up assist strap. Additional benefits include: four molded-in rod holders behind the seat, molded-in gear trays and accessory attachment areas, mid-ship hatch and bow deck plate hull storage access. The Cayman includes a pre-installed anchor trolley system, a large storage compartment in the stern with a molded-in recess for a bucket, and shock cord rigging for securing gear in the storage compartment. Comfortable handles at the bow and stern allow for easy transport.

Third Reef Jacket and Bibs

The seventh-generation Third Reef Jacket is fully lined, yet breathable with light weight comfort. One hundred percent waterproof, the Oxford nylon outer shell has a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish. The articulated hood and brushed mesh collar have been improved by adding extra room so when the collar is fully zipped it will allow for the additional bulk of mid layers. Other improvements include cargo pockets that are now angled for easier access and super soft hand warmer pockets located behind the cargo pockets without zippers for quick accessibility. Zippered hand warmer pockets have been added at the upper chest to make access easy while wearing a PFD. The Third Reef Women’s Bibs still have the popular, ultra-convenient drop-seat, only now it has been redesigned with a single-side Velcro® opening for even easier use.Jen Brett

Third Reef Jacket and Bibs

The seventh-generation Third Reef Jacket is fully lined, yet breathable with light weight comfort. One hundred percent waterproof, the Oxford nylon outer shell has a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish. The articulated hood and brushed mesh collar have been improved by adding extra room so when the collar is fully zipped it will allow for the additional bulk of mid layers. Other improvements include cargo pockets that are now angled for easier access and super soft hand warmer pockets located behind the cargo pockets without zippers for quick accessibility. Zippered hand warmer pockets have been added at the upper chest to make access easy while wearing a PFD. The Third Reef Women’s Bibs still have the popular, ultra-convenient drop-seat, only now it has been redesigned with a single-side Velcro® opening for even easier use.

Garmin Virb Elite, Action Camera with Wi-Fi & GPS and the Quatix Watch

The VIRB Elite is an HD action camera that combines enhanced video recording with Wi-Fi capability and advanced GPS functions. Plus, the VIRB Elite uses ANT+™ wireless connectivity allowing the Quatix watch to act as a remote control. The Quatix watch can start or stop the VIRB camera or have the VIRB take still images wirelessly.

Garmin Virb Elite, Action Camera with Wi-Fi & GPS and the Quatix Watch

The VIRB Elite is an HD action camera that combines enhanced video recording with Wi-Fi capability and advanced GPS functions. Plus, the VIRB Elite uses ANT+™ wireless connectivity allowing the Quatix watch to act as a remote control. The Quatix watch can start or stop the VIRB camera or have the VIRB take still images wirelessly.

Simrad NSS9 evo2 Series

The NSS evo2 combines form, fit and function in an easy-to-use, multifunction device. The integrated NSS evo2 MFD features a sleek display with TouchSensibleTM multi-touch interaction. TouchSensible provides precision interaction in any sea condition with its logical keypad input and rotary, push-to-enter knob. Plus, Simrad’s GoFree WiFi option allows viewing and control from compatible smartphones.