Editors' Choice 2009: Sanyo Xacti VPC-E2 Video Camera

This light and totally waterproof camcorder changes the game for backcountry moviemaking.

You could spend all day trying to tell your friends what it's like to swim through The Jug, a slot canyon in Arizona's Salome Wilderness. But you would fail. It's just too awesome for words. So save your breath and show them. The Xacti survived the aforementioned swim (it's waterproof to five feet) and pounding rain in Wales, capturing quality video in conditions that fried a lesser unit. (Watch our footage at backpacker.com/sanyo)
We also like the Xacti because it's made for plug-and-play viewing–it shoots video in five web and TV formats (MPEG-4), with resolution up to 640x480 pixels (think YouTube, not Sundance). At home, connect the camcorder directly to your TV for instant gratification, or upload to your computer for easy sharing online or with your iPod. And the features and image quality are surprisingly good for such a rugged, lightweight, low-cost camcorder. You get a 5x optical zoom, a 2.5-inch swivel screen, and the ability to shoot 8-megapixel still photos without interrupting filming. The intuitive buttons are easy to operate even with gloves. One complaint: The rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts only one to two hours. Budget for an extra battery or two ($20 each). $399 ($185 street price); 8 oz.; SD/SDHC expandable memory (up to 32GB); sanyodigital.com