"I checked that Panasonic out. Looks cool, any idea how it would stack up against the others I mentioned."
The image quality output of most P+S cameras is about the same. There may be minor differences (the folded 90-degree optical path of the zoom lens in most waterproof cameras is one negative), but when it comes down to it, they are P+S cameras. The enthusiasts start looking at raw files, slightly faster aperture specs, slightly large sensor sizes, etc., always searching for a compact camera that gives them output closer to a DSLR or interchangeable lens compact with a much larger sensor. (Ain't gonna happen. All of this is just diddling around on the margins -- any serious increase in image quality is going to require a larger and more expensive sensor/camera.)
I always recommend optical image stabilization and some sort of wide angle zoom lens. Beyond that, buy what you want, based on the size of the camera, the price, zoom range, whatever. If you see a camera that you like, but it's a little too expensive, there is almost always a previous model that is 95% as good for half the price. As long as you get I.S. you can pretty much go to Costco and grab any random P+S and get decent results. Seriously.
I'll happily carry my old Panasonic P+S on hikes. If I want greatly improved image quality, then I'll have to grab a larger, heavier, much more expensive camera out of the locker, but that sort of missed the point for the kind of hiking I do (which is to get away from photography for a while, natch.)