The very best of 2009? Hmmm… let me dig deep into my memory as I ponder the best gear of this year. It truly has been a remarkable year with continued growth, a new site design and the 10-year celebration of This year, however, the country has been in a quagmire of tough economics brought on by senseless gluttony. So, it’s with that sentiment that I carefully choose the 2009 Gear of the Year with a nod towards overall value. Yes, many items are still quite expensive, but many are more budget-friendly.

May I present the 2009 Gear of the Year:

DaKine Blockade Gloves

Super-versatile, comfortable and warm enough for most high-output winter activities (backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, trail running, etc.), the DaKine Blockade gloves feature Gore Windstopper and softshell fabrics to ensure long-term durability. Read full review…

DaKine Blockade Windstopper Gloves Review

Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover

This jacket quickly won me over with its ultralight insulation and flexibility. Use it as a mid-layer or outer layer–either way, the Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover is a winner. Read full review…

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket Review

Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor PL Jacket

Lightweight and even more versatile than the Patagonia Nano Puff, the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor Jacket utilizes Primaloft Eco insulation and has all the bells-and-whistles you’d expect from Mountain Hardwear. I love the warmth of this jacket and found it to be an excellent outer layer for backcountry touring when things got chilly. Read full review…

Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor Jacket Review

Scarpa Skookum Alpine Touring Ski Boots

With the versatility to go Dynafit or Fritschi, the Scarpa Skookum’s are a solid choice for burly backcountry tours. The extra weight is well worth it on the Skookum as these boots absolutely shine on the down while maintaining supreme walkability on the up. The Intuition liner and proven design make the these winners. Read full review…

Scarpa Skookum Alpine Touring Ski Boots Review

Arc’teryx Fury AR Windstopper Pants

It’s usually hard to find fault with Arc’teryx gear and the Fury AR pants are great backcountry skiing pants. The trim fit of the Windstopper softshell fabric screams efficiency, but the brushed lining also helps them breathe while adding a titch of warmth when needed. Read full review…

Arc'Teryx Fury AR Pants Review - In the Alta Testing Room

La Sportiva Crosslite Trail Runners

Tenacious grip… race-car handling… nope, not an Audi S4, but the now-beloved La Sportiva Crosslite trail running shoes. These kicks were fast and fun on the trails. While not cushiony enough for long-distance training (at least for a flat-footer like me), these shoes simply nailed it on 4-5 mile runs and would be an excellent choice for race-day. Read full review…

La Sportiva Crosslite Review

Chaco Paradox Sandals

Not the most technical footwear but fun and extremely-comfortable shoes/sandals for cruising around. These are the sandals that should have gone viral instead of Crocs, but that’s another story. Super-comfortable Bio-centric footbeds, excellent traction and super breathability. Read full review…

Chaco Paradox Shoe/Sandal Review

Jetboil Flash Cooking System

Welcomed improvements to the already-stellar Jetboil Personal Cooking System make this an easy choice. Boiling water has never been so easy and cooking meals in the backcountry for yourself has never been so quick. I’m really digging the new Flash PCS. Read full review…

Jetboil Flash PCS Stove Review

SRAM XX Components

SRAM has really come up with a killer component spec in the new XX grouppo. While the full meal deal doesn’t come cheap (it costs more than XTR), it is without a doubt the smoothest shifting drivetrain I’ve ever pedaled. Add on top of that the weight savings and simplification of a 2×10 design and there’s no way I could overlook the new SRAM XX this year. Read full review…

SRAM XX Cranks

Fox TALAS 32 RLC 15QR Suspension Fork

As the pioneer of long-travel single-crown suspension forks, the 2010 Fox TALAS 32 RLC is for real. With the new FIT dampening system and the solid 15QR axle, this lightweight wonder offers smooth travel that’s fully adjustable in every way shape and form to be both XC efficient and AM durable. Read full review…

Ibis Mojo w/Fox 32 TALAS RLC Fork

Ibis Mojo SLX Mountain Bike

Full-carbon goodness wrapped in the much-lauded DW-Link suspension design in a complete bike for under $3000! Are you kidding me?!? To think that you can get into a complete Ibis Mojo for that price is really unthinkable, in my opinion. The parts spec is rather pedestrian with a full Shimano SLX grouppo, RockShox Revelation fork and Ibis house-brand wheels and cockpit–still nothing to shake a stick at. While my review of the Ibis Mojo was a custom build, there’s no way you will find an equally-impressive all-mountain bike for $3000 on the market today. Read full review…

Ibis Mojo - In For Review

Santa Cruz Tallboy 29er

I’ve got a serious love affair with 29ers and the all-new Santa Cruz Tallboy simply blew me away with its quiet smoothness and versatility. I was not expecting such a refined steed from a 29er newbie, but Santa Cruz definitely did their homework with this one. Read full review…

Santa Cruz Tallboy 29er Review

There you have it… my picks for the 2009 Gear of the Year. What’s on your 2009 best gear list?

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


    • Indeed… not a 15-degree piece, but in the 30’s as an outer layer, it’s held its own and that’s really its purpose.

      I’ll see how it fares today as I give it the “how cold will this go” test on my 15-degree run. We’ll see.

  1. The result is the Nano Puff continues to shine. 15-degrees and I was warm and cozy (granted I was running so warmth is a given). But, I just got back from skiing at Solitude this morning were the AM temps were in the single digits.

    I sported the Nano Puff underneath the Stoic shell (very lightweight) and I was super-warm. Course… again, I wasn’t sitting in a fish house on Lake Okoboji fishing for walleye. For that kind of “adventure”, you’ve got to get kitted up with the whole down sleeping bag get-up.

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