The cream rises to the top, right? With that in mind, what pieces of gear have risen to the top this year? We present the handful of items that we still use on a regular basis and whose performance has been above-and-beyond. Here goes… our 2017 Gear of the Year.
BMC Roadmachine 01
We spent time on a bevy of modern disc endurance road bikes this year. And, while each yielded more comfort and control than the endurance bikes of yesteryear, the BMC Roadmachine 01 stands out as the overall winner for its snappy handling, comfort and light weight.
Kali Protectives Interceptor Helmet
When purchasing a helmet, protection is tops on the list. Typically, that includes MIPS, but Kali Protectives doesn’t mess around and their LDL inserts have tested as good or better than MIPS in rotational impacts. The result is an all-mountain helmet that looks great, fits like a glove and remains competitively-priced.
More: Kali Interceptor Review
ENVE Compact Road Bars
With a seemingly-simple shape and design, ENVE’s nonchalant Compact Road Bars quietly deliver a comfortable ride and perfect hand positions. The integrated end caps also provide a tidy finish to your bar tape.
SRAM Red eTap HRD
SRAM Red eTap HRD takes eTap to hydraulic discs and the result has been nothing short of magical. The paddle shifting of eTap is the most intuitive and responsive on the market and makes kitting out a bike even simpler without any shift cables or wires.
More: SRAM Red eTap HRD Review
Shimano Dura-Ace R9100
As far as mechanical groupsets go, Shimano’s new Dura-Ace R9100 is blazingly-fast and smooth. The levers are the most comfortable Shimano has ever delivered and we were blown away by how responsive the shifting was.
More: Dura-Ace R9100 Review
Reynolds Assault SLG Wheelset
At 41mm deep, the updated Assault SLG wheels are the perfect all-rounders. We loved how fast they responded and how well they dodged crosswinds. They aren’t the widest, but are tubeless-ready and come in at a competitive price.
Sportful Fiandre NoRain Bib Shorts
As the sister brand to Castelli, Sportful has some serious chops — including outfitting several WorldTour teams. The Fiandre collection has a number of great pieces, but the fleece-backed NoRain Bib Shorts have performed beyond expectations with warmth, comfort and versatility for chilly or wet-weather riding on road or dirt.
POC Resistance PRO XC Kit
The Resistance is strong with this kit as Eric loved that it wasn’t an XC kit nor an enduro kit, but something of a Goldilocks kit.
Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody
It’s light. It’s breathable. And it’s also the coolest new active insulator on the market. Outdoor Research’s new Ascendant Hoody may have finally defined the perfect midlayer.
Patagonia Bivy Down Jacket
If you are the type of person who is occasionally wracked by guilt by participating in the cycle of consumerism and materialism that drives our society, I have good news: Patagonia started recycling down and stuffing it into jackets that you can feel good about. The Patagonia Bivy Down Jacket doesn’t just keep you warm – It keeps you feeling ethically superior.
Montane Featherlite Down Pull-on
One of the weirdest pieces of our 2017 test lineup was, well, one of the best pieces. Pull-over puffies with enormous kangaroo pockets don’t come up that often, but there’s no denying the technical chutzpah of the Montane Featherlite Down Pull-On. Plus, it’s all wrapped up in the exceptional Pertex Quantum CS-10 fabric.
Arc’teryx Konseal Hoody
If you have ever wandered around the mountains wishing that your fleece had an integrated balaclava to obscure your identity from passing hikers, the Konseal hoody from Arc’teryx would really be your best bet. Plus, it fights odor and has a dialed fit for climbing.
More: Arc’teryx Konseal Hoody
Westcomb Mojave Shorts
Ah, the humble hiking short. What can you do to make something as simple and basic as hiking shorts shine? Well, do the typical Westcomb thing – make them in Canada, out of industry-leading fabrics with the sort of design that makes other companies scratch their heads in confused jealousy. That combination led to the remarkable Westcomb Mojave Shorts.
MSR Trailshot Pocket Water Filter
Squishing a stress ball relieves stress but leaves you thirsty. Squishing an MSR Trailshot Water Filter relieves stress AND contributes to proper hydration. Need we say more?
MSR FreeLight 2 Ultralight Tent
In this review I claimed that there are few brands that I associate more with ‘reliability’ more than MSR. The MSR Freelite 2 tent is a prime example – lightweight, creative and game for years of adventuring. And, just like all the best ultralight tents, it costs a small fortune.
MSR Mutha Hubba NX 3
Rounding out the MSR hat trick, the Mutha Hubba NX3 is roomy and comfortable enough for three tired backpackers. Of course, MSR doesn’t mess around as this one remains full-featured but won’t weigh you down.
Black Diamond’s Updated Climbing Ropes
Black Diamond has rolled out some incredible products in the last year, ranging from their new climbing shoes to these ropes. If you are a BD fanboy wanting to round out your kit, or if you simply want a stellar rope to climb rocks with, the new climbing ropes from Black Diamond are as good as just about any out there.
The North Face Endurus TR Trail Running Shoes
The North Face has upped their shoe game in recent years with the Endurus TR (and Hike Mid) showing us just what trail comfort feels like. The Endurus TR is well-cushioned and has tackled everything we’ve thrown their way.