It’s that time of year when we look back and start to pick the winners. These are the bikes, jackets, tents and shoes that we would pick first every time. So, consider these the first gear draft picks of 2012.

The North Face Winter Sub Zero Aries Jacket

The star of the show is FlashDry and in this case, it’s FlashDry-infused Merino wool. I’m admittedly a Merino fanboy and adding FlashDry into the mix makes it even more capable. For cool-weather trail running, mountain biking or as a Winter mid-layer, the Sub Zero Aries has won me over. Read review…

The North Face Winter Sub Zero Aries Running Jacket Review

Williams Aurora SLC Saddle

More well-known for their renowned wheelsets, Williams has expanded their product offering in 2012 to include saddles. The Aurora SLC is a work of art with carbon rails and Italian microfiber that features a man-friendly cutout to reduce numbness. At $129, this one is an easy addition to the list. Read review…

Williams Aurora SLC Saddle Review

Felt Edict Nine 29er

While this bike is technically a 2013 model, my weekend aboard the Edict Nine has had me floating on cloud 9 ever since. Felt’s first full-suspension 29er has put all other manufacturers on notice. This bike is blazingly-fast, extremely balanced and way fun. The kicker is that the full-carbon Edict Nine 3 can be had for right around $3600. These will be going fast. Read review…

2013 Felt Edict Nine Three Review

Mizuno Wave Ascend 7 Trail Runners

My first pair of Mizuno’s and I definitely got my Mezamashii on. These are a dead-on traditional trail running shoes and guess what? It works. With a wide toebox, breathable uppers and excellent traction, the Ascend 7’s aren’t winning any awards for their good looks, but have nailed it with their overall performance. Read review…


Zipp Contour SL Bars

With thousands of miles on a variety of different drop bars this year, the Zipp Contour SL’s take the cake due to their simplicity. There are no gel inserts or trickery… Zipp just used the right carbon layup combined with an ergonomic drop and ovalized tops to deliver a performance-oriented set of drop bars that won’t give you the beat-down on your next century. Read review…

Zipp Contour SL - Installed on Felt F1

Sierra Designs Revival 50 Backpack

Sierra Designs didn’t hold back anything when they launched their new backpack lineup. The Revival 50 is comfortable on long and short-distance hikes and holds its own against the best packs on the market. Kevin has put this pack to the test and continues to sing its praises. Read review…

Roval Control SL 29 Wheelset

Carbon wheels are flat-out awesome and well, downright expensive. Roval eases entry into a great pair of carbon wheels with the Control SL 29’s. Adding these will reduce rotational weight and give you an instant edge on your next ride or race. Read review…

Roval Control Trail SL Wheelset

Scott Genius 700

Scott ditched traditional 26″ wheels entirely for its now-split Genius lineup for 2013. While the Genius 900 29er is still an awesome steed, the Genius 700 is even more impressive with the efficiency of its 150mm travel. Not only that, but the 650B wheels felt like 26″ wheels during slow-speed maneuvers and tight switchbacks. I could do a 150mm travel bike again if it was the Genius 700. Read review…

Scott Genius 700 - 650B Trailbike

Spy Screw Sunglasses

It’s hard to find a better bang-for-the-buck than the Spy Screw sunglasses. Opt for the Commando Kit and you’ll find yourself with two sets of lenses that will allow you to tackle just about any light condition with lightweight, fog-free performance. Read review…

Spy Screw Sunglasses Review

Arc’teryx Beta FL Jacket

Without question, the star of this show is the Gore-Tex Active fabric. I have since tested it on other jackets (like the Patagonia Light Flyer) and it stands toe-to-toe with any other breathable fabrics on the market. Slapping Gore Active into a classic shell like the Arc’teryx Beta FL and you have yourself a winning combination of weatherproof and breathable performance. Read review…

Arc'teryx Beta FL Jacket Review - Trail Running Test

Castelli Sorpasso Bibtights

Never underestimate the power of the scorpion. Castelli’s cycling clothing is legendary and the Sorpasso Bibtights are my best friends on cold-weather rides. With a leg-hugging fit and a comfortable chamois, the wind-blocking performance of the Sorpasso’s can’t be beat. Read review…

Castelli Sorpasso Bibtights Review

Bontrager RL Fusion GelFoam Gloves

When these arrived just days prior to my second century of the year, I was hesitant. In the end, I went with the RL Fusion gloves and my hands still thank me to this day. With nearly 1000 miles now I can confidently say that these have significantly reduced hand fatigue while increasing overall performance. Read review…

Bontrager RL Fusion Gloves Review

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason 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.

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