The 30 Best Places to Work in 2009


How We Picked Them

The yearlong effort began with outreach. With help from the Outdoor Industry Association, we got word out to eligible applicants: nonprofit or for-profit companies with at least 15 employees working in the U.S. Our project partner, the Best Companies Group (, an independent research firm in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, then sent participating companies a confidential employee-satisfaction survey and an extensive employer questionnaire to collect information about benefits, policies, and practices. The results were analyzed by the Best Companies Group, which ranked the 30 winners in order of who best enables employees to balance productivity with an active, eco-conscious life­style. The project left us incredibly inspired and committed to spreading the word about what these companies are doing.

There are two choices when confronting the current chaos in the job market: Be afraid. (Useless.) Be bold. (That's the spirit.) Because moments of turmoil present the biggest opportunities to take a new direction, to find an employer who gets your need for adventure, to finally break free of the cubicle.

The 30 winners of Outside's second annual Best Places to Work come in many forms adventure outfitters, tech firms, nonprofits, you name it but they all share a common belief: that the secret to success in any economy is empowering employees to live bigger, better lives. The hunch is that happy workers are good for the bottom line because they're more committed, more creative, and more capable. So even in the current financial storm, these employers say, Sure, bring the dog, take a long ride at lunch, work from home today. What's good for you is good for us. Oh, and one more thing: Many of them are hiring.

1. Intrepid Travel U.S.
2. Natural Habitat Adventures
3. Clif Bar & Company
4. Smith Optics
5. Tabar
6. Dominion Digital
7. SmartWool
8. Paradigm Group
9. Rally Software Development
10. Carmichael Lynch
11. Country Walkers
12. Chesapeake Energy Corporation
13. Redspin
14. Adventure Life
15. Osprey Packs
16. Virgin HealthMiles
17. USANA Health Sciences
19. Mountain Hardwear
20. Eagle Creek
21. Restoration Services
22. Fitness Anywhere
23. OluKai Premium Footwear
24. Patagonia
25. Amer Sports Winter and Outdoor
26. Deckers Outdoor Corporation
27. Oakley Inc.
28. Industrial Revolution
29. SRAM
30. National Outdoor Leadership School

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