The Gear Junkie Scoop: The Best Gear of 2009


By Stephen Regenold

From whitewater kayaking in Colorado to trekking in Belize, the past 12 months proved to be another epic year of adventure. Along the way, I put dozens of outdoors products to the test–tents, packs, boots, bikes, and knives among the mix. These ten items below, a best-of-the-best list, stood apart from the rest:

10. Saucony ViZi-PRO Collection: The obscene-orange color ofSaucony's ViZi-PRO Collection has one purpose in life: to make you asvisible as possible to drivers when running near roads. The line ofapparel, including tops, jackets, gloves, and hats, is so bright italmost hurts to look at.

9. GoLite DriMove BL-2 Longsleeve Zip: A textured weave and a facefabric that is embedded, improbably, with volcanic mineralsdistinguishes GoLite's $55 top. The lava rock ingredient–ground to afine dust and added as a fabric treatment–adds antibacterial odorcontrol.

8. Leki Carbonlite AERGON Antishock Poles: Field tested on a climbingtrip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, these poles survived miles ofabuse. Bonus: They weigh a feathery seven ounces per pole. But the $199price tag might scare you away.

7. Castelli Sottile Cycling Jacket: It may feel like reinforcedplastic sheeting, but the wind- and water-resistant Sottile Jacket,which costs $80, offers a significant layer of protection against theelements.

6. Drymax Trail Running Socks: A proprietary fabric mix in these$12 socks moves moisture away from the skin, preventing blisters. I wore apair for two days backpacking in Colorado. The sock's special “dry”fabric helped keep moisture off my skin. 

5. Inov-8 Roclite 288 GTX: “The lightest-weight waterproof boot onthe market.” That's the claim with the Roclite 288 GTX, a $130 high-topthat measures a scant ten ounces per boot.

4. Vasa Kayak Ergometer: This exercise machine mimics the kayakingexperience with a paddle-like shaft, a seat, foot braces, and aflywheel drive. My strengthened abs, shoulders and arms are proof toits efficiency. But at $1,999, the gains do not come cheap.

3. Wabi Cycles Lightning Bike: The fixed-gear Lightning was themost exciting bike I rode all year. The 17-pound bike–which costsjust $800–climbs, corners, and accelerates like few bikes in itsprice range.

2. New Balance Burnout Tee: No other shirt I own breathes as well asthe $45 Burnout Tee, which is made of recycled polyester and an exoticfabric derived from coconut husks. For most activities, it iscomfortable –even when soaked with sweat.

1. The North Face Animagi Jacket: Winter running and XC skiing are more comfortable in this hybrid jacket. With PrimaLoft-stuffed panels and thin, stretchy sleeves, the $149 Animagi breathes where it needs to and insulates the core.

–Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at