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Gear Picks of the Year: Mountain

1. The Mountain Bike
These days the most sought-after suspension mountain bikes use engineering sleights of hand to trick moving parts into being more efficient rather than less. The Giant Trance XO is the Penn & Teller of the dirt world. Though the company offers a few of these able-bodied rides, the Trance is the lightest, stiffest, and strongest. And with five inches (13 centimeters) of travel, the frame is better at taking bumps. Also, it's decorated with a host of Gucci parts, from Fox front and rear shocks to Avid Juicy 7 disk brakes and a sweet Mavic wheel-set ($700;

2. The Trail Runner
Dirt is indeed more forgiving than pavement, but most new trail runners have become so minimalist, it's like they forgot that "softer" isn't necessarily "soft." By contrast, the Asics Gel Trail Attack 4 WR has incorporated the perfect amount of padding into its heel. The cushion takes the edge off every foot strike just where you need it, but is still spare enough to keep the 10.9-ounce (309-gram) speedster nimble and light ($80;

3. The Vest
Other than stuffing your clothes with eucalyptus leaves, there are few options for puffy yet environmentally friendly insulation. The Patagonia Micro Puff vest is the exception. Its synthetic Climashield Green filler is 40 percent recycled, its shell is 90 percent, and its lining 50 percent. No other puffy comes close ($125;

4. The Shell
Equally worthy of an Appalachian Trail thru-hike or a summit bid on Denali, the waterproof/breathable Marmot Exum jacket is the most comfortable mountaineering shell you can buy. Built with a hyper-functional, helmet-friendly, windproof hood and massive armpit vents, the Exum incorporates the new Gore-Tex Pro Shell, the softest and most durable Gore lining to date ($375;

5. The Big Mountain Tent
It's not every day (or even every year) that a new category of tents comes to market. The REI Cirque ASL 2 is the first of the "three-season-plus" shelters, bringing four-season stability and weatherproofing in a package that's light enough for backpacking (five pounds, two ounces [2.3 kilograms]). Using leaner fabrics and stiffer poles, the 31-square-foot (3-square-meter) Cirque can weather winds high up on the mountain—without getting blown off it ($249;

6. The Wi-Fi Camera
You finally nailed that bouldering problem or cleared that gap jump on your mountain bike—now prove it to the world with the Sony Net Sharing Cam. There's no better or faster way to get your videos to the Web: This small (four inches [ten centimeters]), light (five ounces [142 grams]), cheap (200 bones) camcorder preformats your MPEG4 files for uploading to YouTube, Vox, and other sites ($200;

7. The DayPack
Not your standard-issue book bag, the Vaude Aracanda 30 features an airy suspension that handles up to 30 pounds (14 kilograms), adjustable waist and shoulder straps, and seamless, waterproof construction—all in a gram or so over two pounds (.9 kilograms) ($110;

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