Monday, December 22, 2014

Gear of the Year Awards

Each year I like to do a wrap up on what was released and what was upgraded.  Here were the awards for 2012 and here they are for 2013.  In the past its been just me, writing in isolation.  I have tried to take points of view from around the community, but I have never actually reached out to folks.  This year I did something different.  I got a wide mix of folks to respond.  None were manufacturers, but I did that on purpose.  I want these awards to come from the community, not businesses.

A few rules: 1) only new stuff--emitter upgrades and new handle materials don't count (this is not a strict rule); and 2) things can only win once (this IS a strict rule).  Without the second rule the overall product of the year would dominate its specific category too.  The purpose is to highlight the good stuff out there and this second rule allows for more stuff to be included.

Here are the voters: 

The Gear Geeks Live crew:

Everyday Commentary Contributor:

Ben Schwartz

Knife Thursday Empresario:

Knowledgeable Folks in the Community:

Grayson Parker
Mike Rixman

Utility Talk Front Man:

The Funniest Guy on the USN:

Justin Laffer

Each was sent a ballot of categories and each filled out the ballot.  Here are the categories:

Overall Product of the Year
Company of the Year
Best Value
Most Innovative Tool

Best Production Knife
Best Custom Knife

Best Production Light
Best Custom Light

Best Pack
Best Pen
Best Multitool
Best Accessory

Best EDC-related Crowd Funded Project
Best Website/YouTube/Podcast/Instagram
Community Leader

I will publish a group of ballots on Friday, Tuesday, and then I will release my ballot on the following Friday.  

I think you will be impressed with the overall quality of responses, the depth of the answers, and just how varied folks are.  Feel free to chime in in the comments section.  The best ballot in the comments, as chosen by me, will win the Kizer Ki3404-3 I reviewed last month.  You can comment on any of the articles listing a ballot or on this article.    


  1. Oh jeez I didn't realize the responses were being published - I feel bad for the editor!

  2. Looking forward to read everyone's! Cheers, Andrew

    Here's mine:

    Overall Product of the Year: Lionsteel TiDust- yep I tried to pick something different. Overall winner because I think this could prove to be a watershed moment for knife manufacturing. Bleeding edge technology straight outta a sci-fi movie, the knife is strangely breathtaking especially considering what it could represent.

    Company of the Year: Kershaw/ZT- So many strong offerings and collaborations, where to start?

    Best Value: Kershaw CQC-6k/7k – Great build quality and size, they’re a $30 Emerson.

    Most Innovative Tool: Klecker KLAX- Brilliant or dangerous, you decide.

    Best Production Knife: TAD Dauntless MK.4- This is the hot new version of the already great Dauntless, with improved ergonomics, better steel, and now it runs on bearings. Droooool

    Best Custom Knife: Microtech/Marfione Anax- Gorgeous new integral design (Sans “lanyard”) and crazy (but nice!) packaging, when will knife companies start shipping their wares in packages worth keeping? Also, cheap! For its segment, at least.

    Best Production Light: Prometheus Alpha Ready-Made- Getting an Alpha blue label custom was always a chore, the Ready-Made series looks as close as one could get to a custom for a production light, and it’s available now!

    Best Custom Light: Muyshondt Spinner- A sexy & simple ti light I need to get my hands on from one of the all-star makers.

    Best Pack: TAD Lightspeed 2014 Update- Better length, improved suspension system, and a less strappy design make this popular bag even better. Not a new design, but since this update keeps the Lightspeed as best of the best, it gets a pass.

    Best Pen: Hidetoshi Nakayama Bolt Action Pen- Honestly a kind of a self-indulgent choice just because I think this is a fascinating and exotic take on the bolt-action pen. Not sure if it’s a 2014 exclusive, although I only heard of it this year.

    Best Multitool: Leatherman Leap- Whimsical idea, a kids multitool! Too bad it’s been recalled because the blade lock is flawed. Hopefully this is fixed right away.

    Best Accessory: Weiss Standard Issue Field Watch- a handsomely finished new military style watch assembled in LA.

    Best EDC-related Crowd Funded Project: Fellhoelter Ti-Bolt Re-Leaded- A welcomed addition to the Ti-bolt line, I wish I needed to write with a pencil more often.

    Best Website/YouTube/Podcast/Instagram: Sticktodrum- with all the new Kershaw offerings, Mario’s channel was the one to watch. Also Utility Talk is hilarious.

    Community Leader: Since I am a watch nerd, #redbarcrew is the new community which became immensely popular this year in watches. Super knowledgeable and fun community of collectors which is proving to have clout even with aloof watch manufactures.

    1. Edit: Since the Weiss watch might be considered a late 2013 offering, I nominate the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Blue as my alternative top "accessory" choice. Gorgeous classic diver style proves Tudor is making a HUGE comeback.

  3. I know I don't have a vote but 555 gear better win best gear related person. His watch videos ate amazing.

    Also the RJ martin pivot less pivot or the Brian nadeau typhoon should easily win custom knife of the year. The marfione anax is NOT a real integral. It shouldn't take 8 screws to put together an 'integral' it defeats the purpose.

  4. I am surprised nobody has mentioned this one.

    Perhaps a contender to go up against the Victorinox Alox Cadet?

    1. The Style has been around for several years, and so is ineligible for an "..of the year" award. I had one when it was first released and carried it for a year or two before upgrading to a Squirt PS4. It was a well made tool and served its function as a keychain multitool well.

      The Style is not in the same category as the Cadet, but is nearly identical to the Victorinox Classic in function. I've carried both at different times, and the metal Style would win over the Classic with plastic scales (mine broke off repeatedly). A classic which has Alox scales, or a similar product with additional features (Rambler, Midnight Manager) would make the choice more difficult. Either one is very good, though neither is perfect.

      The main problem I found with the Classic was that the blade and screwdriver/file opened TOWARD the keychain, making its use more difficult. All of the tools on the Style open AWAY from the keychain making them far more usable. The nail nick on the Style was small and close to the pivot, making it difficult to open. I actually used a Dremel to deepen it and extend it along a greater length of the blade. The Alox Classic will be thinner but wider, the style is thicker but narrower (nearly a square in cross-section.

      I'm sure the debate between Style and Classic could be debated ad infinitum by fanboys from each camp. Truthfully, either one will do its job well enough, and there will never be a clear winner, so choose based on your aesthetic preferences or the minor differences I listed above.

      But only get the ALOX Classic! It is thinner, more durable, and gorgeous. You lose the tweezers and toothpick, but the trade-off is well worth it.

  5. 2014 was clearly a great year for EDC. Product reviews and videos from Everyday Commentary, Every Day Carry and their links to so many other EDC related sites provided even more info, insight and thought provoking views what EDC is and how we use it. My wish list of products seems to grow larger monthly, alas my budget does not so I focus for now on the value side of the EDC equation. It does mean I will stop dreaming of winning lottery or closing a super big deal and then acquiring every item on that wish list. But for now I will continue to love my EDC, a Kershaw Zing Blackwash, L3 Illumination L10C Nichia and Gerber Shard knowing that each of these provides immeasurable value to me.

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