Vermont’s Best Shops & Gear: 2019 Black Diamond Awards

Each year, we send out a survey to find the best in Vermont’s outdoors. The best ski areas, shops, bars, brews and restaurants and more. To see all the 2019 Black Diamond Award winners click here: 



Vermont, you love your local shops. And you love to buy new gear. In fact, nearly half of survey respondents in our 2019 Black Diamond Awards survey spend more than $5,000 on gear and experiences each year and 76 percent buy their gear primarily from local, independent retailers, such as Outdoor Gear Exchange, which placed first or second in nearly every category.

Last spring, when Outdoor Gear Exchange added another 4,000-square-feet to its 16,000-sq.-ft. retail space on Church Street, it also expanded its product line to include The North Face, added a larger bike shop downstairs and even more of the new and used camping and hiking gear it’s been known for. Other shops, however, are known as much for the expertise they offer as the gear they carry.

Bootfitter Doug Stewart is one of Skirack’s dedicated experts.

Doug Stewart has helped make Skirack the go-to place for bootfitting and ski advice and Skirack’s Roger Costales  (who retired in 2018) helped make the bike shop one of the best in the country, according to the National Bicycle Retailers Association.

Likewise, the teams at Darkside in Stowe and Killington are the go-to sources for snowboard gear and shops such as Onion River, West Hill and The Mountain Goat have become meccas for local knowledge. As for the best Vermont-made gear? It’s hard to beat Darn Tough socks or Skida hats but we’re delighted to see newer local brands such as WhiteRoom and Renoun rising up the survey ranks.

Best Outdoors Shops: 1. Outdoor Gear Exchange, Burlington . 2. Umiak, Stowe, 3. The Mountain Goat, Manchester 4. Base Camp, Killington 5. Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, Brattleboro

Best Ski Shops: 1.. Skirack, Burlington 2. Outdoor Gear Exchange 3. Umiak, Stowe 4. Basin Sports, Killington, 5. Onion River Outdoors,

Best Board Shops: 1. Darkside, Stowe & Killington 2. Outdoor Gear Exchange, Burlington 3. Burton, Burlington 4. Splinters, Warren,  5. Basin Sports, Killington

Best Bike Shops:  1. Skirack, Burlington, 2. Outdoor Gear Exchange, Burlington, 3. Earl’s, Williston. 4. West Hill, Putney, 5. Bicycle Express, Waterbury

Best VT-Made Gear: 1. Darn Tough socks, 2. Skida hats, 3. Burton snowboards, 4. WhiteRoom Skis, 5. Renoun skis


Featured image: Outdoor Gear Exchange’s backpack guru demonstrates the latest gear. 


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