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Best Outdoor/ Adventure Store

Summit Hut
5045 E. Speedway Blvd.
330 S. Toole Ave.

READERS' PICK: Once again, Summit Hut crests our readers' poll when it comes to gearing up for even the most extreme (or orchestrated) outdoor adventures. (They also won the readers' pick for Best Equipment Rentals, under the Outdoors section.) If you're in need of the basics--sturdy yet lightweight tents and frame backpacks; rock-climbing ropes and harnesses; water-resistant gear bags and sub-temperature sleeping bags--the Hut carries some of the best, at competitive prices. The place really excels in its selection of outdoor gadgetry (you discern between the novel and the truly useful), and their ample stock of hiking boots and that quintessential Arizona footwear innovation, the Teva sandal. Summit Hut's second location is a scaled-down version of the original Speedway store (which celebrates its 30th year in business under the ownership of outdoor enthusiast Dave Baker), inside the Rocks 'N' Ropes indoor climbing gym on South Toole Avenue. Anything you need for climbing, they've got--from stylish sportswear to an entire wall of caribiners, and everything in between.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Okay, so it's a lot like K-Mart, it's corporate, and it figured in no small way to the demise of Bob's Bargain Barn. But now that our old pal Bob's has gone belly up, we find ourselves often at Popular Outdoor Outfitters for Less (three locations: 6315 E. Broadway Blvd.; 2820 N Campbell Ave.; and 6314 N. Oracle Road). Popular is all business: It stocks what people need (or at least want) and keeps it cheap. For better or worse, it's just another example of survival of the fittest.

Case History

1997 Winner: Bob's Bargain Barn
1996 Winner: Bob's Bargain Barn
1995 Winner: Bob's Bargain Barn

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