Read enough and you’ll realize good writers are really engineers, philosophers, truth-seekers, liars, aficionados, artists, editors and soothsayers rolled into one. Crafting a singular moment out of independent and dependent clauses, an emotion out of the perfectly placed adverb or semicolon, requires an abstract something beyond skill, a something that, ironically, tends to boggle anyone who couldn’t create that moment out of thin air in the first place. But though we non-writers can’t define it (and we certainly can’t create it like they can), that literary gold is recognizable the instant our eyes parse it. It feels good. It’s a gift for the taking.
Gear Patrol’s writers artfully attack their craft every day, seeking to describe the test of powerful, groundbreaking and outlandish products better than anyone else out there. That’s worth celebrating; we celebrate it all the time. But every once in a while, they take something a little bigger — an impromptu, dangerous, romping journey, say, or an argument they’ve fleshed out fifty times with buddies, or the challenge of defeating a daunting obstacle like a mountain — and create something especially worth reading. They bend, contort, expand all of those skills we mentioned above to new limits on paper. We call it a feature. Here are the best of 2013.