Newest purchase: Astral Auquavest 300 - this thing rocks, lower profile so I barely notice it when I paddle, and the the setup is well thought out. The safety of having a rope on you, accessible, and instantly available is saweet. Plus all the attachment points, build in whistle, and the tow strap is so much better than the bungee ones I used in the past. Only complaint is it took a little to fit, and the knife mount works, but I would like to see another alternative placement.
Best purchase overall: Kokatat Rogue Dry Top - had my first kokatat drytop for almost 9 seasons with only one neck gasket replacement. For Colorado a high performing drytop is a must unless you shell out for a drysuit. Finally upgraded this year, the new version is even dryer and better fitting than my old. I will always have this drytop or the newest version of it.
I get gear everywhere, I do make a concerted effort try and support the local shop no matter where I am at when I can, but the deals you see on the internet make that difficult at time. My best advice is to work at a shop and get pro-deals