I'm thinking about switching my Salsa El Mariachi 29er mountain bike from singlespeed to gears. I love the reliability and simplicity of the singlespeed, but I've been doing more rides that involve both road and trail riding, so it's tough to find a singlespeed gear ratio that can do both.
I do lots of really long (~75 mile) rides and some multi-day bikepacking trips through the Colorado backcountry, so I need a drivetrain that is really, really reliable. I'm also fairly tough on components (currently, I replace my SS drivetrain each year), so I want to get something that's not too expensive. I currently am running a bashguard (using a SLX triple crank), and I'd like to keep running a bashguard since it's awesome to have one.
I was thinking of running a 1x9, or maybe 2x9 (with bashguard) setup with SRAM X9 or X7 components. But then I read some great reviews of the new clutch derailleurs (Sram "Type 2" or Shimano "Shadow plus") - people are saying that they keep the chain running lot nicer than the old type derailleurs. I've heard good things about running a 1x10 with the new Shimano Zee derailleur. The many drivetrain options are getting a little ridiculous!
So, what do you think? What drivetrain will keep running through the dust, mud, and crashes, while still keeping the price to something reasonable?