So, raiding time is fast approaching. Maybe your guild is moving towards having enough people ready to start Karazhan. Maybe you have just reached 70 and want to join a raiding guild as a new tnak. Whatever reason it is, you have before you the task of gearing your bear for the job of taking hits and staying alive long enough to be healed. You need Ronseal Crit-Proofing for Bears.
Well, no you don't, you need enough defense or resiliance to eliminate the crit chance of the boss that's hitting you. But I thought it'd be amusing to say that... moving on.
The first thing you need (note, 'need', not 'would like' or 'should have', need) is three points in the talent Survival of the Fittest. Those are three points you've spent the moment you chose to be a druid tank. I can't stress this enough as I've seen druids apply to be tanks in a guild without having any points in this talent. This talent is essential. Consider yourself to have 58 talent points to spend, since three are already spoken for. Well, I say three, but you also need Mangle which is another two points, and since you're getting Leader of the Pack in order to get Mangle, you might as well improve it so you're getting a bit of healing coming in as well. So that's 7 points pre-spent as soon as you became a bear tank. Okay, you've pre-spent a lot of points, because there are a lot of talents which are so useful that you'd be a fool to miss them out of your build.
Okay, you've already got 3% less chance to be crit, that's good. You need a further 2.6% from defense, ideally, or resilience. This means you want to aim for a defense rating of 415. This isn't always easy, of course, since leather armour with defense on it is hard to find, and gets harder to find the more you progress.
I would advise every druid, leatherworker or not, to start their pre-Karazhan gear build with the Heavy Clefthoof set. Sure, you don't get the bonus if you're not a leatherworker, but that doesn't matter. Getting crit immune is important, losing a +20 str set bonus is not. That set provides you with a lovely 108 stamina and 74 defense rating, as well as 4 yellow and 4 blue sockets, which you could gem up for an additional 72 stamina, using just green gems. Of course, that is one route, but I would advise gemming to the socket colour so you get the additional +11 dodge rating from the set bonuses. I would personally put +9 stamina Solid Azure Moonstone in the blue sockets and +3 defense rating, +4 stamina Enduring Deep Peridot in the yellow slot. That will mean you get an extra 12 defense rating, 52 stamina and 11 dodge rating, resulting in these three pieces of gear giving you 160 stamina, 86 defense rating (36.4 defense skill) and 11 dodge rating. Very nice from just three pieces, and one of the major reasons that this set is quite hard to replace.
You start with 350 defense skill and need to get it to 415. With the Heavy Clefthoof set you are on 386.4 defense skill, so still a way to go.
The next item I would advise adding to your set is the Strength of the Untamed necklace, requiring revered with the Cenarion Expedition. This isn't hard to get. A few Steam Vaults runs and questing sessions will net you revered really quickly, especially if you have gotten to honoured through the plant part hand in quest. That is an additional 19 defense rating from the neck, as well as 27 stamina and 18 dodge rating. That's an extra 8 defense skill, bringing us to 394.4 defense skill.
You can probably count the Violet Signet as part of your gear, since it only requires friendly with the Violet Eye. This ring will provide you with 13 defense rating and 27 stamina. Very nice from something you basically get paid to take. An extra 5.5 defense skill to add to our pot as well, bringing us up to 399.9.
So far the items I've advised have been fairly easy to get. This next one is a bit more of a pain, but it's so totally worth getting. Earthwarden used to be the definitive druid tank weapon, pretty much. It's still great as it gives 500 armour, 39 stamina, and 27 defense rating. The down side is that it requires exaulted with the Cenarion Expidition. However, it's very much worth getting, since it's still a useful weapon for a long, long time. Getting this adds a further 11.4 defense skill, pulling us up to 411.3, not far to go!
Now you could go for either the Iron Band of the Unbreakable from normal mode Durnholde Keep, or the Elementium Band of the Sentry from normal or heroic mode Arcatraz. The Iron Band will bring you to 418.5 defense skill, while the Elementium Band will bring you to 419.7.
From those seven items, each resonably easy to get, you are now a little over uncritable. Congratulations. The rest of your gear can be stamina and armour heavy, with some agility for extra dodge and crit chance.
Checkout the Feral Druid Rated Gear List for ideas for other pieces of bear tanking gear, but always remember to maintain 415 defense rating!