I would say for reels that when you start going up to Alaska then start really looking at plunking out for a good reel. Also, keep in mind, my first trip up there I was landing silvers and big 'bows on a $30 Phlueger Medalist!
Features to look for nowadays :disc drag, open rim so you can palm the rim for added drag. But you really won't need crazy expensive drag systems in the lower 48 for trout, generally. I feel you can get a darn good reel for way less than $200 these days that will handle even the big,crazy Alaskan rainbows though... but that will be a second and different wt rod/reel combo too. Spend what you can, of course...you won't regret it.
All the advice you've gotten from everyone here is good advice,btw. Everyone has different preferences and WHERE they fish is a big influence on what gear they own.