17 Holiday Gift Ideas for Women Who Hunt
Our top gear picks for female hunters
If you’re panicking about the state of your holiday shopping list right now—assuming you even scribbled one down—you’re not alone. Hunters all across the country are only just now emerging from the woods and attempting to determine 1) what day it is and 2) whether they can put off driving to the mall for another day and slip back into the woods before anyone notices.
So if you find yourself hunting for a last-minute gift for a woman who hunts, this roundup should give you some ideas. This list contains a few items that are specifically designed for women, but some of the gear here is unisex, and could work for any hunter.
1. HOT HANDS Chemical Hand Warmers** | $2
Apart from those little airline booze bottles, these are my favorite stocking stuffers. Like many women, I have piss poor circulation in my hands and my feet, and chemical hand warmers keep me hunting all through winter. I’ve had the best results with the Hot Hands brand, and I tend to buy them in bulk. Stashing one in my pocket with my cell phone also keeps the cold from draining my battery too fast, which helps ensure I can snap photos and communicate with my buddies.
2. CABELA’S Mega Braid Bow Sling | $8
Somehow my old stabilizer came unscrewed while dragging out a doe this fall, and my sling went with it. I replaced it with this braided sling from Cabela’s. It’s a simple system and there are 11 different colors to choose from, so you should find one to match just about any setup. It would make a good stocking stuffer for any bowhunter, and it never hurts to have a backup on hand even if they already have one.
3. STORMY KROMER Ida Kromer Cap | $45
Despite deriving its name from a man, the original inventor of the Stormy Kromer was, in fact, a woman, and now the company has a ton of hats to honor its original designer. I’m partial to the Ida Kromer line since it echoes the classic version, but there have dozens of different style and color combinations to fit a range of needs—hunting and otherwise.
4. ICEBREAKER Sprite Racer Back Bra | $60
Cotton kills and wool itches, but Merino is the best thing since sliced bread. If I’m spot-and-stalking anything, it’s almost guaranteed that I’m going to sweat through my base layer. That’s fine if I’m on the move, but once I stop and hole up somewhere, a sweat-soaked sportsbra gets cold and hellishly uncomfortable in a hurry. The only racerback I’ve found to fix this issue is Icebreaker’s line. The style isn’t particularly advantageous for high-impact movement (read: it’s not very supportive) but you buy these bras for the fabric first.
5. THERMACELL Heat Packs Pocket Warmer | $75
If you want to upgrade from the disposable packs, these rechargeable packs from ThermaCELL are a great option. They reduce waste, you’ll never accidentally puncture a package and ruin a pouch, and you can turn them on and off to conserve heat for when you need it most. The price tag might seem hefty in the short run, but they’ll save you a boatload if you tear through chemical handwarmers like I do.
6. 5.11 TACTICAL Raven Range Capri | $85
These are yoga pants on steroids. They’ve got more structure than regular athletic wear, but still have plenty of stretch to allow free range of motion. I tend to stick to the woods instead of the tactical scene, but after doing a two-day handgun intensive at the NSSF Fantasy Camp earlier this year (and after I got made fun of for wearing jeans) I entered the market for less constricting range clothing. The Raven Range pants fit the bill for function without screaming “tactical,” making them a good fit for casual wear, too. They come in black or tundra (pictured).
7. CRKT Fossil Compact | $90
An everyday carry blade this is not—but that’s the point. Sometimes you want a handsome knife with a solid heft to it, just for the sake of its craftsmanship. This pretty blade is the compact version—just the right size to be useful: solid in your hand, but still easy to maneuver. Although the folder does come in a larger model and/or without the Veff serrations, I prefer the versatility of the partially-serrated blade. The photo doesn’t do justice to the hammered two-tone handle, which is rich in color and positively prehistoric looking.
8. SJK Pursuit Pack | $90
I was lucky enough to hunt the West on multiple occasions this year for turkeys, elk, muleys, whitetails, and pronghorn. Every single one of those hunts required belly crawling at one point or another. A lot of times I had to ditch my pack, or inch along with my pack sticking a mile high off my back. On more temperate days, however, when I didn’t have extra layers to fuss with, I was able to wear the SJK Pursuit Pack. It’s a sort of pack-vest hybrid: it’s low profile with a snug fit. It has four chest compartments, and the main back compartment holds larger items and a hydration bladder. The Kryptek pattern is a good match for western terrain, and the pack won’t interfere when you draw your bow.
9. EDDIE BAUER Women’s MicroTherm StormDown Hooded Jacket | $140
This is the first of a few jackets on this list, and it’s my favorite. I started wearing this packable down jacket on a backcountry elk hunt this fall, and have now been wearing it under my outer layers as it’s gotten colder. The tailored fit is comfortable without constraining my movement, and it’s warm without adding weight. The camo pattern is more of a classic “fashion” camo that you usually see on people who wouldn’t know a shotgun from a rifle, but I wore it on hunts anyway. The coat comes in several other colors, which you can layer under your camo if you like, or not. The hood is an added bonus.
10. FIRST LITE Alturas Pants | Starts $140
There is only one pair of women’s hunting pants (or any hunting pants, for that matter) that I actually enjoy wearing in the field, and you’re looking at ’em. These lightweight stretchy nylon pants don’t have a speck of pink or purple on them, they’re breathable, flexible, and fit well. These are an ideal early-season pants, but can still be worn with base layers underneath when it starts to cool down. They come in three colors: Dry Earth (aka Brown), First Lite Fusion (pictured), and ASAT Camo.
11. BROWNING BEAR5500 Camo Dry Duffle | $140
The only thing wrong with this pack is that it doesn’t come in a color besides camo (yet). This water-repelling bag has become my dedicated carry-on—an impressive status for any bag to attain given how often I travel and how consistently I subject my gear to abuse. It slides perfectly into an overhead compartment, and can pack big or small. No matter how much crap I’ve got, this bag will hold it. If I’m packing light, its own lightweight profile helps my cause. The straps are easy to sling over one shoulder like a regular duffle, or you can slip it onto your back, which I often do when carrying additional and more awkward bags (like a bow case). Once I get to wherever I’m going, it transforms from a travel bag to a gear bag for the field.
12. BANDED Quivira Waterfowl Jacket | $180
Women’s hunting clothing rarely fits me properly, especially tops: they’re usually too short in the arms and torso, and require constant and hopeless adjustment in the field. So when I tested out the Quivira jacket, it was almost a shock: hours had gone by and I hadn’t even noticed I was wearing it. It’s a perfect fit, has pockets in all the right places, and is warm enough to wear by itself while still allowing room underneath for additional layers. It’s a fuss-free jacket that fits well and gets the job done. I own the Bottomland pattern, which adds a great old-school feel to a technical jacket. The only gripe I have is the Banded “b” logo is embroidered in purple to distinguish women’s gear from the men’s line. But at least it’s not pink, and every other feature was perfect, so it still gets a pass.
13. CABELA’S Instinct Backcountry Packable Down Jacket | $220
Okay, so this isn’t a women’s jacket. But it’s such an excellent coat that it doesn’t really matter. All that aforementioned western hunting has me appreciating great lightweight gear that still keeps you warm, and this men’s coat is no exception. The O2 Octane pattern looks cool and blends well on both sides of the Mississippi, and the coat is priced much more affordably than many of the camo-Gucci brands currently on the market. Just make sure you follow the care instructions to keep it in peak shape—I tossed it in the dryer in a pinch and melted a small hole in the hem.
14. MYSTERY RANCH Scapegoat | $295
Mystery Ranch calls this lower-profile pack a “scouting pack,” but it’s useful for hunting day trips and short overnights, too. The pack is well designed and intuitive to use, with the now-obligatory hydration sleeve and a compression system for attaching a bow or rifle to the front of the pack. My favorite feature, apart from the tidy fit and easy carry was the horseshoe-shaped zipper, which opened and closed smoothly for unique and useful access to the main compartment. It comes in three colors: Multicamo, Coyote (brown), and Foliage.
15. THERMAREST Mira HD Three Season Women’s Down Sleeping Bag | $490
Until this season, I have been using an old REI mummy bag I bought in the 6th grade. It was the only technical gear I owned at the time, and I was pretty proud of it at summer camp that year. But I finally upgraded this fall for a backcountry hunt, and I’m never looking back. MSR says their women’s line of bags are cut specifically for women so they’re not restrictive. They shift the fill areas from the shoulders to the hips for more warmth (apparently our hips get cold more easily, who knew). Additional touches include a foot warmer pocket at the bottom of the bag, a zipper pocket on the outside, and separate stuff and storage sacks. The other feature I appreciated was the inflatable mattress-pad integration system: those straps on the bottom of the bag. I sleep like a rock, but I don’t like sleeping on rocks.
If you’re not into hydrophobic down, they also have a synthetic bag (blue, below), and a line of four season and summer bags.
16. CAMP CHEF Smokepro DLX Pellet Grill | $700
Grills aren’t just for guys. I cook my wild game on a cast iron skillet or on the grill (I still don’t own a slow cooker, which is apparently a mortal sin in the world of wild game). This pellet smoker is simple to use and has incredibly delicious results. If you don’t have the budget—or the room—for one of the bigger grills, consider a smaller model or one of their other charcoal grills.
17. PRIME Rize | $950
A bunch of new bows are about to drop at the Archery Trade Association show next month, which means the 2016 models are going to drop in price. There are many great models out there, but consider taking your giftee to the bow shop to test out a few new bows. I hunted with the Rize all year, and was pleased most with the solid draw and back wall—a welcome upgrade after the highly adjustable model I was shooting previously. It’s fun to practice with, a slick-looking bow, and has a solid enough heft to keep me anchored in windy conditions.