Clever Ideas, Part III

The best sportsmen's gear innovations of 2004

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Ergonomic Multi-Tool
The Nautilus is an ergonomically shaped multi-tool that features not only a knife, screwdrivers, a bottle opener and scissors but also a flashlight. I found it to be more comfortable than any multi-tool I've ever used. Its flashlight snaps up like a switchblade and has two lights, one that points forward so you can find your way, and a second that points toward the Nautilus's tools so you can really see what you're up to when you field-dress your next deer. ($59.99; 800-950-6161; www. gerberblades.com)

Monocular/ Range Finder
Swarovski's Laser Guide 8x30 ranging optical instrument is perfect for deer-stand use. Slip it in your pocket and quickly glass incoming bucks and get the range at the same time. This 8x30 monocular is loaded with the kind of optics you'd expect from Swarovski. The purported working range of the range finder is 10 to 1,500 yards (we were unable to test that claim thoroughly because a working unit was not available at press time). It's waterproof and submersible to a depth of 13 feet. If you hunt in cold climates, where hand warmth is a safety factor, you'll appreciate the Laser Guide's large and user-friendly button. Overall, we found the unit very easy to operate; the quality of the monocular's optics were a bonus. ($887.78; 800-426-3089; www.swarovskioptik.at)

Send and SOS
I wanted to actually test this personal locator beacon (PLB), but I didn't think search and rescue would appreciate the false alarm. In fact, once they found me waiting safely with no catastrophe in sight, I have the feeling they would have created one of their own. Even without testing, however, I can tell you that the TerraFix 406 GPS I/O PLB from ACR Electronics is the smallest PLB available in the world; it weighs just 12 ounces.

It was only a year ago that the FCC made PLB technology legal in the U.S. So now, if you get lost deer hunting in a swamp in the Northeast Kingdom or fall and break a leg in the Rockies, you can press a button to broadcast your GPS coordinates to orbiting satellites, and someone will come to save your butt. One can only imagine the kind of gross insanity this type of safety net will entice hunters into trying. ($640; 954-981-3333; www.acrelectronics.com)