What do you get the hunter or angler who already has it all? We’ve got 28 gift ideas for you. Our editors picked their favorite new products–ranging from stocking stuffers to big-ticket items–for the hardcore outdoorsman.
Check out our list, and then get shopping.
Live Target BaitBall Series, from $15
We previewed these bad boys several months ago on Outdoorlife.com, but now that we’ve actually gotten our hands on several of the Live Target Bait Ball series’ lures, we’re even more pumped. To the uninitiated, Grant Koppers, founder of Live Target Lures, set the staid world of fishing lure design on its collective noggin back in 2005. His goal was to create the world’s most anatomically accurate line of fishing lures ever produced. From his field mouse to frog imitation designs, Koppers struck a chord.
His new Bait Ball series is no different. These hard baits (threadfin shad, emerald shiner, and glass minnow imitations) are intended to appear like a small group of swimming baitfish. Each is available in a range of colors, sizes, and actions. We’ve just started throwing them, but these baits are a work of art and should prove deadly on a variety of gamefish.
By: Andrew McKean
It wouldn’t be a holiday in my house without a bit of liquid cheer. Here are three adult beverages that help me toast the season and my hunting buddies:
Concannon Irish Whiskey, $25/750ml: This light, tasty blended whiskey is matured in California’s wine country for a minimum of 4 years. Its malt and grain, matured in oak bourbon casks, give it a woody, honey, and citrus taste. (concannonirishwhiskey.com)
Diplomatico Rum, $30/750ml: I can’t do any better than this description (provided by the distiller) of this main ingredient in deer-camp hot toddies: “characterful nose showing fruit cake, rum’n’raisin ice cream, cocoa, dried ginger, cinnamon and clove. Develops baked bananas with fudge sauce and chewy toffee notes alongside vanilla oak and a deeper note of syrupy gingerbread, with hints of orange zest.” Okay! (rondiplomatico.com)
Moose Drool Ale, $8/6 pack: If you’re a Montana beer drinker–as I am–and also a hunter or angler (me, again), then chances are pretty good you have a few bottles from Big Sky Brewery in your refrigerator. From Trout Slayer to Slow Elk to Scape Goat, the beers produced by the Missoula brewery celebrate the state’s iconic wildlife. Moose Drool is a brown ale, suited to long winter nights in front of a fire. (bigskybrew.com)
LuminAID Solar Light, $20
This clever new waterproof camp lighting solution packs flat, is charged by the sun’s rays, and inflates to give off up to 16 hours of soft light that’s perfect for illuminating the interior of a tent. The LuminAID weighs just 3 ounces, and when it’s not inflated it measures 8.25×12 inches, so you can clip it to your pack and let it charge as you hike or hunt all day. Once you return to camp, inflate it with a couple breaths and bask in the glow.
Make Every Shot Count!, __$30
J. Scott Olmsted is a hunter and shooter with prodigious experience. As the editor of American Hunter, he has traveled the globe and faced down everything from ill-tempered elephants to sprinting prairie dogs to tiny squares of steel placed downrange at 1,000 yards in a stiff crosswind. So when he talks shooting, it makes sense to listen. Make Every Shot Count! is his complete guide to understanding the gear and techniques that will make you a better marksman.
Seaguar Smackdown Braid, $30
Seaguar has long laid claim to manufacturing the finest fluorocarbon fishing line on the market–and there’s a passel of anglers who would agree. But when you start talking dirt about who makes the best braid…well that’s another story entirely. Seaguar, however, began its collective chest pounding this past summer with the introduction of Smackdown. This 8-strand, micro-weave braid is said to extend casting distance and provide unparalleled abrasion resistance. Outdoor Life staffers gave it a thumbs after testing it in Louisiana a few weeks ago. It’s available in 10- to 60-pound-test and is comes in green and yellow.
Viking Solutions Deer Splitter, $35
There’s not much to gutting a deer, until you encounter bones, either fore (ribs and sternum), or aft (pelvis). Then things get interesting, and grisly, as we chop, hack, or saw through bones with knives, hatchets, or meat saws. I’ve seen some carcasses that looked like they were autopsied with a chainsaw. Now there’s a better way to cut the brisket and pelvis, with this stainless-steel splitting tool. The one-pound shear cuts bone with ease, and can also be used for jawbone extraction. While you’re looking at the Viking Solutions website, also check out the High Tail, a simple, portable jack for your deer that simplifies field dressing an animal by yourself.
Pelican ProGear 2750, $36
Contact: [Pelican.com](http://pelicanprogear.com http//www.pelicanprogear.com/product/Pelican-ProGear-2750-LED-Headlight/led-flashlights)
Pelican is known for their super-tough cases made to protect everything from cameras to firearms, and their new headlamps are built to those same standards. The 2750 is wonderfully simple, with two intensity settings (100 and 40 lumens) plus a flashing mode. Three AAA batteries will power it for 3 hours and 45 minutes on high and 12 hours on low. Beam distance ranges from 54 to 78 yards. Stuff that in your stocking.
Finn Utility Streamer Wallet, $55
This handsome two-fold wallet features two dense patches of sheep shearling to secure your favorite flies, plus an internal pocket for extra leaders. The exterior is made of water-resistant waxed twill cotton. At 9.5×4 inches, it fits nicely in a vest pocket or a wader pouch.
Columbia Omni-Freeze Zero Fishing Polo, $60
Nothing but nothing raises a collective red flag among OL staffers like an overreaching new-product press release (which is precisely why we put so much pride and effort into our hard-as-nails gear tests). On occasion, though, we run into products that perform just as advertised. Columbia’s Omni-Freeze gear makes the grade and then some. Check out the technology behind Omni-Freeze on the Columbia website for yourself, but trust us when we say this shirt will keep you cool whether you’re on a fishing boat in the Keys in July or a New York City subway in mid-August.
Pucho Cigars, $75
Unwind after a day on the water or in the woods with a stogie from upstart Pucho. Pucho’s cigars are hand-rolled with a proprietary blend of long-leaf tobacco grown from Cuban seeds in Nicaragua’s fertile Jalapa Valley. This gift set includes five cigars presented in a bamboo box with a V-cutter and long-stick matches.
Frabill Crankbait Net, $60-$110
A net is a net is a net, right? Nope. Who hasn’t cussed up a storm when a flipping and twisting walleye, pike, or redfish becomes hopelessly tangled in the landing net? Getting the fish out is one thing, but unhooking multi-trebled crankbait hooks is quite another. It took 18 months of on-the-water research, but Frabill has come up with a solution, which lies in the distinctive shape of the net’s six-sided holes. “Hooks don’t get snagged,” says Plano V.P. of Engineering, and the net’s inventor, Ryan Kleckner. A vinyl-dip coating helps resist hook snagging while preserving a fish’s slime coat. Five sizes are available.
Icebreaker Ika Long Sleeve Half Zip, $90
New Zealand-based Icebreaker has been making excellent merino-wool apparel for hikers, runners, and snow-sport enthusiasts for years. This fall they introduced a new line, cloaked in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity, designed specifically for hunters. The versatile Ika Half-Zip, made of 200-gram merino, has been a mainstay mid-layer in my hunting outfits all season long.
Lunatik Taktik Extreme, $100
An iPhone can do all kinds of great things for a shooter. It can calculate the drop and drift on your favorite load, serve as a shot timer at a shooting competition, help you predict game movement and patterns, and automatically log the scores from you last match. But if your phone isn’t protected from the elements you might as well leave it at home. I’ve tested many different cases over the years and this Lunatik Taktik strikes the best balance between protection and accessibility. The case clamps down securely around the phone and seals it against the elements, particularly dust and moisture. The case isn’t waterproof, but it will keep your phone in working order in everything short of a downpour. My phone has taken many tumbles and been exposed to environmental conditions that would have stopped it cold had it not been for this outstanding case.
Carhartt Realtree Xtra Camo Active Jac, $100
This warm, thermal-lined jacket features the tough cotton duck exterior, high-quality zipper, and comfortable rib-knit cuffs and waistband you expect from a Carhartt jacket, but now with a camouflage finish. Wear it all day while doing chores, and it’ll transition seamlessly to the deer woods for an evening hunt. Best of all, it’s made in the U.S.A.
BioLite CampStove, $130
This is one of those crossover products that’s as useful in deer camp as it is in a Red Cross emergency tent camp. It’s a simple stove that burns anything at hand–trash, twigs, leaves, splintered 2x4s from a wrecked building–and not only cooks your food but powers your digital devices at the same time. The guts of the stainless-steel stove is a thermoelectric generator that converts thermal energy (heat) to electrical energy, which can be stored in a battery or live-lined out to a phone, GPS, camera, or any other device with a USB connection. So not only do you not need to carry fuel to power your stove, but you don’t need a power outlet to charge your devices, either. Mate the 1.5-liter KettlePot (an extra $50) to the stove and you can have hot water or coffee anywhere you can find fuel.
Snow Lizard SLXtreme, $130
By: Andrew McKean
Much as I’ve tried to live without it, I need a ballistic case to protect my iPhone from the elements, and I’ve tried a bunch over the last couple years. Once I get over the annoying bulk, I appreciate their protective assets, and I’m particularly fond of those cases with a battery pack that contains at least one complete charge for my phone. The Snow Lizard case does that–protects and charges–but it has an additional attribute: It’s equipped with a solar panel that will charge my phone even if I’m miles from a power outlet. The Snow Lizard is being marketed by Otis, the gun-cleaning people, which may explain its ballistic DNA. It comes in coyote tan and black, plus sissy colors like safety yellow and signal orange.
Wood N’ Stream Flyway 8″ Moc Creme Wedge, $140
Established in the 1950s, but dormant since the 1990s, Wood N’ Stream boots have been reintroduced this year by Wisconsin-based footwear maker Weinbrenner. My feet have had the pleasure of wearing the Flyway 8-inch Moc Creme Wedge Upland Boot for the past few months, and they’ve never been happier. The waterproof full-grain leather uppers are supple yet tough and supportive, while the polyurethane insole, rubber midsole, and cellular wedge rubber outsole combine to produce an all-day comfortable foundation. Wood N’ Stream boots are available at cabelas.com and sportsmansguide.com.
Eddie Bauer Partridge Soft Shell Pants, $149
I’ve long been a fan of brush pants for any type of hunting that takes me into thick, nasty cover, not just bird hunting. This season I’ve worn Eddie Bauer’s Partridge soft shell pants on elk hunts in Colorado and Utah, a deer hunt in Montana, and an aoudad hunt in west Texas. The rugged Cordura overlay on the legs and seat has stood up to all manner of jagged rocks, thorns, and oak brush. The soft shell material is incredibly comfortable and doesn’t require any breaking in, plus it has a durable water repellent finish, so they keep my legs dry in anything but a torrential downpour.
Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener, $150
I’m going to ask you a really personal question: How sharp are your knives? Really. Your kitchen knives, too? We are all knife people, which means we give our blades plenty of use and abuse. Chances are, they’re not as sharp as they should be, and as your father said, a dull knife is a dangerous knife. Enter the Work Sharp belt-driven sharpener, the best tool a knife-owner could ever want. The motor-driven flexible abrasive belts (you can change them out according to the coarseness of grit you prefer) are tied to a jig that you can adjust, so you can move from between 15-, 25-, and 30-degree bevels on your blade. The best thing about the Work Sharp unit is how simple and user-friendly it is. Simply insert your blade against the shoulder, turn on the motor, and grind your blade to the sharpness you prefer. Stop, and repeat for the other side of the blade. My wife got the hang of it in about five minutes and immediately sharpened all our kitchen knives. Then I appropriated the machine and sharpened all my hunting and fishing blades. It’s that simple, and that fun to use.
Sitka Rambler, $199
Whether being wheeled through MSP, DFW, or SLC on a tight connection or being chucked from a bush plane onto gravel landing strip in the back of beyond, the well-appointed 1,900 cubic-inch Rambler (or it’s really big brother, the 8,600 cu. in. Nomad, in which you can pack a bow) is built to last. The bombproof 400D nylon shell is coated with a durable water repellent and the rugged 80mm-clearance wheels will roll over just about any terrain.
Kuiu Super Down Jacket, $230
Whether you’re glassing sheep from a wind-blasted ridge, waiting on deer in a hardwoods stand, or preparing to spend an unscheduled night outdoors, this jacket will keep you warm. But the best thing about it is that you’ll scarcely notice it until you need it. Weighting a scant 9 ounces and capable of being scrunched to the size of a softball, the water-repellent, stretchable jacket is ultra-packable and almost unnaturally warm. In fact, if you do much hiking while wearing it, you’ll probably overheat. But for static hunting situations, and especially beneath a waterproof shell, this down coat can literally be a life-saver.
Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite Electric Smoker, $230
By: Gerry Bethge
The simple yet nuanced art of smoking wild fish and game can be somewhat intimidating for newbies. It needn’t be. Just as you can’t build a house without a hammer, you can’t expect to get a quality, smoked product from a jury-rigged backyard barbecue. The key to delectably smoked fish and game lies in precise temperature control, and that’s a snap with the Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite Electric Smoker. The 30-inch unit is fully insulated, making it great for those dead-of-winter venison roasts. It also features digital controls that adjust the unit’s internal temperature up to 275 degrees and a meat temperature probe that helps prevent overcooking. A removable wood chute allows you to add more smoke-producing wood chips without a loss of internal temperature. Four racks provide 730 square inches of cooking space.
Simms ExStream Jacket, $250
Earlier this fall, Simms introduced a host of new cold-weather fishing apparel, including the wonderful ExStream jacket. I wore it on the Alagnak River in Alaska back in August, where the temperatures dipped into the low 40s and 20 mph winds made it feel downright wintry. Thanks to the warm yet compressible PrimaLoft Synergy insulation, the ExStream kept me toasty and also fit nicely inside my waders and underneath my wading jacket without being too bulky to cast to and fight fish.
Garmin Virb, $300-$400
The market is flooded with POV cameras, and the knock on just about all of them is that there’s no way of knowing what you’ve captured on film until you plug them into your computer. The new Virb, however, features a 1.4-inch full-color display that lets you perfectly frame your shots and play back the video while in the field. On top of that, it’s rugged, waterproof, and has a rechargeable battery that will allow you to record 1080p HD footage for up to three hours.
Randolph Engineering Falcon $349
The eye protection made by Randolph Engineering is a cut above. The product designers at this company understand optics, eyes, and shooting–a perfect trifecta when it comes to making shooting glasses. RE has recently introduced a new model called the Falcon. This shield frame glass gives the shooter an unimpeded view of the environment thanks to the one-piece construction of the lens. Shotgunners, in particular, will find these glasses useful. They are designed to sit higher on the face so that the shooter looks through the center of the glass when a gun is mounted. The Falcon comes with three interchangeable lenses–HD, Medium Yellow, and Dark Purple–so the shooter can fine-tune the glasses to the conditions. I’ve used a pair for several months and have found them to be one of the most comfortable shooting glasses I’ve ever tried, and the optical clarity is without peer.
SPOT Global phone, $500
The world north of about 55 degrees latitude is no place for wires. Or for fickle gear. That’s why solid-state satellite phones are the staple of North Country bush planes, backcountry lodges, and even saddle bags. They’re the only reliable tethers to the civilized world, and the only way to summon help in an emergency. But these phones are big and bulky, and they’re expensive. Now SPOT, the company that produces emergency locator beacons, has come out with the smallest, lightest sat phone on the market. Called the SPOT Global Phone, the unit is durable, reliable, and sized right to fit in any backpack. I carried the phone on every rugged mile of an extended, snowy British Columbia moose and bear hunt and never lost service because of drained batteries, a weak satellite signal, or the abuse I heaved on the phone. The best–and worst–thing I can say about it is that it kept me in touch with my office when I missed my flight out of the backcountry. Monthly usage plans start at $25.
Power-Pole Micro Anchor, $600
It might seem hard to believe, but there once was a world without Power-Poles–the ubiquitous electronic anchoring system that has seemingly made its way onto every bass and bay boat on the water. If you run a canoe, kayak, cartopper, or jon boat, you can now stick on a hotspot just like the big boats thanks to the Micro Anchor. The Micro Anchor is an all-electric, lightweight (about 10 pounds), quick-anchoring system that will hold a boat weighing up to 1,500 pounds in position in water up to 8.5-feet deep. Small-boat anglers can simply slip into a few inches of water, flip a switch and silently stay in place. What could be easier? It’s available with a variety of mounting systems
Nightforce 2.5-10×42 NXS Compact, approx. $1,700
This new scope from Nightforce is a graduate-level hunting scope. It features all the elements you’d expect from a professional-grade military optic but comes in a compact envelope that is right at home on a sporter-weight rifle. It has windage and elevation adjustments in .1 mil increments and a mil-based reticle that is in the first focal plane, meaning that all the ranging and holdover capabilities in the reticle will work at any magnification level. The Mil-R reticle is built around a central crosshair with hashmarks running in the vertical and horizontal that let the shooter quickly hold off for wind and drop without the need to work the turrets. There is also a ranging scale in the lower right quadrant that will help the shooter determine the range to targets of a known size. The reticle illuminates, too, in either red or green and with multiple levels of intensity. As with all Nightforce optics, the scope is built to take a beating. If you manage to pound it hard enough to bust it, it is unlikely that the rifle it was attached to will be in any condition to fire.