1. Hydrapak Stash Water Bottle
www.hydrapak.com / $23 for 1-liter bottle, $18 for 750ml bottle
Who needs another water bottle when the world is awash in those disposable plastic containers? You do. For starters, this flexible, durable bottle is collapsible, so the more you drink the less space it takes in your pack. But because you can squeeze out all the air, there’s no sloshing, a key consideration when you are making a super-silent stalk on wary game. The light bottle has welded seams and comes with a 2-year no-leak warranty. Its best attributes: it doesn’t impart a plastic taste to its contents, and the more you use it, the less you’ll use those bothersome disposable bottles.
2. Coleman FyreChampion Hyperflame 2-Burner Stove
www.coleman.com / $180
For me, the best part of hunting is cooking on my pickup’s tailgate. Whether it’s morning coffee, a toasted sandwich for lunch, or a one-pot meal for supper, the heart of my alfresco kitchen is a portable propane stove. This unit from Coleman features twin 12,000 BTU burners that are resistant to the wind, and the recessed burners and integrated griddle make clean-up fast and easy, making frying an egg as simple as it is to boil water. The stove packs flat for easy storage and travel.
3. Cabela’s X-Bionic Energizer First-on-Skin Underwear
www.cabelas.com / $180 for each piece
I hesitate to call this underwear, but that’s what it is: the first layer on your bottom and top halves. It’s possibly the most technical underwear I’ve ever worn, and I admit to scoffing at its claims that it would regulate my temperature, whether in hot or cold conditions. Then I wore it on a Wyoming mule deer hunt, riding horses in the pre-dawn chill and then hiking in the heat of the day. The stuff works, keeping me warm in the saddle and cool on the slopes. Its “adaptive climate control” not only keeps you comfortable, but it minimizes odor and wears like iron. It’s made in both nylon and merino wool. Opt for the wool. It’s a little more expensive ($200), but worth it.
<strong>4. A-3P Sportsman Vintage Field Watch</strong><br />
<em><a href="http://www.bertucciwatches.com/Bertucci/A3PSportsman.html">www.bertucciwatches.com</a> / $120</em><br />
Who needs a wristwatch when you have a mobile phone to tell the time? C'mon. Every real hunter needs a reliable watch, and this classy field watch from Bertucci looks as good as it performs. It features a Japanese-made all-metal quartz movement and a hard-wearing military-grade nylon strap. It's water-resistant to 100 meters and the mineral-glass crystal is scratch resistant, even if you're field dressing a deer and your wrist is deep in the chest cavity.
5. Outdoor Life Clothing Line at Sears
www.sears.com / Price varies
Now your clothes can wear the same label as your favorite magazine. Sears is the exclusive distributor of Outdoor Life branded clothing, including casual shirts and pants for kicking back at deer camp or handling weekend chores like splitting firewood or smoking ribs. The lineup includes outerwear and footwear, as well as traditional favorites such as fleece hoodies and button-down denim shirts.
<strong>6. Gen-XTM Bow</strong><br />
<em><a href="http://www.genesisbow.com/genx/">www.genesisbow.com</a> / $200 for bow; $300 for bow kit (includes carbon arrows, rest, quiver, sight)</em><br />
If you are a young archer—or you have one in your household—you should take a look at this newest bow from Genesis. Like its previous models, Genesis has produced a compound with a universal draw length that fits archers of just about any size, but this version has more adjustability and more premium components. Draw weights are adjustable from 25 to 40 pounds, and Genesis has developed a "<a href="http://www.genesisbow.com/byo/">Build-a-Bow</a>" capability that allows users to add custom colors to the bow's hardware. At its lowest draw weights, the Gen-XTM (which comes in right- or left-handed models) is a little light for hunting, but the bow will move a beginning archer from the target range to the field.
7. Fjallraven Down Shirt Jacket
www.fjallraven.us / $350
Who says hunting gear has to be either stiffly utilitarian or printed in non-descript camouflage. This stylish jacket from Scandinavia is a great mid-weight coat, but when you throw a rain jacket or windstopper layer over it, the down insulation becomes a furnace that will sustain a hunter in windy, wet, and cold conditions. The coat is cut for shooters, and even has ammo holders inside the large bellows pockets. Best detail: you can wear it from the treestand to town (or even church) and not worry about getting off-putting looks from non-hunters you might encounter.
8. Viking Solutions Jack Rack
www.vikingsl.com / $180
We’ve all been there: a successful hunt culminates in dread at having to load a heavy deer (or elk, or antelope, or hog) into a pickup by yourself. This hitch-mounted hoist is designed to turn that moment into a happy one. The rotating tower and easy-turning winch can handle 300 pounds with very little effort, thanks to bind-free cables and machined pulleys. The unit deploys quickly in the field, or you can buy an optional kit that allows it to stand freely on the ground, eliminating the need for your pickup’s receiver hitch.
9. Muck Boot Pursuit Shadow
www.muckbootcompany.com / $265
At just 1.5 pounds each, the tall version of this boot (there’s also a mid-height model) is the lightest performance boot on the market. Unlike most Mucks, which are molded, the Pursuit Shadow is a lace-up, which allows wearers to customize the fit. This footwear is designed for the treestand, but it’s also comfortable and nimble on longer hikes. The 5mm Neoprene boot features a scent-masking barrier inside the fleece lining that makes it a great choice for deer hunters in a wide range of temperature and moisture conditions.
<strong>10. Stormy Kromer cap</strong><br />
<a href="http://www.stormykromer.com/products/the-original-stormy-kromer-cap.asp"><em>www.stormykromer.com</em></a> / <em>$40</em><br />
It's the classic, the head-covering shorthand for the American hunter. Isn't that enough? No? Well, it's also made in the USA, comes either in 100 percent wool or an 80/20 wool/nylon blend, and it belongs in deer camp, whether that's in Wyoming or Wisconsin. It's made in a variety of styles, but is there really any alternative to the red-and-black flannel original? No.
11. Thermacell Heated Insoles
www.thermacell.com / $135
You can wear a second pair of wool socks. Or you can stuff chemical heaters in your boots. Or you can get a set of these battery-operated insoles and brave the elements. Or at least while the power lasts. Thanks to three different settings, that should be at least five hours (on medium setting). The remote control allows you to turn the power on when your little piggies get chilly, and then turn it down or off when they warm up, without ever unlacing your boots.
12. Rinehart 18-1 Archery Target
www.rinehart3d.com / $120
Every bowhunter needs a target, and this self-healing foam block will take hundreds of arrows—even with broadheads—without losing its shape or shaft-blocking integrity. Light of weight and easy of carry, thanks to its handle, the Rinehart goes anywhere you do, from the backyard to the back 40. The best part, the company will replace the target for free if you shoot out all 18 sides within a single year. So what are you waiting for?
13. Sitka Whitetail Fanatic Jacket
www.sitkagear.com / $400
This may be the ultimate treestand layer. Designed to be both warm and quiet, the Berber fleece won’t rasp or slap on brush, branches, or treestand apparatus. Thanks to a windstopping layer combined with PrimaLoft insulation, the jacket is toasty. Bowhunter-friendly details include a safety-harness pass-through port in the back, a quiet magnetic pocket, and a zippered front muff that allows you to keep your fingers warm until you need them to draw your bow.
14. Orion 65 Cooler
www.orioncoolers.com / $500
One of the happy recent trends in hunting gear is the availability of coolers that actually keep things cool, thanks to roto-molding of rugged polyethylene. Yeti coolers led the way in this category, but they have plenty of company, including a sportsman-targeted line of coolers from Orion. Models include rope handles, low-profile camming latches, a lockable, bear-proof lid, and such cool amenities as an interior light and multiple tie-down points (some of which double as bottle openers), and the best paint jobs in the industry. The 65-quart model is sized right for multi-day trips.
15. Chaheati Heated Chair Cover
www.chaheati.com / $100
File this one under a gift for the sportsman who really does have everything else, but also be aware that everyone will be placing dibs on this product. It is a battery-powered chair cover that toasts the back and butt of anyone sitting in it, whether that’s around a campfire, on the front porch of deer camp, or on cold afternoons at the football game. The cover is weather resistant and has four settings that range from subtly warm to tingly toasty.
If you have a hard-core hunter on your gift list, I’m betting you are feeling a little bit of despair right now. What do you get someone who already has everything he or she wants? No worries. The world of hunting gear is as diverse as the people who participate in it. Here are some items that even the most gear-obsessed hunter on your list will enjoy.
Check out our Backcountry Hunter’s Gift Guide for more ideas