By Mike Deming
Choosing a Christmas gift for the avid sportsman or woman in your life can sometimes be a daunting task if you don’t know what they want or what products are truly good. I asked the team of professionals here at Sportsman’s News to put together a list of items that they just won’t leave home without whenever they take to the field. Our staff spends well over a thousand combined days in the field each and every year. So, we put our gear to the test more in a year than most people do over a decade. So, you can count on the fact these items would be a very welcome gift under the tree come Christmas morning. All of these items can be found at your local Sportsman’s Warehouse or through their on-line shopping at www.sportsmanswarehouse.com.
I often spend a great deal of my time in country where there are no roads and you can be hundreds of miles from civilization. The weather conditions in some of these places can be extreme and life threatening in some cases. The clothes on your back might be one of the only things that keep these elements at bay and your life just might depend on them. I trust my life to Sitka gear clothing from head to toe. They provide a complete layering system which will protect you in any weather condition and I recommend the entire system. The rain gear is the best that I have ever seen and makes for a great wind stop as well.
Browning X Bolt Rifle
A great shooting rifle is extremely important to having consistent success and for years I have always had a custom rifle in my hand that would shoot half inch groups at 100 yards with a high quality trigger set for several pounds. Since the Browning X Bolt came out, I have hung up my custom guns and carry the Browning X Bolt chambered in .300 WSM. This gun is extremely light weight with an adjustable trigger, fluted barrel, and it will shoot groups that will compete with any custom gun on the market at a fraction of the price. I use this gun for extreme long range shooting and it is the best 1,000 yard gun that I own.
Quest Primal Bow
Archery hunting for big game is one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling experiences in hunting and having an accurate bow in your hands makes it even better. G5 has been making precision archery equipment for years now and finally moved into the bow market. This bow is extremely easy to tune and the draw cycle on this bow is one of the smoothest I have ever experienced and makes practice sessions a delight. The wall on this bow at full draw is very solid and doesn’t provide any creep or jump. Even set at 72 pounds, I am only holding about 14.2 pounds at full draw which means that I can hold this bow for several minutes without fatigue. It launches a 390 grain hunting arrow at 296 feet per second with my 29” draw. I harvested a great color phased bear with it and I’m sure it will harvest many more animals over the year. If I have an archery tag in my pocket, I will have my Quest Primal in my hand.
Camp Chef 3 Burner Stove
Camping is one of the most enjoyable parts of the overall outdoor experience and even though I spend 180-200 days a year in the field, having products that make the field more like home make those days away a pleasure. Camp Chef has the best products on the market from Dutch ovens to stoves and their 3 burner stove is something that is always in my camp. I can prepare a complete meal using each of the 30,000 btu burners or throw on the grill box which covers two of the burners and makes for a super efficient grill. The unit has removable legs and folds nicely into a carry bag (sold separately). I can cook 2-3 meals per day on a ten day camping trip on one large propane tank. The stove weighs just 49 pounds and the grill box adds an additional 33 pounds, but both will handle all of your cooking needs while in the field and they are always the first into the truck when we are taking off to go camping.
Vortex Razor Spotting Scope and Tripod
Trophy hunting is a way of life for me and I love to see and hunt big mature animals. To be able to put your tag on one of these smart old critters, you must first find them. Spending a lot of time behind your optics is the only way to make this happen. Vortex has risen to the top in a very short period of time and over the past couple of years, their quality is some of the best in the business and their lifetime warranty is even better. The Razor Spotting scope is an item that is always in my pack or in my truck. The 85mm objective with the HD glass makes it the brightest scope out there and it has a price tag that is less than half of its’ German competitors. I carry it on top of my Vortex tripod which uses a fluid head and is extremely lightweight and durable. The combination is deadly for finding trophy animals.
Outdoor Edge SwingBlaze Knife
A good quality knife is essential in every outdoorsman or woman’s pack. When you harvest one or two animals a year, it is pretty easy to keep your knife sharp, but when you gut, debone, and cape twenty plus animals each and every year, it can become a very difficult task. The SwingBlaze by Outdoor Edge is my favorite knife. It holds a great edge like no other and the rotating blade is a very unique design. The regular skinner blade portion has the perfect bend for skinning your trophies and instead of a gut hook which often clogs with hair, the other portion of the blade lifts up the skin and allows you to cut from the underside instead of through the hair which dulls a knife extremely quickly. The fluorescent orange color is a great idea as well. Whenever I lay the knife on the ground, it is easy to find. I always have my SwingBlaze knife in my pack.
Kenetrek Mountain Extreme Boots
I burn up a lot of boot leather checking out different hunt units throughout the west each and every year. A comfortable pair of boots is essential to making those long days of hiking exciting. That next trophy could be just over the next hill. The Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 10 inch boot is the one I reach for once the weather starts to cool down. The 400 grams of Thinsulate insulation keeps my feet extremely warm and the 2.8mm grain leather upper provides me with great ankle support. The rubber rand around the boot makes these wear like iron and the K-Talon Outsole grips onto rocks like no other. I know that I can count on getting well over a thousand miles out of these boots and they are always on my feet when I head for the hills.
When compiling my list of things I can’t live without for our Christmas buying guide, I didn’t have to look any further than the pockets of my pants. Every day I carry these items either on me or nearby, and I never go out to teach a class without all of them.
Surefire E1B Backup
My number one item for daily use is my Surefire E1B Backup flashlight. Using a single CR123 battery, this 4-inch little torch burns at an amazing 120 lumens of brightness. A second tap on the switch and you get a dim 5-lumen map reading light. It’s innovative “S” shaped pocket clip allows it to easily attach to a pocket or the brim of a hat for hands free use.
SOG Flash II
Clipped right beside my flashlight is my SOG Flash II assisted opening knife. Using SOG’s patented SOG Assisted Technology (SAT) the Flash II lives up to its name and snaps open with just a touch of the opening stud. The Flash II comes standard with glass-reinforced Zytel™ handle and straight edge, satin finish blade. All Flash knives come standard with SOG’s patent pending, reversible bayonet mounted clip that ensures the lowest, most discreet carry possible.
SOG Powerlock Multi-tool
As a gear hound, I can’t even count how many multi-tools I own. But for the majority of my everyday use, nothing beats the SOG Powerlock. Intermeshing gears increase clamping power on the jaws and add tremendous force. The quality of the blades is superior to any other brand I have tested or used, and the assortment of tools, bits, and features meet just about every challenge I can throw at it. No matter how many multitools your loved ones may already have, they will love getting the SOG Powerlock to add to their collection.
Pro Ears Pro 300
As I tell my students, always wear hearing protection when you practice shooting. For my personal and professional use, I choose the Pro Ears Pro 300 electronic hearing protection and amplification. The great thing about electronic muffs is that I can speak to my students in normal tones and yet still have protection from loud sounds such as gunfire. This saves my voice and my hearing. The innovative headband wraps around the back of the head so it doesn’t interfere with my hat, which I wear to shield me from the sun. The sound attenuation is as clear as anything I have ever used and its 26 decibel reduction rating protects from even the louder big bore guns.
Revision Sawfly Eye Protection
Just as you can’t regain hearing once it is lost, you also can’t regrow your eyes if they are injured. Since my vision is important to me and I only have two eyes, I don’t take any chances with cheap eye protection that may or may not protect me in case of a mishap. I trust my eyesight to Revision. The Revision Sawfly Deluxe kit comes with frames, a variety of different colored lenses, and a carrying case. The Revision lenses are issued to the military and have been proven in combat to stop flying shards of hot metal. They have also been shot at point blank range with a 12 gauge shotgun and prevented any of the BB’s from penetrating. That is enough for me.
ADG Secure Vault
Part of being a responsible gun owner is storing your guns so they are safe from thieves, children, or other unauthorized users. While most gun owners store their guns in a large fireproof safe, occasionally you want a safe storage solution that is smaller and easier to access. The Secure Vault from ADG allows access to a single pistol with speed and ease once the combination has been input into the large easy to reach buttons. A small flap pops open providing instant access to your personal protection gun. When it is locked, it is out of reach of those who shouldn’t be able to get to it. Much safer and more secure than just sticking it in a drawer or in the glove compartment of your car, the Secure Vault is acceptable for your home or vehicle to keep your gun away from those who shouldn’t be able to get to it, but also makes your gun easy for you to get to when you need it.
5.11 Tactical Pant
I got my first pair of 5.11 Tactical Pants more than 16 years ago, and I still wear them today. These almost indestructible pants have been put through things that no other piece of clothing could endure. Their roomy pockets and perfect fit allow me to carry all of the gear I need to have on a daily basis. Innovations have been added to these pants to make them the most tactical and practical garment a person could own. There are many imitators, but I only accept 5.11 Tactical. Every piece of my company uniforms that I have my instructors wear is 5.11. For the abuse we dish out on our clothing, we need to know it will last and be ready to go after a quick wash. 5.11 Tactical has never let us down.
Caddis Breathable Waders and Wading Shoes
Caddis Deluxe Breathable Waders are the number one selling deluxe wader in North America. They ensure that every second you spend in the outdoors is done with maximum comfort, warmth, confidence and a hefty dose of good looks. While the look exhibits pure sophistication and dedication to the sport of fishing, quality and function always come first. Pockets right where you need them, reinforced knees and CaddisDry Breathable Technology keep water out, warmth in and condensation a non-issue.
Like it or not, wading shoes, specifically felt-soled shoes are coming under increasing regulatory pressure. Concerns over the transfer of evasive species and no-native plants have prompted several states to enact felt-free wading shoe laws and that list is sure to grow in the coming years.
In response, Caddis has introduced a comprehensive new line of environmentally-friendly, felt-free EcoSmart Soles. EcoSmart soles are at the forefront, with technology that offers great grip and support in all water conditions. Weighing in at under 1 1/2 lbs. the Northern Guide series feature nylon uppers with reinforced toes and heels and a padded ankle support for the ultimate in comfort. Wear them for miles…Wear them for days…As hard as you try, they’ll never wear you out.
Redington Fly Rods and Reels
No matter the fishery or the conditions, Redington’s CPX Series fly rods have something to offer everyone in every imaginable fishing situation. The most important technological feature of the CPX rods is the Red.Core Technology being utilized in all models. The unique spiral core wrap guarantees that all rods achieve the often sought after combination of lightness and durability. The glossy jet black finish and silver slate colored thread wraps, along with premium Portuguese cork combine to make the CPX fly rods both eye catching and a pleasure to cast.
The Delta Series reels are fully machined with ultimate fish stopping power. This reel is ideal for my adventures in Alaska, capable of handling the power of all species of Pacific salmon and football sized rainbows and Dolly’s. The large arbor design makes for easier and quicker retrieves and the new spool release mechanism and larger drag knob make for a better grip. Light-weight and well designed, my Redington Delta fly reel is always dependable and functional in every situation.
You will always find me decked out in Browning hunting clothes. Functionality and dependability make them my #1 choice when heading to the outdoors in any type of weather. Let’s take you through the Transition Series:
First there is the Base Layer, consisting of Next To Skin, Endurance Fleece and Control Fleece shirts and garments that not only wick away moisture, but also are treated with antimicrobial technology to control the growth of odor-causing bacteria to reduce human scent.
Second is the Insulation layer that meets the exact needs of the hunter based on weather conditions and his activity level. With a wide variety of options, such as 4X Mocrofleece, 700 Fill Power® down, and WindKill for waterfowlers, a wide variety of options are available.
Third is the Protection Layer. This top layer guards you against freezing, blowing wind, rain and snow. My favorites are the Pursuit, Hells Canyon and Zero Gravity sets, perfect for all of my hunting and fishing adventures across the country and around the world.
From caps, to vests, to blaze orange, to shooting bags and gloves, trust Browning Clothing to protect you and keep you moving comfortably during any kind of weather. Take the time to check out the tough, warm and highly practical Browning clothing you need for any type of outdoor activity at your local Sportsman’s Warehouse.
When your shooting situation calls for the most reliable, softest recoiling shotgun available, look no further than the Browning Silver® autoloaders. The Silver is powered by the proven Active Valve gas system and features the same high standards of fit, finish and performance that Browning shotguns have long been recognized for. No Silver exemplifies these traits better than the new 20 gauge Hunter models. These lightweight wonders handle as fine as they look and are ready for your next adventure. You will find me carrying my Silver Hunter 20 or 12 ga. on all of my upland bird hunts and believe me, the Silver Hunter is one of the finest shotguns I have ever owned.
Browning’s self-adjusting Active Valve gas system uses gas from fired shells to operate the action instead of recoil. When shooting light loads, most of the gases are diverted to operate the action. With magnum loads, only the minimum amount of gas necessary is used to operate the action, while the majority of the gases are vented through the Active Valve and out the top of the forearm and away from the action. This keeps combustion gases from fouling the chamber. Because the Active Valve bleeds off unnecessary gases, it effectively reduces recoil before ever touching the shooter’s shoulder. Recoil is minimized without the need for heavy hydraulic recoil dampers, sticky gel pads and gimmicky gel inserts. Superior recoil reduction from the Active Valve also means faster, more accurate follow-up shots and all-day shooting comfort regardless of the loads being fired.
The new Maxus Autoloading Shotgun has knocked the shooting world over. It has started an autoloading revolution. It comes in a 3” and 3 1/2” version is good looking, lightweight, reliable, easy to shoulder and shoot. The incredible Inflex Technology Recoil Pad is so effective in absorbing recoil, you cannot tell the difference when shooting light or heavy loads. The new Speed Lock Forearm and Turnkey Magazine Plug allows you to dismantle the forearm in seconds, for cleaning or changing in or out the waterfowl plug. Most importantly, this new shotgun has an all-newly designed gas system. The exhaust ports are larger and it stays cleaner, giving the Maxus the final edge on reliability. I have just added the Maxus to my arsenal and I love its performance, dependability and knock-down power.
The legendary Pronghorn GTX® boot provides big boot support with an athletic feel. Danner’s proprietary TERRA FORCE® rigid platform and claw-like Predator™ outsole provide sure grip on treacherous terrain while the GORE-TEX® lining affords waterproof, breathable protection. The CamoHide® (pattern and color are dyed through the leather) and 1000 Denier nylon mean durability and longevity in the field. Pronghorn is the ultimate all-around boot for hunting in moderate to cold climates. I have tried many different hunting boots over the years, but nothing quite compares with, in my estimation, the Pronghorn.
The Danner Pronghorn series has been my favorite hunting boot for years. Now, in 2010 they are introducing some key changes while keeping most elements of the classic design. The new Tech-Tuff toe and heel protect the leather and your feet from sharp rocks and other hazards on or off the trail. An improved lacing system and more aggressive outsole were engineered to keep you secure and agile over long distances. The new Pronghorn weighs in at just over four pounds and I can’t wait to try them out on my next hunting adventure.
There are many items I can’t live without in the outdoors but I have decided to list the top five items I use the most that are under $100. Each one of these items has been very reliable and worth every penny. They would make for some great gifts and you would be hard pressed to find anything negative about each one of them.
Jet Boil Stove
This stove has worked wonders for me in the field. It has never let me down under any conditions. When it comes time to eat a meal, the Jet Boil will not disappoint and gets the job done every time. Even during those late season hunts where you are only out for a day you will find me carrying the Jet Boil in my pack to whip up something warm to drink on those cold days. Fast, efficient and worth every penny.
This cooking system is unique in its ultra-efficient design, which combines a 1-liter FluxRing cup, wind-protected burner, and heat exchanger into a single rugged unit about the size of a Nalgene® bottle. The FluxRing heat exchanger captures 80% of the flame’s heat – about twice that of most canister stoves. One 3.5 ounce (110 gram) canister of fuel can boil up to 12 liters of water, which means less fuel to carry. It’s also fast – two minutes to boil 16 oz. of water for cocoa, coffee, instant soup or a freeze-dried meal. Easy push-button starter. Compatible with any standard threaded fuel canister. Burner and a 3.5 oz. fuel canister nest inside the pot. Made in the USA of imported materials. Fuel not included.
Dimensions 7 1/10”H x 4 1/10”W.
Weight 14 oz. (without fuel)
MSR Miniworks EX Water Filter
The MSR Miniworks EX Water Filter has been another item that I always have in my pack. It’s one of those items you don’t always use on every trip but at the same time water is essential in the outdoors and you can’t go without. The MSR will give you that peace of mind you need when the water supply you have is much to be desired. This unit has never failed me and I like the added bonus of this little unit fitting perfectly onto a Nalgene ® bottle for quick fill ups. This is another item worth every penny in anybody’s pack.
Details: An activated block carbon ceramic filter removes 99.99% of all bacteria and protozoa, as well as many chemicals, including pesticides, iodine and chlorine. Also removes odors and improves taste of water. The opposing-action lever is easier to manage than more common pump systems, and the flow is so quick (1 liter/minute) you’ll hardly even notice you’re working. Internal design is simple enough for easy field repair. Convenient mouth fits directly onto a Nalgene® bottle for quick, easy pumping, or attaches directly to a hydration bladder. Duckbill valve improves efficiency by keeping intake nozzle off stream bottoms and preventing backflow. Made in the USA. Weight 16.1 oz.
Petzl Tactikka XP
The Petzl Tactikka XP Headlamp has been a great addition to my pack. I have owned many headlamps over the years and have liked this one so much that I carry two of them in my pack. Most of the time I don’t even carry a flashlight anymore because the Tactikka XP has a spot beam that fills that void and shines up to 115 feet. When you need that little bit extra you simply push a button and you are in the boost mode that gives you up to 164 feet of extra light when you need it most. These headlamps have been very reliable under any condition. Truly another item I find hard to be without and worth every penny.
- 3 lighting levels (maximum, optimum, economic)
- Colored (red, green, blue) and transparent Wide Angle lenses included
- Carrier for second lens located on headband
- 2 lighting modes (continuous and flashing)
- Flood beam for sharp proximity lighting (Wide Angle lens)
- Spot beam shines up to 35 meters
- Boost mode: shines 50 meters for up to 20 seconds
- Water resistant for all-weather use
Havalon Piranta Edge
The Havalon Piranta Edge is the most recent item in my pack that I can’t be without. I use to carry several knives in my pack until I got my hands on the Piranta Edge. This little knife is extremely sharp and very light weight. One of the great features I like about this knife is the stainless steel surgical blades that are changeable. We all know how dull a knife will get when skinning a deer or elk and this changeable blade system gets you back to work much faster. The only area I don’t recommend this knife for is in a slight prying situation the blades will break but are very easy to change and you will be back to new again in a matter of seconds. This little knife would be a great compliment to any hunters pack.
- ABS handle
- 12 additional stainless steel blades
- Overall length 7 1/4”
- Easy-grip rubber inlay
- Ambidextrous thumb studs
- Liner-lock construction
- Pocket clip
Under Armour Boxer Jocks.
I live a pretty active lifestyle and these underwear have made my life much more comfortable. I don’t think I’m the only one out there who gets the occasional rash that doesn’t feel too appealing. Ever since switching to these underwear rashes are a thing of the past. Performance is built right into them and the breathability is outstanding. These would probably be an overlooked item for a gift but I guarantee these Under Armour Boxer Jocks would be a main stay under anyone’s pants.
UA’s signature Moisture Transport System and temperature regulation gave athlete’s something they’d never had before…a performance alternative to all the other underwear in their drawer.
Forget your old underwear that bunches up, wears out, or loses its shape; UA’s O Series underwear stretches, recovers, and fits exactly how you want it to.
Anti-Odor Technology prevents the growth of odor causing microbes. 95% Polyester/5% Elastane. Imported.
Russell APXg2 Clothing System
I used to hate to pack my bags for hunting trips when it came to what clothing I should wear. It seemed like I was always over packing for “just in case” kind of weather. I also found that over the years my closet has become filled with mismatched camo shirts and pants from all kinds of companies. Well all of that is over now that I have started using Russell APX. With this clothing system now I only have to pack one set of clothes, no matter what the trip or where I am headed. Whether it is hot, cold or very cold I am always covered with my Russell APX clothing system.
I actually used to be a guy that hunted and glassed for big game with my rifle scope. However when I finally figured out that a quality pair of binoculars was more important than the gun I was carrying, hunting as I knew it changed forever. Everyone I know that shoots trophy class big game has a very high quality pair of binoculars and they spend a significant amount of time behind them. I love Leica. I have tried them all and for some reason it fits my eye better than anything else on the market today. I carry the 12X50, the added weight in hiking is well worth being able to see the extra distance into the best canyons.