Every year, the Sportsman’s News team hits the field for well over 1000 man days of hardcore hunting, fishing and camping excursions.  During these trips, we get to test out a good portion of the new gear that hits the shelves at Sportsman’s Warehouse.  After the completion of the year, we have beaten up some of the best products and weeded out what is good and what is gimmick.  I have asked the team to put together a few items that have made a lasting impression on them.  Any one of these items would be a great gift for anyone that is fortunate enough to receive one of them under the tree on Christmas morning.

Mike Deming
President

Jetboil Sol Advanced Cooking Sytem

A warm cup of cocoa or coffee as well as a hot lunch on the mountain is a refreshing pick me up on a cold day.  The Jetboil is always in my pack wherever I go.  Whether I’m hunting or fishing personally or guiding a friend or client, you won’t find me without this product.   It weighs in at 10.5 ounces and with a small can of fuel, you are still right at a pound.  It will boil 16 ounces of water in just over two minutes, even at 11,000 feet of elevation.   This is one of the best gifts a sportsman could ever receive.

Outdoor Edge Swingblade Knife
Knives are something that everyone loves and you can’t ever have too many of them in my opinion.  I have drawers full of them, but when I head to the woods for big game hunting or guiding, I always have my Outdoor Edge Swingblaze Knife with me.  This setup is two knives in one, the first being a drop point hunter that fulfills your entire knife needs when skinning, caping, or gutting anything and then with the push of a button, you reveal a second blade designed to cut from under the skin and up towards the hair.  This design allows your main blade to stay razor sharp for a full season of usage because you are not cutting into the hair of the animal very often which quickly dulls the sharpest of blades.  The fluorescent orange handle of the Swingblade gives it the name Swingblaze and makes it very easy to find when placed on a rock or the ground.  The Swingblaze is a great gift idea and always makes it into my hunting pack.

Tilley Hats
Spending so much time in the outdoors makes you very susceptible to getting sun burned as well as opens you up to the long term affects and possibly skin cancer.  This is something that I take extremely serious.   I want shade and protection from the sun in the summer and in the winter, nearly 90% of your valuable heat escapes through the top of your head if you aren’t wearing a hat.  I don’t leave the house without a hat and Tilley provides some of the most functional, yet stylish hats on the market.  They provide a hat for nearly every situation.  Their guarantee is second to none as well.  If you don’t like the color or the fit, send it back and they will replace it with one that does and they even insure your beloved hat for loss.   This makes it a perfect gift for Christmas.  Show me a tie company that offers a guarantee like this.

Vortex Ranger 1000 Rangefinder
Whether you’re shooting with a bow, muzzleloader or rifle, knowing the exact yardage to your target will increase your accuracy immensely.  I still see many people in the woods without a rangefinder, but this is a product I will always have with me.  Some rangefinders are designed for bow hunters and others are designed for rifle hunters, but the Vortex rangefinder works well for either.  It ranges from 11 yards all the way out to 1000 yards and has angle calculation  adjustments, which means you get the exact hold yardage taking into consideration the angle up or down.  It works well in the rain and fog, which is usually a problem for most other rangefinders.  We film hunts for a living and I depend on my yardage being calculated by my Vortex Ranger 1000 Rangefinder on every trip.

Camp Chef Oven
Whether you are looking for a backup cooking source when your power goes down or a great asset to your camp kitchen, you can’t go wrong with the Camp Chef Oven.   This midsized oven always makes it to camp with us.  Having a two burner stove on top to heat up coffee or fry up some eggs and bacon is perfect.  However, the oven itself will hold a 9×13 cookie sheet or casserole dish and opens up many opportunities to cooking while you are in the field.  In the event you get a power outage or major catastrophe and need the ability to cook at home, this unit will allow you to cook everything that you do in your own home oven.  My wife and daughters are always happy that we have our Camp Chef Oven on our camping trips.

Sitka Gear
I do a lot of extreme hunting trips for Sportsman’s News into some of the most remote and dangerous places on earth.  Many times,  my life depends on my ability to stay dry and warm.  I won’t depend on any other line of clothing in these extreme conditions except for Sitka Gear.  There is never any questions about how good their products are or if they can endure the extreme conditions that are thrown their way.  Sitka’s line of clothing is a little pricey, but if you ever get in a situation where your life depends on it, you won’t ever regret buying Sitka Gear.  Whether you buy the complete layering system or just a piece or two in the line, the person receiving the gift of Sitka Gear will be forever grateful.

Kent Danjanovich
Senior Editor


Bushnell Banner 3 – 9 X 40MM Riflescope
If you are looking for a dependable scope at an affordable price, look no farther than Bushnell’s Banner Series.  Featuring their “Dusk & Dawn Brightness (DDB)” multi-coated lenses for clarity and brightness in low light, the one-piece tube design is perfect and has models available for big game, varmint, .22 rimfire, slug, black powder and turkey hunting.  Light gathering is essential for the magic hours at first light and just before dark, so make sure you make a stop at your local Sportsman’s Warehouse and help out old Santa by picking one up as a stocking stuffer this Christmas.

Coleman 4D Multi-Purpose LED Lantern
When you are out in the wilds as much as we are, a good light source is essential.  My choice in camp is the Coleman CPX  6 Multi-Purpose LED Lantern.  The 360º light with four settings shines 190 lumens, up to 29 ft. on its highest setting and 100 lumens on its lowest.  You can not only choose your power setting, you can also choose your power source of four D cell batteries or one CPX 6 rechargeable power cartridge (sold separately).  With a runtime of up to 65 hours, if you use your run time wisely you can power this great little unit for days at a time.  The reduced-glare Cree LED’s last a lifetime, never needing to be replaced and it also runs cool and safe to the touch even after burning for hours.  Tell Santa to stop in at his local Sportsman’s Warehouse to check out all of the great Coleman products.

Coleman CPX Rechargeable Power Cartridge
The Coleman CPX Rechargeable Power Cartridge is interchangeable with Coleman CPX lanterns and other products to upgrade from a battery applicance to a rechargeable one.  Why not save a little money on all of those disposable batteries!  You can power all of your Coleman CPX 6 gear with the great interchangeable 6V rechargeable power cartridge.  Each kit includes a rechargeable battery, a 12V adapter to recharge from your vehicle and a 120V adapter to recharge from a wall outlet.  You’ll know it’s fully charged when the red LED indicator turns green.  This great little unit is built to withstand the elements, as it is both water and impact-resistant.

Surefire 6PX Flashlight
A good light source is a must when we are in the backcountry and you will always find a Surefire in my pack.  My choice is the 6PX Series, with designed simplicity of operation and tremendous illuminating power in a very compact package.  It’s high-efficiency LED is virtually immune to failure since there is no filament to burn out or break and the brilliant, penetrating beam is powered by 320 lumens.  I really like the ability to either press the tailcap switch for momentary-on or twist it all the way for a constant-on beam of light.  The 6PX is made of high-strength aerospace aluminum, giving it extreme resistance to scratches, abrasions and corrosion.  Don’t be stuck out in the woods with less than the best.  Tell Santa you need a Surefire!

Avery Floating Gun Case
I just love my Avery Floating Gun Case, the #1 selling floating gun case in the world!  This 900D DuraMax poly outer shell and closed-cell foam case will protect and even float any shotgun.  You want to make sure you protect your guns when transporting them to the field and Avery does a great job with excellent construction including an adjustable shoulder strap, carrying handles, a cinch strap closure and even a choke tube pocket. It’s a perfect fit for any gun up to 54”.  In fact, Santa if you are listening, I wouldn’t mind another one of these for Christmas!

Avery Fatboy Rifle Case
The Avery Fatboy Rifle Case fits all of my big-bore magnum-action rifles, any of my rifles with recoil arrestors and any of my 50mm objective scopes.  It is water-resistant, with high-density open cell foam filling and features non-abrasive polypro lining.  It features a full-length nylon zipper, self-balancing handles, two oversized zipper pulls, steel rivets at all stress points and a muzzle protector.  A good rifle case is essential for protecting your investment and the Avery Fatboy is a must-have for any big game hunter.

Caldwell’s Lead Sled FCX
I shoot “A LOT”.  When you shoot as much as I do, a shooting platform is a must and worth its weight in gold.  Before I found out how good the Lead Sled was, I would take a few shots to sight in my rifles and then start shying away from the recoil that the larger calibers made.  However, I can honestly tell you that with the Lead Sled, the recoil simply disappears.  The Fire Control FCX combines the two most innovative rest technologies into the most advanced shooting platform I have ever used.  The precise alignment of my crosshairs to target allows me to be perfectly relaxed when pulling the trigger and the non-existent recoil allows me to take shot after shot with no affects on my shoulder.   The original Lead Sled is a great addition to any shooters equipment, but the FCX is the ultimate shooting rest and should be on every hunters Christmas Wish List.

Dan Kidder
Managing Editor

 


CamelBak Alpine Explorer
I have and regularly use several different hydration packs. I have one set up for Search and Rescue. Another for day hikes. A hydration bladder that attaches to my hunting pack. And another I use for when I am SCUBA diving. Whatever activity I get into, I try hard to stay properly hydrated. One thing most hydration packs have in common is that you sacrifice cargo room in order to have hydration, or to get more cargo room, you sacrifice water capacity. CamelBak has solved this paradox by creating a roomy pack with three liters of water capacity.  The Alpine Explorer pack is for those who need more carrying capacity as well as more water. Featuring 1,648 cubic inches of cargo room, a variety of easily accessible gear pockets, tool attachment points,  and a quick stash rear pocket, the CamelBak offers versatility as well as room for everything a well prepared adventurer needs. All of this is backed by CamelBak’s Got Your Bak Lifetime Guarantee.

SOG SlimJim XL
The SlimJim XL from SOG is a big knife. Well, sort of. When opened, the blade measures 4.18 inches long for a whopping overall length of 9.36 inches. What makes the SlimJim XL  an ideal tool is its slim design and no frills construction. Crafted from a single piece of steel, the entire knife is only .078 of an inch thick. This thin design allows the knife to slip easily into a boot, your waistband, or a pocket without the bulk of other knives. Need a blade fast? Just give a slight press on the opening stud and the SOG Assisted technology takes over and springs the blade open. The internal lock, provides a sure and safe positive lock each time. By removing any plastic handles, SOG has reduced the weight and the bulk of this knife to a minimalist profile that ensures a comfortable sure grip without the downside of a heavier and bulkier knife. If the SlimJim XL is too long for what you need, SOG also offers it in the standard size with a 3.18 inch blade. It is available in both satin and a hardcase black finishes. I especially like these knives for use in an easy access pack pocket as they take up less room and provide fast access to a blade that can be opened with one hand.

5.11 Tactical ATAC R3MC Rechargeable Flashlight
Many of my activities take place in the hours between daylight and darkness. As the sun sets, a reliable high-powered flashlight is essential equipment. Having 239 lumens of brightness on hand for hours at a time can be a drain on the battery budget as most take expensive CR123 camera batteries. 5.11 Tactical has solved this problem with a rechargeable lithium ion battery powered flashlight in a small yet powerful package. The weather resistant aircraft grade aluminum housing is more than just a simple switch, some batteries, and a bulb, but contains an integrated circuit board that controls functions, including a bright, dim, and strobe setting. A rotary tail switch allows you to easily select white, blue, or red light, or entirely lock out the switch so it doesn’t accidently turn on. A soft rubber ring prevents the flashlight from rolling on slanted surfaces and also acts as a tactical ring for integration into a shooting grip. For those times when you may be far away from the charger, 5.11 Tactical has included a two-cell CR123 cartridge that can be swapped with the rechargeable cartridge and allow operation on disposable batteries. The mountable recharging base securely holds the light while it is charging and comes with both AC and DC adapters to allow wall or vehicle charging.

Voodoo Tactical Roll Up Shooters Mat
Anyone who has ever lay down on a thorn bush to sight in their rifle, knows the benefits of a shooters mat. The Roll Up Shooters Mat from Voodoo Tactical offers the padding you would expect without the typical size and weight of a drag mat.  The roll up mat is 69 inches long and features fold out elbow wings that are 48 inches wide when deployed. When rolled up, the entire package is a mere 8 inches in diameter and 20 inches wide. All together, the mat is lightweight and includes extra quick release buckles and strapping to easily attach to your backpack. It is comfortable enough to sleep on if you needed to and the rugged nylon resists dirt and prickers. The foldout wings contain pouches and loops for extra ammo, a notebook and pen to record your dope,  and a spare magazine. For those days when you are spending a prolonged period sighting in or waiting on that monster to walk across your path, this mat will provide hours of comfort without breaking your back hauling it.

SOL Breathable Escape Bivy
Nothing in the outdoors will kill you quicker than a Mylar emergency blanket if you use it the way it is designed to be used. The reason for this, is that Mylar doesn’t breathe so condensation builds up on the inside as your warm body heats the material and then it comes into contact with the cooler outside air. Once you get wet from this condensation covered non breathable piece of plastic you will lose core body temperature 25 times faster than if you were dry. So a Mylar blanket will actually kill you quicker than if you were directly exposed to the elements. Because I often take off for days at a time cross country, every time I hit the trail I carry an S.O.L. Escape Breathable Bivy from Adventure Medical Kits. These bivies are crafted from AMK’s proprietary spunbonded olefin fabric. It does an amazing job of reflecting heat back at your body while allowing condensation to evaporate. It is impervious to rain and snow, and does a tremendous job of keeping you toasty inside. It has ample room at 84 inches long and 36 inches wide but rolls up to a tiny  4 by 6 inch package for easy portability and weighs only 8.4 ounces. It includes a drawstring hood and a nylon zipper to provide you the option of using it like a mummy bag or opening it up to use as a shelter.


Kevin Orton
Field Editor

Vortex High Country Tripod
I never leave home without my tripod from Vortex.  As I have gotten older,  I would like to think that I have become a little wiser as well.  I have learned that seeing an animal from a long ways away and having to hike closer just to see if it is the kind of trophy I have some interest in is not as fun as it used to be.  It is much better and easier on me to carry quality optics and the equipment to use those optics with to judge trophies from a long ways away.  As a trophy hunter, it saves me a tremendous amount of time and especially unnecessary hard work.  My Vortex tripod is light yet durable and fits easily in my pack.  I need something light, but of high quality, so when I am glassing a long ways away my optics are stable enough to shoot superior quality video through.  My Vortex High Country is exactly that tripod.

Brunton’s  ADC Summit
As technology in our rifles and scopes has become more and more advanced, I have found it extremely helpful to carry a hand held wind meter.  I really like the ADC Summit made by Brunton.  It  not only gives me wind speeds, but also tells me the temperature and the wind chill factor which will affect my bullet performance depending on  where I live and normally sight in my guns.  Not only do I use this when I am shooting, but I also like to know the wind speed when I am deciding on how to stalk an animal.  In an age of technology, this is one of those items that will easily fit in my pocket and I never go on the mountain without it.

Yukon Charlies Mens Icon Alpha Series Snowshoes
I find that I spend a lot of time hiking in the snow on a yearly basis.  For a long time I used to hike like most people in the snow, wearing my boots and using every bit of energy I had.  When I was finally turned on to trying snow shoes, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  It is hard to explain just how much easier it is to go on long snow hikes, especially when the snow is above my knees.  My Yukon Charlies Snowshoes are truly lifesavers and their newly designed Fast Fit Plus Bindings and Radical frame shape and heel lift give me maximum performance without the sticker shock!.  I highly recommend them as they are light and durable and I now use about 30% of the energy that I used to when I am hunting in deep snow conditions.  Stop into your local Sportsman’s Warehouse and check them out.  I guarantee that you will see the difference immediately on your next back country adventure!

Stove In A Can
I like products that help me stay out longer and make life easier while I am there.  I have found my Stove In A Can to burn very hot, which means less time waiting on my food and more time looking for my trophy.  The fact that it only weighs 8 oz. makes it easy to take anywhere, especially on my overnight hikes.  I can get about an hour’s worth of heat out of each cell and it’s easy to carry a few extra fuel cells in my pack.  Stove In A Can is also a great addition to my family’s 72-hour kit , so tell Santa to drop a couple into your stocking this Christmas.