Every year, the Sportsman’s News team hits the field for well over 1,000 man-days of hard core hunting, fishing, and camping excursions. During these trips, we get to test out a good portion of the new gear that hits the shelves. 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 and now find a place on their gear list for the future. Any one of these items would be a great gift for anyone who is fortunate enough to receive one of them under the tree on Christmas morning.
Outdoor Edge Razor Lite Knife
Spending the majority of the fall in the field hunting numerous different states week after week doesn’t leave much time to tackle the task of sharpening a knife. This is also a skill set that is acquired over countless hours of practice and we usually don’t have that time.
The new Razor Lite replaceable blade knife solves this problem. The Razor Lite is a full-sized drop point folding hunting knife that comes with 3-1/2” replaceable razor blades made from surgical grade Japanese 420 stainless steel. The rubberized TPR handle provides an extremely ergonomic non-slip grip. This tacky feeling handle material is ideal for a hunting knife because it gives you something to safely hang onto, even when the knife becomes wet with fat and blood while breaking down that trophy. The razor blades with this system are not only extremely sharp, but durable as well. The knife blades themselves are very rigid and have the additional support of the black oxide coated blade holder. This blade is very similar to a traditional knife and not like other replaceable blade knives which have a tendency to break when you put pressure on them. It comes in black and fluorescent orange. The Outdoor Edge Razor Lite retails for $39.99.
We do a lot of the extreme hunting trips for Sportsman’s News into some of the most remote and dangerous places on earth. Many times when we are out there, our lives depends on our ability to stay dry and warm. We won’t depend on any other line of clothing in these extreme conditions except for Sitka Gear. There is never a questions about how good these products are or if they can endure the extreme conditions that are thrown their way. This line of clothing is expensive, 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, the person receiving the gift of Sitka Gear will be forever grateful.
SPOT GLOBAL Phone
A good majority of the destinations we visit have no cellular phone service, land lines, or internet which is usually why we all like to go to these places. It is great to unplug and enjoy nature at its’ best without disturbances from the outside world. This is usually a great thing when you are only gone for a few days. However, if your job doesn’t allow for you to be unavailable for extended periods of time, you might choose not to visit these types of destinations. We still have monthly and weekly deadlines here at Sportsman’s News so being totally off the grid isn’t an option.
The SPOT GLOBAL phone is an extremely affordable satellite phone with inexpensive monthly service plans. The phone is small and compact and not much larger than your average cell phone. The phone is 5.3” high, 2.2” wide and 1.5 inches deep and weighs just 7.1 ounces. It comes with a Lithium-ion battery that will provide you with four hours of talk time and 36 hours of standby usage. It is a great item to have in your car, pack, or wherever you go and is a wonderful insurance plan if you ever have a major emergency and can’t use your cell phone.
Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scopes
Every fall we take to the field in search of trophy animals to harvest and film. To do this, we need to find those animals first. Looking for trophy animals often happens when we are looking several miles away and this isn’t possible with the use of binoculars. We wouldn’t consider doing this without our Vortex Razor spotting scopes. The Vortex Razor line of spotting scopes delivers the quality of much more expensive models, but with a more user friendly lifetime warranty. You can definitely spend more on a product and you won’t be disappointed, but the Vortex Razor line of scopes is all you truly need at a fraction of the price. The 20-60x85mm scope is their largest in the family and is ideal for those of you who spend a lot of time spotting from your truck. The 16-48×65 is smaller and a great all around spotting scope. The newest 11-33×50 is super compact and for those of you who do nothing but backpacking types of hunts where every ounce is an issue, this is the answer. Regardless of which scope you pick, you will have a great piece of glass which will last you a lifetime and you will be guaranteed to see many more animals.
Camp Chef Pellet Grill
Sitting down with your family over a great home cooked meal of wild game or fish you harvested yourself is always a great way to relive the experience. My children always eat more of whatever we are cooking when they were involved with the process. However, taking the time to prepare a special meal isn’t always possible in today’s busy society.
The Pellet Grill by Camp Chef makes the main course portion of this process extremely simple and easy. The pellet grill is a combination of a grill and a smoker leaning heavily towards the smoking side. It doesn’t provide a direct flame to your product as a grill would, which eliminates flare ups. Your heat source is derived from wood pellets made of 100% pure sawdust which have been compressed into “pellets” which look a lot like rabbit food. These pellets are fed into a “hopper” which feeds the pellets into the auger and ultimately into the “firebox” where they are burned at a preset temperature. This will give you that slow and low cooking temperature and mild smoke flavor barbecue professionals strive for, without the extensive labor of keeping a steady temperature on your smoker. The Camp Chef Pellet Grill is truly a “set it and forget it” type of product which caters to the busy nature of today’s society. This unit allows you to prep your food for smoking, slide the temperature probe into the meat, set the digital temperature for cooking, fill the hopper with pellets, and wait for your dinner to be done. It is truly that simple. This product will provide you years of quality service and many enjoyable family meals.
Korker’s Whitehorse Wading Shoes
The Korkers Whitehorse Wading Boot blurs the line between traditional style and tech-savvy, cutting-edge footwear. Why not have the best of both worlds? The Whitehorse keeps you warm and dry while you navigate the shoreline, but it’s apparent simplicity masks a high degree of competence and innovation. Believe me, these are the real deal. They fit better than any other boot on the market. One of the reasons why is their exclusive M2 BOA speed lacing system. This BOA system has a super fast tightening knob and can easily be adjusted to acquire a glove-like fit with infinite degrees of fine tuning with a simple, one-handed adjustment. This system removes pressure points and allows for a super firm fit with no discomfort. And in the water the firm fit translates into support and increased wading ability. Also, the OmniTrax 3.0 Interchangable Sole System has ironed out the kinks in previous versions, allowing for quick conversion. Multiple sole inserts are available for specific use for waters everywhere. Stop into your local Sportsman’s Warehouse and try a pair on for yourself. They will be available by early spring, just in time for that first trip of the year!
Otis Ripcord Cleaning Kits
For times in the field when you just can’t reach your gun cleaning kit and need a quick and effective clean – reach for the Ripcord. The Ripcord is the fastest, most effective, one-pass clean available. Composed of heat resistant Nomex fibers braided over a molded rubberized core/cable combination, the Ripcord offers the ability to clean firearms properly from Breech-to-Muzzle in one quick and easy pass. The Nomex material acts as both a brush to loosen and a patch to capture fouling particles. The molded rubberized core keeps the Nomex cleaning surface pressed against the bore, ensuring an aggressive all-around cleaning. Additionally, the core is a helix shape, which helps engage the rifling throughout the length of the barrel. The guys at Sportsman’s News never head to the range without the Ripcord. Available in .223 cal/5.56mm, .30 cal, 9mm, .40 cal & .45 cal.
Browning Dirty Bird Camo
For the hardcore waterfowler who doesn’t want to forgo a day at the marsh because of bone chilling temperatures and freezing rain, Browning has the perfect solution for you. Dirty Bird technical outerwear has been designed by hardcore, die hard waterfowl hunters, who want to be prepared for ANY weather or activity. They offer parkas, jackets and bibs for extreme cold and precipitation as well as soft shells and fleeces for more moderate days. Likewise, they have layers that use their Vari-Tech design to allow even greater freedom of movement And Dirty Bird incorporates Primaloft Insulation in some models keeping you warm, while being lightweight and not retaining moisture. The Sportsman’s News Team’s late October hunt in northeastern Alberta found themselves nice and toasty in all sorts of weather conditions and the birds didn’t even know they were there in the new Mossy Oak Blades pattern (also available in Realtree MAX5) . Do yourself a favor and check out the great line of Browning Dirty Bird Camo before Santa finishes your list.
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System
Coming with a 1 million gallon guarantee and the ability to easily fit in your pack with a total weight of less than 3 ounces, the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System is a great gift idea for the backpacker, prepper, or camper in your life. Easy to use, the Sawyer Squeeze comes with three collapsible water pouches; one of each in 16, 32, and 64 ounces. The untreated water is placed in the pouch and the filter attached. As the pouch is squeezed, treated water is squirted from the filter into a clean container of your choice, such as a Nalgene bottle or canteen. The Fast Flow Hollow Fiber Membrane inside the filter allows water to quickly be filtered for spores and bacteria. An included syringe allows clogged filters to be quickly and easily backflushed for continued use without replacing the filter. Sawyer is so confident that each unit is guaranteed to treat 1 million gallons. Additional accessories allow you to place the filter in-line to standard hydration packs, filter larger quantities up to two liters, and also use the filter in gravity mode. The filter also attaches to standard water bottles purchased in stores. Retails for $49.99
Champion Pivot Bi-Pod
A steady rest for your rifle can mean the difference between a missed shot and a freezer full of game meat. Champion offers their mountable bi-pods in two lengths, 9-13” and 13.5- 23”. Not only do these bi-pods allow you to gain height and steadiness, they allow you to keep your rifle level in a variety of uneven terrains by pivoting and rotating. This additional range of motion allows the rifle to stay upright on sloped ground and can be locked into position. For targets that are moving, a rotating head can follow the target without moving and re-leveling the feet. Auto locking latches engage the legs at maximum length and quickly release the legs to minimum extension. Tension knobs allow you to lock the legs at any height. A quick attachment connector allows the bi-pod to mount to your rifle’s sling swivel and an additional sling swivel point allows you to attach your rifle sling directly to the bi-pod. Both units retail for $59.99
Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener
Able to sharpen every knife you own to razor perfection is the boast of the Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener. Using rotating sanding belts of various grits, the sharpener places a convex bevel on the blade for superior sharpness that lasts longer. A variable speed trigger dial lets you easily choose belt speed depending upon blade type and angle. An adjustable angle cartridge lets you dial in the desired blade angle, making this sharpener ideal for putting a professional edge on everything from kitchen knives to hunting knives quickly and easily. Belts are available in coarse to extremely fine grits making it possible to regrind damaged or improperly aligned bevels to a mirror polish. Remove the angle cartridge and use the tool to sharpen axes, lawnmower blades and other tools. For all of your sharpening needs, the Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener will give you professional results. Retails for $149.99
Eagle’s Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock and Accessories
For the most comfortable night’s sleep in the outdoors, the compact and lightweight backpacking hammock from ENO suspends you off the ground and embraces you in comfort. Using space age materials, the DoubleNest Hammock provides lightweight comfort for two in a small package. Weighing only 21 ounces, the hammock is over 9 feet long and six feet wide and folds down to a mere 5”x6”x3” bundle. It easily sets up wherever you have two trees, posts, or rock carabineers. Add the ProFly Rain Tarp and you have a floating tent protected from the elements. Wrap the optional Guradian Bug Net and you are insect free for a great night’s sleep swaying in the breeze. The Atlas Hammock Suspension System allows you to extend the tiepoints of your hammock and also quickly and easily adjust the attachment straps so you always have the perfect length and height. The DoubleNest Hammock retails for $69.99. The Atlas straps retail for $29.99. The ProFly is $79.99 and the Guardian Bug Net is $59.99.
Redfield Counterstrike Scope
Combining the ease of use and stealth of a red dot scope with a visible external laser device, the Counterstrike Scope from Redfield gives you more options for a tactical optic than many other optics on the market. The Counterstike is an integrated 4 MOA aiming point that can be switched between red or green with adjustable brightness control and night vision capability. A separate visible red laser with independent zero is attached to the body of the optic. This allows you to zero the dot for one distance and the laser for a different range and have the benefit of far off and up close aiming distances in a single optic device. The unit is waterproof and fogproof, as well as shockproof for real world use. The standard CR123 battery will run for up to 5,000 hours in its lowest setting and 500 hours on high. Each Redfield product is covered by their “No Excuses Warranty.” The Redfield Counterstrike retails for $179.99.
Auguson Farms and Grizzly Ridge Food Storage
For delicious easy to pack and prepare meals in the outdoors the foods from Auguson Farms and Grizzly Ridge perfectly fit the bill. Whether it is their 20 year shelf life for the preppers, or their delicious calorie rich taste and easy in-pouch preparation for the campers and hunters, one of these meal variety packages will surely put a smile on the face of the recipient, as well as fill an empty belly. The Auguson Farms 30 Day Food Storage pail offers nine different varities of food. The kids who tested the macaroni and cheese are experts and could not tell the difference from major store brand Mac & Cheese. The reason for that is the cheese powder used by both are the exact same. The mashed potatoes are creamy and contain a hint of chicken broth flavor, just the way I make my potatoes from scratch at home. The meals come in pouches inside of a sealed six-gallon bucket with 300 servings. The bucket contains enough yummy food for 1,857 calories a day or enough for a single person for a month. It also contains a water purification bottle and an emergency fire starter disc to help heat the food in case of a power outage. The Auguson Farms 30 Day Food Storage Pail retails for $119.99
The Grizzly Ridge Variety Pail contains 107 servings of 11 different varieties of food. Dishes like creamy alfredo, stroganoff, scrambled eggs with imitation bacon, and others can be cooked right in their pouch. Other items like buttermilk pancake mix and hot chocolate can be easily mixed in their pouch and served. The pail includes a single pouch of each variety, except for the honey coated bananas, which includes two pouches. That is a very good thing, because once you open these treats they will quickly get gobbled up and you will be left sucking the crumbs out of the pouch. While the Auguson Farms food is designed more for emergency food storage or long-term storage on a boat or in a cabin, the Grizzly Ridge food is designed for the camper or hunter on the go. It provides excellent flavor and easy preparation by just adding hot water. The sealed pail has a 20-year shelf life. The Grizzly Ridge Variety Pail retails for $69.99
Primos Hunting Jim Shockey Edition Trigger Stick Gen 2
When hunting out west, there isn’t always a tree around to get a good solid rest and making a humane and deadly shot is always the most important thing. The best way to improve your odds of making this happen is by having a portable rest with you at all times. We won’t hit the field to hunt without a stable portable set of shooting sticks. The most difficult thing about shooting sticks is getting them quickly set up to the proper height when your game is spooky. The Primos Hunting Jim Shockey Edition Trigger Stick Gen 2 helps you get a faster setup by placing the three legs at the desired height with press of a single trigger mounted on the base. The Trigger Sticks come in a variety of sizes and configurations, including monopod, bi-pod, and tripod, and have a wide steady head to accommodate a wide variety of rifles. Remove the rifle rest to expose a standard Manfroto mounting bolt for cameras or spotting scopes. The Primos Hunting Jim Shockey Edition Trigger Stick Gen 2 retails from $39.99 to $195.99 depending upon configuration and size.
Bushnell G Force ARC Rangefinder
The Bushnell G Force ARC Rangefinder offers 6x magnification for easily ranging distant animals out to 1,300 yards. But they didn’t leave the bowhunter hanging as so many rangefinders designed for rifle hunters do. The G Force will range as close as 5 yards. Any closer than that and you can kill it with a stick. The G Force contains both rifle and archery modes for easy ranging in a variety of different environments and to allow the onboard computer to calculate angle adjustments with the ARC (Angle Range Compensation.) The rangefinder uses VIVID Display Technology for dramatic contrast, clarity, and light transmission improvement over standard optics. For rifle hunters, on board ballistic data is displayed, giving the shooter critical holdover/bullet drop information in MOA, inches, mil, or centimeters. The Extreme Speed Precision feature (ESP) is capable of making ultra fast measurements and is accurate within a half yard. All of this is in a rugged package that takes up minimal space. Top it off with Bushnell’s Bullet Proof Money Back Guarantee. They believe that you, the consumer, should make the final call on product performance. That’s why they offer this exclusive Bulletproof 100% Money Back Guarantee (the best in the business) on select Bushnell products. If, for any reason, you’re not completely satisfied with your Bushnell product, return it — no questions asked for a full refund of the purchase price. The G Force ARC retails for $399.99 in black and $419.99 in Realtree AP camo.
Under Armour Primer Gloves
I have always had a problem with my hands getting cold no matter what I do to try to keep them warm. I have tried at least 50 different pair of gloves over the years to try to solve this problem. I have found that no matter what I have tried most gloves on the market today just don’t work when it is really cold outside. My fingers start to freeze and I always have to take my hands out of my gloves and blow into them to warm them back up. But now I have found a glove that Under Armour is making that is insulated and solves the previous problems I have experienced. It is Under Armour’s Primer Glove. The Under Armour Primer Gloves are designed to be waterproof, breathable and warm. PrimaLoft insulation lines the gloves to help keep them going in cold weather. The silicone plated palm will give you added grip when the weather starts to get wet and the pre curved fit gives you great mobility and function.
Baffin Mens Journey Winter Boots
One of the biggest mistakes in footware that I see most hunters make is that they wear their hunting boots that they hike in to a cold weather hunt where they are not hiking but just sitting in the cold. The last time I did that was when I went to Alberta Canada hunting whitetails and sat in a blind all day long with my warmest hunting books…and my feet were frozen. When you go hunting where you won’t be doing much walking you need a true winter boot not a hiking boot that you hunt in. My choice is the Baffin Journey Winter Boot. They have Baffin IcePaw technology and are rated to -94 degrees Fahrenheit. Your toes won’t get cold and you can sit in the harshest of weather as long as you want. I love these boots.
Kenetrek Montana Boot Sock
Your socks are an important part of staying warm but being comfortable is almost as important because it drives me crazy when my socks bug me all day long. I also cannot stand it when my socks are too bulky as they seem to bunch up in my boots. I have found a sock that keeps me warm and is the perfect thickness and that is the Kenetrek Mountain Boot Sock. I have used these socks with every boot I have and they work great no matter what I am doing. The best part about Kenetrek is that they make a sock for every occasion and the quality is so good they last forever.
Outdoor Research Wind Warrior Hat
I am sure you have heard that most of the heat you lose goes out of the top of your head and it just so happens it is true. I have tried a lot of things over the years but it is very hard to find something that keeps you warm but doesn’t make you sweat and itch at the same time. I also find that when my head is warm my ears are freezing and that is why I absolutely love this beanie style hat from Outdoor Research called the Wind Warrior Hat. It is made with Windstopper technical fleece and has integrated Polartec Wind Pro ear panels. This will be the last hat you ever buy.