It’s that time of year again when folks consider what to get that special outdoors person this Christmas.
For some, it can be a chore trying to decide what makes a proper gift. For other outdoor shoppers, the choices may be obvious. In either case, I’ll cast out some ideas to help calm your holiday nerves.
A prime consideration for any outdoor gift is practicality. No cheap socks, crazy hats or camo neck ties.
Multi-purpose, gender neutral
There are many gifts that can be used in several outdoor activities and perform double duty throughout any season. Flashlights, sleeping bags, boots, high performance socks and rain suits are a few that come to mind.
Flashlight and battery technology have seen many improvements in the past few years. Small lights with rechargeable batteries will beam for hours. Some LED style bulbs provide supreme brightness. These flashlights work great for hunters, anglers, campers and hikers. Quality light can be had from around $20 to more than $100 bucks.
A quality sleeping bag will be welcomed by anyone. Your first thought is they are only used for camping. But, hunters and hikers can benefit from a fine bag. Also, unexpected house guests might not complain with a cozy sleeping bag on the floor.
Knives are another gift that can make the cut. From skinning to filet to a simple pocket model will be useful anywhere outdoors. Top brands are Outdoor Edge, Gerber, SOG, Browning and Bear. Each makes specific models that fit a specific need or general purpose. Expect pricing to range from around $30 to $200 or more.
Hunters, campers and anglers will appreciate a barbecue knife set. Outdoor Edge has just released two Cut-N-Que sets. Each set has multiple carving knives, turning fork spatula and knife sharpener in a simple carrying case. Suggested retail is $80 for the 10-piece set and $120 for the 14- piece kit.
While we’re on the subject of cooking, a smoker would be a welcomed gift for any outdoor person. Masterbuilt, Char-Griller and Traeger are some of the top brands. Each offers a variety of smokers and smoker-grill combos. Heating methods can be electric, gas, charcoal or wood pellets.
Smokers can be used throughout the year for wild game, fish, chicken and vegetables. Nothing can beat the flavor of properly smoked wild game. Price ranges vary from around $99 to around $900 depending on brand and model.
Campers will enjoy a new propane stove. Double and single models are available and fuel source can be one-pound cylinders or bulk 20-pound tanks. There are several different brands on the market, but few can beat the value and performance of Coleman. Hunters and hikers can pack along the single-burner models.
Let’s go fishing
For the angler on your Christmas gift list the choices are plentiful. Tackle bags with the change out hard-plastic boxes are always welcomed. Anglers can change lures depending on the season and species. The tackle organizers make it easy to sort and store any type of lure. Plano and Bass pro and Cabela’s offer many sizes and styles range from $20 to $100.
Boaters and anglers will welcome a new GPS/sonar unit for their boat. In recent years the prices on mid-range models have dropped considerably. Lowrance, Humminbird and Garmin manufacture great models that have moving maps and excellent sonar capabilities.
For anglers, models with downscan imaging and side-scan, will show fish and bottom structure in fine detail. The units can be viewed in bright sunlight and the brightness can be adjusted for nighttime operation. Many later models have built-in GPS antennas for basic plug and play operation. Watch for special sales where some top units can be had for around $299 and up.
Keep that special boater or angler safe on the water with a new auto-inflate personal flotation device (PFD). Mustang, Bass Pro and Cabela’s offer several different models. The PFDs or life jackets are comfortable to wear without the bulk. They can be stowed away in limited space when not in use. The PFDs start at around $150.
Kayaks have been the craze for the past few years. Many different companies make fishing and white-water models. Fishing kayaks are designed with anglers in mind. Water proof storage for tackle, rod holders and even sonar hook-ups. Most models are lightweight and can be easily carried on roof rack of most vehicles.
Rods, reels and terminal tackle are too expansive to mention in detail here. However, know the species your person targets the most frequently and go with it. Bass and catfish anglers are will generally use heavier tackle in the baitcasting styles. Bream and crappie anglers will prefer tackle in the lighter action.
If in doubt on which to purchase get both styles and let the angler decide which one to keep. That person may offer one to the gift-giver.
Hunting season is in
There are almost as many options with hunters as with anglers. Deer, duck, turkey, quail and other small game each have special needs and/or wants. With that said a good pair of boots will fit nicely into any hunting situation. And there are plenty of options for hunting footwear.
Muck, Browning, Rocky and LaCrosse are some of the well-known brands. Each company offers many different styles in various material and sole designs. Prices can range from around $89 to $300. Outdoor footwear is important, so don’t skimp in this area.
Hub style hunting blinds have found their way into many hunter’s gear stash. Deer and turkey hunters will benefit from a hunting blind. These units provide concealment, protection form the element and are great for taking kids along. Most models are easy to setup and pack out. Decent two-person models start around $80.
Deer hunters might welcome a new scope under the tree. Turkey hunters will thank you for a new hunting vest with a comfortable seat. Duck hunters can always use a new pair of waders. And upland game hunters will put a new shooting vest or jacket to the test.
If big ticket items are in your budget, a new four-wheeler or side-by-side ATV will to get a scream on Christmas morning. Any hunter can use one of those.
If you catch a snag trying to determine what style, brand, model of any gift, visit a local sporting goods shop. The folks there know a lot about different products and can point you in the right direction. Also, if it’s not exactly what your outdoor person wanted, exchanges can be easily done.
Some final gift ideas for the outdoor person that may have everything. Magazine subscriptions are welcomed by anyone outdoors. Magazines that cover the outdoors across the state like Great Days Outdoors, Alabama Game and Fish and Alabama Outdoor News are some top choices. Deer and Deer Hunting magazine is fine selection for hard core deer hunters.
Membership in a conservation organization is another gift idea. National Wild Turkey Federation, Buckmasters, Ducks Unlimited, B.A.S.S., FLW and the Alabama Wildlife Federation are great organizations that work to help improve habitat and water quality across the state and the U.S.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org.