12/26/16 update: Christmas might be over... but don't let that stop you from shopping for that hunter in your family.
With the holiday season fast approaching, now is the time to pick up those last-minute gifts for the western hunter. Let's face it... each hunter has different gear needs and they are very tough to buy gifts for. Which is most likely why some gifts still haven't been purchased. But, besides for our picky nature, one thing we all have in common is our love of gear.
Here are a few gift item ideas to help that western hunter in your family prepare for the 2017 hunting season.
We are now down to the wire with Christmas roughly 5.5 days away. This is a last minute gift guide so I will leave out some other gear items that would normally make this list because a lot of items will not be able to arive by Christmas. So your best bet this late in the game is Amazon Prime 2-day rush shipping. If that doesn't work for you, you could look at picking up some of these items at a retail store if you're worried about not having a gift in time. If you're a last minute person, you might be able to get these items overnighted.
This is probably one of my favorite gear items while hunting. Not only can this item be a lifesaver, but it really allows me to stay out hunting longer and go on more trips. Being able to communicate with my fiancé to let her know that I am alive and safe is a huge deal. This DeLorme InReach SE is worth the price. Plus it gives you a little added backcountry security. So with this device, if things ever hit the fan... you'll have the means of being rescued. These satellite messengers run on a plan similar to a cell phone. You pay a certain amount each month and get a certain number of text messages that you can send and receive.
GPS units are probably the greatest gear item since topo maps were first invented. Cell phones are very powerful and with the app choices these days they make a great tool for hunting... but they still don't stand up to a dedicated GPS unit. There are so many good things to say about the Garmin GPSMAP 64; fairly long battery life, lightweight and doesn't have a lot of unwanted features that many GPS units have nowadays. With a lifespan of 16 hours and an overall weight of 7.1 oz (with lithium batteries), this GPS will hardly feel like it's there on a backcountry hunt. The Garmin GPSMAP 64 is usually in the $250-299 range, but online sales right now show it available for much cheaper.
No western hunting research is complete without access to GOHUNT's INSIDER research tools. No where else can you quickly narrow down a unit to start researching in just a few clicks. An INSIDER membership gives you access to Filtering 2.0, Draw Odds, Unit-by-unit analysis, Strategy Articles and much more. You can check out a sample Unit Profile here. The tools found on INSIDER have forever changed the way I research and plan my hunting seasons. Even though hunting season just ended, I can't help myself to dive in and start planning for 2017 in order to try and stay ahead of the curve.
Price: $149 per year
This item may not help you in the field, but it will make the clean up process after a hunt a lot easier. So in this case, buying accessories for a vehicle makes sense. These Husky WeatherBeater Liners are perfect for protecting the inside of your hunting truck. They are custom built to your vehicle make and model. Amazon even has a built in tool to see if the liners you're about to order will fit the vehicle.
I know what you're thinking... a $100 headlamp, really? Well I too was skeptical at first, but now I absolutely love this Petzl Reactik Headlamp. I've been using this headlamp for a few years and this is still my go-to headlamp for those long hikes back to camp. It's also great when you need to light up the night and use the 300 lumens in bear country. The coolest feature is the reactive lighting technology where the headlamp automatically adjusts the brightness to what is in front of you. Another benefit is that you don't need to carry extra batteries. A lot of hunters already carry a small rechargeable battery pack in the mountains and this headlamp can be charged with a simple USB port.
These Salomon Speedcross 3 shoes are a game changer in the mountains. At only 12.5 oz a piece, these shoes will hardly be noticed on your feet. They are definitely a minimalist style shoe and some people might say that they don't provide enough support, but I haven't run into any problems. They have plenty of traction, breathe really well and your legs stay fresh for a lot longer than lugging around heavy boots all day. These shoes also allow you to "feel" the terrain, so you could use these for stalking within shooting range if you're bowhunting. Overall I am very impressed with these shoes and use them from August all the way until the snow flies.
This is probably not the most attractive Christmas present, but I feel that this is one of the most important. No one want to get sick in the backcountry and giardia is a nasty thing that I hope no one gets. I really love how simple, lightweight and effective these Aquamira Water Treatment Drops are at protecting me from bacteria. The main ingredient in these drops is chlorine dioxide which is known to kill a variety of waterborne pathogens, including cryptosporidium and giardia. If you're looking to save weight on your filtration devise, I highly suggest you give these drops a try.
Everyone needs a solid cooking utensil in the backcountry and this Alpha Light spork is not your ordinary cooking utensil. This is one of the lightest sporks on the market and is incredibly durable. I have been using the same spork since I started backpacking and it shows no signs of wear. This Alpha Light spork weighs in at 0.3 oz.
Sometimes it's best to just play it safe for that hunter you're buying a gift for and give them the gift of choice. Several great hunting companies now have online gift cards that can be directly emailed.
With the holiday season fast approaching, remember to be safe and enjoy the time spent together. Hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas!