By Tony Martins
Christmas is just around the corner, and many of us continue to follow the gifting tradition started by Three Wise Men more than 2000 years ago. We commemorate the gift of Christ to humanity (PC police be damned) with worldly goods given to family and friends. In more recent times retailers have created events to attract our shopping dollars – like Black Friday for brick-and-mortar shoppers, and Cyber Monday for those of us who prefer the time-saving convenience of keyboard and screen or handheld device. Arguably, the best and most legitimate recommendation comes from someone who actually uses the product after spending their hard-earned cash, and I personally own and use the first 9 on my list. There are modestly priced “stocking stuffers” for the outdoorsman and woman, more substantial items guaranteed to be treasured, and one special item for those who believe in Santa Claus.
1 – STREAMLITE ENDURO LED HEADLAMP
There are a million different headlamps available today, ranging in price from a few bucks to hundreds. The two most popular designs are clip-on and strap-on – so why not have both in one headlamp-? The Streamlite Enduro has an elastic head strap that doubles as a mounting strap as well as an integral clip for attachment to cap, vest or jacket. At 2.75 oz. including batteries and strap, it’s one of the lightest and most comfortable headlites available. Other features include high and low output illumination settings, and battery life up to 12 hours. MSRP: < $20.00 (available at webyshops.com).
2 – NIKON RETRACTABLE RANGEFINDER TETHER
Have you ever set your rangefinder down, left it, and then spent half a day looking for it-? I have, but not since I started using Nikon’s Retractable Rangefinder Tether. A good laser rangefinder (and Nikon makes several) is a valuable tool for precise shot placement with gun or bow, and I never head into the woods or mountains without one. If you are like me and don’t like too many things hanging around your neck, the Nikon tether will keep your rangefinder at hand. Tip: I attach the generous-sized clip to a belt loop, or zip-tie fastened to belt, tree harness or other exterior clothing. The nylon-coated stainless steel cable extends to 25 inches, with a breaking strength of 60 lbs. Although early models were a bit noisy to operate, new models are quiet. MSRP: < $20.00 (available at webyshops.com).
3 – CROOKED HORN MAGNUM BINO-SYSTEM HARNESS
The original Crooked Horn Slide and Flex Bino-System has been eliminating neck pain and kinks for years. Elastic harness straps shift support for binocular weight from neck to shoulders, and hold the binocular (or camera) snuggly to the chest when not in use to eliminate bouncing. Unfortunately, the elastic will fatigue over time and/or with lots of use, particularly with full-size binoculars – and I have worn out several of these since they were first introduced. The new “Magnum” harness is made with wider, heavier elastic straps that hold up well with 10×42 and larger binos. Fully adjustable, with quick-release hooks, and made in the USA. MSRP < $30.00.
4 – BOG GEAR CAMO LEGGED DEVIL TRIPOD
I have packed a BOG GEAR tripod all over North America and Southern Africa, and have taken dozens of big game animals and predators with rifles, muzzleloaders and airguns resting atop, from standing, kneeling and sitting positions. The 3-section, high-strength aluminum legs are adjustable from 22 to 68 inches with the “tall” version, and the Switcheroo Shooting System makes this one of the most versatile tripods available. A variety of shooting rests (including the standard u-shaped “universal” rest, Xtreme, Precision and Wide Body accessory versions), and adapters for cameras (both standard and pistol-grip “professional” versions) as well as binoculars are available. Other features include an all-terrain foot system, with rubber caps that screw up to expose steel tips, and inch markers on middle leg sections for precision adjustment. The CLD-3 model weighs 40 oz. and collapses to 31 inches. MSRP: < $170.00 + accessories (available at webyshops.com).
5 – EBERLESTOCK BLUE WIDOW PACK
Anyone who spends as much time in the outdoors as I do will have a favorite backpack, and mine is the Eberlestock Blue Widow. I have used this J-type pack over the past 6+ years for everything from half-day bird hunts to week-long, wilderness big game hunts. Though well used, it shows little wear and is just as solid and functional today as when it was new. With high-tech Flex Chassis and suspension system and huge adjustability range, this pack is comfortable even while packing the heaviest loads. Smart design keeps the Blue Widow close to the body which helps balance. It has too many features to list here, but one I particularly like is the top compartment which detaches to double as a fanny pack. Eberlestock packs are built to “go in light” and “come out heavy” as their slogan says, and this one does so comfortably. MSRP < $400.00 + accessories (available at webyshops.com).
6 – BURRIS FULLFIELD E1 RIFLE SCOPE
I have been using a Burris FullField E1 in 4.5-14x42mm with Ballistic Plex E1 Reticle and 30mm Tube for the past two years, and find it to be a remarkable piece of equipment as well as a remarkable value. With large precision ground lenses that are multi-coated for glare resistance, and maximum efficiency in low-light hunting conditions, this scope has outstanding clarity and light transmission and may be the brightest in its class. Its internal assembly is double spring-tensioned for shockproofing, with positive steel-on-steel adjustments for repeatable accuracy. The Ballistic Plex E1 Reticle is state-of-the-art, with cascading windage and elevation dots calibrated for 10 mph crosswinds and popular cartridges. This reticle assists in making long range shots out to 500 yards, whether windy or still. Its worth was proven to me with a clean one-shot kill of a big pronghorn buck, taken on the windy sagebrush flats of Southern Wyoming. The Fullfield E1 is durable – waterproof, fogproof, shockproof – protected by the Burris Forever Warranty, and it’s affordable. MSRP: < $500.00 (available at webyshops.com).
7 – NIKON PROSTAFF 5 FIELDSCOPE PACKAGE
Uses for a good fieldscope are many, and varied – from spotting game in big Western country, to astronomic observation of satellites and other celestial bodies. The non-hunting father of a friend admitted to using his to observe heavenly bodies of a different type, from a beach front hotel on the Jersey Shore during the annual family vacation! My Nikon Fieldscope has helped me to evaluate game animals including deer, elk, pronghorn, sheep and bear from considerable distances, saving me time, effort and shoe leather. The Prostaff 5 Fieldscope in 16-48x60mm is a mid-size and easily portable optic that delivers bright, colorful images through a wide field-of-view. Other features include a built-in sliding sunshade, and digiscoping-ready design. Contrary to popular belief that modestly priced scopes don’t produce good quality photographs, you will find a number that were taken through my Nikon posted in my articles at 1800GunsAndAmmo.com. The Prostaff 5 Outfit includes the Fieldscope with Nikon’s lifetime warranty, full-size tripod and LensPen Pro kit. MSRP: < $600.00 (available at webyshops.com).
7A – NIKON WINDOW MOUNT
The Nikon Window Mount accessory attaches to any car or truck window with a secure padded clamp to provide a solid viewing platform for your spotting scope or camera. I never leave home without mine! MSRP: < $50.00 (available at webyshops.com).
8 – SITKA GEAR RAINGEAR
Sitka innovation spawned their slogan, “turning clothing into gear,” and raingear is as important as any for the hardcore outdoorsman. All-weather hunters recognize the value of quality raingear – besides keeping you comfortable during inclement weather and extending your hunt, it can literally save your life. Sitka offers several raingear options, but my favorite is the packable Cloudburst jacket and pant. Made from durable, 2-way stretch polyester with GORE-TEX, this garment is waterproof and windproof yet breathable, which translates into comfort. And, the stretchy material facilitates good range of motion to provide the mobility necessary for even the most strenuous hunting activities. I’ve used mine for everything from saltwater fishing in a gale, to hunting wood bison in the muskeg swamps and mud bogs of extreme Northern Alberta. I particularly like the watertight hand, chest and arm pockets for stowing gear and accessories, and the welded, watertight zippers. The older and more experienced I become, the more I appreciate quality and craftsmanship. Although quality raingear is not cheap, the cost of losing a couple of days on a guided hunt because you are not prepared to hunt in bad weather is about equivalent to the cost of the Sitka Gear Cloudburst set. MSRP: < $700.00 for jacket and pant (available at webyshops.com).
9 – KIMBER ULTRA CDP II
Kimber builds the finest 1911 pistols in the world, and they’re built right here in the USA. I received one of the first concealed carry permits issued in my home State of Arizona, and over the years I’ve carried several different handguns. For the past several years, my everyday carry weapon has been the .45 ACP Kimber Ultra CDP II – recognized as one of Kimber’s best concealed carry pistols. This beautifully crafted gun features a compact aluminum frame with stainless steel slide and Cary Melt treatment for rounded/blended edges that will not snag clothing or holsters, 3-inch ramped match grade, bushingless bull barrel, self-illuminating Tritium night sights, front strap checkering, and rosewood grips. Although any lightweight .45 can be a handful, Kimber has become the world’s largest manufacturer of 1911’s by producing high-quality, dependable and accurate pistols – that’s why America’s best shooters keep choosing Kimber. MSRP: < $1500 for standard version, and < $1800 for LG version with integrated Crimson Trace Lasergrips (both available through Webyshops retail store).
9A – GALCO HOLSTERS
Once known as “The Famous Jackass Leather Company” today Arizona-based Galco produces an extensive line of high quality leather holsters, including the Avenger belt holster, which is one of my favorites. MSRP: < $100.00 (available at webyshops.com).
9B – CONCEALED CARRY PERMIT
If concealed carry permits (CCW) are available where you live, you owe it to your family to take the course and obtain one. Better yet – gift one to a friend or family member and take the course with them! COST: $35.00/year or less (varies by state and area).
10 – FERRARI FF – FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE SUPERCAR (WAGON)
Just about every outdoorsman has a favorite hunting rig – from ATV’s and side-by-sides to Jeeps and full-sized trucks like the Dodge Power Wagon. My favorite is the Ferrari FF power wagon – a four-passenger, four-wheel drive (“FF”), 12-cylinder 651 horsepower, 208 mph GT supercar (wagon!). OK, I’ll be the first to admit that this is a bit over the top for a Christmas list of outdoor gear, with very little chance that Santa will deliver… But, there’s always a chance that a lottery winning friend will find themselves with more money than they know what to do with. So, here’s how I envision a dream script for “Outdoorsman Italiano”— Blasting through snowy Valle d’Ampezzo backcountry in the Veneto region of the Italian Alps, Tony and his sidekick Luigi are in search of red deer. Luigi spots a beautiful stag through his Zagato Edition Leica Ultravid binos, and Tony makes a perfect shot with his Beretta SS06 Express Rifle. Suddenly the men realize the FF has no roof rack to transport their bounty back to the villa… MSRP: $298,750.00
Thanks for indulging… And, if you’re still reading at this point, turn up the volume and treat yourself to this short clip of the incomparable Ferrari FF in action. Merry Christmas!