Christmas Gift Ideas That Cover from Head to Toe
by Scot Smith
Every year when hunting season approaches so does the Christmas season. While the infamous holiday season can bring fear to the hearts of the bravest and manliest of men, the stress can be soothed by a little planning before shopping. The selections from the latest outdoor and hunting catalogs and brick and mortar establishments get more and more overwhelming each year.
Sadly our loved ones seem to think a new tie, a gift card to the local diner, or a great sweater is what we crave. If you are like me and rarely wear ties or sweaters, all that means is a return trip to the mall after Christmasa fate that could be worse than death. If we drop broad hints, such as circling photos in your catalogs or leaving Gun Week’s Christmas Guide articles sitting around might help alleviate these trips.
As we get older it becomes tougher to find something we need or want for a gift. There are things that we often overlook because we have a similar item or because we frequently overlook some of the new stuff on the market.
One thing that shooters and hunters should never overlook is eye and ear protection. It is one area we all can start to take for granted and assume our favorite prescription glasses or the sun glasses we purchased at the counter of the local corner market will protect our eyes. While these may stop dust and small stuff from affecting your eyes, they will not stop a projectile.
In order to truly protect your eyes, a true protective pair of shooting glasses is required. One of the leading vendors of such creations is Wiley X (7491 Longard Rd., Dept. GWK, Livermore, CA 94551; phone: 800-776-7842; on-line: www.wileyx.com). Wiley X is a military approved vendor of sunglasses or ballistic shields, as sunglasses are known in military terms. Wiley X specs have been credited with saving many troops’ eyes during combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The PT-3 from Wiley X is one of the choices that our GIs have. The PT-3 is a wrap-around design and they will fit under all helmet configurations. The PT-3s are quite comfortable and stay in place when doing the most strenuous of activities thanks to the design of the wrap-around arms.
PT-3s also have interchangeable lenses from clear to smoke to rust, matching the lighting conditions we encounter working, hunting, and shooting. If you are like the author and require help to see, the PT-3s accept an RX insert so we can see what we are aiming at, look good doing it and not break the bank with the three shield set retailing at $100.
To protect the valued gift of hearing, I have been using Sonic Defenders from Surefire (18300 Mt. Baldy Circle, Dept. GWK, Fountain Valley, CA 92708; phone: 714-545-9444; on-line: www.surefire.com). Sonic Defenders are made of a hypoallergenic medical polymer and fit comfortably in the ear.
Unlike many other “ear plugs” Sonic Defenders don’t just get stuck in your ear. Sonic Defenders actually fit into your outer ear, to allow easy removal. I found the Sonic Defenders to work well under my electronic ear muffs and comfortable enough to wear for the duration of several NASCAR races. And I didn’t walk away with that annoying ringing in my ears. Surefire has developed a truly unique and useful hearing protection in the Sonic Defender and at under 10 bucks makes a great stocking stuffer.
Shooters and hunters can never have enough gadgets let alone a truly useful one. Woodman’s Pal (Pro Tool Industries, Inc., 268 N. Berks St., Dept. GWK, Boyertown, PA 19512; on-line: www.woodmanspal.com) is one of those truly useful pieces of gear. I have seen advertisements for this piece of equipment for many years and always wrote it off as a gadget, not really something that would make a trip to the field better. Boy, was I wrong!
This past archery season I procured a model 481 Woodman’s Pal to take out to clear shooting lanes and my blind area. This tool made short work of saplings, tree branches, and even vines. Tipping the scales at nearly one and a half pounds, the Woodman’s Pal packs enough punch to quickly and cleanly clear the woods. The hook on the spine side of the Pal facilitates removal of vines and ground cover without fear of damaging the forward cutting blade.
Woodman’s Pal does not come with a sheath, and I would suggest purchasing one to protect your tool. With its unique shape, finding a sheath for the tool will be a challenge. The tool ($85.95-$97.95) and the sheath ($21.95-$31.95) will set you back under $120, which for the outdoorsman will be money well spent and serve the user for many years to come. This would be a gift that keeps on giving.
One thing we can never have enough of is good clothing to meet the changing conditions of the range and woods. Rainwear, gloves, under- and outer-wear are items that are always needed. A few companies that make affordable quality gear are Altama, Magnum Hi-Tec, Manzella and Atlanco.
If you’re a GI you may have heard of Altama (1200 Lake Hearn Dr., Dept. GWK, Atlanta, GA 30319; phone: 800-437-9888; on-line: www.altama.com); they are the prime vendor for “cruit” boots. This year Altama introduced Battlewear undergear. These undershirts are a made from polyester or polyester/spandex depending on your choice of loose or compression fit. These shirts are available in Woodland or Desert Digi-cam and ACU patterns. While not official military issue, these shirts are well suited for shooters and hunters.
Battlewear shirts are fast wicking and fit well. Unlike many other undershirts on the market, Battlewear is long enough to stay tucked in even on those of us over six feet tall when you are shooting, hunting or working in the great outdoors. For fewer than twenty bucks, you can give your favorite outdoors person a really nice shirt.
Another footwear manufacturer that has jumped into the clothing arena is Magnum Boots (4801 Stoddard Rd., Dept. GWK, Modesto, CA 95356; phone: 209-545-1111; on-line: www.mangumboots.com). Magnum Boots is better known to many by their sport line, Hi-Tec, and has been an innovator for many years; their clothing line for men and women carries on those traditions
The Ladies Form Fit tops are one of the most unique pieces of clothing for women on the market. These tops have a built in shelf type bra. I had passed samples of these tops on to several athletic women to get their impressions of these tops. Across the board they all thought these tops are comfortable and fit well. One of the ladies is 5 feet 10 inches tall and she said it was long enough for her to wear as a very short dress if she really wanted to, but for modesty she wouldn’t. Basically all felt these tops are long enough to come over the butt and keep it covered/warm as winter approaches. Form Fits will set you back about $45, check with Magnum or their online partners for sizing and the lady who uses it will appreciate your thinking of her and her needs.
For men Magnum offers Stealth Spec Pants. These pants are one of the best fitting “tactical” style pants I have worn. They are comfortable enough to be worn for 12-hour road trips and still look good enough to go to dinner when you arrive.
Magnum has put forth a lot of thought into the pants, to include placing the belt loops to allow the wearer to place a concealed carry holster at the apex of the hip without the loop interfering. Mag pouch pockets are placed on each thigh and look more like cell/PDA pockets than a place to carry a magazine. Magnum offers these pants in black, navy, and khaki; with a six-month no fade guarantee; something most other manufacturers don’t offer. With an MSRP of $48, these pants will be a good addition to anyone’s wardrobe.
If you are looking for an affordably priced rain parka check out the H2O parka from Atlanco (1125 Hayes Industrial Dr., Dept. GWK, Marietta, GA, 30062; phone: 770-427-1334.) While you may not recognize the manufacturer, this parka can be seen as Tru-Spec at the Cav Store (www.uscav.com or 800-777-427-7172), or at Brigade Quartermaster (www.brigadeqm.com, 800-3338-4327).
Over the years I have worn GI specification Gore-Tex ECWS and have been impressed with them but with a retail of nearly $300 that tends to hurt the checkbook. By comparison the Tru-Spec H2O line at the Cav Store will set you back
under $100 delivered with a fleece liner.
The H20 Proof parka has many features you would expect to find on vastly more expensive rain gear. There are underarm zippers to vent air and reduce perspiration; the main zipper is protected from the elements by a snap storm flap. There are adjustable cuffs, reinforced elbows, roomy pockets and a hood. The most important feature of the H2O is that it really does keep you dry in a downpour; I found this out sighting in my AR15.
To keep your hands warm and protected, I suggest checking out Manzella (80 Sonwil Dr., Dept. GWK, Buffalo, NY 14225; phone: 716-681-8880; on-line: www.manzella.com) and Hellstorm (Blackhawk Prod. Grp., 4850 Brookside Ct., Dept. GWK, Norfolk, VA 23502; phone: 757-436-3101; on-line: www.blackhawk.com). Both manufacturers offer gloves to defeat the worst that Mother Nature throws your way in the woods, on the range or at work.
Manzella makes several styles of gloves to meet your demands from the coldest and harshest mountain weather to just keeping your hands covered. They also make gloves for specific needs such as the Bow Ranger.
The Bow Ranger is a lightweight fleece glove with gripping nubs and a Velcro closure cuff. This cuff is open to allow your bow release to fit through without having to close your release strap over your glove; often times the strap won’t fit over a glove. Manzella’s Archer Glove solves this issue nicely. I used them this year during archery season and was pleased with them and, with a $15 MSPR, they are a steal.
If you know a lady archer, the Bow Ranger is also available in ladies sizes. Manzella has an extensive line of gloves to suit non-hunting women too. Check out their entire line at their website.
Blackhawk Products Group is known to many of us for the high quality tactical gear they make. One of the members of the group is Hellstorm, manufacturing gloves and footwear.
The Hellstorm Fury is a good all round hard use glove. I have used mine for everything from cutting trees to shooting to any yard work activity. The back of the hand and fingers of the Fury are padded to protect your hands while the goat skin leather palm is Armortan®, ensuring the durability and toughness of these gloves.
The Fury is one of the many glove offerings from Blackhawk. Over the last decade I have found Blackhawk’s gloves and now the Hellstorm line to be tough enough to survive the worst life can dish out. Unless you lose a pair of the Fury gloves, at $67.95, you’ll find them to be a heck of a purchase.
One thing all folks never seem to have enough of is lights. New to the market this year is Taclite/LED Wave (4506 Tucker Rd., Dept. GWK, Syracuse, NY 13215; phone: 800-995-6099; on-line: www.tactlite.com) lights. These use LED lights instead of incandescent bulbs. This means the lamp virtually has an indefinite life span and LEDs extend the run time of the batteries.
The X22 runs on 2-AA batteries while the X55 runs on two CR123A lithium batteries. Light output is 30 lumens for the X22, and 65 for the X55. The X55 gives you much more reach than the X22 and will be more applicable for duty work or following a blood trail when the sun sets. The X22 will serve your needs for looking in your car, walking to the woods, or, in the event of a power outage, will get you around the house.
Taclite/LED Wave manufacturer several lights to serve most users’ needs. The lights are affordably priced, ranging in MSRP from $77 to $206. The X22’s MSRP is $99, and the X-55 will set you back $192, at full MSRP.
One thing I have learned over the last four and a half decades is that comfort is good no matter what you are doing. This is especially true when you are outdoors or traveling. Therm-a-rest (Cascade Designs, Inc. 4000 First Ave., Dept, GWK, South Seattle, WA 98134; phone: 800-531-9531; on-line www.therm-arest.com) makes several products to help ensure that you can sit, sleep and recline with comfort. Over the years I have seen Therm-a-rest’s products for camping and the cushions and pads are high quality.
This year the Ambush field mattress came to market giving hunters a dry rest to sit, use as a shooting mat, or a body cushion which makes a good chair when used covering a big tree. The Ambush measures 20x 72 inches for the regular size and has an MSRP of $129. I used the Ambush during archery season as a seat, backrest against a tree and can tell you if kept me from having a wet butt and kept the chill of the damp ground from making me stiff.
Therm-a-rest also offers the Compressible Pillow. It is filled with ProLite Foam which is self lofting. Once it does expand the pillow is 16x23 inches with an MSRP of $29.95 and is quite comfortable. This pillow has been used for a power nap in my truck while on the road to a few NASCAR races and on the floor by my Chow Chow. When compressed into the built-in sack, the pillow is roughly one forth its expanded size.
The Compressible Pillow and Ambush pad are offered in Mossy Oak Break Up and Realtree Max-4 HD camouflage patterns. These patterns will suit most hunters’ needs and both look good, too. These two items will get more use than just in the field or on the range.
The last item that caught my eye this year is a true stocking stuffer: lens caps. I ran across Quake Industries (732 Cruiser Lane, Dept. GWK, Belgrade, MT 59714; phone: 770-449-4687; on-line: www.quakeinc.com) a couple years ago at the SHOT Show and have been using a Bushwacker cap as my lens cap on my digital camera.
Quake offers lens caps to fit small flashlights to large objective lenses on most any scope. The Bushwacker covers are offered in solid black, clear-yellow for use on optics; red, blue, and green for use on flashlights to enhance the uses of your light.
Bushwacker Caps have an MSRP of $7.99 and I find them to be worth every penny. The caps snap shut, are very water resistant when on your optics, and they seem to work forever.
Hopefully my list of ideas will help you fill somebody else’s or even your own Christmas wish list. The gear I checked out will make a trip to the field or range more enjoyable and fun. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.
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