2021 Holiday Gift Guide (and Reviews)

November 2, 2021 — Leave a comment
Cover Photo

Hunting seasons are in full swing with gift giving season just around the corner. I’ve compiled a list of various items sure to make any hunter happy this Christmas.

As the Fall hunting seasons get underway I hope everyone is having great luck and making some lasting memories.  Over the last year I’ve had the opportunity to try out some great gear.  I thought it would be beneficial to provide you with some suggestions as the Christmas season approaches and you start thinking about giving (or recieving!) some sweet outdoor gear!  As I’ve sampled all the gear in this article I have first hand experience with their capabilities, features, and functions.   You won’t go wrong with any of the following recommendations.

Gerber GearArmbar Slim Cut

Almost all of my knives are hunting focused, less a couple filet knives.  I’ve had my eyes open for something that I could easily slip in my pocket and carry daily but yet still be able to perform in the field.  I came across a relatively new knife from Gerber in the the Armbar Slim.  Not just a knife, but not excessive in features where it becomes a burden to carry.  Over the years on the water and in the field, other than a solid blade, a pair of scissors seem to always come in handy.  Looking specifically at the Armbar Slim Cut, it had what I wanted, a robust sharp blade, scissors, and a bottle opener just in case.  Weighing in at only 2.1 ounces and a 2.5″ blade you hardly notice it in your pocket.  The scissors were most excellent fishing this Summer clipping lines and also during the Spring notching my turkey tag.  The blade is utilitarian to the point it can be used in my workshop but sharp and agile enough to handle prepping a wild turkey for a long ride home in a cooler.  If you want something that is at home in the pocket of your favorite jeans or your hunting pack have a look at the Armbar Slim Cut.

MidlandER10

I have to admit I love this little radio.  I think the size is what sold me on the ER10 from Midland.  At 5″x3″x1.2″ and 0.3 lbs you can toss it in a pack, duffle, or GoBox and won’t even know its there.  It of course has NOAA radio channels and emergency weather alerts that can be oh so critical while in the back country.  The alerts can also come in handy if you thought it was going to be a dry evening and you didn’t put the rain fly on your tent.  I may be speaking from experience here…just saying.  Another reason why this radio made my list is because, well, it’s a radio.  While camping this Summer working on food plots and at my early season deer camp this Fall it was great to have some tunes playing.  I’d put the radio on while sitting by the camp fire and it kept me company while cutting up two deer for the ride home.  Oh and if that wasn’t enough it has a flashlight built in and runs on only 3 AA batteries.

FilsonLight Weight Alaskan Guide Shirt

Filson1

The Lightweight Alaskan Guide Shirt gives a good look but also holds its own doing chores and playing in the outdoors.

So you might think it’s hard to get excited about a button down shirt, but the Light Weight Alaskan Guide Shirt changed my mind on this one.  First off, Filson has a legendary name and the quality to go with it.  I can say that because I own several Filson items, and have had them for many years.  Even after frequent wear and years gone by they hardly look used.  Most I purchased myself so if you’re thinking I’m only saying these things because I got free stuff, you’re wrong.  Now that we’ve established that Filson makes great clothing, I love the fit and feel of the Guide Shirt.  It truly is something I can wear to work as a professional and then turn right around and lounge in it or go cut some wood.  The weight of the material makes it a very versatile piece from your closet.  You can pull it out on a pleasant Fall day or throw a thermal on underneath if temps drift toward the cooler side.  Mix in a vest to keep your core insulated and you can remain warm and mobile.  Wear it under your coat and you’ll be good on all but the coldest Winter days.  The other thing I mentioned that I love about the shirt is the fit.  For me personally, I was able to get it in a large tall which keeps it tucked in regardless of whether I’m climbing ladders or picking up something from the floor.  It also gives me the extra length I need in the arms to keep it from riding up my forearms when reaching or being active.  Whether it’s for you or a family member this shirt will go perfect in your wardrobe.

Grudens – Windward Infinium Jacket and Freeboard Leather Chukka

When I was approached about whether I’d be interested in trying out some gear from a company by the name Grudens I had to do some research before I agreed.  Reason was, I’d never heard of them and didn’t know anything about them.  Turns out these guys motto is “we are fishing”.  After reviewing their clothing line I would have to agree!  They offer some pretty cool threads for the casual fisherman all the way up to the professional level.  While I fish whenever I can, it’s Grudens desire to start crossing over into the hunting arena that caught my attention.

Freeboard Leather Chukka

The Freeboard varies a little from gear that I generally review.  These boots won’t be taking you to high peaks or keeping you toasty in freezing temps.  They do however fill a gap that many overlook when traveling to hunt, whether it be a remote elk camp or 40 acres down the road.  When hunting your feet take on a brunt of the work.  Nothing feels better after returning to camp than getting out of your hunting boots, no matter how comfortable they are or how much you paid for them.  I’ve used canvas slip on shoes in the past but they just don’t cut it once the weather gets wet and/or snowy.  The Freeboard offer more protection from the elements but don’t take away the lounging around camp feel.  Most notably the rubber overlay (sometimes called a rand) from the sole over the bottom of the leather upper will help with midnight bathroom breaks or warming by a camp fire.  The upper is made of what appears to be quality leather displaying no visible defects.  I’ve not had the chance to take them on any distant trips but wearing them around the house, and most recently a back yard campfire where I took a jaunt into the woods to scare some unsuspecting kids, they are proving quite comfortable and would make great camp shoes.  Due to their easy on and off ability I will be wearing them in the truck when driving to and from hunting spots.  Once I arrive, slipping into my rubber boots is a breeze.  If you are looking for a casual, comfy boot to keep your feet happy when not on the stalk or in the stand the Freeboard may be just what you didn’t know you needed.

Windward Infinium Jacket

In full disclosure its not cold enough here yet to truly test the heat retaining capabilities of the Windward Infinium Jacket.  Out of the box though, this thing is bad ass! It utilizes Primaloft ThermoPlume insulation throughout and Gore-Tex shell material on the arms and shoulders.  In 40 degree weather with a sweatshirt underneath it’s more than comfortable in idle conditions.  With any level of exertion above freezing you’ll be hotter than you wish.  With that, it delivers where it needs too, keeps you warm and dry when cold and wet conditions are present.  Perfect for glassing out West or whitetail hunting in the Midwest.  They don’t offer camo but mute colors will suffice when hunting from the blind or a light camo cover up will keep you concealed when in a tree stand.  It fits trim but not tight making it ideal as an insulating layer too for extreme conditions.  If you’re a bowhunter, as you can see from the pic, it’s not bulky and won’t get in the way of your shot.  I’ll be packing the Infinium for my annual gun hunt with my dad in Mid-November and if it’s as warm as seems to be, it will be my go to for any ice fishing or other winter activities when the temps really start dropping.  This jacket may be made for hardcore fishermen but it’s fit and attention to details that matter make it an easy choice for the outdoorsman and hunter as well.

YETIRoadie 24

YETI coolers set the standard for all other high performance coolers when they hit the market.  Now that I think about it, they may have created the high performance cooler category.  Always looking for that next edge, YETI managed to make an upgrade to the Roadie from previous models.  Most notably for me personally was getting rid of the rigid metal handle and the nubs that locked it into place and replacing it with a free moving, out of the way nylon strap that performs the same job only it stays out of your way.   They added what is referred to as the heavy hauler handle to ensure a firm and comfortable grip while transporting the Roadie from A to B.  The other great thing (in my opinion) they did was to reduce the footprint of the Roadie and go vertical.  This allows more storage but reduces the amount of space it takes from the truck bed, back of the SUV, or in the side by side.  YETI kept the rubber feet on the bottom so that at every stop sign your cooler won’t slide up to the front when you stop and all the way back once you hit the gas.   The last thing I’ll mention is the new latch design.  I’m still getting used to the change from the original T-handle, but the Quicklatch is quickly growing on me.  Still flexible but now easy enough to latch that my kids can ensure the lid is securely sealed keeping the cold in and the heat out.  As has been the case for many years now, YETI continues to improve and impress.  If you haven’t picked one up yet, this may be your chance to grab your first, but not last, high performing YETI cooler.

ThermacellMR300 Hunt Pack

I’ve recommended Thermacell products for going on 10 years now.  Ever since I first saw one in action on a swampy, Spring turkey hunt with my Uncle I’ve been sold.  I thought I was going to get carried away by mosquitos on the way in but once in the blind he fired up the Thermacell and hardly a one bothered us the rest of the morning.  This time the MR300 Hunt Pack makes my list because of a few subtle changes that really pushed the MR300 into the next level.  The MR300 itself didn’t change much but the holster associated with the Hunt Pack got rid of the only issues I ever had.  The team at Thermacell added a detachable clip to the unit so you can now attach it to your pack, chair, belt, or whatever,  Before I had to set it somewhere and was often worried I’d drop it out of my treestand or it would fall in the blind at a very inopportune time.  No longer an issue.  Within the holster itself you’ll find two distinct features that impressed me.  One is simply a loop that you can use to suspend the MR300 from a hook, rope, tree limb or whatever is handy.  Again, its now secured and out of the way, but still providing you with that 15′ mosquito free zone.  Lastly, they added two pockets to hold extra mats and fuel cartridges.  No more forgetting extras or fumbling around in the bottom of my pack.  Fill the holster up and I’ll be good for a weekend camping or hunting trip.

Dragon SunglassesReel X

As a long time user of what I would consider high quality sunglasses I was surprised when someone introduced me to Dragon eyewear and I had not heard of them.  Not one to turn down a chance to try something new I ended up with a pair of Reel X LL Polar sunglasses.  Curious to see (pun intended) how they stacked up against my other fishing shades I trialed them all summer while out in the sun and water.  The clarity and crispness through the lenses was on par or better than with my other glasses.  I liked the specific design of the Reel X as they offered a large field of vision and coverage without looking like I  was wearing the windshield of my truck.  They were quite comfortable on my face, easy to wear with a hat, and I loved the reflective lenses.  One other thing I have to mention is that they float!  Seriously.  How cool is that?  No more losing glasses when you miss that hook set and go toppling backwards into the water.  Of course they were polarized to help see fish or structures hiding under water and offered 100% UV protection from the eye damaging rays of the sun.  Being a bit of details guy I was really impressed when researching the various shades of lenses Dragon offered.  They make recommendations specific to the activities and environment you will be playing in.  For me, I opted for the Lumalens Deep Green Ion which per Dragon’s website are “Recommended for in-shore fishing. The G15 green base helps increase contrasts for shallow water to easily see all of the details beneath the surface”.  If you’re in the market for some new sunglasses these may just be the ticket you were looking for.

There you have it.  If you don’t know what you want or what to get that hunter in your life I’ve pretty much laid it out for you.  The variety presented above has at least one thing for everyone if not multiple items to add under the tree.  As mentioned earlier, I  had the opportunity to try all these products out and had great success with each.  If you have any questions please feel free to reach out.  Good luck this season!  Make it happen.

Disclaimer:  I received the items above at no charge in return for a fair and honest review.  I have delivered that to the best of my abilities.  As you can see from all the pics, I have indeed used them in applicable situations and have been completely pleased with each.

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