ANNUAL HERALD HOLIDAY OUTDOOR GIFT GUIDE: A gift for all seasons
Whether it's seriously shopping or just adding items to that ever-growing "buy it someday" list, few things are more fun for the outdoors enthusiast than browsing through the sporting goods stores and catalogs.
Good thing, too, because Christmas is just around the corner.
During the course of the year, we receive hundreds of press releases from companies marketing all sorts of outdoorsy gadgets and gizmos. Some get filed accordingly, but others catch our attention and are horded away for future reference.
Many of those are included here, and best as we can tell, would look great under the tree of just about any outdoors lover. We've added others to the list based on our own experience.
The end result is this year's version of the Herald's Holiday Outdoor Gift Guide. Check it out, and if something catches your attention, there's plenty of time to start dropping subtle hints.
Or, even better, perhaps you'll find something that suits the fancy of the outdoors lover on your list.
"Ice Fishing, The Ultimate Guide": Written by outdoors writer and photographer Tim Allard, "Ice Fishing, The Ultimate Guide" just hit the market and covers everything from clothing and electronics to safety and species-specific tips for catching fish through the ice. "The Ultimate Guide" also features contributions from Minnesota experts such as Dave Genz and Noel Vick and Ontario fishing authority Gord Ellis. Available through a variety of book and outdoor specialty stores, along with amazon.com for $24.95.
"Paddle North: Canoeing the Boundary Waters-Quetico Wilderness": Minnesota author Greg Breining and photographer Layne Kennedy have teamed up to create a work that will appeal to everyone with a passion for canoe country. Published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, "Paddle North" and its full-color photos takes readers on a wilderness journey that's almost as good as the real thing. About $29.95; mhspress.org.
"North Dakota's Best Hiking Trails": The latest work from North Dakota native Scott Kudelka features 35 of the state's top hiking destinations, including the Grand Forks Greenway, Turtle River State Park and Icelandic State Park, along with more publicized attractions such as the Maah Daah Hey Trail and the north and south units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota. Kudelka, Mankato, Minn., also authored a 10-book series on North Dakota state parks. "North Dakota's Best Hiking Trails" retails for $12.95 and is available at area book and gift stores, through online retailers or on the publisher's website at adventurepublications.net.
ShowDown Ice-Troller: Ice fishing sonar goes compact with this palm-sized unit from MarCum Technologies. The ShowDown Ice Troller displays targets from 1 foot to 120 feet of water and features a 20-degree transducer and 6 feet of cable. Six AA batteries will power the unit for as long as 20 hours, and the compact Ice-Troller has all the bells and whistles of larger sonar units. An optional 12-volt Performance Pack also is available and includes a padded soft case, adjustable transducer arm and three-stage battery charger. The add-on can be used with a 12-volt rechargeable battery instead of AA batteries for extended operation. The Ice-Troller retails for $199.99, and the Performance Pack has a suggested retail price of $49.99; marcumtech.com.
Ice Hunter rod and reel combos: This series of ice fishing combos from Frabill taps the expertise of veteran Mille Lacs guide Tony Roach and Canadian ice ace Jeff "Gussy" Gustafson. Roach helped fashion the 27-inch medium light Ice Hunter for 4- to 8-pound line, while Gustafson's 38-inch Ice Hunter is suited for 6- to 12-pound test line and larger species such as pike and lake trout. The reels feature "Sub-Zero" lube for use in extreme cold. About $39.99; frabill.com.
Coleman Instant Tent: A fixture in the camping industry, Coleman touts its Instant Tent as the solution to "fumbling in the dark for loose stakes and trying to attach an awkward rain fly before it starts pouring." Measuring 10x14, the tent sets up and tears down in a minute or less, thanks to pre-attached poles that are secured to the tent fabric. About $199; (800) 835-3278.
Swedish FireSteel 2.0: Originally created for the Swedish Department of Defense, the Swedish FireSteel has become a favorite of outdoors enthusiasts whether it's camping, hunting or fishing. The new 2.0 has a 3,000-degree C spark (5,432 degrees F) and an improved striker that simplifies building a fire in any weather at any altitude. Available in two models -- the Scout model ($12.99), good for 3,000 sparks, and the Army model ($19.99) that lasts up to 12,000 strikes. Listed retail outlets include Cabela's, Scheels and amazon.com; lightmyfireusa.com.
ThermaCell lantern: There've been lots of mosquito-control gimmicks on the market over the years, but the ThermaCell isn't one of them. The ThermaCell, without a doubt, was the savior of this past summer when it came to spending time outdoors without being eaten alive. The ThermaCell uses a butane cartridge to heat a pad that releases a chemical called Allethrin, and it keeps mosquitoes at bay in a 15x15-foot area. The lantern model of the ThermaCell has eight LED lights and two settings. Field and Stream magazine honored the ThermaCell lantern with a Best of the Best Award earlier this year, and it certainly warrants the recognition. About $25.99 for the standard ThermaCell appliance and $31.99 for the lantern model; mosquitorepellent.com.
Dip-It, Drop-It, Dunk-It Spotlight: This durable LED spotlight from Stanley is about the size of a flashlight, at least twice as bright as comparable LED spotlights and runs for as long as 10 hours. Best of all, it's waterproof and will withstand submersion in as much as 6 feet of water. Or, at the other extreme, survive falls from as high as 10 feet. About $59; available at Lowe's home improvement stores.
SureFire G2: This sure isn't your dad's flashlight. The SureFire G2's brilliant beam is so bright, it can momentarily blind and disorient an aggressor -- or aid in cleaning a deer in the dark. The 5-inch light is 4 ounces and runs on two high-energy 123A batteries. SureFire's products are heavy duty and cutting edge. They're popular with police and firefighters. About $40; surefire.com.
N-Ferno Balaclava: St. Paul-based Ergodyne's N-Ferno balaclava features stretchable Nomex fleece to deliver warmth, comfort, and flame-resistant protection. The balaclava just hit the market Wednesday. For more information, go to ergodyne.com, call (800) 225-8238 or check out Acme Tools, Airgas North Central and Fastenal, Grand Forks retailers that carry Ergodyne products.
Muck Boots: Muck Boots products have become a fixture on the Herald's outdoor Christmas list in recent years for good reason: They're warm, comfortable and durable. Available in dozens of styles, a perennial favorite is the warm and waterproof Arctic Sport High Cut, which has a comfort range of -40 degrees to 60 degrees and retails for $124.95. Available at numerous sporting goods and home and garden outlets; muckboots.com.
Bushnell BackTrack Point-3: The BackTrack Point-3 probably is the simplest GPS unit offered in the global positioning market. It stores three locations, tells distance and direction to destination and has a digital compass. It's great for hiking, hunting or fishing. Store it in your shirt pocket. Runs on two AAA batteries. The unit's big brother, BackTrack Point-5, records five waypoints. About $60; bushnell.com
iMoble Power Inverter: From Black and Decker comes this 100-watt power inverter that plugs into a vehicle's DC port or cigarette lighter for cell phones, laptops, MP3 players, video games and other devices. The unit folds for easy access and storage; $29.99.
"Pheasants Forever Wingshooter": Now you can "hunt" upland game birds and waterfowl year-round with this video game for Nintendo Wii systems from Pheasants Forever and Game Mill Entertainment. Test your skills on pheasants, quail, ducks, turkey, ruffed grouse, geese and other species and select from a variety of bird dog breeds. Available at major retailers, amazon.com and through the online Pheasants Forever Store at pheasantsforever.org; about $20.
A.G. Russell safety axe: The A.G. Russell "safety axe" is small enough to fit in your back pocket and strong enough to do anything from chopping wood to cleaning big game. The axe's history is more than 100 years old. Its unique metal shield covers the sharpened edge when not in use and folds into its handle slot for carrying. About $79.99; agrussell.com.
Cold Steel Pendleton Lite Hunter: The newest in the company's Pendleton line, the knife has a drop point blade and polypropylene handle. It's magic while dressing or skinning game or for utility chores. The hollow ground blade is super sharp and easy to sharpen. Comes with a pouch-type sheath. At $20, it might be the best knife bargain going; coldsteel.com.
Caldwell Lead Sled: Available in several models, the Lead Sled takes the recoil out of rifle shooting and accommodates rifles of all sizes. A useful tool at the shooting range without a doubt, the Lead Sled is quick and easy to adjust. About $70 to $190 depending on the model; available at sporting goods outlets, including Cabela's and Scheel's.
Do-All White Wing Automatic Trap Thrower: We bought one of these throwers last spring, and it quickly earned the name "Devil Thrower" for the speed at which it propels clay targets into the stratosphere. There's no doubt, though, that the "Devil Thrower" put more birds in the bag this fall for at least one young shooter who put hundreds of rounds through his 20 gauge Remington 870 before hunting season. Powered by a 12-volt deep cycle battery, the thrower launches targets 80 yards in the blink of an eye and can be adjusted to angles from 5 degrees to 35 degrees. About $350; cabelas.com.
Ruger Air Hawk: Remember the ol' Roy Rogers toy gun set you got back in the day? If you were lucky, you got your first Daisy air rifle not long after that. These days, air rifles aren't just for kids. We're talking quality firearms here. The Ruger Air Hawk is one example. It's a spring piston-driven, hardwood-stocked, beautifully-blued, fiber optic-sighted gem. It even comes with a 4x32 air gun scope. The rifle has a 1,000 feet per second pressure rating and propels .177 pellets. That means cheap ammo for target practicing. It's also effective on small game. About $115; ruger.com.
Herald Managing Editor Kevin Grinde also contributed to this story.
Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to email@example.com.