Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Best Gifts For: The Proud Sportsman

Presented By:

 Kodiak Flex Bow Tent

Want to know what you should get your flannel-wearing, blue jeans-loving proud outdoor sportsman? We can tell you not only what he wants, but what he needs this holiday season. 

BASECAMP

Look, you can turn this whole thing into a fastpacking, lightweight, type of experience if you want, but we know you’ll be much happier setting up a kingdom at basecamp. Rent a Sherpa or back up the truck to get this stuff out to your destination.

Kodiak Canvas 10x14 Flex-Bow Deluxe Canvas Tent

After a day of tracking down trophy dinner, the last thing anyone wants to do is crawl into a lightweight backpacking tent. Instead, look to the Kodiak Canvas 10x14 Flex-Bow Deluxe Tent for the ultimate, all-season, all weather, true outfitter experience. Made from premium grade 10oz. waterproof duck canvas, this tent can be erected by one person in minutes, but comfortably sleeps eight. When you’re living out there, you might as well live comfortably.

kodiakcanvas.com | 10x14 Flex-Bow Delux Canvas Tent $669.99

Slumberjack Big Lux Cot

Slumberjack Big Lux Cot

Why should you curtail your sleeping habits in the great outdoors when you could be enjoying sweet dreams on the Big Lux Cot from Slumberjack? Built on a rugged steel frame, the Big Lux is capable of holding up to 325lbs, and features under cot storage as well as a sleeve to insert the included self-inflating mat. At 32” wide, the Big Lux is two inches wider than most camp cots on the market, so feel free to roam.

slumberjack.com | Big Lux Cot $144.95

 Nemo Strato Loft

Nemo Strato Loft 25 Down Sleeping Bag

The Nemo Strato Loft 25 is a three season sleeping bag filled with 700-fill DownTek down which has the ability to dry 60% faster than regular down. Rated for temperatures as low as 25°F, the Strato Loft 25 is a conventional rectangular sleeping bag built for comfort. Additional features include an integrated blanket and a bottom sleeve designed to accept any 25” wide inflatable sleeping pad.

nemoequipment.com | Strato Loft 25 Down Sleeping Bag $369.95

 thermolite-reactor

Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Extreme Sleeping Bag Liner

For added warmth, consider the Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Extreme Liner. With the potential to add an additional 25°F of warmth to your sleeping bag, the Thermolite Reactor Extreme can also double as an ultralight, 14oz summer bag too.

seattosummit.com | Thermolite Reactor Extreme Liner $67.95

bass-pro-camp-kitchen 

Bass Pro Shops Deluxe Camp Kitchen

No trail chef should be restricted to using just the top of their cooler to prepare their mealtime masterpieces, which is where the Bass Pro Shops Deluxe Camp Kitchen comes in handy. With a built-in pantry, spice rack, and wash basin, the Deluxe Camp Kitchen allows you to keep food prep organized and contained in one, spacious area. Built on a heavy duty aluminum frame and featuring a heat resistant table top and two side tables, you and your companions can rest assured that you won’t be forced to subsist on peanut butter and jelly.

basspro.com | Deluxe Camp Kitchen $139.99

Yeti Tundra 75 Lifestyle

Yeti Tundra 75 Cooler

The Yeti Tundra 75 cooler is the perfect size to keep you, and a few of your friends, full of refrigerated food and drink for several days. In warmer weather, the Tundra 75 can keep its contents cool for up to 3-4 days at a time, so as the weather gets cooler that timeframe will only extend out further. What’s nice about a Yeti Tundra cooler is that if you’re away from camp for extended periods of time, you don’t need to worry about it getting torn apart by a bear or anything more ferocious for that matter.

yeti.com | Tundra 75 Cooler $449.99

yeti-hopper-flip-12-1 

Yet Hopper Flip 12

For shorter or solo expeditions, might we recommend the new Yeti Hopper Flip 12? This durable soft-sided cooler will fit a 12 pack of craft brew and ice perfectly, but if you focus on food alone and utilize one of Yeti’s ICE ice packs, you can fit three solid meals in there for 2-3 days instead.

yeti.com | Hopper Flip 12 $279.99 | Yeti ICE $14.99

Primus Onja Stove

Primus Onja Stove

Resembling a high-end messenger bag for the business class, the Primus Onja is a durable, lightweight, two-burner stove designed to cook food for just you, or your whole family. Constructed from steel, leather, and brass, the Onja runs on standard Primus camping gas and comes complete with an oak cutting board so that all you need to add to the mix are your favorite pots and pans. Based on its minimal weight (7lbs.) and size (when closed), the Onja is a great addition to base camp or for a riverside feast.

primus.us | Onja Stove $139.95

 

RATIONS

When you’re living off the grid, you might as well enjoy yourself. We firmly believe there is no better way to pamper yourself at base camp then with good food and drink – and of course we’ve got the right vessels to prepare and carry it all in.

 douwe-egberts-aroma-rood

Douwe Egberts Aroma Rood Ground Coffee

A bit of an anomaly here in the United States, Douwe Egberts is the number one brand of coffee roasters in Europe, and it only takes one sip of their Aroma Rood Ground Coffee to understand why. This creamy medium roast coffee has a bit of natural sweetness and spice and is awesome black – even if you usually prefer cream and sugar.

enjoybettercoffee.com | Aroma Rood Ground Coffee $5.49

Stanley Mountain Vacuum Coffee System

Stanley Mountain Vacuum Coffee System, 1.1 QT

Hunters and gatherers alike need a good cup of coffee to set them in the right direction and what better than the Mountain Vacuum Coffee System from Stanley. This system, which is made primarily of 18/8 stainless steel is comprised of a boiling pot, French press, dry storage container for ground coffee, two cups, and a vacuum bottle designed to carry 1 liter of piping hot coffee with you on your adventure. The whole system nests into itself for easy use and storage.

stanley-pmi.com | Mountain Vacuum Coffee System $60

Blantons Single Barrel Bourbon

Blanton’s Original Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey

The antithesis of the old man’s hooch that we use to sneak sips from as a teenager, Blanton’s Original Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey is smooth and creamy and lacks any bite save for a little heat at the finish. Best enjoyed neat and in small doses, it pairs well with a cold morning by a smoldering fire and reminds you of fresh maple syrup. But we’ll warn you, you may feel a little underdressed sipping it in a ratty flannel.

blantonsbourbon.com | Original Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey $55

Stanley Classic Flask  Woolrich Vest

Stanley 8oz Classic Flask

Flasks are a rite of passage that traditionally come out around the fire and quickly end up being a lifelong piece of gear you take out in the woods or smuggle into the big game. Stanley’s definitive 8oz Classic Flask is made from 18/8 stainless steel and features their iconic hammered finish. Destined to provide you years of warmth and enjoyment, the flask is tapered to fit in almost any pocket or pouch.

stanley-pmi.com | Classic Flask $25

Founders Brewing KBS

Founder’s Brewing Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS)

Besides being a highly sought after collector’s item, Founder’s Brewing Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) is a bourbon barrel aged stout with hints of coffee and vanilla that transcends any other stout on the market. Best served either ice cold or at room temperature, a little goes a long way. If you plan on staying in the game for the long haul, sip away at this craft beer delicacy.

foundersbrewing.com | Kentucky Breakfast Stout $19 (4-pak)

Fish Pond River Rat  ToadCo Mojac

Fishpond River Rat Beverage Holder

Bridging the gap between tailgating and keeping your hands free in the outdoors is the River Rat Beverage Holder from Fishpond. Equipped with a removable neck strap and lashing points, the River Rat is an insulated beer coozie designed for rugged use and abuse. Additionally, the bottom is made from a sticky rubber, so if you do put it down to bait a hook; it won’t go cascading into the river.

fishpondUSA.com | River Rat Beverage Holder $29.95

Cafe Genevieve Pig Candy

Café Genevieve Pig Candy

A treat on the trail, out on a river, or just whenever the mood strikes, Café Genevieve’s Pig Candy is a dream come true. Why? Well Pig Candy is thick cut slices of Applewood smoked bacon, coated in sugar and spice and “baked low and slow” for your consuming pleasure. Available exclusively from Café Genevieve of Jackson, Wyoming, this stuff is destined to become your latest addiction. And yes, they offer overnight shipping. Go decadent or go home.

genevievejh.com | Pig Candy $22


ATTIRE

Clothing and footwear will be crucial to the success of any adventure out there in the uncontrollable wilderness. It’s important to pick quality items that help protect you from the elements, but it doesn’t hurt to look good either.

Casio PRW-3500T-7 JF DR

Casio PRO TREK PRW3500T-7 Watch

When you’re out being rugged you want a watch that’s rugged too. The Casio PRO TREK PRW3500T-7 is just that watch. It features an altimeter, barometer, thermometer, sunrise and sunset function, and is rated for cold weather use (down to -10 C / 14 F), as well as being waterproof down to 200 meters. The icing on the cake is that this bad ass timepiece is solar powered too, so you don’t have to worry about charging it for at least a year.

casio-usa.com | PRO TREK PRW3500T-7 $450

 alaskan-hardgear

Duluth Trading/Alaskan Hardgear Force Nine Jacket

Cold rain and snow, compounded with gale force winds can cripple a trip in the great outdoors unless you’re wearing an Alaskan Hardgear Force Nine Jacket. The perfect sandwich of softshell, waterproof/breathable membrane, and microfleece, the Force Nine is waterproof, windproof, and abrasion resistant. Featuring a total of ten storage pockets and pit zips to keep you cool, the Force Nine jacket is designed to ride the storm out, even if you aren’t.

duluthtrading.com | Force Nine Jacket $149.50

 stio skycrest

Stio Skycrest Insulated Snap Shirt

A great insulating layer for every day wear right up to when the rain gets heavy, the Stio Skycrest Insulated Snap Shirt takes the idea of a “shirtjac” to the next level. Made from DWR coated Pertex Microlight Minirip Nylon (read: high-end ripstop) and filled with Thermore Ecodown Insulation (read: high-end synthetic down), the Skycrest looks good, feels good, and does exceedingly well down to around 35°F. If we had to categorize it, we’d call it an upper-mid layer.

stio.com | Skycrest Snap Shirt $159

 woolrich-vest

Woolrich Utility Vest Snap Front Closure

In the past two-hundred years, the only update to Woolrich’s Utility Vest has been the inclusion of pockets for your mobile devices. Otherwise, this vintage style wool-wonder has stayed true to form and acts as a great insulating layer for hunting, camping, or maintaining your buzz down at the local bar. If you’re looking to really get in the mindset, the zippered version comes in the classic Hunter’s Plaid too.

woolrich.com | Utility Vest $79

toadCo-shirt 

Toad & Co Mojac Overshirt

Layering your clothing in the colder months will allow you to be comfortable in any environment throughout the day and night, but a Toad & Co Mojac Overshirt can take you to the next level in terms of both form and function. Flannel on the outside and Butterknit Jersey on the inside, the Mojac Overshirt is made from 100% organic cotton and designed to function like a jacket – with the thickness of your typical flannel shirt. This combination will keep you at the right temperature without cause to pile on unneeded bulk. Think of it as your comfortable flannel on steroids.

toadandco.com | Mojac Overshirt $109

Filson Double Tin Pant

Filson Oil Finish Double Tin Pants

Made from 15oz oiled, tin cloth Filson’s Oil Finish Double Tin Pants are water-repellant, abrasion-resistant and come with a note that tells you not to wash them; just brush off any dirt and debris that might collect. Perfect for hunting, working in the yard, or just looking good and rugged, these pants have a tendency to stand up on their own, although you won’t find any others that are as comfortable. If you’re really serious about you’re appearance, you’ll go for the leather binding on the hem too.

filson.com | Double Tin Pants $215

 chippewa-bay-crazy-horse-boots

Chippewa 8” Bay Crazy Horse Utility Waterproof Insulated Rugged Outdoor Boots

Notice how the name of these boots doesn’t have “work” in it at all? That’s because the 8” Bay Crazy Horse boot bridges a gap between work and outside and should be the only boot you wear from October to March if you live and play in a cold climate. These “utility” boots feature Chippewa’s proprietary Chipp-a-tex waterproof membrane, Thinsulate insulation, and offer incredible ankle support over the toughest terrain. Known to last upwards of three years, these boots are great for day hikes, fishing trips, and collegiate level football games alike.

chippewaboots.com | Crazy Horse Boots $275.95

FITS-socks

FITS Tracker OTC Socks

It’s crucial to keep your feet healthy by keeping them comfortable and dry. The FITS Tracker OTC socks are made from odor-resistant, moisture wicking Marino wool and are designed to come up over the calf, making them perfect for taller boots. Additionally, the Tracker OTC features built in compression around the ankle and deep heel cups, as well as toe cups that contour around your little piggies; all designed to keep you comfortable throughout your adventure.

fitssock.com | Tracker OTC Socks $20.99

 

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Even if you push pencils in an office all week, you can still transform into the core outdoorsmen (or woman!) once you step foot on the trail. In order to stay alive out there, you’ll need the proper tool assortment. We think you’ll find these suggestions to be well rounded enough for use while camping, hunting, or surviving an attack by a zombie horde.

Morakniv Eldris

Morakniv Eldris w/ Neck Knife Kit

In the great outdoors, having a neck knife at the ready not only makes life easier, but could also come in handy in a jam. The Morakniv Eldris is an effectively balanced mighty-might with a 2” blade and 5” handle. Featuring a scandi-ground 12C27 stainless blade and grippy handle, feel free to put the Eldris to work for fire nest, kindling, and food prep. The “Neck Knife Kit” version includes paracord for neckwear, a firestarter, and secondary sheath lock to keep the little bugger in place while you frolic through the forest.

industrialrev.com | Eldris w/ Neck Knife Kit $49.99

Hinderer XM-18

Rick Hinderer XM-18 3.5” Flipper w/ Slicer Grind

Bordering on the edge of being custom-made, the Hinderer XM-18 3.5” with Slicer blade is the right choice for reliable field work. Featuring S35 blade steel, titanium frame and hardware, and a grippy G10 handle scale, this version of the XM-18 is ground with precision slicing and cutting in mind. If you’re looking for something specific to field-dressing, consider the same knife with the “Skinner” [http://www.knifeart.com/hisk1.html] blade option.

knifeart.com | Rick Hinderer XM-18 Flipper $425

Morakniv Garberg

Morakniv Garberg

Your belt knife is going to be your hardworking bulldog on the trail, and for new knives on the market I haven’t found one that works as hard as the Morakniv Garberg. Their first full-tang knife, the Garberg is lightweight, particularly when you consider that it has a 4.25” blade and an overall length of 9”. But don’t let that fool you, the Garberg – made from a scandi-ground solid piece of stainless 14C28N Swedish Steel – can be put to task in any situation, and in any weather conditions.

industrialrev.com | Gerberg $129.99

Hults Bruk Akka

Hults Bruk Akka Forester’s Axe

Whether you’re hiking, hunting, or camping, at some point you’ll most likely need to clear a trail or a spot to drop your tent. To do so you’ll want something lightweight – yet effective– like the 2.2 lb Akka Forester’s Axe from Hults Bruk. With a 24” curved hickory handle and a 1.5lb head, you’ll have no problem getting any job done, with enough energy left over to split kindling. For heavy splitting tasks, consider packing in Hults Bruk Splitting Wedge [http://hultsbruk1697.se/products/splitting-wedge/] as well.

hultsbruk1697.se | Akka Forester Axe $189 | Splitting Wedge $89

outdoor-edge-wild-pak 

Outdoor Edge Game Processor Kit

When it comes down to processing and preparing fish or wild game at base camp the aptly named Outdoor Edge Game Processor is a complete, all-in-one kit perfect for those jobs. This handy set comes with blades, bone spreaders, and even a cutting board and gloves. The whole thing travels in a convenient carrying case for deployment out in the field or on the stream too.

uutdooredge.com | Game Processor Kit $89.95

 leatherman-tool

Shinola + Leatherman Limited Edition Charge AL Multitool

Usually, when you come home from a hunting and fishing trip you've got stories to brag about, but with the latest collaboration between Shinola and Leatherman, you'll be able to brag throughout the whole trip. Limited to a run of 500 pieces, this upgraded version of Leatherman's premium Charge AL multitool has been completely in black oxide for corrosion and abrasion resistance and features custom matte navy aluminum handle scales. The Shinola Charge AL also comes complete with a custom leather sheath designed to carry the tool and included bit kit. Catch it while you can.

shinola.com | Charge AL Multitool $250

Simpleshot Hammer Slingshot

Simpleshot Sports Hammer Slingshot

Different seasons dictate whether you can hunt with a rifle, shotgun, or bow, but no one said you couldn’t bring a slingshot anytime of the year. But since you’re not ten anymore, you’ll want to upgrade to a more powerful and precise weapon, and the The Hammer Slingshot from Simpleshot Sports is exactly that. Featuring two different power bands, you’ll be eating rabbi – or bigger game – for dinner without making any sound other than the snapping of a band. If you’re looking to up your game further consider the Slingbow Head for arrow hunting. In to fishing? Oh good, well you can pick up the Bowfishing Starter Kit while you’re at it.

simple-shot.com | Hammer Slingshot $99.99 Hammer | Slingbow Head $50 Bowfishing | Starter Kit $159.99

tenkara-mini-kit

TOPO Designs x Tenkara Rod Co. Mini Kit

Though it takes a little getting used to, fly fishing is one of the most rewarding ways to catch dinner. As part of a collaboration with TOPO Designs, Tenkara Rod Co. has put together a complete and compact fly fishing kit designed for easy travel and to get you out in the water without worrying if you left any critical widgets back at camp. Hell, the carrying case even converts into a fanny pack. Start tying your flies now (though a handful are included).

tenkararodco.com | Mini Kit $298

Maven B3 Binoculars

Maven 8x30 B3 Binoculars

For someone looking for a good mid-range pair of compact binoculars that are built to be abused, look no further than the Maven B3 Binoculars. The perfect marriage between quality, ease of use, and durability, these binoculars easily adjust to hone in on your subject matter with crisp, clear results – even in low light conditions. With custom options available, expect to pay around $500 for an off-the-shelf pair of B3’s, but know you’re getting the form and function of a pair of binoculars that generally go for twice that price.

mavenbuilt.com | B3 Binoculars $500

 

GETTING AROUND

The indigenous peoples of North America relied on canoes to get them from one place to another while hunting and trapping. When they got to shore, and were on foot, they were stealthy, and carried all of the gear they needed to locate, kill, and process their catch on the spot. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do the same.

 mad-river-canoe

Mad River Malecite KX Canoe

If you’re planning on paddling for a long stretch, you might as well go with a quality watercraft – and in terms of Mad River Canoes, that means going back to where it all began with their Malecite KX. Coming in at 16’ 5” and weighing a mere 47lbs, the Malecite KX is everything you want in a tandem Kevlar touring canoe that can be paddled and handled solo as well. With a maximum capacity of 850lbs you can plan on packing like a Canadian fur trapper and still be in good shape if you bring a friend.

madrivercanoe.com | Malecite KX Canoe $2699

SealLine Boundry Bag

SealLine Boundary Portage Pack

Available in sizes ranging from 35 liters to 115 liters, the Boundary Portage Pack from SealLine is the ultimate dry bag backpack. Made from 19oz (body) and 30oz (bottom) scrim-reinforced vinyl the Boundary is the perfect gear carrier for waterproof and abrasion protection while canoeing, canyoneering, or carrying tools up to the cabin for a day of work. The larger, 115-liter (6950 cu. in) pack is perfect if you plan on traveling by canoe long distances as it can hold everything you’d ever need to carry.

cascadedesigns.com | Boundary Portage Pack 35L $99.95 | 70L $114.95 | 115L $129.95

Mystery Ranch 3 Day Assault Pack

Mystery Ranch 3 Day Assault Pack

The Mystery Ranch 3 Day Assault Pack is an all-purpose, multi-day pack built for multiple adventures within your excursion. Clocking in at 2000cu in, the 3DAP has a unique 3-ZIP design that allows you to quickly flay open the ample main compartment for packing, and easy access on the go. Multiple lashing points allow you to expand your capacity and its external water bottle pockets – when coupled with the side compression straps – fit the butt of a rifle stock damn near perfectly. Built to be bulletproof in Bozeman, Montana.

mysteryranch.com | 3-Day Assault Pack $325

Mountainsmith The Fanny Pack

Mountainsmith Fanny Pack

If you’re up in a tree stand you don’t always have the ability to fidget or fuss with your pack. That’s when the Mountainsmith Fanny Pack comes in handy. A staple in the 1990’s, the fanny pack has fallen out of favor over time. But having your important items close at hand and at the ready can pay off in spades. Made from durable 610d Cordura HP and featuring two zippered compartments, rest assured no one will poke fun at you for wearing it as long as you only do so out in the woods.

mountainsmith.com | Fanny Pack $21.95

 

PICTURES OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN

We’ve yet to meet the sportsman who doesn’t come back from a trip and brag about his exploits in the wild. But we can spot a storyteller from a mile away, so if you plan on sharing your tall tales, you better take photos – or it didn’t happen.

Nikon-KeyMission-360

Nikon KeyMission 360

360° degree video recording has quickly grown in popularity because it is an immersive and interactive experience like no other. For the end of 2016, Nikon wants to bring that technology to the masses with their KeyMission 360. Waterproof, Shockproof, and Freezeproof, the KeyMission 360 is capable of recording in 4K Ultra-HD through two, twenty-megapixel lenses and can take still photography as well. What’s more, it has to ability to share video in real time, as its happening; all in a compact size designed to go anywhere with you.

nikonusa.com | KeyMission 360 $499.95

Pakpod Ppod-ME-TreeWoodsFoliage

Pakpod Adventure Tripod with Ninja Stakes

If you’re planning on shooting any video or taking photos on uneven/uneasy terrain, you need a tripod built for the outdoors, and that’s the Pakpod Adventure Tripod with Ninja Stakes. Ultra-lightweight and portable, the Pakpod can be set up virtually anywhere, either by strapping it down, letting it stand, or utilizing the included Ninja Stakes to jam it in a crag or into the ground. This is truly the most rugged and versatile tripod we have ever seen.

pakpod.com | Tripod with Ninja Stakes $99

Dark Energy Poseidon

Dark Energy Poseidon Portable Charger

Power on the trail is generally a convenience that could quickly turn into a primary tool in a survival situation. Poseidon Portable Charger from Dark Energy has the capability of recharging you smartphone 4-5 on a full charge and exceeds all standards in terms of durability and waterproofness. Additionally, the Poseidon features a powerful LED light which will come in handy when you’re in a jam past your bedtime.

darkenergy.com | Poseidon Portable Charger $99.99

Other 2016 Holiday Gift Guides

Best Gifts For: The Yoga Goddess

Best Gifts For: The Yoga Goddess

It's about so much more than your yoga pants. Then again, we found some really cool yoga pants.

Best Gifts For: The Backpacking Wonk

Best Gifts For: The Backpacking Wonk

Check out our favorites swag of the season for the trail pounder on your list.

Best Gifts For: The Fly Fishing Addict

Best Gifts For: The Fly Fishing Addict

You're thinking about gifts. He's thinking about fish. We can work this out. 

Best Gifts For: The Running Geek

Best Gifts For: The Running Geek

Running gifts shouldn't give you the run around. These are our favs for the fleet one on your list.

Best Gifts For: Outdoor Guys with Style

Best Gifts For: Outdoor Guys with Style

Hunky models? Nope. Just our collection of the coolest clothes you can buy for the dude on your list who needs an upgrade.

Best Gifts For: Women Who Freaking Love Skiing

Best Gifts For: Women Who Freaking Love Skiing

You want to buy the perfect gift. She wants to rip pow. 'Nuff said.

Best Gifts For: The Proud Sportsman

Best Gifts For: The Proud Sportsman

Our camo-free picks for the classy outdoorsman on your list.

Best Gifts For: The Climbing Bum

Best Gifts For: The Climbing Bum

The best gifts of the year for the vertically inclined.

Best Gifts For: The Guy Who Skis. A Lot.

Best Gifts For: The Guy Who Skis. A Lot.

There's only one thing he's thinking about. Snow. Let that be your guide.

Best Gifts For: Outdoor Women with Style

Best Gifts For: Outdoor Women with Style

She's got taste. That's why she's going to love everything on this list.

Best Gifts For: The Travel Nut

Best Gifts For: The Travel Nut

Gifts for those who live to wander.