The Backcountry Hunting and Fishing Gifts Guide

Tools, technology, and clothing anyone traveling off the grid will appreciate this holiday season

The backcountry; just the word alone means many things to many people. If you or someone you know is a hunter, angler, camper, or hiker, you likely know what I’m talking about. Trekking as far as you can from civilization is about more than just getting off the grid. It’s about venturing into places few people ever see and connecting with your inner explorer to see what’s over the next hill or lurking below a creek mouth. But getting “out there” and back is sometimes a tough proposition that requires tough gear. Thankfully, there’s help. If you need a gift for the backcountry nomad in your life, here are a few items that will certainly help them on their journey. From stocking stuffers to high-end tents, there’s something here for every backcountry traveler.

Darn Tough Hiker Merino Wool Socks

Darn Tough Hiker Merino Wool Socks
Darn Tough Hiker Merino Wool Socks • Price: $19 to $50Darn Tough

Whether you know someone that loves chasing backcountry elk, plying alpine lakes, or just taking a five-mile overnight loop with the family, two things that can make or break an adventure are the condition of their legs and feet. That said, the best way to help someone take care of the lower extremities is with good socks, and good socks aren't cheap. Darn Tough has been making some of the best socks from their Vermont facility for years, and the Hiker Merino Wool cushioned crew socks are some of their best. Each pair is comfortable on the trail, extremely durable, and backed by a lifetime guarantee. The days of feeling sour at the thought of socks under the Christmas Tree are over.

Forsake Wilson Waterproof Hiking Boot

Forsake Wilson Waterproof Hiking Boot
Forsake Wilson Waterproof Hiking Boot • Price: $150Forsake

Now that you've bought your favorite hiker a reliable pair of socks, you should probably get them a reliable pair of boots. The Wilson from Forsake are just as comfortable in the outback as they are on a night among friends. Waterproof and breathable, these full-grain leather and suede clogs have a "sneakerboot" design for the fashion conscious but perform like a backcountry boot should. There is a gusseted tongue for nasty, wet weather, a peak-to-pavement sole that grabs any surface it contacts, and a breathable sweat-wicking lining with a microbial treatment to keep the insides smelling fresh. It's a great gift for anyone that loves the outdoors but wants to break in their boots during a few strolls downtown.

Wise Owl Pack Hammock

Wise Owl Pack Hammoc
Wise Owl Pack Hammock • Price: $27 to $40Wise Owl

If there's anything better than being on an elk hunt and squeezing in a quick afternoon nap in a hammock on a crisp autumn day, I don't know about it. Truth be told, I have several Wise Owl pack hammocks stashed in key locations like under the seat in my truck, in my backyard storage shed, in the boot room at the family cabin, or anywhere else I might impulsively decide to catch a few winks. These makeshift beds come with strong 9-foot long straps and carabiners and are easy to set up between two trees or some other improvised anchor. Packed down inside the included cinch sack, the DoubleOwl version weighs just 26 ounces and unfolds to a 10-foot long, 6-½-foot wide cradle that's large enough for two people.

Motorola Talkabout T800 Two-way Radios

Motorola Talkabout T800 Two-way Radios
Motorola Talkabout T800 Two-way Radios • Price: $95Motorola

Very rarely do I venture off alone. I prefer the buddy system, but not just because it's a safer way to travel. I simply prefer the company of other people and think adventure is more fun when you can share the experience with friends or family. To make sure all members of our party are accounted for, we rarely go anywhere without some form of two-way communication, and one of the latest and greatest devices on that front is the Motorola T800 Talkabout waterproof radios. Motorola claims the walkie-talkies can send and receive signals over any of the 2,662 channel/code combinations for up to 35 miles. There are also 11 weather channels, an LED flashlight, micro USB charging port, and it features Bluetooth connectivity for off-grid group messaging or broadcasting. They're extremely useful for hunting and fishing excursions, or sporting events where you want to keep tabs on everyone's whereabouts.

Kate's Real Food Granola Bars

Kate’s Real Food Granola Bars
Kate's Real Food Granola Bars • Price: $30 (includes 12 bars)Kate’s Real Food

If your backcountry traveler is tired of the same old trail-mix snacks, there are some heartier, tastier, organic options that are also more filling. Kate's Real Food is one company that's broken free of the "same-old, same-old" backpack nibble model by taking favorite flavors like peanut butter, chocolate, almonds, and coconut, and blending it with organic grains and fruits to create hand-rolled energy bars. Choose from 6 different, gluten-free, non-GMO combinations like peanut butter hemp and flax, mango coconut, or dark chocolate cherry and almond, or buy a package of 12 bars (2 flavors each) and stuff several backcountry stockings. They are delicious, healthy, and more refreshing than an equal parts mix of peanuts, raisins, and M&Ms.

Rylo 5.8K 360-degree Video Camera

Rylo 5.8K 360-degree Video Camera
Rylo 5.8K 360-degree Video Camera • Price: $350Rylo

One of the great things about advances in video technology is manufacturers are able to package all the guts into lightweight, almost unnoticeable housings; great for backcountry trekkers who want to document, edit, and produce short films of their adventures. The latest gamechanger on the camera front comes from Rylo. Not only does their camera capture footage in a whopping 5.8K resolution, it has two opposing lenses that film 360-degrees around. Later, using the Rylo app, anyone can control the scenes to create unique transitions and perspectives you can't get with any other camera. The stabilization feature makes even active scenes incredibly smooth and both iPhone and Android compatible models are available. It's also a great gift for a hunter or angler who enjoys capturing the action.

Snow Peak Torch

Snow Peak Torch
Snow Peak Torch • Price: $57Snow Peak

I admit it, I'm not the best fire builder. In fact, my father jokingly says I have the unique ability to smother any flame within a fire ring. While I don't think I'm that disadvantaged, it sometimes takes me a little longer than usual to build a nice bed of coals. That's why I like the folding torch from Snow Peak. It's lightweight, compact, and easy to fit in a pack. Unfolded, it attaches to any common butane canister—the same ones used for pack stoves and Jet Boils—and can kick out a 14,000 BTU flame. It's a great tool for lighting damp wood in the backcountry, or any other tasks at home that might require charring.

LifeProof LIFEACTIV Power Pack

LifeProof LIFEACTIV Power Pack
LifeProof LIFEACTIV Power Pack • Price: $80LifeProof

There's nothing wrong with taking technology into the backcountry. There, I said it. Anybody that thinks otherwise can direct their arguments to my personal complaint department (i.e. my trash bin). Smartphones alone are worth packing, especially if you have any sort of map or GPS app, and because the photo and video quality on most models is so good, you don't need to weigh down your pack with camera gear. That said, sooner or later anything electronic will need a battery boost, so having a portable power pack like the LIFEACTIV from LifeProof is a great idea. Powered by two 10,000-mAh batteries, the pack has an LED flashlight, four LEDs to gauge power level, and it automatically turns off when something is fully charged. This model is also waterproof, drop-proof, dirtproof, snowproof, weighs a mere 19 ounces, and makes a terrific gift for anyone carrying portable electronics into the field or on the water.

Leatherman FREE P4

Leatherman FREE P4
Leatherman FREE P4 • Price: $140Leatherman

Since Leatherman debuted the first multitool in 1983, the devices have become fixtures in backpacks, tackle boxes, vehicle consoles, and anywhere else someone might need help with a quick fix. For 2019, Leatherman revisited and revamped their original designs and created the FREE P4. A magnetic locking mechanism reduces hinge friction and there are replaceable wire cutter blades on the plier jaws. But the best feature is that all 21 tools remain accessible and easy to open with one hand when the tool is closed. The P4 weighs just under nine ounces, and measures just over 4 inches long when closed. Even if you think the outdoorsman or outdoorswoman in your life already owns a multitool, get them the new FREE P4 anyway because no one can ever own too many Leathermans.

Survivor Filter PRO X Electric Water Filter

Survivor Filter PRO X Electric Water Filter
Survivor Filter PRO X Electric Water Filter • Price: $125Survivor Filter

I love the taste of cool, fresh water filtered from a spring or small creek, but I loathe the arduous process of slowly pumping it into one hose and out the other until the bladder in my pack is full. I don't have to do that anymore now thanks to an electronic solution from Survivor Filter. The PRO X Electric Water filter is the world's first handheld portable water filter to operate on two AA batteries, though you can also run it from a cigarette lighter, mobile battery pack, or 120-240 volt power source. This easy to use device can purify 17 ounces of water per minute with just the press of a button, the filter is good for up to 100,000 liters, and it's entirely constructed of BPA-free materials. It's a terrific gift for anyone that's fanatical about staying hydrated in the wild.

TrailBuddy Trekking Poles

TrailBuddy Trekking Poles
TrailBuddy Trekking Poles • $37TrailBuddy

Hike hard and long enough, and it can take a toll on knees, especially if you're shouldering a lot of weight. To help ease the stress on knee joints, the spine, and even shoulders and neck muscles, a lot of hunters have turned to trekking poles because they decrease impact pressure, provide stability, and help shift load weight to other parts of the body. High-end, carbon-fiber poles can burn through anyone's holiday spending budget, but a simpler set made from aluminum, like these from TrailBuddy, are just as effective when someone is out and about. The cork handles wick moisture away from sweating hands, the shafts extend to 52 inches, and both shrink and fit into a 24-inch sack that's easy to attach to a pack when you don't need them. What's more, each set comes with mud and snow baskets that attach to the ends of the poles so you can use both year-round, no matter the conditions. They also make great wading staffs.

Klymit Insulated Static V Sleeping Pad

Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad
Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad • Price: $75Klymit

Whether you or someone you know is hiking, biking, or paddling into the unknown, the ability to keep up the effort, day after day, has a lot to do with physical conditioning, but even the healthiest people need good rest. That starts with having a good place to lay down and relax, and when you're far from your comfy bed at home, it's hard to beat a sleeping pad. The Klymit Static V is a lightweight (25 ounces), insulated (4.4 R-value), long, inflatable camping mattress that is a real asset in camp—especially on those wet or chilly nights when sleeping off the cold ground and maintaining body heat are crucial. It fits into a 5x8-inch sack, and inflates to 72x23x2.5 inches in as few as 15 to 20 breaths. A patch kit is also included in case the pad springs a leak.

Greenbelly Meals 2 Go

Greenbelly Meal 2 Go
Greenbelly Meal 2 Go • Price: $65 (includes 9 meals)Greenbelly

One critical element to consider when planning any trip into the backcountry is what to bring for meals and snacks. The most common solution is to bring an assortment of freeze-dried meals. They're loaded with precious calories to replenish someone's fuel tank, but they're also loaded with sodium, which isn't always a good thing. Greenbelly founder Chris Cage recognized the problem and began creating packaged foods that contain 1/3 of the daily calorie, carbohydrate, fat, fiber, sodium, and protein recommended values. Each meal is ready to eat out of the package, so no messy cooking required, and it's all made with natural, gluten-free ingredients.

Silicone Collapsible Travel Cup

Silicone Collapsible Travel Cup
Silicone Collapsible Travel Cup • Price: $15 (4-pack)Me.Fan

Coffee and the backcountry go hand in hand, but pack weight is a huge consideration and pack space is precious, so the 20-ounce, stainless steel mug should stay at home. If you know someone that enjoys their java outside, consider a collapsible mug. They're inexpensive, amazingly light, compact, and because they're made from silicone, they're BPA free. Each one holds almost 10 ounces, there is measuring cup information on the side, and they collapse to just under 4-inches in diameter, making them super easy to store among other provisions inside any pack.

Abel + Spyderco Native 5 knife

Abel + Spyderco Native 5 knife
Abel + Spyderco Native 5 knife • Price: $495Abel

For as long as I can remember, knives have been the universal, failsafe gift item in our family—if you don't know what to get someone, you get them a knife they can treasure. If you're in the same boat, the new Abel + Spyderco Native 5 blade might be what you need this holiday season. The knife is the result of a two-year-long collaboration between the two companies, and it's available in three fishy finishes: bonefish, brown trout, and rainbow trout. Re-engineered and re-designed from the previous Native 5 model, the new version has an aerospace-grade aluminum handle, a machined stainless-steel blade, and an enhanced grip for easy handling. You can deploy the knife with one hand and there's a clip that can attach to a belt, pocket, or sleeve inside a backpack. It's a gorgeous tool for anyone that enjoys chasing fish off the grid.

Orvis Pro Insulated Vest

Orvis Pro Insulated Vest
Orvis Pro Insulated Vest • Price: $160Orvis

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with vests. They’re ideal for hiking because you won’t get too hot like you would in a jacket, and you won’t get too cold, like you would wearing just a t-shirt. But sadly, every one I’ve tried hasn’t gone the distance thanks to bad stitching, weak material, you name it. However, none of those things have happened with Orvis’ Pro Insulated vest. The outer shell is a tough, proprietary fabric designed for any condition. Inside is a combination of PrimaLoft and Polartec insulation that allows wearers to stay comfortable in a wide range of temperatures. There is a zippered, internal pocket and two zippered, fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets on the outside. The vest can be worn alone, though it also works well as part of a clothing layering system. Women’s sizes are also available.