The Gear Hall of Fame: 13 Pieces of Classic Hunting and Fishing Equipment

New gear is great, but when packing for a weekend in the woods, save space for these time-tested classics

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
The Gear Hall of FameField & Stream

These 13 inductees to the Gear Hall of Fame have passed the true test of success: time. Some have been on the market for generations, others just a decade or so, but each has secured a place among sportsmen's most trusted gear. And they're all still on the market.

ThermaCell Mosquito Repeller

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
ThermaCell Mosquito RepellerField & Stream

And the good people of Schawbel Corporation said: Let there be freedom from the biting hordes, the buzzing mosquito, the satanic sand fly, the no-see-ums that sow ruin and agony on morning hunts and evening picnics. And then they pushed a magic button, and it was so. Nothing has increased the overall enjoyment of a spring morning in the turkey woods or an early-fall deer hunt more than this magical device, introduced in 2003. It burns a synthetic repellent based on the chrysanthemum flower that is harmless to humans—but on a September teal hunt, we'd gladly fire up a Thermacell even if it burned straight uranium. ($24.99; thermacell.com)

Mister Twister Curly Tail

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
Mister Twister Curly TailField & Stream

What seems so ordinary today was revolutionary back then: A soft plastic grub with a curly tail that drives fish wild. As early as the 1960s, the Creme Lure Company was juicing its standard straight plastic worms with colored tails and scents, but it was Mister Twister that gave soft plastics life. The development of its Curly Tail, circa 1972, whipped the market for more lifelike baits into a frenzy that has yet to subside. ($3.75; mistertwister.com)

The Original Buff

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
The Original BuffField & Stream

It's a long pull from the Spanish Pyrenees to the Gulf Coast's saltwater flats or to Montana trout water, but that's the journey the Buff has taken since its development in the early 1990s. The tubular, pull-over, sun-protection headwear was designed by a Spanish motorcyclist to protect his neck and head on long cross-country rides; the name Buff comes from bufanda, the Spanish word for scarf. Despite its warm-weather roots, however, the Buff is now nearly ubiquitous on coldwater streams and saltwater marshes. ($20; buffusa.com)

Opinel Knife

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
Opinel KnifeField & Stream

Sure, over the past few years, the 125-year-old French folding classic has taken on a bit of a hipster vibe, but don't let that be a spoiler. There are few better goose-breasting, fish-filleting, general-purpose camp kitchen knives out there. Go for the original carbon-steel blade. If you can't take care of an Opinel, you don't deserve any knife. ($12.49; opinel-usa.com)

Schnee's Pac Boots

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
Schnee's Pac BootsField & Stream

It's no surprise why these classic duck boots have a cult following that extends far beyond the small Schnee's factory, in Bozeman, Montana. They last forever, fit like a glove, are available with or without insulation, and chew up muddy, snowy hills like a snowshoe hare with a wolverine on its tail. Plus, there's no denying that they look cool, with their packer-boot-style false tongue and sturdy brass studs. ($319; schnees.com)

Hoppe's No. 9

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
Hoppe's No. 9Field & Stream

In the early days of the 20th century, as smokeless powders took over the firearms scene, Pittsburg chemist Frank August Hoppe was tinkering in his backyard shed with a concoction of powder solvents and rust protectors. He settled on an alchemy of nine chemicals that would free a barrel from primer, powder, and fouling. Did he also realize that his beloved Hoppe's No. 9 would exude the manliest musk since the first campfire, a perfume so alluring as to prompt good men to leave the loving arms of their wives to spend days among wet dogs and cold forests? Probably. (5 oz.: $3; hoppes.com)

Woolrich Buffalo Check Shirt

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
Woolrich Buffalo Check ShirtField & Stream

Since the bison has recently been named the United State's official national mammal, it only makes sense to figure the buffalo check shirt as the sporting world's semi-official heavyweight wool shirt. The Woolrich version has been made for more than 100 years. It's heavy enough for serious cold and breathable enough for an early-spring day. But wear it with skinny jeans, and I'll personally cancel your subscription to Field & Stream. ($119; woolrich.com)

Mad River Explorer

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
Mad River ExplorerField & Stream

This is the original sport utility vehicle—a 16-foot canoe that artfully blends stability and nimbleness, sheathed in a skin that can withstand most any river’s insults. I know for a fact that the Explorer—introduced in 1973—can run Class IV rapids, be poled through salt marshes, cross 15-mile wind-whipped open waters, ram through 2-inch ice, and haul 800 pounds of men, dogs, and decoys. It’s stable enough so that two anglers can stand up and fly-cast out of it, and svelte enough to thread tight cypress swamps. It’s not the best canoe for everything. But it’s the best canoe ever made. (Aluminum: $2,749; madrivercanoe.com)

Whisker Biscuit

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
Whisker BiscuitField & Stream

It solved what was perhaps the bowhunting world's most aggravating, curse-inducing, deer-spooking problem: An arrow that refused to stay put on its rest. Developed in the late 1990s by Carolina Archery Products (and now owned by Trophy Ridge), the Biscuit is an O-shaped arrow rest fitted with synthetic bristles that hold the shaft in place. Knock your bow with a knee, twist it for an difficult shot—heck, you could one-hand somersault with your arrow in a Whisker Biscuit and still come up shooting. ($49.99; trophyridge.com)

Tibor Billy Pate Fly Reel

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
Tibor Billy Pate Fly ReelField & Stream

Hungarian freedom fighter and refugee Ted "Tibor" Juracsik didn't know a fly reel from pelican spit when he met famed flyfisherman Billy Pate in the Florida Keys in the early 1970s. But Juracsik knew his way around a metal shop and designed for Pate a massive reel tough enough to stop, turn, and whoop up on man-sized tarpon. The Billy Pate reel set saltwater flyfishing on a new course. For his part, Juracsik didn't charge Pate a penny. When Pate asked him how much he owed him for the finest fly reel in the world, Juracsik replied: Just teach me how to flyfish. ($500; tiborreel.com)

Mini Maglite

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
Mini MagliteField & Stream

Maglite was the Yeti of its day—a category-exploding reimagination of what a prosaic piece of gear could be. Developed by Croatian immigrant Tony Maglica, who bought his first lathe in 1955 with a $150 down payment, the first full-size Maglite appeared in 1979 and was designed for law enforcement. The Mini Maglite AA lit up the outdoor world five years later, kicking off today's arms race of flashlight design. ($43; maglite.com)

LifeStraw

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
LifeStrawField & Stream

For far too long there were only three choices for turning bad backcountry water into good: Boil it, inoculate it with iodine, or pump it through water filters so complex that they required six hands to operate. Not so with the LifeStraw: Suck it through. It's that simple. Originally designed for humanitarian crises in developing countries, LifeStraw is destined for massive deployment in fishing vests and hunting packs. ($17; lifestraw.com)

Sure-Shot Yentzen Caller

best hunting gear, best outdoor gear, gear, hunting gear,
Sure-Shot Yentzen CallerField & Stream

In the 1940s, Texan George Yentzen cut his first duck call with a back-porch band saw. He didn't stop tinkering: By the 1950s, he'd partnered with a first-generation Spanish American named James "Cowboy" Hernandez, and the pair patented the first double-reed duck call, with reeds fastened together by rivets. Today's Yentzen Sure-Shot has the same handsome lines and killer tones of the original. ($59.98; sureshotgamecalls.com)

See our previous Gear Hall of Fame list here.