The Best Hunting Gear of 2016

Want to know what new gear should go with you this fall? We’ve got you covered

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Hunting Gear Guide 2016 Be it a high-end rifle or an affordable headlamp, this gear, all of it tested by Field & Stream staffers, will help you in the woods or in the blind this season.The Voorhes
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Nightforce TS-80 Spotting Scope $1,560Buy It Now In 2014, Nightforce introduced its first spotting scope, the TS-82, a miracle of optical opulence that promptly won itself an F&S Best of the Best Award. The TS-82 is not cheap, however, so Nightforce has struck again with the TS-80, a 20X–60X angled-body spotter that is somewhat smaller, less powerful, and a lot less expensive. Although it's compact, the magnesium-bodied TS-80 is not a lightweight (there's lots of glass). And it has all the refinements you'd expect in a scope at this level. It is waterproof and shock-tested, of course, and boasts gorgeous optics and the best ergonomics in the business. —David E. PetzalThe Voorhes
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Mathews Halon $1,099mathewsinc.com The company that earned its considerable reputation for single-cam, smooth-shooting bows has defied expectations with the first ever dual-cam speed bow (up to 353 IBO) under the Mathews name. Yet the Halon does not feel like a speed bow. It has a surprisingly smooth and easy draw cycle, and it is very dead in the hand. The stiff, beefy riser should minimize torque for consistent accuracy. Fit and finish are impeccable. —Dave HurteauMathews
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ThermaCell Heat Packs $80Buy It Now Disposable handwarmers are great, when they work. But when they don't, you've got little more than cold lumps of coal. These electric handwarmers recharge quickly via wall plug or USB and provide up to six hours of warmth. Simple one-button operation toggles through three heat levels. Each is small enough to slide into a mitten or coat pocket, and the rubberized shell is durable. —David DraperThermaCell
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Rambo R750C Camo Bike $2,995 • Buy It Now With its DZX camo finish and accessory attachments made for carrying a gun or bow, this -battery-​powered, motorized fat-tire bike is perfect for silently checking trail cams, accessing stands, and finding new backcountry hotspots. You can pedal the whole way, pedal with motor assist, or not pedal at all, depending on how much of a workout you want. The bike has a 19-mile range on battery power and a max speed of 20 mph. —D.H.The Voorhes
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WoolX Peyton $79Buy It Now I have become a snob about base layers and gone to considerable expense replacing all of my old poly wear with 100 percent Australian merino wool. Why? Because it offers natural odor control and moisture wicking along with warmth. I now wear the Peyton, WoolX's midweight turtleneck, from September through the middle of May. It is super soft and has flatlock seams that won't chafe. —Barbara BairdWoolX
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Superfeet Guide Series Insoles $50Buy It Now An insole may seem like a throwaway item, until you're 3 miles from the trailhead with the first of several loads of elk meat on your back. I honestly don't care about the scent-​control features but do appreciate the -carbon-​-fiber heel-and-arch cup and thick layer of pillow-soft memory foam. They're the best inexpensive investment to make a good pair of boots even better. —D.D.Superfeet
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Tanglefree Flight Series Layout Blind $450Buy It Now The roomy, comfortable Flight Series layout blind features a unique nonglare material that sets it apart from nylon-covered blinds. It's also the only blind in Optifade camo, which is perfect for most grain stubble. It's well made and well thought out, with sturdy hardware and generously sized flagging ports. The oversize pin holes make it a snap to assemble with cold fingers in the dark. —Phil BourjailyTanglefree
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Proof Research Summit LTD $5,450proofresearch.com In a nutshell, Proof Research builds rifles using carbon-fiber barrels and stocks. The end result is a light rifle that is not skeletonized, nor does it sacrifice strength in any area. The rifles are also devilishly accurate. The new Summit bolt-action rifles just may be the company's pinnacle product. Proof Research is offering just 50 of them for sale. The Summit weighs only 6 pounds 10 ounces, and 25 will be chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor and 25 for the .300 Winchester Magnum. Each of these limited-edition long-range wonder rifles will come with a Patriot case, a Bore Tech cleaning rod and guide, and a Leupold VX-3 4–14X scope mounted in Talley rings. Big price tag? Yes. But for the accuracy obsessed, the rifle also delivers big results. —Richard MannThe Voorhes
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Bushnell PowerSync SolarWrap Mini-Max $120Buy It Now You've got the power with the Bushnell PowerSync SolarWrap Mini-Max, which charges a compact camera or GPS unit three times or a smartphone one time. When it's out of juice, unwrap the solar panel and point it toward the sun. Charging time is six hours. Convenient holes allow it to be staked to the ground or tied to your pack. For storage, it rolls into a compact 73⁄4 x 11⁄4-inch package. —B.B.Bushnell
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Filson Down Cruiser $635Buy It Now The issue with Filson's classic tin-cloth cruisers, although well suited for the early season, has long been that lined or otherwise they grant very little protection from the cold when the temperature nose-dives. With the new Down Cruiser, Filson solves the problem. Insulated with goose down, the coat can help you endure the frostiest of weather, and the waxed exterior will keep rain, snow, and sleet from leaving you soaked. —JR SullivanFilson
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First Lite Wind River Balaclava $35 • Buy It Now What a genius idea—putting ear holes in a balaclava. This ninja headwear clearly was made with hunters in mind; you can adjust it to suit your purposes and the conditions. It comes in several camo patterns, as well as black for blind hunting. Since it's 100 percent merino wool, it is breathable and wicks away moisture, especially around your nose and mouth. —B.B.First Lite
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Browning BXR and BXC ammunition $28–$37 (boxes of 20)Buy It Now Back in the ammunition business after a hiatus of 40 years or so, Browning has created a line of rifle ammo that's manufactured by Winchester (to Browning's designs). There are two types: BXR, which is rapid-expanding, and BXC, which uses controlled-expansion bullets. The former comes in seven chamberings from .243 to .300 WSM; the latter in six from .270 to .300 WSM. Both are very, very effective. Do I have to draw you a picture? —D.E.P.Browning
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Diamond Deploy SB $649; $749 with accessoriesBuy It Now The Deploy is the first Diamond bow to feature the binary cam system, in which the cams are slaved to each other and therefore always rotate in near perfect synchronization, even if there is string or cable stretch. This bow shoots 330 IBO and weighs just 3.2 pounds. Basically, it's a smidge-slower version of the popular BowTech Carbon Knight for about $50 less (for bare bow). Bottom line: You get a lot of performance for the price. —D.H.Diamond
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Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator $460Buy It Now I'm all for primitive camping—sometimes. At other times, I'd like a little juice for lights, filling air mattresses, and powering other accessories that can increase your comfort, but without the noise and fumes of a gas generator. I used a couple of Yeti 400s in hunting camp last fall, where they powered lights and charging stations for each hunter's tent as well as the main cook tent. At 29 pounds, you won't be lugging one around in a backpack, but for base camp they make roughing it a whole lot more pleasant. —Slaton L. WhiteGoal Zero
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Syren Elos Venti $2,995–$3,120syrenusa.com Created by women hunters for women hunters, the Elos Venti is an elegant package in 20 or 28 gauge (five chokes are included). I hunted pheasants and rabbits with one and carried it easily all day without -upper-body fatigue. With its Monte Carlo comb, a reduced length of pull, cast-and-pitch built for female anatomy, and a tighter radius in the grip, this gun is like an extension of my arm. The result? More hits, fewer misses.—B.B.The Voorhes
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Leupold VX-3i $520–$1,170Buy It Now Pushing riflescope resolution to the limit is not just about light transmission; the light also must be balanced and managed. Leupold's Twilight Max Light Management System on the new VX-3i optimizes light frequencies that are the most concentrated at dusk and dawn. It's like having built-in photo--enhancing software in the optics. Add an aggressively redesigned power selector, dual-spring 14 MOA finger-click adjustments, and argon-​krypton purging, and the VX-3i approaches perfection. —R.M.Leupold
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Orion 65 Cooler $499Buy It Now My Orion 65 cooler chilled ice for eight days on a wilderness trip, but it's the details that really make this an appealing choice. With no edges to grab or get stuck, it's a breeze to pull out of a wall of gear. Other niceties include a padded top, interior trays, and a practical inside lamp. And it's sturdy enough to securely hold big-game quarters on the ride (or flight) home. Possibly the most important feature of all is a built-in bottle opener at every corner. —Peter B. MathiesenOrion
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Olympia RG850 $90Buy It Now CREE LED technology provides a brilliant white light while drawing far less power than an incandescent bulb. Olympia's rechargeable flashlight incorporates that technology and also takes advantage of another hot trend: Instead of batteries, it is revitalized by way of a built-in micro USB port. The -aircraft-​grade-​-aluminum tube and textured surface help you keep a solid grip on it even while wearing gloves. —S.L.W.Olympia
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New Ultra Light Arms Pathfinder $3,650newultralight.com For 30 years, New Ultra Light Arms (NULA) has been making lightweight, accurate bolt-action rifles you only have to zero once. With the new Pathfinder—built for the .300 AAC Blackout cartridge—that legendary performance is available in a suppressor-ready tack-driving rifle weighing just 41⁄2 pounds. The Pathfinder comes with a Timney trigger and Talley scope mounts. —R.M.New Ultra Light Arms
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Benchmade Nestucca Cleaver $145Buy It Now This unique knife—one of two new blades in Benchmade's hunting line—is inspired by an Alaskan ulu, a multipurpose knife used for caping, scraping, and chopping. The Nestucca Cleaver will do all of that—and then some. The handle and finger hole allow for different hand positions, and the sweeping, razor-sharp edge can make long, precise cuts. It comes with a leather sheath and is made in the U.S.A. —Colin KearnsThe Voorhes
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Cascadia Mt. Rainier Roof Top Tent $1,895 (annex included)cascadiatents.com Want a good night's sleep camping in bear country? Then elevate yourself 9 feet off the ground. This stoutly constructed rooftop tent has numerous civilized accoutrements, including a high-density foam mattress that will accommodate sheets and blankets. Setup time averages only five minutes. The ventilation is excellent, and the impenetrable canvas never leaked once during a long wet summer of Alaska camping. —P.B.M.Cascadia
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Sitka Full Choke Pack $199sitkagear.com Sitka's roomy Full Choke pack holds a ton. I routinely fit a couple of boxes of shells, two or three bottled waters, a full-size Mojo decoy, pruning clippers, calls, snacks, and more in mine. Three full-length compartments keep gear sorted and separate, and a removable belt and tuck-away shoulder straps turns it into a regular blind bag. After a season of duck hunting, I can promise you this redesigned version is much more water resistant than the porous original. —P.B.Sitka
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Nomad Dunn Vest $125Buy It Now Founded by a group of hardcore outdoorsmen, upstart clothing company Nomad is building gear that works, without a lot of extras that do little but add cost. Take the Dunn, for example. A lightweight fleece interior is fronted by a wind- and water-resistant shell with advanced Primaloft insulation sandwiched in between. All this combines for premium cold-weather protection without weight or bulk. It became my go-to layering piece last fall, both in the tree-stand and in the duck blind. —D.D.Nomad
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Mossberg 930 Pro-Series Sporting $1,029 • mossberg.com The 930 Sporting is a 3-inch 12-gauge with a 28-inch ported barrel and a crisp trigger that has virtually no creep. The stock's narrow comb, combined with five included shims, allows a perfect fit for lefties or righties. And although this Mossberg is intended specifically for sporting clays, it would make a good pheasant gun as well, because it was a total terror on rising and crossing targets. —S.L.W.Mossberg
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TenPoint Carbon Nitro RDX $1,819Buy It Now TenPoint has never made a reverse-draw crossbow, until now. The Carbon Nitro RDX marries the company's celebrated quality of construction with the ultra-efficient inverted design acquired when TenPoint bought Horton in 2014. In our test, the Nitro RDX shot a 427-grain bolt (heavier than most) at 367 fps, which adds up to an impressive 128 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. At 7 pounds, the bow is fairly lightweight, but it handles like a wand (at least compared with other crossbows) because it is so compact—just 10 inches axle-to-axle when cocked. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more powerful bow in a handier package. —D.H.The Voorhes
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Cabela’s Instinct Texas-Rig Bag $80 • cabelas.com Texas-rigged decoys can be a pain to bag. The mesh-bottomed Instinct bag allows the cords to run through a hole in the top of the bag where there's a loop for the carabiner, so everything stays untangled. It's perfect for transporting Texas rigs via boat, cart, ATV, or one shoulder. —P.B.Cabela’s
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Hornady FTX and GMX .300 Blackout $32–$34 (boxes of 20)• Buy It Now Hornady has created a pair of new loads to take advantage of the surging popularity of the .300 Blackout for hunting hogs and deer. The 110-grain GMX bullet allows for maximum penetration; the 135-grain FTX optimizes high-energy dump and tissue destruction. —R.M.Hornady
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Traditions Vortek StrikerFire $583 • Buy It Now Since the Vortek won a 2012 F&S Best of the Best Award, it has continued to evolve with a hammerless StrikerFire ignition system, a two-stage match trigger, and a 30-inch-barrel version, which bumps bullet velocity for longer-range shots. Now, it is available with a nitride finish, which renders the gun all but impervious to corrosion. —D.H.Traditions
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Smith & Wesson Model SW22 Victory $409• Buy It Now The .22 is an indispensable camp gun. This new 10-shot -iteration boasts a modular barrel design that allows you, via a single screw, to remove the standard -stainless-​steel -barrel and replace it with a custom target barrel from Volquartsen (if so desired). With the included Picatinny rail, adding a red-dot sight is as easy as pie. —S.L.W.The Voorhes
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Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Cot With Lever Arm $120 • cabelas.com This oversize cot is not for spike camp, but if you're in a base camp for a week, as I was for pronghorns last fall, it helps assure a good night's sleep. The ingenious lever lets you set up and take down the cot quickly and easily without the laborious fussing and fighting for which camp cots are known, and the wide base provides stability so there will be no tipping over in the middle of the night. —S.L.W.Cabela’s
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Sitka Delta Wading Jacket in Timber $369 • Buy It Now I've been clamoring for a Sitka dark-timber pattern for years, and this melt-into-the-muck waterproof coat puts greenheads in your face. The lightly dappled markings are perfect for short to medium distances, and the pattern vanishes against tree trunks and rippling water. The Delta Wading Jacket fits over insulating layers or can be worn alone, with pit zips that dump heat for long walks to the water. —T. Edward NickensSitka
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Sitka Caller’s Glove $99sitkagear.com If you can get past the idea of spending a C-note on just one glove, the Caller's Glove is a great investment. You slip the huge, waterproof, and Primaloft-​insulated glove onto your non-calling (or trigger) hand. When you're not using a duck call, or dropping drakes from a blind, keep your other hand warm in the thick, Berber-lined muff. (FYI: Right-handed shooters should get the left-handed glove, and vice versa for southpaws.) —C.K.The Voorhes
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Swarovski X5i 3.5–18x50mm 4W-I+ $3,888• swarovskioptik.com A breathless price for a breathless scope: The new Swarovski 30mm-tube X5i has the virtue of simplicity, especially with the 4W-I+ reticle. Illuminated crosshairs go off automatically and switch back to the previous setting. Tactical turrets make for quick windage and elevation adjustments. —Thomas McIntyreSwarovski
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Hornady ELD-X Bullet $43–$127 (boxes of 20)Buy It Now Shooting animals at long range is not simply about getting hits. The hit must be in the right spot with a bullet that will maximize tissue destruction. Hornady's new ELD-X bullet, available in its Precision Hunter ammo line, has a Heat Shield tip that resists deformation during flight. As a result, it shoots faster and flatter and resists wind better. And its tapered jacket with an interlocked core can handle close-range impact, yet still expand out to 1,000 yards. —R.M.Hornady
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SOG Seal Strike $115• Buy It Now SOG's take on the classic survival knife revolves around a full-tang 4.9-inch fixed blade set into a glass-reinforced nylon handle. The partially serrated blade is ideal for camp chores but rugged enough for hard duty if needed. The hard molded-nylon sheath contains a built-in sharpener and fire-starter rod. —S.L.W.SOG
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American Giant Storm Full Zip Hoodie $119 • american-giant.com For hunting, camp chores, and hanging around camp, nothing beats a hoodie. American Giant hoodies are made of heavyweight 12.4-ounce cotton, with top-quality zippers and a generous hood. Even better for hunters, the new Storm Full Zip has a water-resistant DWR coating to keep the drizzle out, as I found while wearing it waterfowling last season. —P.B.American Giant
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Streamlight Double Clutch USB Headlamp $75Buy It Now With high-low settings for both spotlight and floodlight modes, this is a one-stop lighting solution. It runs with AAA alkaline or lithium batteries, but I power it up via a USB-rechargeable lithium polymer battery. A twist of the facecap turns it on or off, making it very glove-friendly, and a 60-​degree tilting head lights everything from the trail just ahead to your ladder stand in the dark. —T.E.N.Streamlight
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Browning Hell’s Canyon 4-in-1 Primaloft Parka $440• Buy It Now This, most assuredly, is not your father's hunting coat, which was probably wool, weighed a ton, soaked up water, and let the wind pass through. The 4-in-1 Primaloft Parka, part of Browning's re-designed Hell's Canyon line of clothing for big-game hunting, is distinctly short on weight and bulk while being very warm, waterproof, windproof, and truly quiet. It has the same fine attention to detail as all of Browning's gear and can be worn in four different configurations. The reversible zip-out Primaloft liner is a neat touch, as it helps provide warmth without the aforementioned bulk. I also like the detachable hood. Made only in Realtree Xtra, it comes in sizes S to 3XL. —D.E.P.The Voorhes
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Zeiss Victory V8 1–8x30mm $2,888 • Buy It Now A driven big-game hunt in Germany was just the place to test Zeiss's new top-of-the-line V8. The fast Switchview zoom ring and an illuminated reticle that turns on when the rifle is aimed were made for fast-running game in dark woods. But if long shots are your métier, you'll appreciate the larger 36mm tube. It has been designed to accommodate the ele-vation mechanism needed for the expanded adjustment range that such long shots require. —T.M.Zeiss
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Browning Epic 3V Headlamp $48Buy It Now Most headlamps are not directed at hunters; they may light up the dark but will aggravate you in the process. This one does not. It runs on a single 3V lithium battery, weighs only 3 ounces, rides close to your head so it doesn't fall off every minute or so, and can be operated even without a degree in electronics engineering. It comes with green and white bulbs and a low setting that gives 24 hours of running time.—D.E.P.Browning
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Meopta MeoPro 6.5–20x50mm HTR Windmax 8 $1,150 • meoptasportsoptics.com/us This scope has target-tactical turrets for fast in-the-field 1⁄4-MOA elevation and right-left adjustments, plus a side parallax-adjustment wheel. The nonilluminated second-focal-plane Windmax 8 reticle includes hashmarks for on-the-fly windage correction. It's pricey, but you get a lot for your money.—T.M.Meopta
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EnerPlex Generatr 100 $350 • goenerplex.com Stow this 2-pound power pack in a truck or camp cupboard and you'll have juice when you need it. It powers USB, 12V, 19V, and AC devices with a 94-watt-hour payload brawny enough for up to 15 phone charges, 18 camera charges, or two to four tablet charges. It works via a standard wall charger, or you can take it off the grid with optional solar panels. It's like having a mini hydroelectric dam behind the deer camp. —T.E.N.EnerPlex

Be sure to check out some of our other gear guides: