The 2006 Best of the Best Awards

The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
The Field & Stream 2006 Best of the Best Awards
By: Philip Bourjaily, Jay Cassell, Anthony Licata, Peter B. Mathiesen, Keith McCafferty, Thomas McIntyre, John Merwin, David E. Petzal, Bob Stearns, Mike Toth, Slaton L. White
We spent three months freezing binoculars, overheating guns, smashing fishing rods, taking apart reels, and generally abusing gear the way real sportsmen do in real life. These are the 43 products that survived. Table of Contents Hunting Gear
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Rivers West Lakota Jacket
As close to a perfect hunting jacket as I've worn, the Lakota stretches as you move. Waterproof and vented, it has roomy pockets and a shirttail hem to keep your backside dry when you're sitting. The H2P L.A.W. (lightweight, all-weather) system uses fabric that's half the weight of the cloth Rivers West introduced four years ago. A flex-mit contoured cuff, which can be pulled down as a fingerless hunting glove, adds versatility. Articulated elbows make drawing a bow easy, and the material is nice and quiet. $200; 800-683-0887; riverswest.com --K.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Winchester Supreme Elite Xtended Range & Remington Wingmaster HD (Tie)
Both of these loads will hit waterfowl very hard at ranges far beyond what's possible with steel. There's little to choose between the two, either in performance or in price, so we've awarded each a share of first place in the shotshell category. They carry a suggested retail price of around $30 per box of 10 3-inch 12-gauge loads. Remington Wingmaster HD (at back)
Having ended its partnership with Hevi-Shot, Remington needed to come up with a long-range nontoxic pellet of its own. Wingmaster HD is the result, an alloy of tungsten, bronze, and iron. These perfectly round pellets weigh 12 grams per cubic centimeter, making them denser and deadlier than lead. They pattern tightly and fold ducks at ranges out to 50 yards. Hunters can choose among loads for 10, 12, and 20 gauges in pellet sizes appropriate for ducks, geese, and turkeys. 800-243-9700; www.remington.com --P.B. Winchester Supreme Elite Xtended Range (in front)
Available in turkey loads last year but only recently USFWS-approved for use on waterfowl, Winchester's tungsten-iron-copper-tin pellets are now offered in 12- and 20-gauge waterfowl loads for 2006. Like the Remington Wingmaster HD pellets, Xtended Range pellets weigh 12 grams per cubic centimeter, giving them excellent downrange ballistics. Driven at muzzle velocities up to 1450 fps, they have the energy to kill ducks and geese a long, long way away. winchester.com --P.B.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Barnes MRX (on left)
In the beginning, Barnes created the X-Bullet, which was made of solid copper and was long for its diameter. Then came the Triple-Shock X-Bullet, which solved most of the X's problems through the use of multiple relieving grooves. Now comes the Maximum-Range X-Bullet, with a blue Delrin tip and a tungsten (heavier than lead) core. This one performs like a world-beater, available in .270 through .338, sold in 20-bullet boxes, and loaded in Federal Premium Vital-Shok ammunition. Price depends on caliber. 800-574-9200; barnesbullets.com --D.E.P. Federal Fusion (middle)
Just when you thought there were no new ways to make a bullet, Federal proved that wrong. The Fusion is made by bombarding a lead core with copper molecules. Those little copper buggers cling to the core, forming a jacket of inspirational uniformity and consistency. The Fusion is a "deer-¿ bullet, at deer-bullet prices, but with premium-bullet performance. The deer should be honored. Available in .243 through .338. Price depends on caliber. 800-322-2342; fusionammo.com --D.E.P. Winchester Supreme Elite XP3 (right)
Supreme ammo has been around for a while. What's new is the XP3 bullet, which is a lineal descendant of the Fail Safe slug but with better aerodynamics and accuracy. The polymer-tipped, bonded-core bullet expands in two stages, and it can be used on any type of game. Weight retention is more than 90 percent in most cases. And its little translucent-red tip, combined with the black-coated bullet, makes a bold fashion statement. Available in .270 through .300 WSM and .300 Win. Mag. Price depends on caliber. winchester.com --D.E.P.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Buck Knives Folding Omni Hunter
Actually, there's a series of Omni Hunters, folding and fixed-blade, gut hook and no gut hook, camo and black handles. But the model I really like is the 397BK. This big drop-point (4-inch stainless-steel blade) has a handle you can actually use, a strong midspine lock, and a real razor edge. It folds into a ballistic nylon sheath that takes up very little room on your belt. This is an indestructo-knife for actual use by actual hunters, and a durn good one at that. $53; 800-326-2825; buckknives.com --D.E.P.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Truglo Tru-Site Xtreme Micro-Adjust Sight
Truglo got it right with this one, giving bowhunters what they need and not a gizmo more. It has fine click windage and elevation adjustments that you can make without tools. And once you get it dialed in, this rock-solid sight will stay there. A generous amount of wrapped fiber-optic material makes the pins easy to see. There's more, but who cares? You shouldn't have to think about your sight, and with one as simple, strong, and reliable as this one, you won't have to. $80; 972-774-0300; truglo.com --A.L.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Bob Allen Intercept Gun Case
Both Bob Allen and Birchwood Casey make gun cases with Intercept technology, which forms a reactive copper barrier to corrosive gases and moisture. You don't need to oil your rifle or shotgun--just stick it in a case, zip up, and walk away for 20 years, at which time you may or may not need a replacement case. I took both companies' versions and held them over my car's exhaust until their interiors were like miniature rain forests, then took 7-inch bare steel nails and zipped them inside. These nails will practically rust as you watch them, but when I opened the cases a week later--not a speck of rust did I behold. That's good enough for me. The Bob Allen case is the better case per se, so it gets the award. $60; 800-550-2698; boytharness.com --D.E.P.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Ballistic Technology's The Bullet Test Tube
This bullet-testing system uses cardboard tubes filled with a reusable plasticlike test medium. Fire a shot at the center of the tube, cut the cylinder in half, and you see exactly what size cavity your bullet created, its depth of penetration, and even the bullet itself. This is much more sophisticated than my old Ballistic Buffalo (layers of newspapers, inner tube, and plywood). To reuse, melt the stuff down, pour into a mold, let it cool, and you're ready to go again. The outfit is about $200. 304-425-8823; thebullettesttube.com --D.E.P.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Irish Setter Aero Tracker
These hunting boots are not tennis shoes, but they will breathe like them. Every other boot I can think of attempts to move air inside. This pair actually expels it to the outside. The outer construction is an open-weave mesh with an interior perforated liner that squishes air with every step. And the Gore-Tex liner effectively keeps water out. A single boot weighs about a pound and a half. The Vibram sole on this featherweight frame delivers remarkable support on mountainous rock, and the break-in time is nil. A perfect boot for bird and deer hunting in warm to cool weather, this is your ticket to more comfortable feet this season. $150; 888-738-8370; irishsetterboots.com --P.B.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Kimber 8400 Standard
This series began with the Kimber 84M, which was chambered for short and medium-length cartridges. The 8400 Standard is for long, serious cartridges ranging from the .25/06 through the .338. My test gun was in .30/06, and it was about as close to a perfect production rifle as I have seen--flawless in design and execution. A Kimber spokesman says that this is the new Winchester Model 70. I'll buy that, partly. The Winchester Model 70 was never this good. $1,100; 800-880-2418; kimberamerica.com --D.E.P.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Knight Rifle Long Range Hunter
This muzzleloader comes guaranteed to shoot 4-inch groups at 200 yards. Using 150 grains of Triple Seven, and a Knight-Barnes saboted spitzer boattail bullet with a polymer tip, I shot 2-inch groups at 200 yards, several times. Just over 8 pounds, the gun has a Green Mountain barrel with spiral fluting that rests on a vented laminate stock. The gun has a crisp trigger that adjusts for creep and pull. You can scrub the action and barrel clean, and there are no parts to lose. $725; 641-856-2626; www.knightrifles.com --P.B.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Savage Model 12 Long Range Varminter
Savage has built itself an enviable reputation for super accuracy even in low- to medium-priced rifles. With the Model 12, they have outdone themselves. Essentially a benchrest rifle with a long barrel, this gun will outshoot any factory varminter I've used and will match many custom rifles in accuracy. It's a brilliant design at a price that any serious varmint hunter can afford. Until something better comes along--and that will be a while--it's the class of the field. $967; savagearms.com --D.E.P.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Minox HG 8.5x52 and Steiner 8.5x50 Peregrine (Tie)
Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire? Ali or Frazier? It's nearly impossible to say which is better; they're that good. Both binocs have fat dawn- and dusk-sucking objectives, 52mm and 50mm, but fit in housings with trim dimensions. At 8.5X both give great viewing power but not so much that steady holding is a problem. Both are reliably fog- and waterproof. The lines of the Minox are architecturally cleaner, but the Steiner looks tougher. The Minox's rubber armor feels tackier to the grip, but the Steiner has raised ribs to hang onto. There is nothing sloppy about either. Minox beats Steiner on the price, but the Steiner has cool touches--clip attachments for objective lens covers and the neckstrap, plus wraparound eyecups. I call it a draw. Minox: $850; 603-469-3080; www.minox.com. Steiner: $999; 800-257-7742; steiner-binoculars.com --T.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Carl Zeiss Conquest 4x32 MC
A while back, Zeiss realized that Americans knew its reputation better than they knew its riflescopes. To fix this, it developed the Conquest line of U.S.-hunter-friendly 1-inch-tube scopes, with decidedly un-Zeiss-like prices. This year a 1.8-"5.5x38 variable was added that would have taken a Best of the Best Award if Zeiss hadn't had the audacity to go against the more-is-more grain to produce an elegant fixed 4X scope. The 13.2-ounce, 12-inch 4x32 MC is more sophisticated than simple, with nothing extraneous. The one that I tested had the fine optics you'd expect, a slim duplex reticle, and ¿¿-MOA adjustments, instead of heathenish metric. It was a jolt of good black coffee, hold the cream and sugar. $522; 800-441-3005; www.zeiss.com/sports --T.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Bushnell Elite 1500 ARC
The best electronic device of late, the iPod, does little more than store your music and play it back. Similarly, while other laser rangefinders seem to offer functions for everything short of preparing your taxes, the 1500 ARC lets you pick it up and see how far away stuff is. Just like that. There are useful features, of course. If you like, it will show you the angle of your shot, to 60 degrees up or down; calculate bullet drop; figure true horizontal yards for your arrow; and adapt to tree branches and small game. It's water- and fogproof, with Rainguard on the fully multicoated lenses. $499; 800-423-3537; bushnell.com --T.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Petzl Tactikka XP Headlamp
Heads up! The Tactikka XP weighs only 3.4 ounces when loaded with three AAA batteries. It swivels up and down and can be worn under your hat brim. The 1-watt LED has three power settings and lets you see more than 100 feet; a boost button increases that distance by half. There's a flood beam mode for wide coverage, spot for close, and clear, red, blue, and green lens colors. After being held under a shower while powered up and then stored wet in a plastic bag for an afternoon, the Tactikka continued to perform. It outlasted the advertised battery life by 30 hours. $50; 801-926-1500; petzl.com --M.T.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Hazel Creek Stuffed Turkey Decoy
The reason this decoy looks so real is because it is, or was. Made from domestically raised stock, it is distinct from a turkey mounted by your taxidermist in a couple of ways: The form and head construction are more durable, and the skin is injected with rubber to keep the feathers intact. The manufacturer says this lady should stay in service for 10 years of field walking. Mine proved highly resilient after more than a month of treatment without kid gloves. The hen can drive gobblers crazy. And it's perfect for bowhunters who need to draw attention away from their position. A transport bag is included. $485; 660-488-5688; www.hazelcreekturkeys.com --P.B.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Chota Steelheader Boot-Foot
I had high hopes for the Steelheader--which incorporates Chota's superb quick-lace wading shoe design with a durable, breathable upper, a combination that's been long overdue--and I wasn't disappointed. No stumbling and slipping on the hikes between pools; it was almost as if I were wearing sturdy wading shoes. On the slippery rocks of the Missouri River, the soft rubber thimbles coupled with embedded steel cleats offered good footing, at least on a par with high-quality felt. The bonus? The rubber sole doesn't collect snow and ice the way felt does, something anyone who fishes in cold weather can appreciate. Steelheaders should take a long look at these waders, but they are versatile enough to serve anyone. $330; 877-462-4682; chotaoutdoorgear.com --K.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Humminbird 787c2 Combo
This latest in angling electronics offers fish-finding sonar, full-featured GPS, and chart plotting on a bright, high-resolution screen. I tested it on Lake Champlain, marking fish and baitfish schools. With an optional Navionics map chip, I tracked my position on a depth-contoured chart display. The GPS function showed my heading and speed as I pounded through serious waves, which didn't faze the unit. Even better, the control buttons and menu options were intuitive. The dual-beam transducer covers 20- and 60-degree angles simultaneously. $710; 800-633-1468; humminbird.com --J.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Cabela's SLA Fly Reel
Function plus value put Cabela's SLA large-arbor reel at the top of the new fly-tackle pile this year. This style of reel has become hugely popular lately because it offers rapid retrieve rates and more consistent drag operation. But only a handful of models achieve the design's maximum potential; the rest have deeper spools and should really be called medium arbors. Cabela's SLA is the only recent entry I've seen in the true large-arbor category, and it's the least expensive, top-performing reel in its class. The highly machined aluminum frame and spool are extremely light and hold a Teflon-and-cork-based center drag. I gave one a workout on some big rainbows in Arkansas' White River tailwater, and the drag stayed whisper-smooth from start to finish. Available for line weights 4 through 8. $165-"$195; 800-237-4444; cabelas.com --J.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Stren Super Knot
Super Knot monofilament from Stren may be the most significant new development in all of fishing for 2006. Knot strength is extraordinary with this product, far better than with ordinary monofilaments, which means fewer break-offs and more fish landed. I tried some clear 8-pound-test (.012-inch-diameter) samples extensively last spring. Even a common overhand knot--typically the weakest possibility--tested at 93 percent of unknotted strength, when 50 to 60 percent is the usual result for regular mono. For novices, especially, this line means there's no need to learn fancy knots. Available in 220-yard spools, sizes 4- to 30-pound-test. $4.50; 800-237-5539; www.stren.com --J.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Mann's HardNose
The clever new HardNose baits from Mann's Bait Co. solve a huge problem for the millions of anglers using various forms of soft plastics. Weedy encounters, pecking panfish, and short-striking bass tend to jar the ordinary sort loose from the hook, or to bunch it up at the hook bend. That means you have to stop fishing to adjust it, at least until the head of the lure is so torn up that you need to put on a new one. Mann's uses a harder plastic at the nose of its new lure series that greatly reduces the rate of dislodging. The harder head is also much more durable, so you'll spend less time rerigging. Available in all common soft-plastic styles, in a wide variety of colors. $3.29 for a 12-pack of worms; 334-687-5716; mannsbait.com --J.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Quantum Tour Edition 1170PT
The 1170PT redefines state-of-the-art reel making. Its fully machined frame and side plates combine with beefed-up gearing to give it a solid feel. Ten bearings and a dual anti-reverse, meanwhile, provide Ferrari-like handling. An externally adjustable and continuously variable centrifugal cast control manages a wide range of lure weights and casting conditions. The ceramic drag system is smooth, and even the finish is cool, a titanium-based, scratch-resistant coating that shimmers iridescent blue. The reel's 7:1 gears take in nearly 30 inches of line with each crank. If you're a bass angler, this is your dream. $230; 800-588-9030; quantumfishing.com --J.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
L.L. Bean Rapid River
Tied with Simms RiverTek WindStopper (on next slide)
I've spent enough days soaked to the skin to be wary of the latest and greatest in rain gear. But having downpour-tested the L.L. Bean Gore-Tex softshell wading jacket, I now pronounce it the real deal. The outer fabric has a soft nap that stretches when you do for unencumbered casting. Among the bells and whistles is a neoprene gasket at the waist that seals around your waders to keep water from slopping in when you wade too deep. That same feature, together with double-gasketed cuffs at the wrists, also makes this a superb garment for surf or kayak fishing. A light fleece lining wicks perspiration away, which means it's also good for cool-weather fishing. $299; 800-441-5713; llbean.com --J.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Simms RiverTek WindStopper
Tied with L.L. Bean Rapid River (on previous slide)
Cutting-edge "softshell-¿ technology marries a protective Gore-Tex shell with a comfortable poly-fleece liner that stretches as you move. The RiverTek WindStopper is geared to on-the-go anglers, with a retractor for fishing tools, waterproof pockets, and a foam patch for flies. But this jacket's main virtue is versatility. It was surprisingly warm for such a light garment, and although Simms doesn't advertise it as being waterproof in a downpour, it kept me dry during a rain shower as I waited for the Mother's Day caddis hatch on the Yellowstone River. A good jacket is your best friend when you're standing around with water dripping off your hat. $230; 406-585-3557; simmsfishing.com --K.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Orvis Zero Gravity
These are the best-casting fly rods Orvis has ever made, period. The company says the rods are 25 percent stronger and thinner plus 40 percent lighter than most comparable graphite fly rods. The butts are boron fiber-"reinforced for power. A unidirectional carbon-fiber scrim adds strength with little weight, and thermoplastic resin supplies toughness and resistance to fracture. $625-"$675; 800-548-9548; orvis.com --J.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
G. Loomis Bronzeback
Loomis' SMR822S GLX spinning rod may be the best bass rod ever built for light lures. Its very low weight (3.8 ounces) enables extreme sensitivity; the stiff, high-tech GLX graphite offers casting and hooksetting power. The 6-foot 10-inch one-piece rod is rated for lures up to 3/8 ounce and lines testing to 12 pounds. Smallmouth fishing was so much fun that I almost forgot about the outrageous price. $355; 800-456-6647; gloomis.com --J.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Suzuki DF300
A new saltwater-proof design from the skeg to the powerhead, which displaces 245.6 cubic inches, at 300 horsepower this is the most powerful four-stroke outboard yet. (But it weighs only 2 pounds per horsepower!) A new lower unit reduces drag by 18 percent; a new electronic throttle and shift eliminates the need for cables. Digital multi-port electronic fuel injection delivers the lowest fuel consumption in its class (8 gallons per hour cruising at 31 mph at 4,000 rpm; 1 gph trolling at 1,200 rpm). Top speed with a single engine on a 24-foot offshore fisherman is around 50 mph. And if your boat can take the power, its narrow 55-degree V-6 block makes it practical to mount two or more together. A 54-amp 12-volt alternator charges two batteries simultaneously via independent circuits. The engine I tested had terrific acceleration and lists for $23,625 (25-inch shaft) to $24,940 (30-inch shaft). Electronic throttle and shift kit is $1,334 per engine. 714-572-1490; suzukimarine.com --B.S.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
MotorGuide Digital Wireless Series
Look, Ma, no hands! That's the wonder of MotorGuide's series of wireless-remote trolling motors. Unlike other bow-mount remotes I've seen, this line has a cable-free foot-operated control. I installed the W55 version (12-volt, 55 pounds of thrust, 54-inch shaft) on the bow of my 16-foot skiff and wound up giggling as I tapped the remote foot switches--which allow steering adjustments as fine as 1-degree increments--to spin the boat in circles. You can also run these units with an optional handheld remote, but the foot pedal is more useful and more fun. Available in fresh- and saltwater models, in both 12- and 24-volt versions in various shaft lengths with thrust ratings as high as 75 pounds. $450-"$610; 920-929-5040; motorguide.com --J.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Skeeter i-Class 20i
Exceptional stability, both at rest as well as at 70 mph (full throttle with three adults, a full fuel tank, and fishing gear), gives this 20-footer a definite edge in fishability. So do a larger than usual, solid foredeck (93 inches long and 78 inches wide at the aft end), and a bow-mounted Minn Kota 24-volt 80-pound-thrust electric trolling motor. Located in the forepeak is an electronic console with a Lowrance X135 fishfinder and digital multifunction controls. Foredeck storage includes a locker on the left with a rack system that holds 12 rods, and lockers on the right and center. The aft deck has two live wells and a battery compartment, plus contoured seating for three. The boat I tested, with a Yamaha 250-horsepower V Max, options, and a custom trailer, lists for $55,000. 903-984-0541; skeeterboats.com --B.S.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Yamaha Grizzly 700FI
Big ATVs are notoriously challenging to steer. Now the Yamaha Grizzly 700FI 4x4 changes all that with electric power steering. The difference is dramatic; there's no more extreme arm fatigue, or harsh feedback when you hit a rock, and vibration is significantly reduced. This Grizz has a front differential lock, a smooth transmission, and the best downhill braking in the category, plus all-new fuel injection, adjustable shocks, and excellent ground clearance. It's an achievement in ATV engineering. $7,999; 800-962-7926; yamaha-motor.com --P.B.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Cocoon Saw Tooth
If you wear out this ATV cargo bag, you'll be the first. With Kevlar-enforced corners, the Saw Tooth has a nylon scabbard that keeps your gun or rod securely stored on the front rack of your quad. Inside panels can be removed or changed to suit your needs; outside are two satellite bags and two water bottles. It is generously padded and dustproof when closed. For safety, the trim and straps are draped in reflective webbing that turns electric white in a car's headlights. $109; 800-810-4840; atvcocoon.com --P.B.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Kalispel Tactical Storage Safe
Your firearm is secure in the back of the truck if it's in a Kalispel Tactical Storage Safe. Constructed from aircraft aluminum, the TSS has an internal electric lock that stays engaged even when the battery is disconnected. The system is crowbar-proof, and the only way a perp is getting your guns is if he has lots of time and power tools. Units weigh 180 to 275 pounds. $2,300; 800-398-0338; tacticalstoragesystems.com --P.B.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
National Geographic Topo! State Series
Topo! mapping software is more advanced, yet easier to use, than others I've tried. Featuring five layers of detail, including 1:24,000 and 1:100,000 scale maps, Topo! gives you color portrayals of any terrain you want. I especially liked the ground-level three-dimensional view, which is excellent for sportsmen planning to hunt new territory. Available for all 50 states, the GPS-compatible software can be used on PCs or Macs. $100; 800-962-1643; ngmapstore.com --J.C.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Winchester Model 72 Tent
This roomy tent is designed to let you stand up while you're moving around inside, not just in the center. It withstood everything the heavens could throw at us, from driving rain to ungodly winds, for four days of turkey hunting in the Breaks country of Montana last spring. (We did need to add an extra guyline to each corner pole.) What I really like is that this is a very stable shelter that's airy, inexpensive, and big enough for two to four guys to live out of for a week of fishing or hunting. $125; winchestertents.com --K.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
Garmin Rino 530
It's one thing to have a waterproof GPS with a killer interface, great maps, and a color screen, but add a 5-watt radio to the mix and you have just saved significant weight, space, and hassle. The 530's two-way radio has a range of up to 14 miles (unrestricted line of sight), and it will interface with any VHS handheld radio. Besides giving you the ability to figure out your location and call someone to help drag your buck back to camp, the 530 is jammed with practical tools, including an NOAA regional weather radio and instant sunrise and sunset info. There is also a hunt-and-fish moon-phase table that calibrates to your exact location. You can even check the moon for the next five deer seasons (very entertaining when you're trying to stay awake on a tree stand). The power system is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that will last 14 hours; you can add an alkaline battery adapter. $535; 800-800-1020; garmin.com --P.B.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
C.A.M.P. Technologies RTV
Why just subsist in a big tent, when you can thrive in nearly 300 square feet of shelter with a floor, full galley, refrigerator, and generator? This living space emerges from a trailer that will go anywhere a 4x4 can go. The RTV sets up in 15 minutes, will withstand 75-mph winds, and has a door big enough to drive a pickup through. You can even add on a shower, a toilet, and an air conditioner. Designed by the military, it makes a hell of a spike camp. Of course, outdoor luxury doesn't come cheap. $25,000; 845-359-6066; camprtv.com --P.B.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac
In 2001 Ford created the Explorer Sport Trac, a "hybrid-¿ vehicle that cherry-picked the best attributes of pickups and SUVs. The design worked so well that it won a Best of the Best Award. Now the second generation also makes the grade. That's because Ford has modernized it without taking away what makes it unique: It can carry four adults in comfort while offering a 4-foot-long rear cargo box for muddy gear. Though it's more upscale than its predecessor, it remains a true hunting and fishing vehicle. The optional 4.6-liter V-8 is a key improvement, as is the revamped 4-liter V-6. But the most valuable change has to be the new independent rear axle, which smooths out the ride. It was noticeable when I drove the Explorer along the California coast last spring. The new four-wheel antilock disc brakes deliver smoother operation with a solid feel. $24,245-"$29,540; 800-392-3673; ford.com --S.L.W.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
The Hall of Fame
These items are not new, but they are supreme examples of hunting and fishing gear. They all perform their jobs unfailingly. None of them has been around for less than 30 years. Some of them are continuations of ideas that have been around for a century or more. That is why these products are the first to be inducted into the Field & Stream Gear Hall of Fame. They are indispensable to the success and enjoyment of our sports. Nothing has risen to take their place, and it's very likely that nothing will. The Shining Light
In 1901, W.C. Coleman's invention could illuminate the far corners of a barn. In 1915, the U.S. government declared the Coleman lantern an essential item of World War I, and more than 70,000 of them were distributed so farmers and workers could extend production hours. In the 1920s and '30s, the lanterns lit expeditions from the Sahara to the South Pole. Not long after the company's 100th anniversary, Coleman made its 60 millionth fuel lantern. Many sportsmen use models purchased by their grandfathers, but sales of new ones are on the increase. --J.C.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
The Pennsylvania Tuxedo
If you don't include loincloths, there probably isn't a garment that has been worn by more deer hunters than the Woolrich Classic Wool Field Coat. Woolrich's trademark red-and-black plaid pattern is considered by many to be the first commercially made camouflage for hunters. Essentially unchanged since before the Civil War (the Woolrich Co. has been in business for over 175 years), this iconic wool garment is still stitched from wool that sheds rain and snow. The difference between today's coat and your great-great-granddad's is that you can toss yours in a washing machine, and it won't shrink to fit a 10-year-old. --P.B.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
The Thickest Skin
Originally sewn for the timber survey crews of the Pacific Northwest in 1914, the nearly indestructible Filson Tin Cruiser was so novel for its day that the U.S. government awarded it a patent. Hunters realized the jacket's benefits immediately: The oil finish is waterproof, and the 12¿¿-ounce double-layered Tin Cloth is strong enough to offer protection from anything you can brush against in the woods. Every part of the garment is utilitarian, right down to the compass compartment and the four pencil slots inside the upper pocket. Things do change; hand-warming pockets and buttons for a removable hood were added in the 1990s. --P.B.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
The Great Weight
Ka-chook, ka-chook, ka-chook. The rattle of a container of split shot is a welcome sound of spring to a spinfisherman striding toward pond or stream, and the Water Gremlin Sinker Selector "Fry-Pan-¿ dial pack has been making angling music since it was developed in the early 1960s. --M.T.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
The Prime Cut
Clifford Zwicky created the Eskimo broadhead in 1942, and it hasn't changed. The secret to its longevity is its simplicity: an elegantly shaped wedge of carbon steel that flies true, cuts deep, and has a multilayer tip strong enough to break heavy bone. It needs hand-sharpening, but running a whetstone along its cutting edge is pure pleasure. --A.L.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
The Old Flame
The first disposable Bic lighters appeared in 1973. Because of their size (small), shape (handy), flame height (adjustable), and price (cheap), Bic lighters found their way into the pockets of hunters and anglers. In 2005 the Museum of Modern Art placed the Bic in its permanent collection. More important are the lighters of untold sportsmen who survived in the wild because they had one to easily start a fire. --T.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
The Hot Hand
It's 2 below zero and you're 20 feet in the air. Your fingers should have passed numb and gone straight to bag it long ago. But your digits are basking in tropical heat and ready to snap off a safety or draw a bowstring, thanks to Grabber Mycoal Hand Warmers, little packets of iron filings that cost 99 cents. --P.B.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
The Perfect Plug
The Jitterbug has been glub-glub-glubbing across America's bass ponds since 1938, when Fred Arbogast of Akron, Ohio, first marketed his original carved-cedar version. It got a plastic body in the early 1940s, but otherwise not much has changed. Bass still love the lure. Notably, and perhaps because the plug is designed to be fished slowly, the Jitterbug is not a hot bass-tournament lure. Its enduring success has more to do with ease of use by novices, plus the patience of old hands who know how to tease a bass into striking. Beyond the glitz of pro bass fishing are the millions of us who know that bass fishing with a Jitterbug is just plain fun. --J.M.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
The Sure Foot
In 1911, Leon Leonwood Bean decided to improve the typical hunting shoe by stitching a pair of waterproof shoe rubbers to leather tops. He sold 100 pairs that first year, satisfaction guaranteed. Within weeks, they began coming back; in all, 90 pairs had their bottoms separate from their tops. L.L. quickly refined the shoe, made it stronger, and replaced all of the defective merchandise. Today's L.L. Bean Maine Hunting Shoe comes in a variety of styles and heights but still carries L.L.'s original 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. --J.C.
Dan Saelinger
The best new hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and travel gear of 2006
The Favorite Blade
Two things of note happened late in 1963: The Beatles had their first gold record in the United States and Al Buck had a smash hit that is still a smash hit today. Buck took an old idea--the folding knife--and put it in a striking new form. It had a brass frame, macassar ebony handle insets, and a 3¿¿-inch stainless clip-point blade that locked open. It was too big and heavy to fit in a pocket, so it came with a leather belt sheath. There have been eight versions of the Buck 110 Folding Hunter over the years and more than 12 million sold. --D.E.P.
Dan Saelinger