The Backcountry Hunting and Fishing Gifts Guide
Tools, technology, and clothing anyone traveling off the grid will appreciate this holiday season
Farther, longer, deeper into the back of the beyond—that’s the aspiration of backcountry hunters, anglers, and explorers. But it takes serious gear to get seriously off the grid. And the point is to thrive, not just make it to the next sunrise. This motherlode of backcountry gear is designed to keep someone going through hell and, literally, high water; keep them connected to the outside world if they want to be; and help them connect with wild fish, wild views, and wild waters. Here are a few gift ideas tailored for the modern explorer.
More Gift Guides: The Ultimate Outdoorsman’s Gift Guide
Survival Frog Tesla Lighter 2.0
Survival Frog Tesla Lighter 2.0 • Price: $30 Survival Frog
You can laugh at the wind and the rain with an arc plasma lighter, which uses an electric charge to create a searing flame that will nearly instantly light flammable materials. The Tesla features a pair of top-facing plasma arcs that will fire up about 300 times on a single charge, and recharging is a snap thanks to the included Micro USB cord. The lighter comes packaged with a 120-decibel whistle, more than a foot of fire-starting cord, and is designed with a built-in waterproof 100-lumen flashlight. Couple with a knife and a compass and you’ll have the basics taken care of far from the trail.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter • Price: $18 LifeStraw
It would be difficult to come up with a more useful, packable, intuitive-to-use survival item than the LifeStraw. It weighs less than two ounces, takes up less room than a can of beer, and will filter up to 1,000 gallons of water and remove nearly 100 percent of bacteria, parasites, and microplastics. It also strains out gunk, muck, and suspended sediments from water gathered from creeks, ponds, rivers, seeps, and even swamps. And it costs less than a couple of cocktails at your favorite bar.
MSR Zoic 1 tent • Price: $225 to $460 MSR
Solo tents for backcountry hunters and anglers are going to be the standard for years to come, and this oversized-for-one shelter gets the nod for campers who need a little more space for rods, guns, waders, and even a happy dog. The floor is large enough for brawny sleeping bags and pads with space left over, and the roomy nine-square-foot vestibule keeps boots and bags under shelter as well. Nearly the entire tent body is mesh, for superb ventilation, and the hubbed poles allow for near-vertical walls that make it more comfortable to sit up and change clothes inside.
SOLO Titan stove • Price: $90 Solo Stove
With a highly efficient wood-burning backpacking stove, you leave the heavy fuel bottles and aggravating—and hard to recycle—butane canisters behind forever. The SOLO Titan is a slightly upsized version of the wildly popular original, weighing in at just over a pound, and large enough to handle pots and small skillets for two campers. It will burn twigs, sticks, dry grass, and other small flammables at incredibly hot temperatures thanks to the double-thick walls that preheat air and force hot oxygen into the burn chamber.
Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles
Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles • Price: $200 Leki
You can pay less for lightweight carbon fiber trekking poles, but don’t forget to figure in someone’s insurance deductible when they head to the ER after the poles collapse and send them tumbling down the talus. That won’t happen with these top-shelf trekking aids. The high-modulus carbon shafts are held together with Kevlar-reinforced tension cords and get rigid with a super-efficient external lock. I love how they easily break down so someone can stow them in a pack, then retrieve and deploy each pole in maybe five seconds or less. They’re there when someone needs them, and so lightweight it’s easy to forget that they’re there at all.
OtterBox Fast Charge Qi Wireless Power Bank
OtterBox Fast Charge Qi Wireless Power Bank • Price: $50 OtterBox
The company known for its tough-as-nails protective cases steps into the power realm with a new line of batteries capable of handling real-world backcountry conditions. Built dust-, drop-, and water-resistant, the Power Bank line features super-fast charging capabilities for Apple, Samsung, LG, Google, and other devices. Outfitted with both a USB-C port and USB-A port, the battery will charge two devices simultaneously, both with an 18-watt fast-charge output. And the Qi-enabled battery means someone can leave the charging cord at home altogether. For backcountry travelers, that’s one less thing to pack—and one less thing to forget.
Sage Dart fly rod—Price: $750 Sage
If someone’s deep-woods travel takes them to rhododendron-choked creeks and willow-curtained blue-line streams, the Sage Dart will seem like a laser-sighted revelation. Specifically designed to punch flies into tight spaces and give the angler super-tight loops for backcasting in cover, the KonneticHD materials help tame ripples and wiggles in the cast line. Still, it’s no noodle rod, but tapered and built fast enough to turn over hoppers and hurl out casts half the length of a flyline. The rod comes in 0- through 4-weight sizes at 7-feet 6-inches long, with an additional 3-weight, 6-foot zinger that might be the best of the bunch. It’s not cheap. But most surgical tools aren’t. And this one will last a lifetime.
Chota Wading Boot
Chota HYFT 700 Hybrid Wading Boot • Price: $120 Chota
The challenge with backcountry trout fishing is that someone really needs two pairs of boots—one to get them to the middle of nowhere, the other to get them moving safely in slippery trout water. With these high-tech but low-weight high-top wading boots, anyone can carry a full-featured pair for wading without worrying about weighing down their pack. A padded ankle collar provides great support, and an armored toebox and heel can handle years of banging in the rocks. A big bonus is Chota’s QuickLace hook system that’s surprisingly easy to deal with while bulked up in waders. These boots punch way above their weight.
ENO SingleNest • Price: $50 ENO
It’s not that I’m selfish, but when it comes to packing a hammock, I don’t really feel like I should pack yours, too. While many pack hammocks are built for two, the SingleNest is designed for one. It weighs but a single pound and will pack into a 4-inch by 5-inch bundle thanks to the compression strap stuff sack. The 70-denier high tenacity nylon taffeta is very breathable, so no more sweaty backs after an afternoon snooze. And it’s rated to 400 pounds. That doesn’t mean you get to crawl in. It just means I get to hold all the beer.
Meriwool Merino Hiking Socks
Meriwool Merino Hiking Socks • Price: $19 to $25 Meriwool
Merino wools seems like the wonder fabric for hiking socks. It’s non-scratchy, insulates like crazy, and wicks moisture so well that a pair of warm socks can even cool hot feet on a long hike. These affordable socks are made of 75 percent Merino, with enough nylon to make them tough and durable, and stretchy elastic for just enough compression around the arch. And they’re specifically designed for the long haul, with smooth toe seams to turn back hot spots and blisters. Throw in the fact that three pairs come in the package, and it’s a pretty swell sock deal.
Darn Tough Hiker Merino Wool Socks
Darn Tough Hiker Merino Wool Socks • Price: $19 to $50 Darn 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 • Price: $150 Forsake
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 Hammock • Price: $27 to $40 Wise 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, 6½-foot wide cradle that’s large enough for two people.
Motorola Talkabout T800 Two-way Radios
Motorola Talkabout T800 Two-way Radios • Price: $95 Motorola
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 • 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 • Price: $350 Rylo
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 • Price: $57 Snow 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.
Leatherman FREE P4
Leatherman FREE P4 • Price: $140 Leatherman
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.
Klymit Insulated Static V Sleeping Pad
Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad • Price: $75 Klymit
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 5×8-inch sack, and inflates to 72x23x2.5 inches in as few as 15 to 20 breaths. A patch kit is also included incase the pad springs a leak.
Greenbelly Meals 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 • 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.
Orvis Pro Insulated Vest
Orvis Pro Insulated Vest • Price: $160 Orvis
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 a layer. Women’s sizes are also available.