I’m not sure if this list will make your holiday shopping easier or harder—because there’s not a thing on this dream team of sporting and outdoors goodies that isn’t a top-notch contender. Whether it’s flyfishing, bird hunting, camping, wild game cookery, or even backyard birding, there’s a winner here for just about every pursuit and passion.
A Cut Above
Benchmade has gone whole hog in the culinary world, with new lines of kitchen knives designed to straddle tasks from the field to the table. The brand-new Station Knife brings an innovative blade profile that combines the chopping and dicing prowess of a chef’s knife with a paring knife–esque tip for superb control. You can also customize it as you see fit. Choose between CPM-154 steel or 440C stainless steel, in two finishes, and among a bevy of handle scales, so you can match the knife to your countertops or the non-skid coating on your truck tailgate. Starting at $280; benchmade.com
On a recent woodcock-hunting assignment for Garden & Gun, this uber-deluxe camp kitchen table from SylvanSport stole the show. Actually, the guide’s Gordon setters stole the show, but the table made quite a splash. The Dine O Max unfolds into two large bamboo prep surfaces, with storage shelves underneath, a zippered pantry, a neat trash bag holder, an integrated towel holder, and even a collapsible water basin for KP duties. I’m not a boil-in-the-bag camp cook, and the Dine O Max put every tool, spice, sauce, and dish within reach instead of strewn across the campsite. It would also make a boss addition to a tailgate soiree. $400; sylvansport.com
Maven binoculars carry a bit of an insider’s cachet. They’re only sold direct-to-consumer, so there’s no distribution or retail markup, and as high-end binoculars go, they’re practically a steal. The B1.2 series builds on the original’s success, including improved lens coatings, a wider field of view, and a more compact design. They’re light enough and tough enough that they’re around my neck on just about every deer and duck hunt, and in my pack no matter where I’m hoofing. The bigger, beefier, all-new B6 model is designed to suck every possible photon of light out of early and late viewing sessions, so they’re a great choice if edge-of-night viewing is on your list. B1.2 starting at $900, B6 starting at $1,000; mavenbuilt.com
Carry It Forward
I often feel a little sheepish toting the ridiculous amounts of gear I haul for even a simple day on the boat. But with the Simms Fish It Well tote at least I can feel a little less guilty. Made entirely of recycled waders, the forty-liter bag is a do-it-all mule, perfect for wet waders, dry clothes, monstrous shore lunches, or a run to the grocery store. A repurposed wader chest pocket on the exterior makes a handy cellphone and car keys holder. The tote is only available online, and proceeds go to support healthy fisheries initiatives. Better strike fast. $30; simmsfishing.com
That’s a Wrap
A simple idea, perfectly executed: The Legacy waxed-canvas gun sleeve from Mississippi’s Wren & Ivy turns away mud, muck, and rough handling on the way to the blind without a bunch of padding that will get soaked on Day One and stay wet till the end of the season. I also love the simple tie wraps that batten down the hatches but offer quick and easy access. And the Wren & Ivy medallion and heavy leather embossed patch for your initials take this sleeve to the elegant next level. $155; wrenandivy.com
During a thirteen-day false albacore odyssey this fall, I wore these Grundens Charter bibs from dark to dark on many days, and I even took a casting-deck nap swaddled in them. I can say they performed admirably as makeshift pajamas—and they’re an excellent choice for fishing duds. Once you own a pair of bibs, you realize they aren’t just for foul weather. They’re your first choice for chilly dawn rides, fishing in sloppy chop, or on those fast-paced days when the fish come over the gunwales one after the other and you’d rather keep the slime off your fancy fishing pants. Made with Gore-Tex and with Cordura layers in high-wear areas, these are tough enough for serious abuse, but light enough for all-day wear. $290-$300; grundens.com
The love child of a puffy coat and Filson’s famed fifty-year-old Jac-Shirt, this new and nearly parka-warm layer is super lightweight, with top-shelf goose down that compresses to nearly nothing for easy packing. The shell is treated to shed snow and misty rain, while front pockets lined with Filson’s Alaskan Guide flannel warm your hands. And sheesh, what a looker. $250; filson.com
My son and I have nearly come to blows over who has dibs on this bag. Not only does the Orvis Carry-It-All flyfishing satchel hold a week’s worth of gear for multi-species fishing, it also does double-duty as a slick bag to keep lines, leaders, and other accessories organized and close at hand at the house. A zippered interior compartment holds rods, and the adjustable dividers and mesh pockets keep everything else from disappearing into a tackle-bag abyss. $198; orvis.com
Fill It Up
Here’s a brilliant idea: Craft a refillable growler-sized propane tank that will fire up grills, lanterns, smokers, and more. Cradle it in a sleek canvas carrying case. And voila, you never have to throw away empty single-use propane bottles again. I’ve used the Ignik Gas Growler on camping trips, backyard oyster roasts, and to power a porch heater for a dinner party. Each holds the equivalent of five of the small, unfillable propane bottles. It’s a smart, feel-good device that actually works. $130; ignik.com
Follow T. Edward Nickens on Instagram @enickens.
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