The Wild South

Gifts for Sporting and Outdoors Lovers

Innovative gear that won’t disappear in the back of a closet, plus a couple of nifty picks for the dog

Shooting gloves that double as drivers, cowboy boots equally at home at the bar or the range, rugged totes that transform into backpacks—increasingly elevated design is driving a radical makeover in quality sporting gear. Even items as prosaic as chest waders are getting a dose of research-and-development that’s raising the bar on functionality. And definitely goosing their cool factor. Here are ten standout picks for those who enjoy spending time outdoors, and we haven’t forgotten about the dog either.

Brown waders

Next-Gen Waders

Southern anglers shouldn’t pack away their fishing gear come winter, since some of the best surf fishing and even mountain trout angling can take place in the colder months. New this year, Simms’ Freestone Z bootfoot wader is built with a waterproof front zipper that takes the hassle out of getting into waders, and microfleece-lined handwarmer pockets perfectly situated for a quick warmup between casts or blasts. An improved seam design on the legs lends better mobility and durability, and for those who don’t want camouflage, the solid loden color is a welcome break. As is the price tag for this level of feature-rich wader. $580;

Bowled Over

Too many travel dog bowls come up short—not truly spillproof, not made to handle the abuse of a long hunting road trip or beach cottage weekender. This dog bowl from Gunner is not that bowl. Built from a tough BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, food-grade synthetic, it features a tight-fitting lid and non-slip rubber feet. Fill one with water and another with grub, and they’ll ride in the back of the truck or bottom of the boat and spill neither drop nor crumb. They make mighty fine shotgun shell and choke tube totes, to boot. $50;

A black fishing reel

Vintage Fish Hauler

The lauded English brand Hardy reached into its vault for this heritage reissue—an updated run of the Sovereign Reel that made its debut nearly forty years ago. These are gorgeous freshwater fly reels, deeply anodized in either a Spitfire gold or lustrous black, with a classic architecture that will turn heads. The reels are built with a self-lubricating disc drag with oomph enough for quarry ranging from big trout to musky, and a switch that toggles between a classic click on the outgoing line or a silent “poacher” mode. They’re available in four sizes: 5/6, 7/8, 8/9, and 9/10. From $595;

A green tote

The Ultimate Gear Tote

If you tend to carry around a bunch of stuff (tools, training dummies, flashlights, gloves, water shoes) that can change with the seasons (trout season, bird season, boat season, beach season, dog-training season), then the RUX 70L is your kinda tote. It may be the world’s most highly engineered storage bin: It’s stout enough to stack yet collapses down when empty for easy stashing. It’s made of tough, waterproof materials, and you can haul it like a box, carry it like a bag, or wear it like a backpack. The rigid opening and nifty three-part lid make it easy to access, and should you need additional storage, you can add on the RUX Bag and RUX Pocket. Though pricey for a tote, it’s a one-time spend for a four-season gear hauler that will finally put an end to water bottles and duck calls rattling around in the back of the truck. $298;

A yellow dog on a stack of dog beds

Canine Comfort

The newest addition from the company that makes the world’s most comfortable sleeping pads is a dog bed built like a deluxe people mattress. The HEST dog bed features two-layers of premium memory foam encased in a waterproof liner, topped with a removable and washable cover, and built on a garden hose-able bottom layer tough enough to drag through grime and gravel. The beds roll up and come with attached compression straps and a comfy handle so you can grab-and-go between home, office, mountain cabin, and campsite. Choose between three sizes cut to fit most kennels. $149-$249;

Brown gloves

Hand Savers

It’s a bit of a disservice to call these “shooting gloves,” because the Sitka Gunner Glove is also a top-shelf tailgating, driving, firewood-toting, bumper-throwing, dog-walking glove. For working a shotgun, for sure, they’re about as good as it gets. Built of supple goatskin leather affixed to a Gore-Tex liner, they have a stretchy forefinger material that assures plenty of tactile feedback, and reinforced thumbs designed to hold up after pushing thousands of shotshell rounds into a magazine. $109;

A blue and green rain jacket

Foul-Weather Beauty

Cotopaxi’s Cielo women’s rain jacket is a breathable, fully waterproof shell with full-seam taping to turn away even a wind-driven rain, and hook-and-loop cuffs so water doesn’t drain down your arms every time you adjust your hat. A couple of zippered hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket provide just enough storage, while the hood cinches down to fit any noggin, or ball cap. But what’s especially nice is the color vibe—the jacket comes in an array of bold color-block patterns, and it’s made under Cotopaxi’s Gear for Good seal, which ensures the material is PFC-free and recycled. $145;

A brown boot

Dawn-to-Dark Boots

Work days are a necessary part of keeping any deer camp, duck camp, mountain cabin, or back .40-acre city lot up to snuff, and the Knox boot from Tecovas is a slam-dunk choice for a utility boot that serves double-duty as all-day footwear. It’s the brand’s first wedge sole roper, designed for comfort with removable cushioned insoles and a one-inch Vibram outsole that provides plenty of traction without deep, mud-spreading lugs. Weatherproof seams and treated uppers let you hose the boots off after a session around a fire pit or pellet smoker and roll into town without swapping treads. $245;

An orange and brown gun case

Travel Right

Hunters will appreciate the step up in luxury afforded by this travel shotgun case from Negrini. It’s a classy way to safely transport an auto-loader or pump shotgun to the field or shooting club, and its double-walled ABS construction will cushion your favorite firearm on the occasional flight to distant fields. At less than eight pounds, it won’t weigh you down as you thread through busy airport lobbies, and the three TSA-accepted combination locks mean you needn’t show up at the airport with a handful of extra locks. It converts to fit double-barreled shotguns with the addition of a WINGS accessory case. $689;

A khaki green jacket

Wispy Warmth

Weighing in at a feathery sixteen ounces, Dive Bomb Industries’ versatile Airweight Jacket is an uber-comfortable, slightly stretchy jacket that may well become your go-to whether you’re headed to the field or brew pub. The exterior is made with Toray’s breathable Airtastic fabric and treated with a DWR coating for protection in a mist and light showers. Compressible and highly packable, with durable YKK zippers and 3M Thinsulate insulation, the jacket hits the sweet spot of toasty: Wear it alone in cool weather, or use it as an ideal base layer when the thermometer drops. $195;

Follow T. Edward Nickens on Instagram @enickens and find more Wild South columns here.

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