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2023 Gear Gift Guide
Christmas gear gift ideas from the Western Hunter staff.
George Bettas started the Hunting Horseman column in Elk Hunter Magazine back in 2011, but his passion for hunting with livestock began many decades before that. This book (275 pages) is a compilation of all of George's articles from both Elk Hunter and Western Hunter, plus commentary from his friends and family. From backcountry equine medicine to advanced packing techniques, this book has it all for the beginner or the seasoned horseman.
The Recon bino harness was specifically designed with modularity and durability in mind. As hunters we all know that some hunts require more accessable gear than others, and the Recon can be easily scaled up or down with all of their available modular accessories. My favorite feature is the large front zippered pocket, because it allows for an actual useful and organized storage area that I can get to quickly. It's quiet, durable, extremely functional, and it's my personal favorite chest harness on the market.
Back in the good-old-not-so-old days, there was a tree near the road to my favorite hunting spot that was known as the “phone tree.” For whatever reason, it was the only place for miles to get cell service. That meant to send a text to a family member or anxious girlfriend, we’d have to drive up, download or upload the message, and wait there to hear back. Not anymore. Now, I’m a Garmin man. This tiny clip-on device is basically a cell service range extender for anywhere in the world. Get one of these to keep your spouse happy and your local Search and Rescue on vacation.
I have been using Canyon Cooler products for years, and just recently picked up the largest cooler in their long-running Outfitter Series (125 quart). This cooler is indestructible (Grizzly Bear certified) and is large enough to hold an elk quarter or an entire coues deer. Along with keeping ice for days, it also comes in handy as an extra place to sit in camp.
This isn’t your average soft case and it’s truly in a class of its own. Not only does the Squadron laminated nylon, waterproof XPac, and YKK Aquagaurd zippers make it extremely water resistant, but this case fits perfectly inside most hard cases, allowing you to have a great soft case when you travel for a hunt. The unique features don’t end there - unzip it all the way and you have a nice prone shooting mat, and you can feel confident around water knowing this case will float.
This Gen 2 speaker has really changed the game for outdoor enthusiasts, fishermen, and hunters alike. This brute of a portable speaker is 100% dustproof and waterproof, has over 20 hours of continuous use in battery life, and also functions as a power bank for your phone and camera. It features Bluetooth connectivity and can be paired with another Gen 2 speaker to have true left and right audio. This has gotten more use in my household than any other gear I own!
The Carbon Innegra Gen 2 tripod is hands down the best-made piece of gear in the hunting industry. It checks all the boxes that you need for a tripod and more. It's lightweight, extremely durable, easy to use, quick to deploy, sturdy, and folds compact. Plus these are 100% manufactured right here in the United States. If you are a serious glasser and spend hours behind the optics every season, this is an investment you’re going to want to make.
This demonic-sounding, ultra-powerful pump runs on an impressive USB chargeable battery that will inflate a big sleeping pad in about a minute. It runs for about 10 minutes continuously, but even my math-challenged brain figured that works out to 10 inflations between charges. It even doubles as a fairly respectable lantern. I wouldn't root for China to win, but in this category, somebody from there is dominating.
A man can never have too many knives! Even though I own over 100 blades, every year Benchmade figures out how to make a few new models that I must have. The new Taggedout Carbon Fiber stole my heart this year. The orange 3.5” CPM-MagnaCut blade is the perfect combination of strength and corrosion resistance, and the carbon scales keep the weight down to a scant 2.4 ounces.
I’ve been carrying my DSLR camera with me for a few years. At first, I was struggling to take as many pictures as I wanted because my camera was shoved down in my pack. While looking through the minimal feasible options that also work with a pack and bino harness on, I found the Peak Design Capture Clip. This minimal shoulder mount clip attaches to my shoulder strap and easily gives me quick access for picture taking. Plus it's an Arca-Swiss plate that easily attaches to most tripods.
Nine ounces – you can’t carry nine extra ounces in your pack? What if you get caught in a late afternoon rainstorm while glassing? What if you need to make an extra large vestibule for your buddy's gear because his tent sucks? What if you need to make some shade for your afternoon nap while you wait for that buck to stand up out of his bed? For only nine ounces, why would you be uncomfortable?
It’s no secret that we devote a lot of ink in this magazine to discuss pants. I’ve been fortunate enough to quietly test many of the popular dedicated hunting trousers on the market, and there are some very interesting ones. However, the first set of leg covers I ever bought has proven time and time again to be the one. At first glance, the Mountain Pant appears to be extremely simple, but after careful inspection, it still appears that way. It’s a comfortable, durable set of knickers that keeps me warm when it’s cold, only a little sweaty when it’s hot, and doesn’t pill up when I walk through cat claw.