Gear to Go
Gift ideas for travelers in search of outdoor adventure.
By Gibbs Milliken
Get ready to travel… perhaps to the Big Bend, the Highland Lakes, the East Texas forests, the coastal islands or beyond Texas’ borders. Regardless of your destination, you need gear that is light, compact and reliable with the capability to perform essential tasks that meet your expectations for quality in design, materials and construction.
This big game Wright & McGill Essentials Fly Rod is an excellent four-piece 10-wt. designed for a wide range of saltwater species. The rod can easily throw up to a 12-wt. fly line, and the leverage in its powerful butt-section can control the most aggressive fish. The workmanship, construction and components are top-quality, and it comes in a classic leather-trimmed travel case. Add a Van Staal C-Vex Fly Reel with quick-change spools and you have an awesome combination. The C-Vex has a completely sealed drag system, is CNC-machined from solid aircraft aluminum, anodized and impeccably finished to the highest standards. It will hold 300 yards of 65-pound Hi-vis Stren Super Braid backing and a Monic GSP Tarpon Fly Line of the same strength for truly outstanding performance and reliability with trophy-size game fishes. ($269.99, 9-foot 10 wt. fly rod, Wright & McGill, (303) 321-1481, <www.wright-mcgill.com>) ($680, C-Vex reel, 11-12, Van Staal, (800) 718-7335, <www.vanstaal.com>) ($35.49, 65 lb. Super Braid, Stren) ($ 54.95, 10 wt. Tarpon Fly Line, Monic, (303) 530-3050, <www.monic.com>)
Life has just become easier for wade fishers with the introduction of Hodgman’s Guidelite Zipper-Front Breathable Waders. Their waterproof RiRi Zipper allows for easy on/off maneuvers and, by adding a pair of Chota SLT Plus Wading Shoes (left) with both felt and cleats, you are surefooted even on moss-covered jetties or rocky riverbeds. ($299.99, Guidelite Stockingfoot Waders #13624Z, Hodgman, (800) 323-5965, <www.hodgman.com>) ($117.95, “STL” Plus Shoes, Chota, (865) 690-1814, <www.chotaoutdoorgear.com>)
The Red Oxx Roadster Mini Ruck is a rugged daypack handmade in the United States by military-trained riggers and outdoorsmen. This pack was field-tested under extreme conditions and proved itself built to last, with a durable ballistic cloth body, reinforced stress points, heavy-duty zippers, and other industrial-strength hardware. Yet, the shoulder straps are soft-padded and have a velvet, nonslip finish for a comfortable carry. ($200, Mini Ruck, Red Oxx, (888) 733-6999, <www.redoxx.com>)
The Ex Officio Multiplicity Travel Jacket is a versatile windbreaker with 21 pockets to secure cash, travel documents, maps and other essential travel items. The outer shell and hidden hood are waterproof Teflon-coated Cire Dobby polyester. It is comfortable, lightweight and packable, with zip-off sleeves converting it to a vest in warmer weather. ($119, Multiplicity Jacket, Ex Officio, (800) 644-7303, <www.exofficio.com>)
Perhaps the best travel insurance you can get for your valuable cameras and sports optics is the Pelican Watertight Protector Case. This is a durable, roller-type carry-on with a retractable handle, locking lid and adjustable padded interior compartments. ($154.47, Pelican Case #1514PD, Pelican Products, (800) 882-4730, <www.casesbypelican.com>)
Carrying a small reliable flashlight with extra batteries is always a good idea. The variable power Surefire U2 Ultra Light incorporates the latest digital technology with six twist-ring light settings ranging from 2-lumens for closeup tasks to an intense 80-lumens (5-watt) beam. It uses a centrally focused, unbreakable white LED bulb with a wide peripheral glow for safety. The housing is solid aluminum with a belt/lanyard clip and weatherproof O-rings. It runs from one to 40 hours on two 3-volt lithium batteries, depending on the output setting. A resealable Spares Carrier accessory is available to hold four additional batteries. ($270, U2 Ultra Light. $16, SC-3 Spares Carrier, Surefire, (800) 828-8809, <www.surefire.com>)
Two-way radios are useful for trip logistics plus the peace of mind of knowing the immediate situation of your partners in the field. The latest Midland GXT 500 VP4 has a range of up to 14 miles under ideal conditions like flat terrain and open water. This set of two 5-watt units offers 22 channels, 38 privacy codes, vibrate alert, silent operation, NOAA weather info and eVox voice activation. The kit comes with headsets, rechargeable batteries and both AC and DC chargers. ($94.99, 2-Way Radio Set, #GXT500VP4, Midland Radio, (816) 241-8500, <www.midlandradio.com>)
Polaroid sunglasses like the Costa del Mar Light Wave 400 with dark amber lenses and tortoise frames are stylish, top-quality optics. They protect your eyes from harmful rays and provide good viewing by reducing reflections. ($159, Light Wave 400, Costa del Mar (888) 887-6387, <www.costa del mar.com> )
Nikon’s has modernized the 6x15 Anniversary Edition Binoculars originally made in 1922. They feature a central focus knob, all-metal construction, BaK4 prisms and multicoated lenses for bright, high-contrast viewing. They are a good choice for adventurers and naturalists because of their tiny size, close focusing ability and excellent clarity. ($416.95, 6x15M CF Binoculars, Anniversary Silver Model #7348 with leather case, Nikon, (800) 645-6687, <www.nikonusa.com>)
A good choice to keep you on course is the Magellan eXplorist 500 handheld GPS. It sports a full color screen, lithium ion rechargeable battery, TrueFix GPS tracking with 14 parallel channels and 3-meter accuracy of location. The built-in color map includes roads, parks, waterways, airports and other landmarks. Marine and topographical maps can be easily downloaded to the unit via USB cable. All this and more are housed in a pocketsize rubber armored unit. ($399.99, eXplorist 500, Magellan, (800) 707-9971, <www.magellangps.com>)
The Canon Digital EOS 20D camera sets a new standard of quality in a professional camera at a reasonable price by combining an 8.2 megapixel sensor with the versatility of the Canon EOS system interchangeable lenses. For the highest resolution, it is best to use the largest RAW capture setting and Canon professional grade “L” series lenses. Also available are ultrafast 1 GB compact flash memory disks and a wide range of Canon accessories specifically designed for this system. ($1,499, EOS 20D camera body, Canon USA, (800) 652-2666, <www.usa.canon.com>)
In case of an accident or illness in a remote place, medical supplies like those in the Savvy Traveler Kit are travel essentials. The waterproof Zone B pack is intended for use in developing countries and contains the most necessary items and a first-aid manual by Eric A.Weiss, MD, with clear instructions for proper treatment under wilderness conditions. ($49, Savvy Traveler Kit B, (800) 324-3517, <www.adventuremed icalkits.com>)
Van Staal Titanium Pliers are exceptionally durable and are ideal for rigging marine lures and baits. These professional fishing pliers can secure the heaviest hooks and trim the toughest steel leader materials with their strong jaws and replaceable anvil-type cutters. They have a nonslip, textured finish and resist any corrosion from saltwater. Each set is supplied with a leather belt case and coiled lanyard to prevent loss. ($314, 7” Van Staal Ti Pliers, #28-423-518-00, Bass Pro Shops, (800) 227-7776), <www.basspro.com>)
The G. Loomis Escape Series Casting Rod is a long, three-piece traveler designed to handle fish like hard-hitting peacock bass, golden dorado, salmon and a host of inshore species. It is matched with a high-performance Shimano Calcutta TE Reel that, when spooled with 30-pound Stren Super Braid Line, will take on and land most fresh and saltwater fishes up to and over 100 pounds. ($285, 8’3” Casting Rod # ETR 99-3 MHC-14, G. Loomis, (800) 456-6647, <www.gloomis.com>) ($349.99, Calcutta CTE-400 Reel, Shimano, (800) 833-5540, <www.shimanofishing.com>) ($31.49, 300 yards Lo-Vis Super Braid, Stren, (877) 777-3850, <www.purefishing.com>)
Bow hunters and field archers wanting a fine handcrafted recurve bow for instinctive shooting should consider the Fred Bear TakeDown. It is an ideal choice for travel, since the laminated limbs unsnap from the riser by special latches that require no tools, allowing the bow to pack easily for transport and storage. First introduced in 1969, Fred Bear considered this his finest design in the classic Bear Kodiak series. Also shown is a custom coyote quiver with feather-fletched Easton Legacy Arrows. ($975, Bear TakeDown Bow, Fred Bear Archery, 866-566-2754, <www.fredbearoutdoors.com>) ($85, 1 dozen Easton Legacy Arrows with custom feathers and nocks, Archery Country, 512-452-1222, <www.archery-country.com>)
Turtleskin Snake Armor Gaiter offers gaiter-style leg and foot protection at one-third the weight of conventional guards. The zippered, knee-high, six-ounce, tough aramid fabric shields are soft, waterproof, cool and comfortable. The set easily folds flat for packing and is reversible from a solid khaki to a sage camo pattern. When worn with thick and sturdy wade or hiking shoes, this armor is very effective. ($125, Turtleskin Snake Armour Gaiters, Warwick Mills, (888) 477-4675, <www.turtle skin.com>)
Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Cleaning Cloths are individually packaged for one-time use to help keep delicate camera lenses, eyeglasses and other optics clear and free of sticky salt-spray, dust and grime. If properly used, the ammonia-free formula cleans effectively without leaving streaks or residue and will not injure coatings on glass and plastic lenses. ($5.95 per box of 21 cloths, BAC-ZS-975644, Eagle Optics, (800) 289-1132, <www.eagleoptics.com>)
If you are looking for a compact point-and-shoot camera, one of the finest is the Digital Nikon Coolpix 7900, featuring 7.1 megapixels plus a pro-quality Nikkor ED lens. This pocketsize unit is a great family and travel camera with a bright two-inch LCD viewing screen and the capability of making excellent quality enlargements. Add a small tripod like the lightweight Sunpak SLX and you can appear in your photos using the camera’s internal self-timer. ($399.95, Coolpix 7900, Nikon, (800) 645-6689, <www.nikonusa .com>) ($24, Sunpak SLX Tripod, (973) 428-9800, <www.tocad.com>)
For serious onshore fishers, the Reels-On-Wheels Fishing Cart is a fine surf, pier and jetty wagon that will transport your gear with ease. It can carry more than 200 pounds of stuff and still have room for a folding chair or two. The oversized pneumatic tires will soften the bumps, and the aluminum frame is rustproof and easy to clean. Also available is a trailer hitch Fishing Cart Caddy rack to carry the loaded cart from place to place. ($189.95, Fishing Cart Sr. $119.95, Fishing Cart Caddy, CPI Designs, (800) 545-0202, <www.cpidesigns.com>)
Keeping perishable food and drinks cold is essential in the outdoors. One of the best-built coolers is the World Wide Sportsman Ice Chest. This well-insulated 50-quart model will refrigerate most items for a week or more in the field. It is a convenient size (28”x 14”x 14”) to transport in most vehicles and can serve as an extra seat in small boats or while camping. ($189.99. Model: #38-612-957-02, World Wide Sportsman, (800) 227-7776, <www.basspro.com>)
The pocket-sized Carson LumiPop is a “snap-out” lighted 2x magnifier ideal for reading maps and small print in low light. The 2-inch acrylic lens retracts into its flat hard case for protection. It also can serve to view small features in natural objects, help remove a noxious splinter or start a campfire with concentrated sunlight. ($7.99, LumiPop, LP55, Carson Optical, (800) 967-8427, <www.carsonoptical.com>)
If you already wear glasses but need protection from the sun’s harmful rays, try the simple and inexpensive Solar Shield Clip-on flip-up sunglasses. They not only provide protection against the sun but also improve vision by reducing glare and reflection. ($7.47, Grey polarized F07, flip-up Solar Shield, (800) 959-9038, <www.solar shield.com>).
The Jack Knife by Deep See is a rugged clip-point dive knife that can also serve as a multipurpose fixed blade for any outdoor task. It has an excellent nonslip rubber grip, and the 420 stainless steel blade retains keenness on both the primary and serrated top edges. A unique feature is that it completely disassembles for cleaning and comes with a positive-locking hard sheath that can be secured to a leg, belt or pack. ($55, 5” blade Jack Knife, Deep See Inc., (800) 367-2626, <www.deepseeinc.com>)
Campers will find the Winchester 73 Tent an excellent three-room family size design (15’x 9’ x 6.6’ tall) that allows entry from four directions. Made of lightweight poly-fabric, it has a central screen room and two private sleeping areas on each side, with large micromesh windows for stargazing. The easy-to-set-up style has a heavy-duty waterproof floor and zippered closures to seal the walls in bad weather. A detachable rain/sun fly roof covering insulates and provides good air circulation. Weighing only 22 pounds, including fiberglass pole supports, it packs neatly into a 30-inch long carry sack. ($269, Model 73 Tent, Winchester Tents, (858) 748-3090, <www.winchestertents.com>)
There are tourists, and then, there are travelers. The latter take the less-beaten paths, camp away from the crowds and find excitement in outdoor activities to be found as close as your nearest state park or as distant as a foreign outpost.
Remember, plan carefully, take only the essentials and then get outside and go!