2008 Gear Guide
Whether you're in search of a locator beacon, a fancy fish finder or a vibrating bunny, we've got you covered.
By Russell Graves
Okay, I'll admit it. I love technology. When you marry technology with outdoor gear, I am nearly beside myself. Therefore, in this year's Texas Parks & Wildlife gear guide, you'll find lots of "techie" gear alongside some of the more traditional outdoor gear. In short, you'll find something for everyone.
Whether buying a gift for yourself or someone else, you'll find cool and affordable products for the hiker, hunter, angler, photographer or any other outdoor enthusiast.
So make it your New Year's resolution to get outside more – and take some of this cool gear with you.
What if there was a way to check your game camera photos without ever having to go afield? Well, now there is. The Smart Scouter game camera marries digital and cellular technology and takes it to a new level for outdoor photographers, nature enthusiasts and hunters. Each time the Smart Scouter takes a picture, the photo is sent through cellular networks to an online server, where you can view your images on demand. (www.smartscouter.com, 888-70-SCOUT, $649.99 for the camera, $14.99 monthly wireless fee, plus activation and per-picture fees)
3D Evolution Suit Max-1 Camo
For hunters and photographers, concealment is a must. If you really want to hide in plain sight, take a look at the 3D Evolution camouflage suits. These garments incorporate laser printing techniques for high-definition patterns and stitching technology that gives the "leaves" a more realistic appearance. This isn't a primary suit; you wear it over your clothes, so it works equally as well with cold weather and warm weather gear. (www.basspro.com, 800-920-4400, $79.95)
The Streamlight ClipMate is a clippable light that fits on cap or hat brims. At 3.52 inches long and a little over 2 ounces, this light has a lot of power in a small package. Powered by three AAA batteries, the three high-intensity LED lights shine at 27 lumens. What's most amazing is that (with a fresh set of batteries) this light lasts for 40 hours. (www.streamlight.com, 800-523-7488, $19.95)
Orvis Clearwater Wading Shoes
Take it from me, regular shoes aren't up to the challenge of keeping you in an upright position while wading or walking on slippery surfaces. Everyone in fly-fishing circles knows that Orvis produces top-notch equipment, and these wading shoes are no different. The lightweight boots will keep you fishing comfortably all day with a padded insole, ample ankle support and a tough Cordura nylon upper. (www.orvis.com, 888-235-9763, $79.00)
Imagine a tool that allows you to grip your fish and safely remove artificial baits, one that tells you which fish to keep or cull, and a tool that weighs your catch. The Xtools GripNWeigh does all of that.
This unit comes standard with fish floats so that you can tag your fish in the live well for easy retrieval. It even stores the last five heaviest fish you've weighed - a great feature for tournament anglers. The Xtools GripNWeigh comes in high-visibility green and blue so you won't lose it. Should you catch that monster striper, don't worry, as it handles fish up to 35 pounds. (www.xtools.us, 800-334-9105, $79.99)
Garmin Fishfinder 300C
Fish finders have been around for a while now, so the concept is nothing new. However, incredible new technology makes them more useful and affordable every year. The Garmin 300C Fishfinder brings freshwater anglers a high-resolution 3.5-inch screen that updates in real time. This high-performance sonar unit provides excellent shallow-water resolution due to its dual-beam transducer, and it even shows you bottom hardness. (www.garmin.com, 312-787-3221, $267.84)
When you're out alone, things can happen. That's where the SPOT Messenger comes in handy – it serves as a personal locator when things go wrong. The device can send emergency responders your exact location, or you can use it to check in with family or friends by sending a pre-programmed message that includes a Google Maps link to your current location. It's satellite enabled, so it works where cell phones don't. (www.findmespot.com, 866-651-7768, $169.99)
Bull Stool All-Terrain Seat
This comfortable stool is the perfect companion for the photo blind or lakeside on a summer catfishing trip. The Bull Stool offers a padded swivel seat with three independently adjustable legs so you can sit level on even the roughest ground. This seat adjusts to any height between 16 inches and 22 3/4 inches and holds 500 pounds. When you are ready to move to the next spot, the legs fold compactly inside the seat and the whole thing weighs only 5 pounds. (www.cabelas.com, 800-237-4444, $59.99)
The Kamp-Rite Tent Cot
The Tent Cot is a fantastic way to save space and provide shelter from the elements. This all-in-one unit is a tent and a cot combined. Made of heavy, waterproof poly-oxford fabric, the tent cot is a generous 90 inches long and 32 inches wide and sits 11 inches off the ground on an aluminum frame. The built-in dome provides enough room to sit up while inside the tent. Folded, the cot is a compact 34 inches by 34 inches. (www.kamprite.com, 800-709-9905, $179.99)
Epic Action Sports Video Cam
Ever wish you had a tiny video camera to capture those awesome moments on the biking trail or in your kayak when handholding a video camera is impractical? Then check out the Epic Action Sports Video Cam. At only 2.5 ounces and measuring under 3 inches long, the Epic comes with a waterproof case and is mountable on just about any surface. With a capture rate of 30 frames per second and a built-in microphone, the quality is surprisingly good for such a small, rugged gadget. With a 4GB SD memory card, you can capture up to 100 minutes of action video. (www.epicstealthcam.com, 877-269-8490, $149.99)
Delta 3D Wild Boar Target
At nearly 3 feet tall, this aggressively styled target puts a little edge into your archery practice. The target is made from Delta's Tech Flex E-Z Pull Foam for the maximum performance and durability, and its self-healing design ensures that the target lasts for thousands of shots. (www.deltatargets.net, 800-708-0673, $189.99)
Ultralight Dualist Cook System
Made for the active camper, the Dualist Cook System is built to last. The crushproof lid made of Lexan resin prevents deformation of your pot/lid and includes an integrated strainer. The foldable, lockable handle secures the entire set for transport. The whole system is stackable – eliminating the need for lots of carry space. (www.gsioutdoors.com, 800-704-4474, $49.95)
The Rackulator is an ingenious little tool that works like a rolling calculator and is the world's only electronically calculating big game scoring tool. It doesn't matter if your favorite hunter pursues antelope, whitetail or mule deer – the Rackulator scores any horned animal and gives you a final score (both typical and non-typical and in various categories) with the push of a button. (www.rackulator.com, 888-791-4213, $119.95)
Hoyt Katera Bow
For bow shooters of any experience level, the Hoyt Katera brings features that are sure to excite everyone. The premier bow in the 2008 Hoyt lineup, the Katera features a lightweight design complemented by the blazing fast Z3 Cam and a Half Performance System, which hurls arrows at a swift 330 feet per second. Furthermore, you can customize this bow straight from the factory with your choice of Realtree APG camouflage or nine other exciting colors. (www.hoyt.com, 801-363-2990, $849.99)
Moultrie All-in-One Feeder Kit
Whether you are a backyard wildlife enthusiast, wildlife photographer or hunter, or if you want to buy a gift for one, you should consider this feeder. The Moultrie MFH-AT5 5-Gallon All-in-One Feeder Kit comes complete with a 5-gallon bucket, funnel, programmable feeder motor and even batteries. All you need to do is add the feed. With a timer that feeds up to four times a day, you can coax animals to your feeder on a schedule that fits yours. (www.moultriefeeders.com, 800-653-3334, $69.99)
Rocky Boots S2V Boots
Hikers and hunters rejoice. The new Rocky S2V boot brings comfort and insulation to your cool weather adventures. The marriage of a full-grain leather and nylon upper makes the boot waterproof and camouflaged. Filled with 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation, the boots will keep your feet warm and happy. An AirPort footbed ensures a cushioned step, while a Vibram outsole aggressively grips any terrain. (www.rockyboots.com, 877-795-2410, $139.99)
Leupold Golden Ring 10x32mm HD Binoculars
One word describes these compact 10-power binoculars: unbelievable. The calcium-fluoride lenses deliver high-definition clarity that's never before been achieved. These Leupold binoculars are also waterproof and guaranteed for life. (www.leupold.com, 800-LEUPOLD, $799.99)
Take it from me: When calling predators close in to photograph them, sound isn't always enough. If you really want to seal the deal, add motion to your setup. The Quiver Rabbit by Edge By Expedite is a realistic-looking rabbit decoy that, due to an internal timer powered by two AA batteries, moves at random intervals to create a lifelike presentation. A spring-loaded mounting system makes the unit sit slightly above the ground for added visibility. (www.edgebyexpedite.com, 715-381-2935, $29.99)
Temple Fork Bluewater Mini Magnum 8-Weight Rod
Over the past few years, the Dallas-based Temple Fork Outfitters has emerged as a leader in feature-rich equipment. The Mini Magnum rod is a strong yet affordable addition to any fly angling repertoire. Made of a carbon-glass composite, this 8-foot rod gives you the leverage and the strength to fight even the biggest redfish or bass. A cork handle ensures a secure grip while you are fishing. When you head home, the lightweight rod breaks down into three pieces for easy storage. (www.templeforkflyrods.com, 800-638-9052, $199.95)
For the aggressive hunter who is always on the go, check out the Predator Pod. The Predator Pod is an all-steel tripod stand that holds 300 pounds and is 6 feet high – perfect for an over-the-brush vantage point. Weighing only 40 pounds, this tripod stand is ultra-portable. With a padded seat and integrated gun rest, the pod rotates a full 360 degrees so that buck of a lifetime or wily bobcat won't slip by unnoticed. (www.summitstands.com, 256-353-0634, $179.99)