Looking for a Christmas gift for your Huntsville Outdoorsman or woman? You are in luck! Just in time for Black Friday, we are proud to offer the official Huntsville Outdoors Christmas Wish List. The List includes outdoors tools, toys and educational materials that we think any true enthusiast will be able to use locally in the wilds of North Alabama. Forgive us for the prices, as we really have tried to focus on the best and coolest as opposed to the most affordable.
So, in no particular order, please peruse the following list of items which we commend to you, our dear readers:
1. The Steri-Pen UV Water Purification System
One of the coolest products on the market if you are looking for a water purification system. The Steri-Pen is marketed as a better purification option than manual filters alone. I have one myself, actually, and it is a pretty cool little tool, and fairly affordable at around $80. Downsides are that it runs on batteries (but does come with a solar recharger) and really is only intended to work in fairly clear water. But you probably don't want to be drinking muddy water anyway, even if it is "filtered."
2. Light My Fire Swedish Fire Starter
Easily the cheapest gift on our wish list, we've found this tool indispensable for starting fires while on camping trips. It creates a much larger spark than you will get with the other fire starters on the market, and you won't ruin your knife trying to scrape off magnesium like you do with the leading competitors. (That said, we think this tool used in conjunction with a magnesium strip is even better).
3. Jackson Rogue Kayak
Recall the disclaimer above about this not being a list of the most affordable gifts. The Jackson Rogue Kayak is definitely a bit pricey, but we are firmly of the opinion that it's worth the money. Designed to handle everything from ordinary flatwater to Class III (and maybe IV) rapids, and suited up with the best outfitting in its class, the Jackson Rogue is just about the coolest kayak we have found. So cool, in fact, that I bought one earlier this year. I haven't yet tried it out on swift water, but I did float the Flint a few weeks back and was really impressed with the skeg and how much it improved the tracking on what is really a whitewater vessel. It also has some extra cool storage in the bow and stern; an inflatable, butt-conforming seat; hip pads; an adjustable back rest; and the patented Happy Feet system for comfy paddling. Highly recommend.
4. Ex-Officio Quick Dry Underwear
Maybe we are weird, but frankly, we've always wondered why -- given the trend for quick-dry shorts and pants -- that you couldn't seem to find quick-dry underwear for those unfortunate occasions when your outdoor adventures leave you a bit wet. Well, now you can find it here, and on many other sites as well. Ex-Officio is making quick dry underwear for men and women, and it includes the somewhat strange feature of being anti-microbial and therefore allegedly wearable for up to 6 weeks. I don't know about that, but I do know I'm actually wearing a pair while writing this, and it's rather comfy.
5. High-Powered Flashlight
There are just too many variables and choices for us to recommend just one brand of high-powered flashlight, but every outdoorsman's wish list has to include this category. If you are a flashlight enthusiast like me, you'll be aware of the incredible advances in flashlight technology since the days when a good ole Mag Light was top of the line. I really like my incredibly small Streamlight Pro Tac 1L, but at 110 lumens, some might label it as on the underpowered side based upon current standards. That is, if by "current standards" you mean this ridiculous, 4100 lumen, halogen Torch that is actually designed more as a fire-starter than as a source of light, or this huge 8500 lumen LED from HID-LED-Lights. Too many options? Probably the best mix of usability, power and cost can be found in Streamlight's Pro-Tac HL, which runs about $70 and happens to be waterproof to 1 meter.
6. Vasque Sundowner GTX Boots
I read through a few outdoors wish lists in compiling this one, and one almost universally overlooked area is hiking boots. Sure, they aren't quite as techy-cool as GPS-Tracking Head-Cams or the like, but they are a heck of a lot more practical for people who are actually, you know, going outdoors. My favorite pair of boots are the Vasque Sundowner GTX series. Here's why: I've had my pair since 2003. Seriously, going on 10 years. Still waterproof, still comfortable, and still in the original soles (although they are replaceable). They aren't bad looking, either. You can't go wrong.
7. Bushnell 8 Megapixel Camo Game Cam
Once thought to be the lone province of hunters, game cams are getting more popular for people who just enjoy seeing what type of, well, game is outside. Eric and I got one of these a few years back and have moved it around our neighborhood every few months. We've got pictures of red-tail fox, deer, raccoon, coyote, random teenagers, and one guy playing golf in the grass. It's always a nice adventure just to see what shows up next. The Bushnell is a pretty good model, too, as it takes video and works very well at night.
8. The Trek Fuel EX-8 Mountain Bike
Looking to celebrate the renewal of Alabama's Forever Wild Program by taking a trip to nationally-acclaimed Coldwater Mountain? You'll need a bike for that. And why waste $500 on a marginal quality ride when you can bust the bank with this awesome Trek Fuel EX-8?? Sure, it's like $2800, but it's also a top pick for 2012 by Bicycling.com. Can't afford this model? Well fine, we also think the Diamondback Overdrive Comp 29er would be a pretty good bet for under a grand.
9. The U.S. Army Survival Manual
These days it seems "survival kits" are all the rage, but we would humbly suggest that most of them are a total waste of money of you don't have some idea of how to actually survive. In other words, if you don't know how to rig up a nifty dead-fall trap with wire and peanut butter, what good are the raw materials going to do you? We think any outdoors enthusiast would be better served by studying the techniques in the Official U.S. Army Survival Manual, which is available free, or for a small price and in many different forms.
10. Black Diamond Mesa Backpacking Tent
If you are interested in backpacking in the North Alabama area and need a trusty tent, you can't go wrong with the Black Diamond Mesa. It's pretty expensive at roughly $330, but so are all serious backpacking tents, and this one weighs in at just 4 lbs, 9 oz. Despite its low weight, it's pretty spacious inside (sleeps 2) and is usable in 3 seasons, which is pretty much all we have here in Alabama anyway. Still not convinced you want to pay that much? Can't blame you - I decided to get the Eureka Apex 2. It sleeps 2, weighs just 5 lbs, 11 oz, and costs just over $100.
Honorable Mentions (in the Beer Department) -
We warned you when we started this site that we love beer probably just as much as the outdoors. Ever true to our mission statement, we do have a few additional gift suggestions for outdoors enthusiasts that really don't fit neatly in the category above. As we've said before, outdoor adventures are bound to cause you to build up a thirst, especially if all you've had for the last few days is UV-filtered, but otherwise Giardi-filled water.
11. The Tactical Battle Mug
Three things: (1) it's made right here in Huntsville, Alabama; (2) you can attach this Battle Mug to your AR-15; and (3) you can drink beer out of it. Need we say more?
12. UBC Commercial Dual Faucet Kegerator
This makes no sense as an outdoors item, but it sure goes well with your Battle Mug. Don't waste your money on the $400 non-commercial kegerators. You wouldn't spend that little on a normal refrigerator, and if you did, you'd have the same problems: hot, foamy beer. Go ahead, shell out the dough for this commercial model, the immaculate UBC Commercial. It's the mack daddy of kegerators. You won't regret it.