There are plenty of options to stuff stockings with gear

On the Outdoors

December 18, 1997|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Shopping for gifts for the outdoors enthusiast can be frustrating because fishermen, hunters, hikers and campers always seem to need new gear -- but it's tough to know what they need.

The easy way out is to buy gift certificates from retailers that specialize in outdoors equipment. But there's still time to find a gift or stocking stuffer that will be appreciated.

Fishing: The Johnson Junior Pro outfit includes almost everything needed to get a youngster hooked on fishing for about $15 -- easy-to-use spin-cast reel spooled with 10-pound mono, 5-foot fiberglass rod, small tackle box, bobbers, sinkers and stringer. Add hooks, bait, warm weather and quality time.

Adults usually have preferences for types of rods and reels, so perhaps a better approach is to stock the tackle box with old favorites or lures and flies that are hot on the market.

To determine which lures are the old favorites, search the tackle box for the two or three lures that appear to be most used (paint chipped, feathers or bucktail stripped to a few strands, etc.) and take them to the local tackle shop, where the sales staff can match them closely.

For fly fishermen, new patterns of flies almost always are a delight. Orvis has a handful of new items out -- Tunghead Streamers, Saltwater coneheads and the Super Clouser.

The Tunghead streamers use tungsten beads for a faster sink rate than brass heads. The saltwater coneheads are said to sink quickly, and accurately imitate baitfish. The Super Clouser is said to be the most durable and translucent available.

Light tackle fishing is becoming more popular, and Pinnacle's T2 is billed as the smallest spinning reel in the world and well suited to lures weighing an eighth-ounce or less. The T2 weighs less than 5 ounces, incorporates three ball bearings and handles 2-, 4- or 6-pound test. The reel, which has a 5: 3.1 gear ratio, sells for about $50.

Any fisherman whose eyes are challenged by fishing lines will benefit from an inexpensive set of magnifiers, which can be clipped to the bill of a cap and will make knot-tying easier.

Hunting: The Deer Sleigh'r, a slick, flexible plastic sled, might be a good gift for the hunter who regularly bags a deer and struggles to get it back cross-country to the truck. The sled is fitted with grommets to allow game to be tied to it and includes a drag rope. Cost is about $18 for the standard size and about $25 for the magnum.

Waterfowlers should benefit from a spring-loaded, 4-pound temporary structure called the Insta-Coil Blind, which sets up in less than a minute. With shooting windows on three sides and available in Real Bark or cattail patterns, the unit costs about $120.

General outdoors: A hand-held GPS navigation system is always useful. But to use one effectively, a good compass and a detailed map should be on hand.

Hand-helds are now available in sizes that will fit in the palm of your hand and market competition has prices dropping fast. One major manufacturer has a battery-powered model for less than $100.

For hunters and inland shoreline fishermen, topographic maps are advised. Boaters should have up-to-date nautical charts of the areas they cruise or fish. Packets of either are available from marine and outdoors retailers.

Silva makes a Guide Type 26 compass that should last for generations and costs less than $20. For about the same price, Brunton makes a map compass with magnifier and phosphorescent marking for low light use.

Knives are great tools, but rather than buy different ones for hunting, fishing and hiking, check out a basic, all-purpose style such as the Buck Pro-Line Personal sheath knife, which has a blade fine enough to fillet a fish and strong enough to cut small bones. Cost is about $40.

For multiple, light-duty applications, there are folding pocket tools that serve as screwdrivers, wire cutters, can openers, knife, etc. Four of the best manufacturers are Leatherman, SOG, Buck and Gerber. Prices range from $40 to $60 for good units.

Among folding knives, Beretta has a lock-back, lightweight unit of good quality steel in three sizes ranging from $30 to $40.

The fanny pack, worn around the waist, is perfect for hikers, hunters and day trippers who carry snacks and lightweight essential equipment. The models that include water bottles also should have shoulder straps, which keep the load level. Prices start at about $20.

A wise addition to any fanny pack is a first aid kit containing medical supplies. Kits range from basic, at about $30, to comprehensive, at about $135. For real wilderness trips, add a suture kit (about $40), universal SAM splints (about $15 each) and a simply written but detailed first aid book.

Pub Date: 12/18/97

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