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Mud River Luggage

Mud River Luggage

Aside from this luggage looking upland-ey (i.e. cool,) it’s extremely well made and durable. I’ve flown with the Rolling Duffel ($219) on hunting trips around the US and Africa, and it’s held up beautifully. It has every feature a duffel bag needs, heavy-duty nylon zipper, leather accents, wheels, extending handle, end zippered pockets, and a hard bottom compartment (perfect for stowing gear that might need extra protection). 

The Rolling Suitcase ($195) features the same durable shell, nylon zipper, extending handle, and wheels, and is great for travel when you don’t need quite as much room as the duffel affords. It has a roomy, large outer front pocket and a smaller pocket for toiletries, as well as interior shoe pockets. Available in 21″x14.4″x 8″ and 26″x16.5″x 11″ sizes. 

The Laptop/Briefcase ($93) is a great compliment to your luggage, and just as durable and smart looking. The large front pocket is great to stow your wallet, passport, and snacks … the travel necessities. And, the interior features a laptop sleeve in the middle, and ample room on either side for charging cords, paperwork, and hunting magazines. The shoulder strap is adjustable, and it also features carrying handles. 

Any hunter would be lucky to find this luggage set under the tree this holiday season! 


Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker

Kuhn Pressure CookerThis Kuhn Rikon stovetop pressure cooker in my kitchen is one of my favorite cooking tools because it’s so useful. I could write a very long article about why I prefer manual pressure cookers over electric ones, but I will simply say that the results are far better and the pot itself is very versatile. It comes in multiple sizes ranging from 3.7 to 8.4 quarts, so you can choose the right one for your family needs. Even though I don’t often cook for more than four people, I use the biggest size so that I can also make large batch stews. Besides the the ability to reduce cooking time by 70% which makes cooking a pot of pheasant thighs feasible on a weeknight, I love that you don’t have to lock the lid in place, meaning it doubles as a great stock pot – $198 and up.


Camelbak Helena 20

Camelbak Helena 20

If you are a backcountry upland hunter then you know the value of having a quality hunting vest that is capable of carrying the necessities but is also lightweight. I had a hard time finding a vest that fit my small frame. I tried multiple brands and ended up with something less traditional: the Camelbak Helena 20.

With a 2.5L hydration capacity and multiple zippered pouches, this versatile daypack weighs only 1 lb. 7 ounces and is ergonomically designed to hug the body so that you have the freedom to swing and move without feeling any dead weight sliding around. The waist belt has two zippered pouches each able to hold 11 shells or a small cell phone. The large outer pocket is big enough for a few Chukars or you can unzip the top and shove a pheasant in there. This pack is ideal for those putting a lot of miles under foot who want minimal weight on their back, plenty of water for dogs and a place to store small game birds – $99.


Jim Matthews Quail Calls

Jim Matthews Signature Calls

For a truly one-of-a-kind gift for your bird hunter, Jim’s calls are outstanding, functional pieces of art. These hand-sanded, oil-rubbed finish walnut calls can replicate the sound of Gambel’s, California or Mountain Quail. There will be a lot of Bobwhite hunters back east wishing Jim had a call for their native birds. But, don’t let that stop you from owning one of these calls which are great fun to practice for a future date with western quail – $60 and up.

Hoppe’s Gun Medic

Hoppe's Gun Medic

My shotgun gets beat up. I originally bought Hoppe’s Gun Medic because the name seemed appropriate for the state of my abused primary carry gun. And the iconic Hoppe’s name is synonymous with quality gun cleaning products. 

Gun Medic doesn’t disappoint. It’s not gonna fix everything that is wrong with my shotgun, but it sprays on easy and even, evaporates quickly and lubricates while cleaning at the same time. I prefer this aerosol to the screw-top solvents which always seem to come unscrewed in travel and empty all over the rest of the cleaning kit – $7.


Real Avid Shotgun Micro Tool

Real Avid Shotgun Tool

I always have my keys on me; I feel lost without them. And now thanks to Real Avid I’ll always have a pin punch, choke wrench, cord cutter and bottle opener on my person as well. 

There is going to be a time in the field when I need to poke or prod something on someone else’s shotgun, not mine. And I’m gonna be ready. Then I will open a beer and bask in all my MacGyver glory.  Easy stocking stuffer, get one. Real Avid’s shotgun cleaning kits are pretty nifty as well – $7.


Midland MXT115, 15 Watt GMRS MicroMobile Two-Way Radio

Midland MTX 115

Get caught in an unexpected storm in the backcountry where there is no cell service and you learn quickly just how valuable weather forecasts can be. That’s why I got the Midland MXT115 – the 50-mile range and the NOAA weather scan and alert can be a true lifesaver with the latest forecast at the push of a button. 

You can easily move this radio from the truck to the camper or base camp for communication with other hunters in your group using handhelds afield. And it’s a convenient way to communicate between vehicles on road trips to and from the hunting grounds – $150.


Coleman Steel-Belted Portable Cooler, 54 Quart

Coleman Cooler

Yes, I know, everyone and their brother has a roto-molded, armageddon-proof cooler that costs more than their actual freezer. There are umpteen companies now competing in the space, basically making the same heavy cooler with thick walls leaving minimal room for actual cooler contents. 

But, I had a space problem. I needed a cooler that fit a very specific space and needed room for more than two sandwiches and a can of soda. 

I went old school. The Coleman Steel-Belted 54 Quart has been around since the dinosaurs. Your grandad is probably still rocking this cooler. And there’s reason for that…….. it’s rock solid gear. 

I’m not sure if it will withstand a grizzly attack. But I am certain that this cooler will hold ice for 5-days or longer in cool weather. And if a bear happens to attack and destroy my Coleman cooler, I can buy five more to replace it for the price of one similar-sized  insanely heavy Abominable Snowman. I went with the red version, though the stainless steel might feature the requisite stickers better – $65.


Peltor Sport SecureFit 400 Glasses, 3 Pack

Peltor Sport SecureFit Glasses

Eye protection has become a part of all my bird hunts in recent years – it just makes sense to avoid the risk of lost vision for future hunts. Peltor found a way to make it easy on the pocket book as well. The Sport SecureFit 400 come in a multipack with lens colors for any lighting condition, though I tend to lean on the Amber the hardest. At $4 per pair, my feeling aren’t hurt when they get scratched, dropped on gravel roads or when I sit on them.

These glasses are super-light and don’t burden your face. The ear pieces are extremely flexible and don’t squeeze the blood from your brain. I’m able to wear them all day and have no issues with comfort. The lenses will get scratched after extended wear and I either throw them in the recycler and don a fresh pair, or keep them to give new shooters while instructing. The price, quality and fit of these should convince every upland hunter to protect their sight – $12. 


GSI Outdoors – Microlite 1000 Twist


Better than any water bottle on the market, the GSI Microlite weighs the same as the cheap plastic bottles holding 33 ounces of liquid, nearly indestructible and can keep ice for what seems forever. On multiple occasions this season I errantly left a cold drink in my bird vest overnight, only to find it still iced and chilly the following day. Though I’ve not tested it with hot drinks, I suspect the performance is the same. 

The bonus when running bird dogs and the reason I got the Twist in the first place, on hot days when dogs run the risk of over heating, I’m able to carry ice and super-cold water long distances from the vehicle. I now have the option to use ice to help cool an overheating dog. I opted for the high-vis green to add some punch to my blaze orange, though the black or stainless can give you the same performance while less eye-catching – $35.