Outdoors commentary: Gift ideas for Christmas

Outdoors commentary: Gift ideas for Christmas

Christmas season is fast approaching — or perhaps it’s already here, based on a look at store shelves — and with it come a few of my gift recommendations for the outdoorsmen and women in your life.

Staying clean in the wild is always a challenge. Even during the summer, when you would welcome a dip in a nearby stream, streams are not always nearby. And though you may be roughing it, no one really likes to slide a sticky, sweaty body into an innocent sleeping bag. The winter months are even more problematic. You really have to be dedicated to take an outdoor shower on a 30-degree day with snow riding in on a 15-knot wind, even if you have heated the water.

An extended stay in the hospital brought me in contact with a welcome alternative to uncomfortable or nonexistent showers. The Medline Ready Bath Luxe Antibacterial Body Cleansing Cloth Wipes are a godsend, and leave you feeling very close to hot shower clean. I’ve been unable to find the extra thick variety, which I consider important, at local stores and pharmacies so I bought mine through Amazon for $36.99 for 24 packages containing eight wipes each.

No Rinse Shampoo (that’s actually the brand name) is almost as important, and also available at Amazon for $21.04 for a pack of three, 16-ounce bottles.

Dry bags have been around for a long time and most outdoorsfolk own several large ones to keep their clothing dry. However, smaller dry bags are like matches…you can never have too many. I always use at least four or five small drybags to protect my camera, cell phone, batteries and wallet. They are great, inexpensive gifts from $8 to $20. You can find a good selection at Peak Sports, Sportsman’s Warehouse or online.

New mapping applications on cellphones and GPSs have been tremendous assets to outdoorsfolk of every persuasion. As long as you have battery power you can keep far better track of your route, your present location and your destination than ever before, along with color and three-dimensional presentations.

However, one of the real limitations of all our mapping systems has always been our ability to tell exactly where different ownerships ended and others began. This is critical information because trespassing is no joke, and can land you in jail.

OnX Map applications provide overlays for your GPS and cellphone maps that give accurate and up-to-date information layers, including names of landowners. As a hunter and backpacker, I’ve found the information OnX provides tremendously helpful, especially when traversing the oft-confusing mixture of public and private lands in Oregon. They are well worth the $29.99 annual subscription fee required. Check them out at www.onxmaps.com.

Even in these days of easy-to-find internet recipes, dependable, well-written cookbooks are still a popular gift and I can think of no better choice than Susan Ebert’s The Field to Table Cookbook. Ebert is a gifted writer with a long history of hunting, fishing, foraging and gardening and she brings all those skills to bear in this 2016 hardcover. With an emphasis on organic and sustainable recipes, Ebert has created a touchstone that will remain relevant for decades to come. You can order it from local bookstores, which I recommend, or from Amazon at $18.99.

Speaking of books, the Christmas holidays are a perfect time to relax with a carefully crafted work of fiction. Warning!! Shameless self-promotion follows: I recommend Gift of the Grenadier, an extraordinary first novel from a local author. It combines outdoor adventure, military drama and romance in a high-intensity package that will keep you turning pages far into the night. Available for $20 at local bookstores, online at www.outdoorinsights.com, or at Amazon.

Pat Wray writes about the outdoors and can be reached at patwray@comcast.net.

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