Time to think of gifts for holidays

Since I started writing this column way back in 2007, I’ve always put together a Christmas gift-buying guide for the outdoors person but I’ve usually waited until a week or two before Christmas to do it.
For the last-minute buyer, this probably helped but most people likely already were finished with their shopping by then. So this year, I’m going to change things up a bit and get this out a little earlier.
“Black Friday” is coming up this week and it has become a major shopping event in both Canada and the U.S., both at the retail level and especially online. If you can swing it, you should buy as many presents as you can over the next week to save a few bucks and get the items you want before they potentially go out of stock.
This week, I’m going to toss around some cold-weather gift ideas and next week, I’ll take a look at some warm-weather options.
Since we have a solid six months of cold weather here in Northwestern Ontario, quality clothing and outerwear makes fishing and hunting in harsh conditions a lot more fun. The secret to staying comfortable outside is to keep your hands and feet warm.
If either get cold, it’s tough to have fun.
For the feet, quality socks make a great stocking-stuffer and are one of those things most folks probably won’t buy for themselves. Comfortable, great-fitting socks are such a pleasure to wear in the winter.
For a bigger gift, cold-weather boots always are good to have, not only for fishing and hunting but for jobs around the house, as well. 1,000 gram or greater Thinsulate boots are what you want for winter activities.
I like leather boots for hunting and rubber boots for ice-fishing because if you drill a bunch of holes in the ice, you’ll get a significant amount of water on your feet and the rubber boots will keep them dry longer.
A good stocking-stuffer for the hands are the air-activated heat packets you can put inside your gloves or pockets. They last for four-six hours and work really well at taking the chill off.
I use them when I hunt late in November and December, and throughout the winter when ice-fishing.
For that really special person, a portable ice-fishing shelter is a sweet present. These shelters come in two styles: one is a pop-up model that is built onto a sled that can be pulled behind a snowmobile or ATV while the other is a hub-style that pops up with poles, like a tent.
The hub style is quite a bit cheaper and also much easier to transport. You can get models for two people, all the way up to six- or eight-person designs.
I use the Frabill Predator sled-style shelter on a lot of my winter guide trips because we often snowmobile to remote areas to fish and I can load the sled up with all of the gear that we might need for a day on the ice.
It is a large, high-end shelter but I use it for my work, so I can justify having this premium outfit.
There also are a bunch of accessories that go along with ice-fishing shelters like heaters, lights, storage compartments, and even little hangers for your jackets.
In the heat of the summer, a quality rainsuit is not super important because you’ll dry quickly. But outside of July and August, wet weather will take the fun out of being on the water. Quality rain gear or waterproof clothing will keep you dry and with this stuff, you get what you pay for.
A high-end rainsuit will run you some serious money but good outerwear to layer underneath an actual rainsuit will help to save the day without breaking the bank.
Simms was a new sponsor for me this past year and their Pro-Dry suit is the absolute best, top-of-the-line rainsuit you can get. They also make a wide array of weatherproof shirts and jackets that work great for layering.
It is quality clothing that fits and performs well.
In addition to all of these items, you have ice-fishing tackle and accessories, augers, ice-fishing electronics, snowmobile helmets, and gloves and mittens that all are necessary for outdoor activities during the cold weather period.