There are tons of great gift ideas for hunters in 2016 — large, small, inexpensive, and high-quality “lifetime” gifts that could be passed down for generations, like a quality binocular. Alpen and Vortex offer no-fault warranties forever, so an investment in great optics now could be used by future hunters in your household, which makes it one of our all-around best gift ideas for hunters every year.
*Note: Update for 2017: As it turns out, we couldn’t stop with just 10 more gifts for hunters either . . . so we created a massive new guide to the 45 Best Gifts for Hunters 2017. Of course, these gifts below are still great, but we’re particularly proud of our 45 picks for 2017. . . .
But there’s other hunting gear to use, all of which will bring smiles. Shooting sticks help hunters be more effective while a rugged camera will let them capture and share the great outdoors. A smoker will help hunters share Mother Nature’s highest quality meats at family events, and a hydration system will help make sure they get back safe when they venture far afield.
Hunting gifts. Lots of them. All of them fantastic. Here are 15 of the best gifts for hunters in 2016:
15 Best Gift Ideas for Hunters 2016
If your hunter has a lousy pair of binoculars or none at all, binoculars can make a fantastic gift. You have many choices. One of the best all-around options is a binocular that’s 10×42. This “size” of binocular has a great balance of magnification (10) with field of view (42) along with an “exit pupil” that provides a lot of light (learn more about binoculars here). Higher quality binoculars produce clearer, brighter images — which usually equates to cost. We like Alpen for the best mix of quality glass at reasonable prices, as well as Vortex, because both companies offer no-fault warranties. If you break your optics, they will replace them. Hard to beat that. Update: Bushnell now offers a great no-fault replacement guarantee, too.
- Alpen Shasta Ridge 10×42 or Vortex Diamondback 10×42 — full size awesomeness at best price/quality ratio
- Vortex Diamondback 8×32 or Alpen Apex XP 8×32 — smaller size at best price/quality ratio
- Alpen Rainier 10X42 or Vortex Razor HD 10×42 — high-end everything (with best warranties)
- Bushnell H20 10×42 — best option when you’re on a tight budget
2. Rugged Waterproof Camera
The TG-870 starts up fast, takes good photos and video at 1080p at 60 fps, and the buttons are all easy to use so your hunter can snap a pic or take a video . . . while keeping track of the animals. In addition, it has a programable button on the front so a hunter can use it when it’s mounted to a chest harness or mounted on a backpack strap. Oh, one more thing: What’s up with the flip up screen? Solo hunters can frame themselves for a selfie or record wildlife while holding the camera at various angles. Why not a GoPro instead? We’re fans of the GoPro, too, but the GoPro gives you a fixed wide-angle lens (no zoom) while the Olympus offers a 5x optical zoom — very handy for taking video of animals so you can actually see the animals later. Still, the GoPro is small and mounts to most anything, and it’s fantastic for for close-up action. Truly, both options make great hunting gifts. (Note: If you’re looking for a rugged camera that can zoom and take 4k video, check out our rugged waterproof camera guide.)
- Olympus Tough TG-870 — great blend of features, easy-to-use, super rugged
- GoPro HERO5 Session— easy to operate, great for hunting videos, see also the Sportsman Mount
3. Two-Way Radios
Also known as “walkie talkies,” two-way radios let hunters communicate with each other over miles while out in the woods far away from cell phone towers. Not only can they make hunting together more effective, they are also great for safety, letting hunters know were each other are — or even call for help if a hunter gets lost or injured. Usually two models from the same brand will work together, but not always. We recommend that you choose a common brand like Motorola, Cobra, or Midland. A pair makes a sweet hunting gift, but a package of four gives a hunting party more units that will work well with each other.
- Motorola MS355R FRS Waterproof Two-Way – 35 Mile Radio Pack – Camo
- Midland GXT1000VP4 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio
Scouting, hunting, and hauling the game home is just the beginning. Next it’s time to process Mother Nature’s healthiest meats . . . and a smoker is the best way to make jerky, summer sausage, or smoke fish. If the outdoorsman on your list doesn’t have a smoker, he most likely wants one. Seriously. Seems boring, but it’s not. They can be a little spendy, but they’re definitely a top hunting gift. Try these:
- Bradley Smokers Original Smoker — simple temp controls with automatic smoke generator system
- Masterbuilt Front Controller Smoker with Viewing Window and RF Remote Control – temp control, insulated, all-around excellent
- Smokehouse Little Chief – nothing fancy, temp limited to 165-degrees, gets job done
5. Rugged Smartphone or iPad Case
Here’s the deal with rugged cases and camo — they remind hunters of something they love: The Great Outdoors and hunting. With that in mind, a rugged smartphone case is handy, especially waterproof cases for when they’re out in bad weather or on the water. In addition, even if a hunter isn’t taking an iPad to elk camp, a rugged case can help spark fond memories — or let him take the iPad to elk camp. Either way, that’s a win.
- OtterBox Defender Series – standard rugged excellence, in camo, too
- Griffin Tech Mossy Oak line – rugged cases in Mossy Oak camo
- Lifeproof fre — waterproof cases for popular smartphones
6. Night Vision
Most hunting at night is illegal, and most hunters never hunt in the dark. Many hunters, though, have been out in the dark and they’ve wanted to see what’s making so much noise, scaring the horses, and what critters might be out and about. So a night vision scope is a super cool hunting gift. Not exactly practical, not exactly necessary, but cool nonetheless. On the other hand, if a zombie apocalypse ever does come, a night vision scope will turn out to be the best gift in the history of hunting gifts.
- Firefield 5×50 Nightfall 2 Night Vision Monocular — simple, relatively inexpensive hand-held monocular
- Bushnell Equinox Z Night Vision Binoculars — easy to use, can record images and video, perfect for hunting Big Foot
- Night Owl 5x Nightvision Monocular
7. Hunting Pack
Oh baby, there are hundreds of hunting pack options, ranging from heavy-duty rail haulers to fast and light day packs. You want your hunter out and about with a pack because he’s more likely to take water, food, a survival blanket, a jacket, and a first-aid kit with him. Might be the difference between life and death . . . because out in the woods, if there’s no one around to hear you call for help, you’re on your own. Just saying. The hunting backpack is not only practical, it’s a core component of hunter safety, too.
- SJK Rail Hauler 2.0 — new and improved, this sweet frame pack can handle a mind-blowing 200 lbs.
- Eberlestock Mainframe Pack — great load carrier, can zip on other packs, small but expands big
- Badlands Superday Pack — midsize excellence, highly regarded
- ALPS OutdoorZ Trail Blazer Pack — great quality/features for the entry-level price
8. Hydration System
It’s always tough to stop when you’re hunting and take time out to get a drink of water. The result? Dehydrated hunters. The solution? A water bladder hydration system that fits into most every modern backpack. The drinking tube connects to a backpack’s shoulder strap and lets your hunter take sips on the go. Plus, hydration systems are quiet. They’re one of the most versatile hunting gifts because they work for all types of hunting.
9. Camo Clothing
Hunters like camo. Pure and simple. Depending on what kind of hunting you’re doing, it might be an outright necessity. Shirts are always welcome, even if they don’t end up wearing the shirt hunting. Like we said, camo. Jackets are pretty safe, especially waterproof ones or those that are made with quiet fabric or cool patterns. Jacket and pant combinations are excellent, too. As are pants alone. The bottom line, some hunters will wear camo everywhere while others will only wear camo in the field. Still, all hunters appreciate high-quality hunting clothes — even if they don’t spend money on themselves, which makes camo gear one of the best hunting gifts.
- Sitka Gear Camo — quiet, strong, insane quality (get Sitka gear for active hunters)
- Check out Men’s Hunting Clothing at Cabela’s — Cabela’s may have the largest selection in the world
10. Shooting Sticks
Part of a hunter’s ability to be effective and make great shots is confidence, and one thing that can help is shooting sticks. These extendible sticks give hunters a stable rest even if they are in the middle of an open meadow. Better still, this translates into more effective hunters who make better, smarter shots. We like that. Plus, shooting sticks are especially good for younger and less experienced hunters, which makes them a great hunting gift for a variety of hunter ages.
- Primos Tall Monopod Trigger Stick — extends fast and easy
- Mossy Oak Deluxe Shooting Stick — inexpensive, versatile, fits in stocking
11. Boot Dryer
The old Peet-style boot dryers are still going strong, slowly drying a pair of boots over hours, which helps protect the boot from drying too fast and cracking. They are pretty good, but what’s better? A heated boot dryer that more actively blows warm air and dries your boots out faster. This is critical when you have more than one pair of boots to dry. Plus, faster boot dryers also work with gloves, too.
- MaxxDry Boot, Shoe and Glove Dryer — flexible and effective
- PEET Dryer Advantage Shoe Electric Express Dryer — the PEET name with faster drying
12. Cooler for Hunters
A hunter can appreciate a hard-core cooler. Something tough, something big, something that’s insulated well enough to do it’s job. If that’s just keeping beer cold on a hot August scouting trip, that’s fine. But when it’s time to haul big game out of the woods in September, a good cooler can be the difference between a “gamey” steak and a fine meal. There are a lot of variables, of course, but we can almost guarantee your hunter will find a use for a high-quality cooler. Here are two of the best, coldest cooler lineups available in 2016, and either brand makes awesome gifts for hunters:
13. Rattle System
For most hunters in most places of the world, hunting for deer is hard, and getting a mature buck to show himself in daylight is either being in the right place at the right time . . . or getting right into the thick of his world and rattling as if two rival bucks are fighting it out in his territory. When it works, oh boy, it’s an amazing experience. The way to do it is with a pair of antlers you have from a previous buck or sheds. Problem is, real antlers are poky, dry out, or look like real antlers to other hunters who might not be as intelligent as you might hope. Consequently, a rattling system makes a particularly good gift for deer hunters.
- Knight & Hale Rack Mag Rattling Deer Call — system works, ultra-packable
- Black Rack Deer Rattling Antlers — includes an instructional video
14. Base Layers
Base layers, a.k.a. long underwear, give you an opportunity to surprise and delight your cold-weather hunter. The absolute best is merino wool, which usually feels pretty good against your skin. This all-natural fiber has the magical ability to keep you warm but also guard against overheating. It works when wet (unlike cotton) and it has natural funk-fighting anti-microbial qualities. A lower-priced option is a synthetic polyester type of blend. Some have anti-microbial fibers woven in and are good buys for the money. But wool is the best. Works great for winter sports, too.
- Men’s Base Layers at Cabela’s — lots of options, lots of sizes
- Men’s Base Layers at Sierra Trading Post — discounts on previous season overstock (get Icebreaker or Smartwool if you can)
15. Hunting Knives
There are many schools of thought and personal preferences when it comes to hunting knives, but a few options rise to the top. A razor knife system is great for hunters whose knife sharpening skills under pressure in the field aren’t so good, but a high-quality all-around knife is always appreciated, too. If your hunter already has a favorite all-around knife, a boning knife may also be on his (or her!) list. A boning knife is longer, thinner, and flexible, which makes it great for hunters who like to get far out into the field and haul out their meat in backpacks. Back at home, a boning knife is essential for big game processing. These are all worthy hunting gift options:
- Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite — includes super-sharp blades, easy to swap out
- Benchmade Knife Grizzly Creek — all-around awesomeness that blends tradition with innovation
- Outdoor Edge Butcher-Lite 8-Piece Kit — great set of knives for throwing in the hunting pack
Need More Hunting Gifts?
It turns out that we just couldn’t stop at 15 hunting gifts, so we totally reworked our primary hunting gift guide for 2017:
Types of Hunting Gift Ideas:
Of course, there are a lot of different kinds of hunters and types of hunting. Shop Cabela’s at these links for even more specific hunting gift ideas: