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.
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.)
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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: