Last minute gift ideas by iconic brands, that should last a lifetime. Maybe longer.
I’ve been so busy trying to fill my deer tag, that I’ve forgotten that Christmas is right around the corner. If you’re in the same boat, don’t fret. With the miracles of the internet marketplace and overnight shipping, you can still get some last minute Christmas shopping done from the comfort of your treestand.
When it comes to giving gifts that are sure to be remembered and held onto for years to come, I look toward heritage brands. These are companies that have been around for a long time and created iconic products that are so perfectly suited to their purpose, they’ve rarely had to change over the years. That timeless style and function make for perfect gift ideas for any hunter.
Below are six time tested pieces pulled right from my gear bag that would make a hunter of any age excited for Christmas morning.
Husqvarna Forest Axe
Husqvarna is the granddaddy of heritage brands. Established in Sweden in 1620 under the name “Jönköping Rifle Factory” Husqvarna started off producing rifle components, eventually expanding into tools of all kinds, including motorcycles and chainsaws. As much as I love my “Husky” chainsaw, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better gift for the total outdoorsman than an old school, hickory-handled axe.
During my preseason habitat work, I put this axe to use in clearing shooting lanes, cutting out deadfall and chopping firewood for deer camp. The combination of Swedish steel and straight grained hickory just feels perfect, especially when followed by the sound of the blade biting deep into a tree. As Aldo Leopold wrote in his classic “A Sand County Almanac,”
“A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke of the axe he is writing his signature on the face of the land.'
Currently available at Amazon for $64.00
Long before the Yeti Tumbler, there was the Stanley Thermos. Our great grandfathers, grandfathers and fathers all likely owned one, and for good reason; they work. A staple of most any deer camp, I’ve had many all-day treestand sits through the Minnesota cold made more tolerable by packing a thermos full of hot chocolate, soup or chili up into the tree with me.
Currently available at Amazon for $26.00
When I was a kid, being given your first pocket knife was a big deal, usually coinciding with those early trips into the woods without a father or grandfather to keep you out of trouble. We saw pocket knives as a promise of adventure, a status symbol and a mark of maturity over the younger boys. Really though, it meant that our parents trusted us just enough to carry a small knife without mortally wounding ourselves through our own stupidity. We all came back with both eyes and (most of us) all 10 fingers, so I guess we did all right.
Once trusted with a small folder, you could move on to a real deal hunting knife, and in my family that hunting knife was going to be made by Buck. Grandpa carried the 110 Folding Hunter and it was the folding knife that all other folding knives would be measured against.
Though considered a classic now, when the 110 hit the woods in 1963 it was revolutionary in that it was the first folding knife with a locking blade. Compared to ultra-modern knives, the 110 can feel almost ridiculously heavy, but I would never think of going into the deer woods without one.
Currently available at Amazon for $64.00.
Red Wing Iron Ranger
Specialize in anything for 100 years and you know you are going to get it right. Red Wing Shoe Company is no different. Starting from a tiny corner store in Red Wing Minnesota, the company has its roots in crafting a tough but comfortable boot for Minnesota’s mining range, which was developed further for service in both world wars. That boot is still made today, the aptly named Iron Ranger.
I picked up the Iron Ranger in style 8111 this year and have become a huge fan. The triple stitched 6-inch boot features high quality Amber Harness leather and chrome hardware. Rugged enough for work in the woods, with a little polish they clean up nice enough for the office as well.
Currently available at Amazon for $284.00
Opinel #8 Knife
I imagine the Opinel folding knife is to Europe what the Buck is to America. The family run Opinel has been manufacturing knives since 1890 from its headquarters in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, Savoie, France, selling 15 million annually. I only heard of Opinel a year or so ago and suspect many Americans are totally unware of these simple and elegant little knives. Originally sold to farmers and working men, the knife has transcended its humble beginnings to be seen as a design masterpiece and was even featured in a London museum exhibit as one of the 100 most beautiful products in the world.
The beauty and masterful design of the knife really comes from the simplicity of its construction. Wood handled with a carbon or stainless steel blade, the knives feature a ridiculously simple locking mechanism in the form of a rotating collar that can keep the blade secure in both the open and closed position.
If the Buck 110 is my workhorse of a knife in the field, the Opinel #8 is my every-day carry blade. I use it for most any mundane task at home and in the office. Where it really shines is in food prep. It must be its French working class background, but something just feels “right” in using this knife to slice up tomatoes, cheese and sausage to be served with a thick bread and a glass of wine or beer.
The biggest surprise though is the price. These amazing knives can be purchased on Amazon for less than $20.00.
Frost River Pack
While every other product on this list comes from a company that has been around for at least 100 years, I’m going to break with tradition a bit and recommend a brand that is new to the scene; less than 10 years old I believe. While the company may be young, the materials and workmanship put into their bags are about as old as they come. Frost River canoe packs, ruck sacks and other travel goods are built using waxed canvas, leather, buckskin and brass, and are at home in the north woods today as their forefathers were in the heyday of logging, trapping and exploring the unforgiving Northern Wilderness.
I’ve been purchasing products produced by Frost River over the last 5 years or so, and own a wide variety of their waxed canvas bags ranging from the small Accessory Bag that houses my hunting “kill kit” to the huge Explorer Duffle and its 6,200 cubic inch storage capacity. My most well used and well-worn piece of Frost River gear is the Summit Expedition Pack, a classically designed rucksack that pulls double duty as both a daypack for hunting and piece of luggage for work travel. Mostly it just kicks around the back seat of my truck and holds anything I might need in my travels between home, the office and the tree stand.
Currently available at Amazon for $220.00