By David DraperRepeat after me: “I resolve to take one major bird hunting trip this year. I will, at the very least, go out of state to hunt ducks, geese, pheasants, grouse or some other feathered game. If I can swing it, I may even take that overseas adventure I’ve been dreaming of.”
There. Now that you have that New Year’s Resolution in place, it’s time to start planning—and part of that means shopping for quality adventure gear. Here are some items of clothing and equipment that will put you well on your way to making those wingshooting dreams come true.
Filson Weatherproof Leather Luggage
For a classic look while traveling during inclement weather, Filson is offering a high-grade line of luggage made from water- and salt-resistant material. The leather comes from Pennsylvania tanner Wickett & Craig—the tannery from which Filson has long sourced its bridle leather. This boot-grade material is wear resistant and will shed rain, snow and other moisture, keeping the bag’s contents shielded from the elements. Brass hardware is equally tough. Both the duffel and carry-on are sized to fit in most airline overhead compartments, yet they offer a surprising amount of room inside. The carry-on has the added benefit of a full lining of Filson’s tough Tin Cloth along with a removable Tin Cloth divider. Color: Sierra Brown.
Prices: Duffle, $995; Rolling Carry-On, $1,295.
Dubarry Glenview Coat
In 1937 a small company in west Ireland started making fine leather footwear. Today, 80 years later, Dubarry’s boots are known as some of the best for sportsmen. In recent years Dubarry has branched into country clothing, and this waxed-cotton jacket is emblematic of the company’s classic style and high-quality craftsmanship. Accenting the vintage-finished cotton body are a signature leather yoke and elbow patches. Primaloft insulation adds a measure of protection from cool weather. And because it was born in rugged Ireland, the entire jacket is treated for resistance to rain or snow. Price: $699.
Dubarry of Ireland, 866-658-3569
Mud River Ames Folding Gun Sleeve
When shopping for soft gun cases, there is usually a tradeoff between protection and bulkiness. The thicker the padding, the harder the case is to store. This innovative design helps alleviate the problem of where to put the case when not in use. The internal foam padding is divided into a dozen segments, allowing the case to be folded up easily and stuffed out of the way. I particularly appreciate this case when hunting in waterfowl blinds, as it can be placed behind a seat or in a corner. Thick enough to offer mid-level protection on the way to and from the field, the case is made from a rugged nylon shell that also keeps water at bay. Nylon handles and a quick-release latch on the flap round out the useful features. Colors: brown or brown/orange. Price: $36.
Mud River, 800-550-2698
Kühl Destroyr Pants
Don’t dismiss these pants because of the cheeky name complete with missing vowel; Kühl makes some serious clothing, including several styles perfect for traveling. These pants are made from a nylon/spandex softshell material with a four-way stretch. This makes them thoroughly comfortable, with the added benefit of a water-resistant DWR (durable water repellent) finish. I have worn them (and other Kühl styles) on planes and in the field and have been impressed by both the fit and durability. Built for active people, Destroyrs offer full fit in the waist and thighs, articulated knees and a gusseted crotch. The French fly with internal tab and button takes some getting used to but aids in the fit. All the pockets are zippered, and I really like the placement of the cell-phone pocket on the side of the right thigh. Color: Raven. Price: $139.
Patagonia Stormfront Pack
You never realize that you need a fully waterproof pack until you actually need one. From busting through snow-covered conifers to waiting on gravel runways, sportsmen often find themselves in wet conditions. This pack will keep gear dry with its 100%-waterproof zipper on the waterproof main compartment, which is constructed of thermoplastic polyurethane-coated nylon that’s been treated with a DWR finish to keep rain and snow from accumulating on the surface. The roomy 30-liter bag is plenty big, and there are small mesh pockets for valuables. The smaller exterior stash pocket doesn’t get the waterproof zipper but is still water resistant. (Anglers also will appreciate the exterior rod-tube holders.) Padded straps are comfortable on the shoulders, but I found the simple nylon-webbing waistbelt lacking. Colors: black, orange or gray. Price: $299.
OnX Maps Hunt App
Hand-held GPS units revolutionized the way hunters navigate their terrain, and now OnX—which built its brand on hunter-specific map chips for GPS devices—brings that to the next level with its app for smartphones. A membership-based service, OnX Hunt allows users to access detailed maps and satellite imagery on a state-by-state basis. Once the app is downloaded and a state is selected, users can overlay several layers of information showing everything from public-land boundaries to private landowners by name. Coupled with the location services of a phone or tablet, the Hunt app really changes the game when it comes to finding hunting access. It does require phone or Wi-Fi service to download the maps, but once saved they can be accessed even when in the cellular dead zones where bird hunters often find themselves. Price: $30/year per state; $99/year for all states.
OnX Maps, 406-540-1602
Platypus Meta Bottle + Microfilter
Upland hunters may not need a bulky water-filtration system, but having some type of water filter can come in surprisingly handy. I often have found myself out of water miles from the truck. As the name suggests, the Meta Bottle + Microfilter acts as a standard water bottle, with the added benefit of a microfilter. Properly used, the filter meets government standards for removing 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa, including giardia, cryptosporidium and E. coli. The filter screw-mounts into the inside of the cap and can be removed and flushed easily. You can even use the bottle, which is made from squeezable, indestructible polypro/thermoplastic, without the filter. The Meta Bottle is light (the 1-liter version weighs 8.5 oz) and can be compacted to half its size (with filter removed) for easy transport. Available in .75- and 1-liter sizes. Colors: purple, blue, green or gray. Prices: $49.95; spare bottles $20 and $22.