What do you want for Christmas? With less than three weeks to go until the man in the red suit squeezes down your natural gas-powered chimney, you may want to pass along a few last-minute gift ideas the next time you see one of Santa's helpers. Doing so will make the jolly old elf's job of deciding what else to put under your tree a little easier.
If money were no object, compiling such a list would be fairly simple. Mine would read like the index at the back of a thick catalog of outdoor gear. But since money is an object for most of us, maybe we should narrow things down a bit.
During the past year I have had the opportunity to get a firsthand look at some items that are at least worth considering. Each can be had for about $60.
The FRX3 by eton, a hand turbine-powered radio that includes seven weather band frequencies as well as an AM and FM dial, and a weather alert. In addition to its radio functions, the FRX3 includes a lengthy list of accessories: LED flashlight with white and red lights, alarm clock, LCD backlit display, auxiliary input, headphone jack and a USB smartphone charger.
All this comes in a compact package that weighs about 1½ pounds and would easily fit in your glove compartment or day pack.
I quickly learned the headphone jack is for those times when your youngest child insists on playing music that gives you a headache.
Don't let the thought of turning a hand crank to charge the FRX3 turn you off, either. This unit also has a DC input (mini USB), a slot for three AAA batteries and a solar panel. While turning a hand turbine is never fun, a 90-second charging session will give you about five to seven minutes of listening time depending on the volume you need. Obviously, the more energy you have the more listening time you'll get.
The solar panel works surprisingly well, even on overcast days. Though the cellphone charger didn't work as flawlessly as I had hoped, overall I was impressed with this unit. The FRX3 is endorsed by the American Red Cross.
In recent years, headlamps have found a strong niche in the outdoor lighting market, but sometimes their performance doesn't fit the price tag. The H7 by Led Lenser, however, is an exception. This headlamp can be adjusted from a wide beam for up-close activities such as reading in bed to a tight beam that reaches out to distance so you can find your way on dark nights. Combine that feature with a dimming function that adjusts the available light from three to 155 lumens at full power and you have a lamp to fit nearly all circumstances.
If you don't have them, and whether you hunt or simply enjoy looking at wildlife through binoculars, you may want to add a set of shooting sticks to your list. For the shooter, shooting sticks will add stability when you can't find a dead rest or when shooting from the prone position is not an option.
During my last hunt, I learned the benefit of using them to support my binoculars during long periods of glassing for game.
I could search for longer periods of time and focus at longer distances all while experiencing less eye and muscle fatigue.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His "In the Outdoors" column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.