Anyone who enjoys the outdoors loves new gear, and the holidays truly are yet another “opening” day. While some years may bring that “must-have” item, this year, outdoor shoppers are going back to the future.

“The thing that jumps out this year is that there is a trend toward the traditional hardgoods, such as rods, reels, bow packages and firearms,” says Chris Henson, hunting and fishing product line manager for L.L. Bean in Freeport. “People are getting back to these sports, and it is encouraging to see the growth in the hardgoods side of the business.”

Henson says one of the appeals of fishing, hunting or other traditional outdoor pursuits is that after the initial purchase, there isn’t much cost incurred with each day.

Interestingly, sales this holiday season have been strong for products that are out of season.

“People are not solely focused on in-season items either, such as winter-type products. We are seeing great sales across the board for items such as firearms, bows, fly fishing and others,” said Henson.

So knowing that people are looking to get back to traditional sports, here are some items that can help round out a day on the water or in the woods.

Everyone can use a new pocketknife. My personal favorite is the Kershaw Leek. It is thin, yet solid and durable. It features one-handed opening and closing and has a pocket clip. The clip and single-blade operation are ideal for those times you just don’t have enough hands.

Along those same lines, the Leatherman Skeletool offers more than just a knife in a compact package that can fit securely on a clip in your pocket, instead of a sheath on your belt. Pliers and a changeable-bit screwdriver make carrying it a weekend necessity. Smith’s makes a variety of diamond sharpening steels and stones that will keep your knife and Skeletool nearly razor-sharp.

Everyone who spends time outdoors can use another compass. I prefer the traditional orienteering style with a rotating bezel. I keep one in my boat bag, one in my ice fishing pack, and one in my first-aid kit. On a boat or on the ice, thick fog or a snow squall can leave you disoriented, and a compass can get you to shore safely. The Bushnell backtracker, a bare-bones GPS that stores up to three waypoints and costs around $50, adds another layer of comfort.

Many of us bring our electronics outdoors. Otter, Pelican and SealLine bags and cases provide waterproof storage for our cameras, phones, GPSes and even iPads. You’ll also never have to worry about running out of batteries again with a solar USB charger such as Goal 0. These miniature solar panels are lightweight and can fit in your backpack or boating bag.

If you’re looking for big-ticket electronics, the best deals are most likely over. However, Henson says, those who enjoy game cameras may want to wait to upgrade their current one.

“Game cameras with black infrared sensors are becoming available. The sensors don’t emit any light, so no game or person would be tipped off that the camera is there,” he says, noting that these next-generation cameras are in the $150 range.

Here’s hoping that the holidays bring you health, happiness and nearly everything on your list.

Mark Latti is a Registered Maine Guide, and the landowner relations/recreational access coordinator for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

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