Ad Spot

Here's to the indispensable outdoor products

By By Otha Barham / outdoors editor
Oct. 3, 2003
Today's gear for the outdoor enthusiast is so good it almost makes going afield too easy. If Jim Bridger had a hank of modern day nylon rope he could have tied up all those beaver furs with ease. Old Dan Boone would have been much more comfortable hunting the North Carolina hills in a Gore-Tex Jacket than he was in that fringed leather shirt he wore. One of today's double taper weight forward fly lines would have made Izaak Walton even more impressed with fishing than he was when he praised the "calm, quiet, innocent recreation (called) angling."
Every day seems to bring a new product from innovative producers of things that make our adventures easier or happier. I salute those creations that have made the biggest impact on outdoor activities.
When I was just a sprout, we camped in pup tents, often what we proudly called "Army Surplus" tents, even though the U.S. Marines, Seabees and others slept beneath these shelters. One day I heard the term "mountain tent." As a kid, I never was able to afford one of these tents that had a built-in floor. When I was grown and bought one, it was a day to remember. These tents with floors completely sealed out insects and snakes, and, in theory, water. They were one of the greatest products to come along. They abide still and have led to a thriving tent industry.
Universal Light
There is hardly a serious camper who does not own a Coleman lantern. The gas operated lantern has lighted campsites around the world. Mine heats my tent in high country while it provides light. The green, double mantle one I have has never had its generator replaced in its 30 years of hard use. It spits a little now and then, but keeps on lighting up my camps.
I had an earlier model Coleman to which I was closely attached. It was one of the old single mantle red ones. There was never a better lantern made. Someone happened upon a deer camp on the lower Trinity River in Texas where I had left it and stole the fine lantern. Wherever it is today, I'll bet it is purring and lighting up the dark.
An invention that revolutionized deer hunting, especially in the South, is the climbing deer stand. Deer hunters began to learn the advantages of being well above their quarry about the middle of last century. They built miniature tree houses from which they waited for deer at crossings. Some nailed a board or two across tree limbs. Others just climbed trees and sat on a limb. The first deer my father killed with his only deer rifle, a Winchester 94, was from his perch on a pine limb.
High Climbers
Then came climbing tree stands. The hunter could carry two pieces of a pre-assembled seat into the woods on his or her back, fit it around a tree, climb to a desired height and sit in the comfort of a lounge chair while waiting for a buck to show. They sold like hotcakes and still do. I would like to know the percentage of deer harvest that comes from hunters using climbing stands. The numbers are high.
There are a few other revolutionary products that join the floored tent, Coleman lantern and climbing tree stand as items that changed the outdoor scene. One is Gore-Tex, the lightweight membrane that excludes water but allows air to move through its pores. Hereabouts, the ATV that we call a "four-wheeler" has found its way into the realm of the necessary for most of us who spend time in the woods.
I for one am grateful for these fine creations. These are the products that if you leave one of them at home, you will not fail to notice it when you unpack at camp.