Sporting Life

The Thrifty Outdoor Adventurer

By Dennis Doyle

Coco Chanel, a legendary beauty and fashion icon, and champion of femininity, once stated, “The best things in life indeed are free but the second best things are always very, very expensive.” 

Once again the truth rings out, especially for sportspeople, which is why in the pause between Christmas and New Year we should be considering that type of specialty sporting gear we longed for this past year but couldn’t justify the investment.

Yeti and its recent competitors’ insulated coolers and sports-designed items have always topped that list but if they are ever to go on sale or remaindered, it’s now, post-Christmas. You may have some gift cards, returns, or some gifted cash and if you look carefully, items made by Yeti and its clones are at their best prices of the year. Ridiculously over-engineered and well made of the top materials possible, the coolers and various thermoses are just irresistible items. Keep an eye out but don’t wait. The handiest sale items go quick.

It’s hard to find good shooting gloves because firearm-related clothing is just not fashionable these days. They can also be priced dearly and you don’t really want to subject a good pair to the rigors of the field. What only a few know is that the very best shooting gloves aren’t marketed for gunning, they’re targeted for golfing. Developed around the same requirements, golf gloves excel at hunting and shooting activities and are very affordable this time of year. I look for the summertime rain models for fair weather, and wintertime thermal golf gloves for cold weather. They’re sensitive, protective, grip well and the latter can also be great for early spring and late fall fishing.

Marine stores are ideal places to shop for boat-related items but they only occasionally mark down top-tier specialty items. Auto parts stores, however, all commonly do all this, especially post-Christmas since they usually regard boat items as an inventory irritant. Take Marine Sea Foam, a top-of-the-line gas additive/motor cleaner, and lubricant. It can be an expensive item to acquire come summertime. The same is true for Marine Grade Corrosion-X and full synthetic marine lubes. Look for them now—they may be a bargain and you can lay in a good supply for next season.

This is also a great time to look for hard weather gear. There’s always plenty of storm-related items available during the boating season but they’re generally clammy, plain, and either expensive or shabbily put together. The best made, most rugged, comfortable, and well-designed bad weather apparel is intended for trekking explorers, mountain climbers, and helicopter skiers. The companies that cater to them are not known for discounts but this year the after-holiday inventory is an expense they may prefer to live without. Shop their specials and closeouts now.

Base layers once referred to as underwear, are another item that can be way over budget. That’s because, in instances of frigid, intense, physical activity, it’s not the cold that’s the real enemy—it’s perspiration. High activity base layers are complex and uniquely intended to migrate sweat away from the body and hold it away until it dissipates while still retaining body heat. 

Being cold can be uncomfortable, being wet and cold can be fatal. Rough country hunting, hiking, and photography are grueling, and top-tier base layers ideal for this high-energy fun are just the item for remaining warm and dry. It’s also usually well discounted after Christmas. 

If your extreme weather activity, though, is more sedentary and confined to remaining still in tree stands, pit blinds, open water setups, or camera hides, all you need is simply a heavyweight (now termed “expedition weight”) fleece base. It’s usually far more sensibly priced and has frequent closeouts. Shop accordingly.