The theme of this year's Oregon Outdoors Christmas gift guide is water: Playing in it, drinking it, staying dry from it. And because we have plenty of it around — from the salty version in the Pacific to the running kind in the Rogue — the outdoorsy types on your gift list will be able to use at least one of the items described below.
Sometime water is a pain — especially if you're traveling with expensive electronic gear. The Seattle company that produces popular dry bags and sacks for boaters and rafters has personal electronics covered, too. Its E-Cases feature tough, transparent, urethane windows and trademarked SealLock closures, which withstand submersion in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. Yet the cases are soft enough to allow easy navigation of button-based electronics. Two corner lash points accommodate cords or other tie-downs to keep electronics secure. The small case fits iPhones and similar-sized devices, while the large could hold tablets and some laptops. E-Cases are stocked at Northwest Outdoor Store in Medford for $19.95 (small) and $29.95 (large). See www.seallinegear.com.
If your electronic device does takes a swim, the Bheestie Bag likely is your best hope for reviving it. The zipper-close bag contains highly absorbent but nontoxic beads that suck moisture from items sealed inside and left overnight. Used on a regular basis, Bheestie can extend the life and improve the performance of cell phones, cameras, watches, game players and other small electronics. When used for 24 to 72 hours, the bags have restored electronic items that went through washing machines or were left out in a gale, the company says. Not surprisingly, Bheestie is based in Portland. The bead-filled bags, which can be used for up to year if properly sealed, cost $20 at Northwest Outdoor Store in Medford. See www.bheestie.com.
When you're the one taking a dip in the outdoors, this small, light, fast-drying, microfiber towel should be a staple. Compared with other materials, trademarked Aquitex microfibers are twice as fine as silk and three times finer than cotton but have more surface area for absorption and evaporation, according to the San Francisco-based Britanne Corp., which also markets these towels to travelers. We've had ours for more than 10 years, and it's still a must-have for any aquatic activity, particularly when we need to pack light. The large towel (19 by 39 inches) weighs less than 7 ounces and is available for $20.50 at Northwest Outdoor Store in Medford. See www.aquis.com.
Anyone with a driftboat or raft knows that wear and the weather can take a toll on oars, particularly the oar blades, and that you might need to sell a kidney to afford replacing them. But rehabbing those old oars not only adds years to the sticks, it's also much cheaper than you think.
For $20, Sawyer Paddles and Oars of Talent can add what they call a "Pro Tip" to a frayed oar blade. It's a layer of Kevlar covered by a tubular webbing called Dynel that rehabs the blade while adding just an ounce to its weight.
Considering that good, new oars start at more than $200 each, that's a stocking stuffer worth the time it takes to actually find Sawyer's shop (299 Rogue River Parkway, around the corner from Talent City Hall).
Anyone who has sloshed around Oregon streams and rivers long enough realizes that all waders leak at some point, and with gravity being what it is, that water always puddles around your feet. Short of buying new waders every year, a good interim move is to wear neoprene socks to keep those toes warmer and drier.
Seal Skinz makes a great waterproof sock that has a thin inner lining that's perfect for those cold days standing in the chilly upper Rogue River during the coming winter steelhead season. They're available at Black Bird Shopping Center in Medford for $30, and they're worth every penny when you're standing in the Rogue in January and can still feel your toes.
Just how are you supposed to remember exactly where last year's hotspot was on Diamond Lake or Howard Prairie where you caught those big trout? Finding your "honey hole" by lining up that rock with this tree and that mountain peak are sooo 1990s.
Portable global-positioning system units can be carried on boats to pinpoint exactly where that sweet spot is on a lake. Ocean anglers love them as well, because you can program the locations of outcroppings or rock humps where all the rockfish hang out.
Garmin makes an eTrex 10 model for a little over $100 that's available at Black Bird Shopping Center. It does all the nifty GPS things you need, plus it is waterproof, so it will survive that ocean storm so you do, too.
Channel your inner Bill Dance with one of these nifty little portable waterproof video cameras that can capture remarkable footage of your outdoor adventures — and owning one of these nifty little cameras is quite do-able these days.
GoPro owns this market, and its Hero 1 is the perfect camera to chronicle your wet and wild adventures. The Black Bird Shopping Center has them for $200, and you can buy various mounts to put the camera on everything from skis and surfboards to kayaks and mountain bike helmets. The newer and better HD Hero 2 runs $300.
Mount it on a dowel and you can hold the camera under water to capture video of fish coming to your boat, then post the videos on Facebook and be the next smiling face of Oregon angling.
You are an Oregonian. Therefore, you crab. But you're not really a crabber if you have to rent rings every time you go to the coast.
If you have a wannabe crabber on your list, get them their own crab trap. The only decision you'll have to make is whether to buy pots or rings.
Pots are best if you want to throw your trap off a dock and then come back a few hours later to pull it up and measure your catch. Rings are best if you enjoy sitting on the dock and watching the boats, sea lions and people — or maybe flipping the pages of a book and sipping some coffee — and pulling your rings up every 20 minutes or so to check the action. Either way, Sportsman's Warehouse on Delta Waters Road has it covered. The store carries various options that run in the neighborhood of $32 to $55 for rings or collapsible traps.
Oregon State Parks day-use passes, good at state parks and state-operated boat ramps, are on sale through December for $25, which is $5 off. That's a great deal considering it costs $5 a day without the pass. The permit is required at 26 Oregon state parks, including TouVelle State Park. It's also good at Jackson County boat ramps along the upper Rogue River as part of a reciprocity agreement for river-users. The Oregon Coast Passport also is discounted by $5 in December. The passport is a multi-agency product, valid at Oregon State Parks, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service sites along the coast. The coastal passports are on sale for $30, also $5 off, in December. They're available at most local sporting goods and outdoors stores, as well as the customer-service counters at many larger retail chains. (Correction: Stores that don't sell passes but were included in a earlier version of this list have been removed from this version.)
Sometimes water in the backcountry will make you sick, which is where this tight little device comes in. SteriPEN's Adventurer Opti is a lightweight unit that uses ultraviolet light to purify water. You insert the device into any water bottle or container to ensure safe drinking water. It exceeds U.S. EPA guidelines, destroying more than 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses and protozoa when used as directed. Operation is easy: Just press a button and wait for the device to indicate it has completed the purification process. The optical sensor can also double as a flashlight. The Adventurer Opti weighs 3.6 ounces. It includes a UV lamp (good for up to 8,000 treatments), two nonrechargeable batteries and a neoprene case with belt loop. The price is $99.95 at Northwest Outdoor Store in Medford, which carries four other SteriPEN models, including the new Sidewinder, which includes a hand crank instead of batteries.