There was a time when anglers and shots viewed time in the field as a way of getting back to nature. But in this modern, connected world this has certainly changed, and many now want to surround themselves with the latest gadgetry.
Thanks to the prevalence of cooking equipment, entertainment equipment and even portable power away from home these days, fishing and shooting have certainly gone hi-tech, and these products can add up to significant extra sales for the smart retailer.
Probably the major change in everyone’s behaviour over the last few years has been the almost ubiquitous use of smartphones.
For shooters, brands like Hawke (via Deben), Zeiss and others have developed special ballistic reticle calculators, which can be downloaded to iPhones and Android devices.
There are also iPhone adaptors for scopes (Swarovski and Meopta are among the developers) so that you can capture images direct to your phone.
For many long-stay anglers you can also add a tablet computer to the list of modern essentials, mainly for entertainment or sorting through e-mails, perhaps updating their social-media channels or even using them for filming for subsequent uploading.
All of this expensive and delicate equipment requires protection from the elements.
Of the large number of companies producing waterproof protection, Aquapac is one of the best known, producing a wide selection of waterproof bags for phones, tablets, cameras and radios.
OtterBox is among the companies offering innovative devices that offer waterproof and shockproof solutions out in the field.
Sabre Tackle’s innovative iPad holder has become one of the surprise hits of the year. Designed to be clamped to a chair or bedchair and offer hands-free viewing of an iPad or iPad Mini, this flexible arm can be moved in and out of position with ease.
Power to the people
With the rise in consumer electronics on the bank and in the field has come a need for more power, especially for battery-hungry 3G and 4G devices.
OtterBox’s Defender Series with iON Intelligence even promises to double your phone’s battery life, thanks to a built-in additional battery.
Powertraveller produces a wide range of battery solutions for a range of devices, with everything from emergency power to multi-charges of your favourite devices.
For the long-stay angler who can easily drain their phone in a day, power packs have become essential. Thanks to the popularity of battery packs, solar chargers have perhaps lost a little of their initial popularity with short-session anglers.
With many anglers travelling for longer sessions to Europe where, on remote venues, power can be sketchy, both flexible and high-performance solid solar panels are still useful bits of kit, especially for charging bait boats.
Fieldsports supplier Deben offers a wide range of the latest lithium-technology batteries for various applications.
Being approximately a quarter of the weight of traditional lead batteries, lithium-polymer technology is ideal for outdoor use where a small pack size and low weight are essential.
These are becoming more and more popular for those using rotary pigeon decoys or flappers and the like, too.
The company’s Tracer Porta Power units are ideal for both angling and shooting applications, providing maximum power in a small pack size – ideal for powering energy-hungry devices. They even include a built-in power meter and come with a highly efficient charger so that you don’t run out of juice at that crucial moment.
Cooking it up
On-the-bank cooking is essential for any long-stay angler and there is a wealth of products available from both angling and outdoor suppliers to cover your needs at every possible price.
Trakker has earned a strong reputation for its cooking equipment and for 2014 it has strengthened its offerings once again.
The Armolife PH-3 stove has been added to the established range of stoves. Featuring a stainless-steel laser-cut construction for strength and light weight, this stove has a wide, low-profile stance, making it ideal for uneven banks.
The double preheat tubes warm the gas before it is burnt, increasing low-temperature performance. Designed to work with a wide range of gas cartridges, the PH-3 is sure to prove popular.
The Armolife kettle and cookware have proven very popular sellers and for 2014 Trakker has added collapsible bowls and plates to the cooking-gear range, giving it a very comprehensive range of products for this sector.
The BioLite cooking stove and kettle pot is a clever piece of engineering. The CampStove’s neat technology eschews gas canisters in favour of twigs and sticks, which generate heat and electricity so that you can feed yourself and power your smartphone!
This makes it perfect for those stalking adventures across Scottish moors or up mountains in Europe. It is available to the outdoor trade via Whitby & Co.
Gelert is a very useful supplier offering an extremely wide range of cooking and camping equipment, from kettles and cook sets to barbeques, stoves and ancillaries that complement supplies from other companies well.
While anglers rarely need really high-performance stoves designed for operating at extremely low temperatures or high altitudes – although some hunters may well do – anglers tend to use their stoves much more heavily than many other outdoor users.
A perennial favourite offering exceptional build quality and compact design is the Primus Easy Fuel II.
This ‘alpine-style’ stove folds up very small for transportation but, thanks to its strong stainless-steel construction, provides excellent durability.
Running as standard on gas, requiring virtually no maintenance, the Primus ETA Power stove can also be converted to run on liquid fuels if preferred. Certainly, unleaded petrol can work out considerably cheaper as a stove fuel for heavy users.
The other advantage of liquid fuels – low-temperature performance – has now been countered with butane-propane gas mixtures, which continue to offer good performance even at sub-zero temperatures.
If petrol really is your thing then the Primus Omnifuel is an excellent choice. Primus also offers an excellent range of cutlery and cookware, from the most utilitarian to tricked-out titanium.
It is no good having the best cooking gear in the world if you cannot keep your food fresh.
Coleman offers a wide range of cooler boxes, the rugged designs of which have proven very popular with anglers and hunters over the years. For the ultimate in performance, the Iceytek range is said to keep its contents cool for up to seven days, which is ideal for those on longer trips or for storing your quarry on the way home.
Fire and water
For those looking to minimise the amount of weight they are carrying, one of the easiest savings is to ditch heavy water bottles and invest in a water purifier.
This may perhaps be a little extreme for most of us, but on multi-day trips a purifier can save several kilos of weight and provide fresh water from most sources.
Katadyn is a well-known brand in mobile water purification and boasts a wide range of products suitable for anyone travelling well off the beaten track.
Whitby & Co offers the SteriPen range in the UK – some of the best-selling UV water purifiers. Its Classic, with a lifespan of 8,000 litres, can cover you for up to seven years!
Thatchreed, meanwhile, has its Web-Tex Surviva-Pure survival straw water filter and purification system.
Also under the gadget heading are fire starters of various types – real lifesavers if you are caught out longer than expected.
Magfire, Web-Tex, Light My Fire and Gerber (under its Bear Grylls brand) are among the suppliers.
Then there are firms like Cardiff-based BCB International providing a wide range of items, from water purifiers to survival kits and even special-forces and military gear.
Today’s stalker, pigeon shooter, hunter or long-stay angler is likely to carry more kit designed for their comfort and entertainment than they do fishing gear!
There is no reason to be uncomfortable out in the field, because most of life’s modern ‘essentials’ can also be used while out and about.
Outdoor gadgets have become an excellent additional income stream with almost endless possibilities.