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Holiday gift survival guide

Today brings the annual Oregon Outdoors Intervention that seeks to head off gift-giving faux pas by relying on the credo that bad gear is worse than no gear at all.

In a perfect world, trying to find the right stuff to buy for that outdoor gearhead in your life shouldn't be difficult or stressful. But it can be, because the stakes are too high to let the unenlightened take a stab during holiday gifting.

Get him a bad set of waders, and he's stuck for years with a wet crotch. Get her the wrong base layer, and she's strapped with a sweat-collection system that reminds her of you for all the wrong reasons.

Here's a list of holiday gifts available locally that might provide legitimate smiles when he or she opens them.

Bug-A-Salt 2.0

Come summer, instead of asking him to hang the bug zapper on the back patio, turn him into that zapper.

The Bug-A-Salt rifle is a plastic pump gun designed to shoot small salt loads at — get this — the wily house fly.

This little gizmo is designed to generate justifiable insecticide at up to 10 feet without scratching the cheeseburger plate.

"It's the number-one fun, cool deal — you shoot flies," says Mike McMullen of The Black Bird Shopping Center, which sold only 200 of the guns on Black Friday because that's all they had in stock at the time.

"For the guy who has everything, this is the gift," McMullen says.

It's a Nerf-like gun with a salt reservoir on top that holds about two tablespoons, which is enough for 80 individual shots.

"They suggest you use kosher salt," McMullen says. "It's a little sharper."

It's the urban equivalent of the official Red Ryder, carbine-action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time. Though safe, if pointed improperly, you'll over-salt your eye out.

The regular model costs $39.99 at Black Bird, $44.99 in camouflage, so none of the about 4,000 lenses in the fly's two compound eyes won't see you coming.

Now, onto something a little less spicy.

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle

Water-filtration systems have turned into a game-changer for backwoods visitors who no longer have to carry gallons and gallons of water to ensure they don't end up on the unintentional giardia weight-loss program.

This 22-ounce bottle means hikers and hunters in relatively wet country don't have to carry extra water but still stay hydrated, and its filter does not require batteries or pumping to work; just dip it in, reattach the top and take a swig.

This bottle's filter takes out bacteria, protozoa-like giardia and even pesticides. $45.

Inflatable PFD

Adults are required to carry personal-flotation devices while boating in Oregon, and the biggest complaint about wearing them is their bulkiness and impingement of free rowing motion.

CO2-inflated suspenders have helped quell that complaint, but even those are uncomfortable compared to the Zephyr inflatable PFD, which is a belt that never leaves your waist.

If you get into trouble, spin the belt around, pull the trigger, and it inflates while providing a strap to put around your head. Its 15.5-pounds of flotation meets U.S. Coast Guard requirements. It costs $100 at the Northwest Outdoor Store and other sporting goods outlets.

Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Ultralight

Sleeping on the ground sure is easier without dirt in your ears. Getting the best sleep possible in the backwoods comes down to comfort, and nothing says comfort while camping than a pillow.

The Aeros Pillow weighs only 2.5 ounces and breaks down to the size of a person's fist. The company's deluxe pillow is almost twice the size and hotel-quality, but it's still easy to pack. It costs about $40 at REI in Medford.

Jelt Belt

This new-fangled belt was designed by a Bozeman, Montana, woman out of recycled water bottles, and it's built by women inmates in Montana. The inside of it has a gel component that grips the pants so it can be worn without belt straps on such things as ski pants and waders.

Also, the belt doesn't contain any metal, so you can mess with the TSA workers at airports. The cost is $22-$28. Though available online, the closest retail outlets for now are in Portland.

Insect-repellent camo hat

A company called Insect Shield makes a camouflage baseball cap that includes built-in insect repellent that fights off mosquitoes, ticks, flies and even chiggers.

The hats are registered with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and the company touts its help in avoiding exposure to Lyme disease and other dangerous ailments.

At $24.95, it might seem a tad steep. But remember, you can sell it for $200 any July afternoon at Diamond Lake's south boat ramp. Find them at the Northwest Outdoor Store.

— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.





Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Ultralight
Mike McMullen, with The Black Bird Shopping Center, tests out a Bug-A-Salt rifle Tuesday. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]