2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Great gift ideas for your favorite boater.

October 13, 2012

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Boaters rank among the hardest to buy gifts for. Here’s some cool stuff we think they’d like ranging in price from free to $2,000. But we didn’t rank by price; we ranked by how unusual we think the boater on your list would find the gifts. Scroll through our gallery to find the perfect gift for your favorite boater. For even more great boating gifts check out Boating‘s other gift guides: 2011 Holiday Gift Guide Father’s Day Gift Guide

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Gifts That Say:__ For Me?

Safety Is Paramount

Mustang MIT 100 Inflatable Life Vest
A new Mustang MIT 100 inflatable vest might be the gift of life. This Type III vest is lighter and more comfortable than any before it, and that means it’s more likely to be worn. Membrane Inflatable Technology has allowed Mustang to reduce the weight of the material and create a very flexible fit. It’s available in four accent colors and camo in automatic and manually triggered models. Prices start at $130.95

Pad Protection

LifeProof Nüüd iPad Case
You’d be hard-pressed to find a gadget junky not addicted to his iPad and bringing it on board — especially with all the boaty apps out there. The case is submersible to six feet for 30 minutes and can withstand drops from four feet. $29.99


Up Country Collars
Boaters with pets consider them members of the family. Now cruising canines can dress the part with these nautical-theme collars by Up Country. Collars are made from high-tensile-strength nylon webbing with sewn on polyester/nylon ribbons. Ribbons are stain- and fray-resistant and designed to last a lifetime. All collar and lead hardware is cast, not welded brass, and the quick-release buckles are Coast Guard approved for high-weight hold. Machine washable, air dry. Available in sizes XS-XXL. $21 For hundreds of cruising canine pictures, click here.

Big Gun

Shimano Tranx 500 Reel
This big silver fishing reel looks like it’s built for Andre the Giant, and that makes it a stunning Christmas gift for anglers of all sizes. The Tranx 500 can handle powerful, mean fish like musky, barracuda and bluefish. It sports a big, beefy handle and heavy-duty level-wind and star-drag systems. Holding 270 yards of 65-pound-test braided line, the Tranx is available in 4.6:1 and 6.6:1 retrieve-ratio models. $499.99 _**How To Pick The Right Fishing Reel**_

Underwater HD

SeaLife DC 1400 Camera
This camera comes with a shock-resistant watertight casing designed for divers to take it down to 200 feet, so it’s perfect to use on your boat or when you’re splashing around in the water. If you want a little digital in port, take it out of the casing and stick it in your pocket. Has six different underwater shooting modes and takes HD video. $499.95 For more underwater photography, click here. _**Here’s how to take great boating photos.**_

Let There Be Light

Fish Vector 12-Volt Underwater Light
No, it’s not for the Christmas tree. This new light from Fish Vector pumps out 2,500 watts — that’s 20,000 lumens of fish-attracting illumination. It plugs into an ordinary 12-volt lighter-style receptacle. Besides being superbright for night fishing, the Fish Vector emits a low-frequency sound that also helps attract fish. The entire system — which includes a sealed bulb with an impact-resistant lens and insulated cord — comes in its own protective carrying case. $450 _**Learn how to install underwater lights on your boat.**_

Tea Off

Tea-Zer Travel Tea Brewer
Tea is a drink rich in nautical tradition. Sailing ships first traveled to the Far East to bring back the rare leaves centuries ago. Later, boating luminaries adopted the beverage as the perfect pick-me-up (ever notice an admiral on a tea box?) The Tea-Zer makes it easy for you to brew aboard your boat and enjoy a fresh, piping-hot “cuppa” out on the water. The 10-ounce Tea-zer Travel Tea Brewer features a BPA-free double-wall plastic, marine-grade stainless-steel brewing basket. Available in three colors: clear, spring water or pomegranate. $15.99 each Want clean, crisp onboard water for brewing tea? Read this and you’ll learn that tip and a whole lot more.

Good Ayes

Maui Jim Seawall Sunglasses
Seawall sunglasses offer sleek contours and perfect views. The lightweight, high-grade nylon frame is rugged. These sunglasses have ultraclear super-thin (ST) glass lenses that are free of optical distortion. They come in four color options: midnight blue with neutral grey lenses for bright days; matte tortoise or matte black rubber with HCL bronze lenses for variable light conditions; and black with wood grain with Maui HT lenses for performance sports. Seawall is available with MauiPassport prescription lenses in powers from +3.00 to -5.50. This style has an eye size of 64 mm; bridge size of 19 mm; and temple length of 125 mm, as well as an 8-base curvature. $219 For a video showing more than you ever wanted to know about sea-going shades, click here.

Now You’re Cookin’

Magma ChefsMate Gas Grill
Here’s a marine propane barbecue that works as well on a picnic table as it does on the boat. The folding legs on Magma’s stainless-steel ChefsMate grill let you use it while camping, but the legs are not recommended for boats. Instead, use one of several Magma rod-holder or rail-mount systems (not included). The barbecue measures 9 by 18 inches, has a 162-square-inch grill and uses a standard 16-ounce propane canister. $299.98 _**Cooking Safely Aboard Your Boat**_

Holy Cow Bass!

StowMaster Tournament Bass Net
Landing nets are next to impossible to stow, so they always seem to be in the way, at least until now. The StowMaster tournament bass net ingeniously folds in half to fit most lockers, yet the 20-inch hoop quickly unfolds and locks in place when you need it to boat the big one. The gold-anodized aluminum handle also telescopes out to 80 inches. The small-mesh net is fish-friendly for catch and release. $99.99 _**Nets are for more than fish!**_

Fishy Business

Certainly More than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast: A Postmodern Experience
The title of this 650-plus-page book will give you an idea of the irreverent style of the author, Milton S. Love, who holds a doctorate in Marine Biology and works at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Not only a hilarious read, it’s a great reference book listing more than 1,500 species, and an enduring Hanukkah gift for any boating angler or diver who plies the waters off the West Coast of the United States and Baja California. $29.95 _**Find even more books about boating and fishing.**_

Third Hand!

Arm Pocket
Boaters enjoy bare feet, swim trunks and having their hands free to operate the controls, fish or handle lines. The Arm Pocket is a convenient pouch that straps around the arm and holds a smartphone, keys, lip balm and other essentials. In fact, we could see this secured to a seat pedestal or tower leg and used as a fixed catchall as well. The clear plastic panel ensures full functionality of a phone or MP3 player while it’s stowed in the Arm Pocket. Comes in three styles and a variety of colors. $34.99

Get Yer Pirate On

Redneck Yacht Club Skull and Crossbones Flag
Every boater needs to fly the Jolly Roger at some point in his life. This one dons a cowboy hat and the Redneck Yacht Club logo so you can add a little country flare to your buccaneer banner. $44.99 _**More boating flags!**_

Stuff the Stocking, Fill the Fish Box

Seaguar Fluoro Premier
A spool of fluorocarbon leader material may not seem like much of a gift, but this clear line ain’t cheap, retailing for 40 cents or more per yard. But when the fish are line shy, it’s worth it, making it a great stocking stuffer. This fluoro becomes nearly invisible underwater, and has great abrasion resistance and knot strength. It comes on spools that lay the line parallel to eliminate cross-contact marks. $9.99 for 25 yards of 20-pound _**Trim your fishing knots neatly and quickly.**_

All Soles A’counted

Sperry Kingfisher ASV
This shock-absorbing performance shoe is BoatingLAB-approved for comfort, safety and dry feet with some sporty deck-gripping. $140 For a full BoatingLAB comparison of boat shoes, click here.

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Gifts That Say: Thanks!

Hands-On Navigation

Lowrance HDS-7 Gen2Touch
This high-definition multifunction display now has a wider touchscreen and is incredibly easy and intuitive to use. The upgraded software also shows a 3-D perspective with the standard Insight USA charts. Use your fingers to work the icon-driven menu and display up to four panels at once on screen. $1,299 _**A Sled Full Of Marine Electronics**_

Sweetie Pie

Harbor Sweets Lighthouse Box
Chocolates are a perennial favorite, and this lighthouse box from Harbor Sweets says nautical with a capital “N.” It’s filled with the signature Sweet Sloops, sailboat-shaped almond butter crunch with a mainsail and jib of white chocolate floating in dark chocolate with pecan spindrift. We know it’s not powerboats, but we ate the candy that came in the box (we test everything, don’t you know) and can assure you that after one bite the boater on your list will be pleased. $26.50

Boat Fashion

Helly Hansen Odin SS
This dense-weave shirt is microfiber soft and AC-cool for great comfort and sun protection. Even better, it’s uniquely boaty, not fishy. $75 Check out BoatingLAB’s UPF-rated clothing test.

Human Horsepower

Hobie Revolution 11 Kayak
Kayaks are great to stow aboard large cruisers and bring anywhere to fish, explore or just exercise. The Revolution 11 comes with a removable foot pedal system. It’s easy to use and it keeps your hands free for fishing, shooting photography or holding binoculars to get a close-up of every great view on the water. $1,799 Read more about our first impressions of the Revolution 11 kayak in this blog post.

Totally Tubular

WOW XO Xtreme
Tow the whole family around on this heavy-duty oval-shape tube with a PVC bladder and a nylon cover. It will roll from side to side while you whip it around, making it hard for your crew to hold on but easy for them to have fun. $499

Pamper Your Puppies

SeaDek Helm Station Pad
Give the captain’s feet a gift with a SeaDeck helm station pad. This floor mat absorbs the shock of rough seas when standing at the helm. Embossed with a textured nonskid, each pad is made from closed-cell EVA foam. Backed with a peel-and-stick adhesive, they’re available in two standard sizes, 14-by-36-inch and 16-by-39-inch, in a wide range of two-tone choices. You can also order custom sizes and graphics. Prices start at $96.95

Steady Eddy

Fujinon Techno-Stabi Jr. Image Stabilizing Binoculars
These aren’t just another pair of binoculars, but rather 12×32 marine binocs with gyro and piezoelectric vibration sensors that compensate for the swaying and rocking of the boat. The impact-resistant polycarbonate case is waterproof and buoyant, weighing 37 ounces. These glasses need four AA batteries to keep images stabilized. While some stabilizing binocs sell for as much as $6,000, the compact Techno-Stabi Jr. cost a fraction of that. $750 _**How To Choose Marine Binoculars**_

An Electric Foursome

QuadLink 4-Channel Battery Charger Multiplier
Add this to your 6-volt or 12-volt battery charger and you can charge up to four batteries simultaneously. Great for the man who has more toys than he knows what to do with and can’t keep them all charged at once. Works by distributing 10-minute charge sequences for each battery. $99.95 _**Our Ultimate 12-Volt Guide**_

Talk to Me

Setcom Liberator TwinTalk Headsets
Sometimes the ambient boat noise makes it really hard for captain and crew to communicate. TwinTalk is two commercial-quality, water-resistant, noise-canceling headsets with boom mikes that fit comfortably over both ears. These headsets make for clear onboard communications in the noisiest of environments including engine rooms. $1,200


West Marine Roll-Up Three-Sport Dinghy
There aren’t many new boats you can buy for $900. At 8½ feet long and sporting a plywood transom rated for 6 hp, this PVC-coated inflatable is a perfect light-duty dingy for small motherships. The dual 16-inch tubes and five-foot beam can carry 816 pounds or three people When you’re done, the slatted floor lifts out and folds up, and the whole boat deflates and rolls up into a compact 80-pound bundle. $849 _**Find out how good a RIB rides.**_

Depth Charge

Brownie’s Third Lung Electric Portable Dive Hookah
Dive hookahs are a great way to explore underwater without having to take scuba lessons or hold your breath. This portable package hooks into your 12-volt system through a plug or via alligator clips, allowing one diver to get down to 20 feet for as long as the battery lasts. Even in its case it’s compact enough to stow on almost any boat. $1,581 _**More Underwater Fun**_

A Galley Manual

The Boat Galley Cookbook
Boaters love to entertain aboard, and there are few things better than a fresh meal prepared and eaten aboard. But even the best home chefs can become flummoxed when working in a galley instead of a kitchen. The Boat Galley Cookbook contains 800 cook-aboard recipes in its 464 pages. But just as important, it presents more galley tips than a politician has platitudes. Written by the inimitable experts Carolyn Shearlock ( and Jan Irons ( $35.99 Click here for some of Boating‘s best galley tips.

No Moor Chafing

Just Ducky Boat Snubber
Mooring balls are better on your boat’s wear and tear in general, but you could get chafing from the mooring line or put wear on your cleats or tow eye. Add a rubber boat snubber to prevent chafing and act as a shock absorber. $75.96 for four-pack

Bring On the Night

Brinkmann Q-Beam Black Max
This powerful and rugged spotlight is just the ticket for “flashing” channel markers, jigging fish and more. It delivers 400,000 candlepower of gloom-cutting light and boasts a glare-free design that makes it safer to use than some other lights. It draws 9 amps at 12 volts and comes with an 8-foot-long coil cord, and a variety of accessories are also available, if you need some stocking stuffers. $49.97 For a comparison of spotlights, click here.

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Gifts That Say: Wow!

Gas Be Gone

Lehr Propane-Powered 5 hp Outboard
What’s more appropriate for Christmas than a green outboard? Any boater who hates carrying and spilling gas while filling the tank on the outboard for the dinghy is going to love the Lehr 5 hp four-stroke. Now you just pop in a Coleman-style 16-ounce propane canister or use a barbecue-type tank. We tested this little engine and it runs great, starting on the first or second pull every time. Plus propane generates fewer emissions than gasoline. For a complete review of this product, go to $1,599.99


West Marine Suede Sunset Slippers
These plush suede slippers have a boat-shoe sole and are lined with comfortable and warm synthetic wool. Great for the cruising junky who wants to spend Christmas morning on deck. $34.99

We’re The Hekawi

NOAA QR-Enabled Charts
Prudent boaters always have paper charts aboard as backup. They don’t get out of range and they don’t require a good electrical connection or a charged battery. These QR-enabled charts are particularly cool and helpful, since by scanning the embedded QR tags, boaters can get all kinds of up-to-the-second information about tides, weather, hazards and more. Available exclusively through OceanGrafix in print-on-demand format, they are a helpful and timely gift for any boater. $30 For a review of these charts, click here.

The Masked Avenger

Masking Discs for Zinc Anodes
Savvy boaters know that for a sacrificial anode, or “zinc,” to be effective, the surface to which it is attached must be clean and free of paint. Moreover, the zinc itself cannot be painted. This presents a quandary in the spring, since bottom paint needs to be applied. With these custom-size self-adhesive discs, the DIY boater’s spring make-ready chores are simplified. Easy to use. Free For more boat maintenance tips, click here.

Blood Courier Box

Engel Cooler/Dry Box
Everyone around the tree will love these boxes that not only keep food and drinks cold but can also serve an extra dry locker for cameras, first-aid items or safety gear. The polymer shell, polystyrene insulation and airtight gasket protect contents to a depth of three feet. Available in 13-, 19- and 30-quart capacities, Engel Cooler/Dry Boxes come in either white or tan and include stainless-steel hardware and an integral shoulder strap. Prices start at $49.98 _**Cooler Accessories For The Boater**_

Boat Name Bling

Overton’s Custom Fender Covers
Boat fenders may be the most bland, boring accessories you have on board. But you can jazz them up with these custom covers that display your boat’s name in a variety of colors and styles. Plus, the guy in the next slip can’t steal them. From $19.99 _**Pick The Right Fender**_

Wasting Away Again

Margaritaville Skinny Maragita
Jimmy Buffett is the boater’s troubadour, and his song “Margaritaville” might be the boating community’s national anthem. What better way to embrace the Parrothead lifestyle than to enjoy a margarita his way? $14.99 _**Three Great Boating Blenders**_

Sea Me, Sea You

Go Pro HD Hero 2 Motorsports
BoatingLAB’s best POV cam shoots anywhere, anything, even underwater. Comes with viewfinder. **$299
** What camera is best for you? Read our test to find out.

Hot Meal in Minutes

WaveBox Portable 12-Volt Microwave
The WaveBox from Power Hunt connects with a special plug to a 12-volt battery and cooks with 660 watts, so you’d better have the engine running or your hot burrito may cost you a dead battery. With a reinforced ABS case and carrying handle, the inside measures 10 by 7 by 6 inches, so you can’t cook a Christmas goose, but maybe a yam. There’s also a dual-power model that runs on AC as well as DC power. Prices start at $299.95

Cut to the Chase

Kyocera Revolution Utility Knife
How about a knife that can’t rust, cuts through everything like butter and never needs sharpening? This ceramic utility knife from Kyocera may be the ultimate boating knife. Whether used for cutting bait and filleting fish, or as a galley knife, we think the boater in your life will find this blade a sharp idea. It’s also light as a feather, making it perfect for long shifts as a fishing mate cleaning the day’s catch or when serving as a galley slave. $24.95 For a review of the Kyocera ceramic knife, click here.

Let It Shine

Magnalight Remote-Control LED Golight
This remotely controlled LED spotlight can shine a 2,520-lumen beam out to 900 feet and can be turned via remote control in a 370-degree rotation. The unit can be mounted on the helm or the deck, and the weather-resistant wireless remote works from 20 feet away. $119.99 _**Another Remote Controlled Light**_

Fire It Up!

Grilling and boats go together like bottom painting and protective clothing. Many boaters opt for propane. But keeping the tanks operational and safe presents some challenges. Tank-Away is a simple seal that protects the QCC-1 coupling from physical damage and corrosion in a marine environment. Boaters know that corrosion makes for a bad seal at the coupling. Its inventors are propane-industry experts, and they even built in a feature that lets you hose down the tank after Tank-Away is installed. $24.95 For some thoughts about propane use aboard, check out _this blog post_.

Light Bright

Accon Marine 211-M Pop-Up LED
Potted electronics and a pop-up stainless-steel fixture mean you’ll never change another light bulb. It’s U.S. Coast Guard-approved. $156.49 _Click here_ for a test of leading navigation lights.

Tons of Funnel

Sea Flush
Sea Flush is a simple and ingenius aid for the DIY boater. It can assist when it comes time to winterize generators and engines. And it can also help unclog intakes for engines, gensets and air-conditioners without the need to hire a diver or haul the boat. It’s easy to use, stows in a compact space and requires the use of a common shop vacuum. Boaters with inboards will love it. Trust us. $59 For a complete review, including a video of Sea Flush in action, click here.

Your MacGyver Bracelet

Survival Strap Fish Tail Bracelet
What boater doesn’t need any emergency line now and then? The new Fish Tail design from Survival Straps offers a more stylish presentation for the 15 feet of military-grade paracord fashioned into a bracelet with a stainless-steel clasp. When you need it, unravel the strap and put it to work. The company will replace any strap used in an emergency. From $24.99 Looking for more boating gifts? See our other boating gift guides, here.

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