THE NOTED bass fisherman Glenn Peacock once said, "Nothing is any good anymore." Not true, negative nose.
There are a few things in the world still worth acquiring and owning, though in fairness they seem harder and harder to find.
Herewith a list of useful outdoors stuff, all tested in the field by the writer. This report by no means discredits other competing outdoors gear; it's simply an endorsement of some items that proved worthy of ownership over time.
MARINE WEATHER RADIOS -- Radio Shack makes 'em for under $20. They are permanently tuned to the National Weather Service's three marine weather channels, which broadcast 24 hours a day from local transmitters wherever you are. Thus you can tune in in the morning in Annapolis and find out where the wind is coming from and how strong it will be, and that night, after a plane ride, tune in again in Miami and get the forecast there.
HELLY HANSEN FOUL WEATHER GEAR -- These are the rubberized canvas oilskins commercial fishermen wear. They are loose, reasonably comfortable, durable and genuinely waterproof. They aren't pretty, but the trousers and jacket cost about half what the big- name yacht brands cost.
L.L. BEAN LEATHER DECK SHOES -- They last and last. Get the heavy-duty models for about $55 and you can just about count on their surviving two sets of soles and heels, which you can't say about most brands. Also, Bean has an excellent mail-order operation that generally sends the right stuff speedily.
REMINGTON 1100 SHOTGUNS -- One duck-hunting colleague took his semiautomatic 1100 in to be cleaned after three seasons and the gunsmith found so much mud, rust and other junk accumulated inside he couldn't believe the thing still fired. He sent away photos to the factory. The sturdy, straight-shooting 1100, which costs a little under $400, is the weapon of choice for waterfowling.
SOREL BOOTS -- These Canadian-made, felt-lined, leather-and-rubber boots are as warm as any reasonably priced footwear is going to get. Not so great to walk in, because the felt liners keep dragging your socks down, but if you have to sit for hours in a deer stand or stand around in the cold for any reason, these things work. And they are waterproof. The cost: $40 to $80, depending on the models.
SUNSCREENS -- The best invention since the hat.
IGLOO COOLERS -- They're all plastic, so they don't rust, and when, after years, the tops finally fall apart and come off, you can replace them with a piece of plywood. Many sizes, many prices.
NORSE PADDLES -- Fiberglass canoe and kayak paddles costing $60 to $85 that are as close to indestructible as a paddle is likely to get.
TILLEY HATS -- A white, canvas yachting cap with strings to go under the chin and behind the head, so it won't come off in a hurricane. Also, Tilley hats float, have holes for ventilation, last a long time and come with a four- page owner's manual. But they cost about $30, which is way too much. For a good, cheap hat, buy a package of Beech Nut chewing tobacco with the hat offer on the back and send away $2.95 to New Jersey for the red, foam- backed, cotton "Outdoor Action Cap." Even if you throw the tobacco away, it's a bargain.
BUSHNELL BINOCULARS -- I got a pair of 10x50 Bushnells with the instant focus bar for my birthday. They cost under $80, and the optics are excellent. These are the glasses of choice for birders, but binoculars make just about every outdoor experience better because you can see more, which is what you're there for.
GRUMMAN CANOES -- Beat 'em, bang 'em, wrap 'em around a rock, throw 'em on the roof, drop 'em off a bridge. Grummans are light, made to last and so plain nobody even steals them. New, they are priced as low as $399, about half the cost of a good plastic canoe. But a good way to buy Grummans is from a canoe livery service, because they are cheaper used, even though they apparently get better with age.
CANON CAMERAS -- The AE-1, at under $250, is simple enough almost anyone can use it, but stands up to unconscionable abuse.
DUOFOLD LONG UNDERWEAR -- Two layers, cotton on the inside for comfort, wool on the outside for warmth. It works. About $30 a set.
COLEMAN LANTERNS AND STOVES -- These finicky appliances take getting used to, but once you learn how to start them and keep them going, the lamps (about $35) provide brilliant light and the two-burner stoves (about $45) provide kitchen-quality cooking heat anywhere you go in the wild.