Motherlode for all outdoor gear

Cabela’s started out as a premier mail-order source for hunting gear. It is still known for that, but its coverage has expanded far beyond hunting, far beyond camping, to include anything remotely connected to the outdoors. Its pages overflow with boating tools, trailer hitches, smokers, meat processing equipment, kayaking stuff, binoculars, remote cameras, tent gadgets, tons of clothes, pet gear, RV supplies, and so on. The range of tools sold is staggering. It is a catalog of outdoor aspirations. In general the stuff they sell works as advertised, so one can use them as a pretty good guide to what’s useful.

Candid customer reviews of purchased items makes shopping at the Cabela’s website almost as good as Amazon’s. But you really should get your hands on their 500-page master paper catalog. No one is as keen on web shopping as I am, but the Cabela’s master catalog is prime evidence that sometimes a big fat paper book is better. You cannot grasp the totality of what Cabela’s has to offer on its website, nor can you zip through it in browse mode as you can while flipping through its 500 crammed pages. It would take days to do the same on the web, and you’d still miss stuff.


A big fat paper catalog can be a big environmental waste mailed out each season. Cabela’s has engineered an interesting experiment wherein they display scans of the catalog pages with embedded links to the online item. You get the browsability of the paper catalog and the convenience of web ordering. What you don’t get is speed. This method is currently too slow to be enjoyable, but it is a handy option. I still take the paper version.

-- KK 12/5/08



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