Gear Talk, The Lowdown

The story of a highly experienced Duluth Pack Wanderer

February 6, 2012
The Wanderer pack high up on a Minnesota trail

The Wanderer pack high up on a Minnesota trail

Please allow me to share letter below, it is one of the many we receive from our fans who like to write and tell us about their experiences with their Duluth Pack. We love to know how you are using your pack, and how it is holding up on trail. The letter appears unedited and in its entirety. Also, please note that I address some of the suggestions at the end of the letter.

I’ve owned the Wanderer since 2007, abusing it as my field pack for work and carrying it as my “man-bag” almost daily.  I’ve taken this bag with me nearly every day of the past five years, worn it for 16+ hours at a time with 20+ lbs in it, and have used it in all four seasons in northern Minnesota.  It’s been stepped on, slammed in doors, dragged through the mud and over rocks and between trees, submerged, frozen, dropped, thrown, and barfed on (I have young kids).

The cotton canvas is a great material.  It’s durable, quiet, comfortable to wear in the hot summer, dries quickly when wet, and is easy to wash.  The only wear on the pack is slight fraying of the shoulder straps, and a dime-sized hole on the outside of one of the outer water bottle pockets.  (Where the water bottles in the pack rub against trees).  In rain, the contents of the pack stay dry, to mostly dry.  The stitching, leather straps, leather cinch cord, rivets, and buckles have also held up perfectly.  The cotton has faded, but that’s to be expected.

It’s a good-sized daypack.  The pack will easily hold all my field gear for a day’s work (lunch, water bottles, camera, GPS, maps, flagging, tools, foldable shovel, field notebook, field guides, fleece vest, rain jacket, etc.).  Any clothing items that don’t fit in the main compartment can be rolled up, tucked under the main flap, and secured with the long straps.  Shoulder straps can be lengthened to accommodate larger winter jackets, or shortened to wear shirtless.  The outer bottle pockets add width to the pack and sometimes make it difficult to squeeze between trees (or between people at a grocery store), but it’s usually not an issue.


–This pack has an unpadded back, and bulky/pointy items (field notebooks, equipment, tools, etc.) should be packed deliberately between soft items (or on the outside of the cargo pocket) to maximize the user’s comfort for extended use.  Sometimes I find myself packing an extra article of clothing with which to pad equipment…not a big deal, but sometimes annoying at the end of a long day.  A flat “map” pocket built in the main cargo pocket (on the strap-side of the pack) could be used for holding padding.  (If a back pad was included that could double as a diaper-changing pad , it’d get super bonus points…)

–This pack is not particularly suited to carrying heavy weight for long periods of time.  For most users, this may not be an issue, but a waist belt and pack stays (to transfer pack weight from the shoulders to the hips/waist) might be a welcome modification for those that carry heavy loads for long periods of time.  A sternum strap might also be nice…

–This pack might benefit from some strategically placed leather patches on areas that are likely to receive heavy wear or repeated abrasion.  (Bottom of pack, bottom of water bottle pockets)

Overall, the Wanderer is a super daypack for most users/uses, with quality materials and workmanship and a very nice style.  Those looking for a pack to carry weightier or bulkier items may want to look to a more modern pack, or petition Duluth Pack for some upgrades.  :-)  This pack is worth the cost, and I love supporting local business.  Thanks, Duluth Pack! ~ D

D, thank you so much for taking the time to write and share your Wanderer story with us. Rest assured that we are listening and while there is no single pack that can address every need we are trying to make our bags the most versatile in the field.

First, let me point out that we have two daypacks that have a map pocket hidden under the flap. Both the Guide Pack and the Rambler have a zippered pocket under the main flap, which work great for small pocket guides and maps.

Second, while wear and tear is not covered under our lifetime warranty we will repair bags that have become worn.  Additionally, we will customize bags with leather patches or heavy weight canvas in what you see as potentially high wear areas. While a leather bottom will add weight and cost to a bag, it is a great idea to add durability and good looks to a pack.

Third, let me point you to the Bushcrafter pack, designed especially for Duluth Pack by Mike Lummio of the Bushcraft Northwest. This pack is slimmer in design and slides easily between trees and tight spaces on trail. The Bushcrafter also includes some of the features you were looking for: padded straps, waist belt, and sternum strap. It is designed for heavy loads over a period of days and is getting great reviews from those who have put it to the test.

Thanks again for taking the time to share with us. Anyone who has a story to tell or a question to ask, may send their emails to me at: [email protected]. If I can’t get the answer, I know how to find the answer.

Gear Talk, The Lowdown

Duluth Pack Introduces Mossy Oak® Camouflage Series

February 1, 2012
Mossy Oakª Introduction

Officially licensed by Mossy Oak®, Duluth Pack now offers their quality manufactured products in camouflage canvas.

For more than 20 years sportsmen have relied on the Mossy Oak® name for high quality camouflage apparel and accessories. Now outdoorsmen can get their favorite Duluth Pack backpacks, gun cases, hunting accessories, and canoe packs in that same high quality camouflage canvas.

Duluth Pack has taken the products most requested by sportsmen and begun producing a line of products with Mossy Oak’s® best-selling New Break-Up® pattern. This new line of camouflage will include, but not be limited to: pistol rugs, shotgun and rifle cases, all-day lumbar pack, hand-warmer, range bag, standard daypack, the rugged Bushcrafter pack, with the always-popular Rambler and Wanderer daypacks. All other Duluth Pack products will soon join this highly anticipated line, and can be made to order at any time.

Duluth Pack also offers their handcrafted products in 14 different colors of canvas, six colors and patterns of wool, in addition to traditional leather and American Bison leather. This new line in camouflage offers a unique and different option to sportsmen heading out into the field or the duck blind. President of Duluth Pack, Tom Sega states: “The New Break-Up® camouflage fabric from Mossy Oak® will round out an already excellent line of hunting gear.”

About Mossy Oak

Avid hunter and current CEO Toxey Haas founded the Mossy Oak Company in 1986.  Mr. Haas gathered up a bag of leaves, sticks, and dirt, went into the local fabric company, and dumped the contents onto the counter. His request; “can you print a fabric that looks like the stuff in this bag?” Mr. Haas realized good camouflage patterns must integrate realistic looking environmental elements as well as shadows and layers from the natural surroundings. Today, Mossy Oak has a large number of camouflage patterns and has grown to embody an outdoor lifestyle.


The Lowdown

Duluth Pack visits Stormy Kromer in Ironwood Michigan

January 27, 2012
Duluth Pack takes a road trip to visit Stormy Kromer in Ironwood

Duluth Pack takes a road trip to visit Stormy Kromer in Ironwood

Road trip!

Let’s take our Duluth Packs on the road to visit Stormy Kromer in Ironwood, Michigan.

Our little caravan rolled into the Stormy Kromer production facility Thursday morning and was greeted with open arms. Kirsten showed us a very warm welcome as we shook off the weariness from the road. She also introduced us to Bob, owner and president of Jacquart Fabric Products, who lucky enough for us would also serve as our tour guide for the day.

We started in chronological order as Bob told us about the beginnings of the company and all the different projects taken on over the years. We talked about boat canopies and canvas, reupholstering furniture, and the pet division, which serves the needs of a myriad of our furry friends.

At one point I noticed a fairly familiar and famous Olympic face on the wall. Seems a few years back a couple very high-level speed skating competitions were coming to northern Michigan and they needed safety pads built around the track. With the help of the physics department at the University and Jacquart Fabrics, those pads got built to the demanding specifications of the speed skating governing body.

The Legend of Stormy Kromer began in 1903 when Ida took a baseball hat from George and added earflaps to keep him warm in the cold winds of the Upper Peninsula. Our visit to the modern Stormy Kromer, in their big beautiful factory, would surely make George and Ida proud. Quality and tradition can be seen in every Kromer hat being sewn together.

This was a special visit for us. Duluth Pack and Stormy Kromer seem to be kindred spirits that share American Made, 100 plus, year-old company stories. So much history is contained in the Stormy Kromer brand, I am very glad we took the opportunity to share in that first hand.

Thanks to Kirsten, Gina, Jessica, and everybody at Stormy Kromer for making our visit so memorable. And of course a big thank you to our tour guide, Bob who took us “out of bounds” for more than one special, behind the scenes peeks.

If they give you any trouble about being out of bounds Bob, blame it on the troublemakers from Duluth Pack.

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Gear Talk, The Lowdown

A Bushcrafter Pack Under Every Tree

January 24, 2012
Michael and his Bushcrafter on Ellis Mountain

Michael and his Bushcrafter on Ellis Mountain

In a recent conversation, via email, I spoke with 16-year-old Michael from Redford, New York about his new Bushcrafter pack. Michael received his new pack for Christmas, and quickly took it out into the woods of Ellis Mountain in New York. Michael tells me they were scouting a spot to use as base camp during a soon to be taken winter camping trip.

The first thing his crew set out to accomplish was to clear some debris at the end of the trail. Michael shared with me:

“The axe and saw sleeves built into the pack were excellent, it made getting to the tools easy without having to unpack anything, untie anything or take off gloves.”

Michael’s group then headed up the mountain to scout their campsite for the future winter trip.

“The narrow design of the pack made it very easy to walk through the woods.”

Mike Lummio of Bushcraft Northwest designed the Bushcrafter for Duluth Pack. His mission was to create a pack loaded with technical features, which will carry everything you need, and nothing you don’t. With the highest functionality in mind Mike specifically used nylon compression straps on the side of the Bushcrafter.

The Bushcrafter Michael received for Christmas has leather compression straps on the side of the pack, which was a custom order placed by his father.

Michael packs up his Bushcrafter with custom compression straps

“I think the leather side straps allows you to adjust the pack size while keeping the classic look of your packs.”

Thanks so much to Michael for taking the time to share his Bushcrafter experience with me. Sounds like he had a very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Gear Talk, The Lowdown

Great Gear from Outdoor Retailer Trade Show

January 23, 2012
Teva Chair5

Twice a year, once in February and once in August, Salt Lake City becomes the center of the outdoor retailing world. OR, as it has come to be known, is the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show where everybody who is anybody in the outdoor business meets to talk gear and adventure. Here are three great products, which represent the best in outdoor gear.

Teva Chair 5• This boot from Teva proves their R&D gurus are thinking outside of the winter boot box. Lightweight and waterproof this packable boot is still extremely warm. Lined with 250 grams of 3M Thinsulate the Chair 5 is going to be the pair to draw to when cold weather hits and the snow is getting deep. Available August 2012 • Estimated retail price to be announced.


Petzl NAO Headlamp The light beam on the new NAO Headlamp is “intelligent,” meaning that it can sense what and where you are pointing it and adjust accordingly. If you are digging around in your canoe pack at 3:00 am the 355 lumen lamp will soften, save energy, and not give you a blast of light to your face. Likewise, point it at that far-off bear coming into your camp and Yogi will get the full treatment, lighting up like a Christmas tree.  Available July 2012 • Estimated retail: $175.

SmartWool PhD SmartLoft Divide • Here is a jacket, which is stuffed with fluffed-up Merino wool just like the feathers in your goose down jackets. This new design by SmartWool is proclaimed to be just as warm as down, even if it gets wet. The line will debut in the fall of this year with the Merino insulation and a weather-resistant shell. Available Fall 2012 • Estimated retail: $200.

And that is just a sample of all the cool gear coming to market in the next few months. Keep checking back here, and I will let you know of the great gear finds perfect for your outdoor adventure.


The Lowdown, Trip Planning

Outdoor Adventure Series: Whitewater Paddling with Sam Cook

January 18, 2012
Join Sam Cook as he share three whitewater rivers

Join Sam Cook as he shares three whitewater rivers

Join Duluth News Tribune outdoors writer Sam Cook as he shares photos and stories from his travels on three “close to home” whitewater paddling destinations — the Bloodvein, Steel and White rivers of Ontario and Manitoba.

Sam has been covering hunting, fishing, camping and all things outdoors for 31 years. He has paddled twice to Hudson Bay as well as numerous other adventures on the whitewater of Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, and Alaska.

Sam has also traveled by dog team on Canada’s Great Slave Lake and Baffin Island.

He is the author of six books and has won numerous journalism awards.

You can follow him on Twitter at: samcookoutdoors.

7:00 PM • Tuesday, January 24th • FREE • Duluth Pack Store • 365 Canal Park Drive

Techniques & Advice, The Lowdown

How to find walleyes in the wintertime

January 16, 2012
The walleye stamp from the Minnesota DNR

Winter is here! Well, the snow cover is lacking, but there is good ice on many lakes. Lurking under that ice is the elusive walleye, however you are going to have to know where to find them. Please remember that ice is never safe; so always check the local conditions before you head out.

Just like summertime walleyes the wintertime fish like structure. The difference you are going to find in the winter is that the structure which is holding fish will be deeper. Use your depth maps and your locator to find humps and lines of structure that may be 25 to 30 feet deep with good drops on either side. Get your holes drilled by the late afternoon, because when the sun starts heading for the horizon you want to have a line down.

Drilling multiple holes will help you cover several different depths along a line of structure or a sunken island.  Spend ten to fifteen minutes jigging in each hole and then move to the next one. Keep the presentation slow and easy letting your jig spend more time hanging than moving. And remember: “if you aren’t fishing on the bottom, you aren’t fishing.”

In the winter smaller jigs are better than larger for walleyes and I prefer the brighter colors tipped with a shiner or crappie minnow. At the present time, local reports are telling us that fish also being caught on fatheads. You may even find yourself in the situation where a naked jig will work with that slow presentation.

Again, before you head out on your favorite frozen lake, make sure the ice is plenty thick to hold you safely. The Brainerd Jaycees Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake has been postponed to February 112012 due to ice conditions. Safety should always be the first concern before venturing out on the ice. Take the necessary precautions.

Good luck with the walleyes, and be safe.