Tag Archives: camping

The Gopher welcomes everyone to the Minnesota State Fair

Duluth Pack at the Minnesota State Fair

It’s that time of year again; the Minnesota State Fair starts today, and runs through Labor Day. Almost two million of our closest friends will visit the fair during the 12 day run. Duluth Pack will be there in the Dairy Building with the “World’s Largest Duluth Pack” to be a part of the action and take it all in.

Food is the first thing I think of when somebody mentions the Minnesota State Fair. What else is there? My favorites are mini-donuts, cheese curds, and gator on a stick, but during my four-day visit to the fair I will not limit my menu. Thinking I am going to have to swing through the North Woods area on Cooper Street and check out the Campfire Grill. The name alone is right up our alley.

One stop at the fair you might want to think about is the National Park Service in the Education Building on Cosgrove Street. We are so lucky here in our state to have all this wonderful water and woods in which to go play. In Minnesota we have one National Park, two National Forests, two National Monuments, a Scenic River Way, a National Recreation Area, and a Wilderness Area. Can you name any of them for me?

No trip to the state fair is complete without a stop in the animal buildings at the southwest corner of the fairgrounds. Every animal from horses to cows to chickens to sheep and maybe even a llama or two can be found. And of course the granddaddy of them all the “Super-Boar” in the swine building must be seen.

The DNR building just south of the grandstand on Carnes Street has always been one of my favorites. It is fun to see all the animals native to our state and learn about what is going on in regards to our natural resources. But for me the fish pond out back is the real draw, all those Minnesota fish in one place makes an angler drool. However, a conservation officer has warned me that noodling for paddlefish will not be allowed.

Come see us in the Dairy Building, at the corner of Underwood and Judson, we will be there every day from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. We love to talk canoe packs, backpacks, and the BWCAW, but no subject is out of bounds. Our experts have a broad base of knowledge and really enjoy sharing stories and adventures with everyone.

 

Salt Lake City

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, 2011

Twice a year, in Salt Lake City, Utah, outdoor retailers get together and share what’s new and what’s hot for the coming year. And while not lucky enough to attend this mammoth event on the Wasatch Front two weeks ago, I do have some great gear to share with you. This list is by no means all-encompassing, just a few cool items that caught my eye.

In one of my previous posts I shared with you Bending Branches new paddle the Black Pearl, $229.00. At only 14 ounces you have got to pick this one up to believe it.

The Vasque Taku GTX, $165.00 is a hiking boot for men that thinks it is a running shoe. This all leather, over the ankle boot takes just a few minutes to break in, and will be ready to go on an all day hike. With a breathable Gore-Tex lining, stiff midsole, and sticky rubber sole these boots are ready for the mountains.

IceBreaker for ladies has their Siren line of base layer tops and underwear. As with all Icebreaker, the Siren line is made from super soft Merino wool that is non-itch and extremely breathable. All the pieces look and fit great and have been designed with active, athletic women in mind. The line includes a cami ($50.00), a tank ($50.00), and a bikini bottom ($28.00).

For mountain bikers, Camelback is introducing the Charge LR hydration system, $100.00. For some time, the R&D department at Camelback has been working with a lumbar pack designed especially for the demands of mountain trails. And to listen to the testers they have got this one right. Low sloshing and great feeling should make this one a hit when it debuts in the fall.

Biking and high heels don’t really seem to go together, but leave it to Merrell to bridge that gap. The Evera MJ, $110.00, is high heel bike shoe with a rubber sole for grip, and a contoured bottom that fits right into the pedal. Expect to see these fashion forward Merrells sometime in February of 2012.

And never forget the Scout pack, the Wanderer, and all the canoe packs from Duluth Pack. We had an impressive booth there on the convention floor to share all our American Made products with both the initiated and the neophytes. From the feedback we are getting everyone loved the show and loved our gear.

See you next time, enjoy the new stuff!

Show me the way back to DuluthPack.com.

 

SplitRock

Minnesota state parks set to reopen

The long national nightmare is over.

Ok, not so much, but the Minnesota government is back up and running which means the state parks will be opening for visitors again this weekend. It will take some time for all the parks to come back to full strength, so we will have to be patient in the days to come.

In the meantime, ready your Wanderer and Ramble pack for the parks that are open. Here is just a sampling of state parks near Duluth, which are beginning to reopen again.

Cascade River is open

Gooseberry Falls is partially open

Grand Portage is open

Hill Annex Mine is open

Jay Cooke is partially open

Judge C.R. Magney is open

Savanna Portage is open

Split Rock is open

Temperance River is open

Tettegouche is open

Please realize you may experience partial services and other deficiencies in areas that are not fully open just yet. If you have questions about any other state parks or campgrounds please refer to the link below for information straight from the DNR.

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/reopen/index.html

Good news is: all the state trails are open or partially open for business. Get out there and enjoy those. Also remember, the Superior Hiking Trail never shut down, and you never need a permit, so keep using that trail up and down the north shore.

Additionally, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness never shut down. Permits to the BWCAW are continuing to be issued, including at the Duluth Pack store in Canal Park. I took just a quick peek at permit availability, and while some popular entries are booked up, you can still find other good entry points through August.

Get those canoe packs loaded into the boats and get on the water, plenty of summer left. You can never see too many sunsets while in the Boundary Waters or Quetico.

 

A nice smallie resides in a fly fisherman's net

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Open for Fishing

A nice smallie resides in a fly fisherman's net

In last week’s blog I gave you an update on bear reports coming from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. As of this writing not much has changed, and no new problem bears have been reported. Keep your camp clean, protect your food pack, and all will be good.

Here in Duluth we have one curious bear making news and that is Dylan the Bear out on Park Point. Seems Dylan swam across from Superior, WI sometime in May and has been raiding the local bird feeders. Other than a few upset robins and finches he hasn’t been much trouble. However, there is a live trap set for him in an effort to relocate Dylan to a less residential neck of the woods.

The news I have for you today is two-fold; first, the BWCAW is open and unaffected by the state government shut down in Minnesota. Second, the fish are biting, and it is time to get out on the water. After spending some time roaming around at recreation.gov (that’s where you reserve your BWCAW permit) it is apparent there are still permits to be had for good entry points. Book a permit today, and then choose the Duluth Pack store in Canal Park as your permit issue station.

The bait shops in Grand Marais are reporting that fishing is good in general in the east end of the BWCAW. Walleyes are starting to slow down, but if you know where to find them a shore lunch is in your future. Smallmouth bass are being caught while still in shallow water in the lakes. Fishermen are finding surface lures and very shallow runners are catching these smallies.

The report out of Ely is a little bit different; walleyes are being caught at a pretty good pace in 12 to 18 feet of water. In the evenings they are coming shallower onto structure in the eight-foot range. At the present time anglers seem to be having the best luck with leeches. Smallmouth bass in the Ely area are running a bit deeper than their eastern brothers. Fisherman are catching smallies in five to eight feet of water on Rapalas and other shallow to medium running lures.

If you are a fly fisherman, and would love to see some flies tied this Saturday, July 9, head on over to the Duluth Pack store at 365 Canal Park Drive. EJ from the Great Lake Fly shop will be there from noon to 3:00 p.m. demonstrating his tying abilities with flies and streamers made to entice the big ones. As always there is no charge for the fish stories or other lies told.

Get out there and enjoy the adventure!

I am completely hooked! Take me back to DuluthPack.com

Sleeping Bags – Down vs. Synthetic

eurekaAt Duluth Pack, we get asked this question a lot!  Should I buy a down sleeping bag or a synthetic one?

Both have advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully the pros and cons listed below will help you make that decision a little easier.

DOWN BAGS

Pros: Down sleeping bags are warmer ounce per ounce.  Down is lighter weight and easily compressed. However, when storing your down bag, store it open as possible. Down filled bags are great at wicking away moisture. With the proper care down bags can last for many years, even a lifetime, so the heftier price tag is often worth it for the longevity. Down bags are ideal for all aspects of camping except wet/damp areas like for example the Olympic National Forest in Washington.

Cons: It does have a few cons. It does not function well at all when wet, and takes a long time to dry. They are also more expensive and need more care.

SYNTHETIC BAGS

Pros: Synthetic bags then make sense when used in wet/damp camping situations.  It works well for folks new to camping, kids, and the fiscally conservative. It dries quickly and is very easy to care for.  After your trip you can toss your synthetic bag right into the washing machine.

Cons: Synthetics are heavier than down and they are also not as comfortable. They do not pack down as small as down bags can. Synthetics bags are also not as warm as natural down.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Which fill do you prefer?