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Hiking

The Lowdown

Book Review – Hiking the North Shore: 50 fabulous day hikes in Minnesota’s spectacular Lake Superior region

May 15, 2012
Hiking the North Shore

Are you planning a trip to the North Shore and want to hit some great hiking trails?  Well, grab your Duluth Pack, maybe a walking stick, some good shoes, and this book!

Author, Andrew Slade, completed 50 northern Minnesota hikes and gathered very valuable information that you need when deciding on the right trail when planning a trip along Minnesota’s North Shore.  Slade starts south of Duluth in Jay Cooke State Park and heads north all the way to Grand Portage State Park, and he includes just about every amazing trail in between, including the Superior Hiking Trail, the Duluth Lakewalk, Gooseberry Falls Loop, Split Rock, Tettegouche Lakes Loop, and Mount Josephine.

Slade offers insight as to what makes each trail unique, how to find the trailhead, and a detailed description about the trail and the area around it.  For each designated trail, he even includes a map, a scenic photo, as well as basic information which include trail distance, level of difficulty, GPS coordinates, and other helpful tips.  Each hike listed in this book is accompanied with an abundance of information that will undoubtedly get you excited and eager to hit the trails!

Some other interesting books you may want to take a look at:

61 Gems on Highway 61 – $9.95

Lake Superior: Ultimate Guide to the Region – $19.95

Gentle Hikes: Minnesota’s most scenic North Shore hikes under 3 miles – $12.95

Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail – $15.95

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.

SUGGESTIONS:

–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

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.

The Lowdown, Trip Planning

Superior Hiking Trail experts at Duluth Pack

July 11, 2011
A hiker takes a lunch break while hiking the SHT

The Duluth, Minnesota area has several crown jewels of recreation. The lakes, the rivers, the state & national parks, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, to name just a few, are priceless. One of these up and coming masterpieces in our own backyard is the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT).

When fully complete, the Superior Hiking Trail will be a 277-mile footpath in northern Minnesota. Created in 1986, the trail follows a rocky ridgeline that roughly parallels the north shore of Lake Superior. As the SHT climbs and descends you can’t help but be awed by the many magnificent vistas and overlooks.

The trail begins south of Duluth near the town of Carlton, and winds its way north toward Canada. The trail ends with a link to the Border Route Trail north of Hovland, MN near the U.S. and Canadian border. The Border Route trail continues to the west linking with the Kekakabic trail and ending near Ely, MN.

Along the way you will find 82 wilderness campsites and a trailhead about every five to 10 miles. Hikers may enjoy adventures all the way from a variety of day-hikes to complete trail through-hikes with everything in between. Neither permits nor reservations are required on the SHT, and dogs are allowed on leash only.

The trail was built with blood, sweat and volunteers. They are the ones who originally cut the trail and the ones that keep it open. Present volunteer opportunities can be found up and down the trail, including work to close a gap in the Duluth area. If you or your hiking group would like to help on the trail check into the Superior Hiking Trail’s Association website at SHTA.org.

The Duluth Pack store at 365 Canal Park Dr. is the go-to source for all information pertaining to the SHT. Not only are there experts on staff to help you learn more, but many have hiked the trail around Duluth and up the North Shore. They can also help you find trailheads in the city and ones nearest the store. The SHT Association sells a complete set of maps and the book “Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail.” All the above, in addition to special edition t-shirts, can be found at the Duluth Pack Store.

And the most important thing to remember is that the Superior Hiking Trail is open for business. While the Minnesota State Parks are shut down during the budget impasse, the SHT remains open.

Go grab your Wanderer or your Rambler pack and get out on the trail!

Hike me on back to DuluthPack.com